Category: Gender

Gender - Male and Female Gummy

Niqabs in Canada

Muslim woman in niqabRecently here in Canada, the Court struck down a move by our Conservative government that would require women to have their faces uncovered during citizenship ceremonies. Our Prime Minister referred to niqabs as un-Canadian. The Court disagreed and said she had the right to wear what she wanted under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, given there was no security risk or other argument against it. Now the government plans to appeal and it has become a bit of an election issue.

Islam and Niqabs

It is true that Islam as a whole does not require niqabs. I don’t think the Qu’ran requires any particular way of dress for women. It just says that both men and women should be modest. I haven’t read the Qu’ran, so I could be wrong on this, but I have seen Muslims saying the same thing. It is much more of a cultural thing for certain nations. Some of these were actually very open with how men and women dressed within the last generation or two. They were often very Westernized. Several wars later, understandably they wanted to distance themselves from Western culture. One way to do that was with clothing requirements for women.


Coming Soon: Interview on Men’s Spirituality

I’m happy to let my readers here know that I will be interviewing my pastor, Scott Brubaker-Zehr, about his doctoral thesis on men’s spirituality on behalf of MennoNerds. It should be a great opportunity to learn some more about how men in our churches (specifically, Mennonites in the Kitchener-Waterloo region) describe their experiences with God and how we can do better.

You can sign up on either Facebook or Google+ for updates and a reminder:



You can watch on:


The MennoNerds YouTube page (it should automatically publish there, but I may be wrong on this one)

Embedded in a post on the MennoNerds website

Gender - Male and Female Gummy

Bare With Us

This past weekend in Waterloo (sister city of Kitchener where I live), a few hundred people gathered in a demonstration under the name Bare With Us. It was another story in a summer that has had a few high-profile stories about women being topless in public. This rally was prompted by three sisters being stopped by a police officer and told to cover up when they biked topless last weekend (an extremely hot weekend). When one of the sisters said it was legal for them to be topless and then pulled out her camera to record it, the officer claimed that he was just checking they had sufficient lights. The police department is investigating, but the sister’s greater concern was making sure other women were aware of their rights, so they organized this rally.

There was a similar story in the same week in British Columbia. She covered up even though she thought the officer was wrong, then looked it up later to find out she was right. And there was a story this week about a Walmart employee telling a woman not to breastfeed while she was waiting in line. And there was one in Guelph earlier this summer where a 6-year-old was told she had to cover up after she followed her brothers in taking off her shirt and getting in the splashpad on a hot day.

Game of Thrones - Why They Died

Game of Thrones and Women as Props

I just finished watching up to the end of season 4 of Game of Thrones. It is purely coincidence that I caught up to there right after it drew a lot of controversy for a rape scene in this past week’s episode. I haven’t seen the episode, and won’t until it’s on Blu-Ray (if even then). I can’t comment on that rape scene in any meaningful way. I can say I didn’t particularly see as much of a problem with the scene of Jaime raping Cersai right in front of their dead son’s body as some did. To me, it was clearly rape and presented negatively, not saying it was consensual or anything like that, but I know some others interpreted it differently and they probably have a point.

I can also say where I do have a serious problem with the show, enough that I’m not sure yet whether to pick up season 5 or not. That problem is the prevalence of naked women as props. I don’t particularly mind nudity used to tell a story. For example, the early Daenerys story was well done. We meet her and she is quickly naked, established as essentially being the property of her brother to sell off in return for an army.

Gender - Male and Female Gummy

Benevolent Sexism

The first time I encountered the idea of benevolent sexism was a shock, particularly since it was a context of my own benevolent sexism being confronted. I had a crush on this girl/young woman in high school. I asked her out and she wasn’t interested, but it seemed like we could still get along. There continued to be some unexplainable tension, though, that got worse over time instead of better. She contacted me again about a year after we had stopped talking.

I got to the Tim Horton’s where we were meeting ahead of her and already had a drink when she got there. I instinctively said something along the lines of “go ahead and grab something first, if you’d like.” She visible twitched. That made sense as soon as she explained why she always had a hard time with me. In short, it was some benevolent sexism on my part, including things as small as giving her permission to go get something before joining me.

Gender Authority Hierarchy

Harmless Complementarianism?

A discussion has arisen in a couple of different groups for me in the past week. On its surface, complementarianism – the notion that men and women are ontologically of equal worth but restricted to different functions – is not necessarily that harmful. Obviously it restricts people, mostly women, in what they are free to do, but is that harm in and of itself? Maybe not.

Many elements often – but not inherently – tied into complementarianism clearly are harmful. One common one would be encouraging women to continue submitting to men even when it is an unhealthy or even abusive relationship. Even within healthier complementarianism, in theory that is paired with the man doing his job of “loving her like Christ loves the Church.” Some complementarians place the blame on women for men not doing their half of the equation, though, e.g. because a woman expressed her opinion, a man felt he couldn’t and so he never became a leader like he was supposed to. Therefore, the reasoning goes, if he isn’t being a good enough leader, she should just shut up and wait for him to come around. My opinion: if a man gives up trying that easily at the presence of another perspective, he definitely should not be a leader anyway.

Sexism in my Favourite Games

For those who follow the videogaming world, you’ve probably heard of GamerGate. Short version for those who don’t: a lot of straight, white men get angry whenever people point out the industry is terribly slanted toward them while at best failing to represent and at worst actively harming other groups (particularly women, but also LGBTQ and minorities). There have been months of coordinated death threats, doxxing (discovering someone’s address and releasing it online), swatting (calling SWAT teams to that house in hopes that there is enough chaos for somebody to get shot), and more.

I’ve really gotten into videogames again in the past year and a half since getting an Xbox One. It is a great way to relax for me. GamerGate has caused me to consider what I play a little more critically, though. Here’s the big games I’ve played meaningful hours in over that time and how they generally seem to represent women:

Super Bowl 49

The Super Bowl Prostitution Myth

Super Bowl 49Every year I see at least a few people claiming as a matter of fact that the Super Bowl is the worst day/event of the year for sex trafficking by a wide margin. It’s a logical claim. It is the most stereotypically-manly day of the year. A lot of men travel to the Super Bowl without their significant others. Plus these men have to be pretty wealthy to have Super Bowl tickets and willing to use that wealth for short-term good experiences, so it makes sense they would use it for prostitution as well. Put it all together and you get wealthy high-on-testosterone men without their significant others looking for other “manly” things to do, which apparently having sex with a slave qualifies as. In theory, it is the perfect storm for increased prostitution, including those who were trafficked.

The problem is that it simply isn’t true. Or more accurately, there is zero evidence that sex trafficking or even prostitution in general increases for the Super Bowl.

Raymond Burke

Answering Cardinal Raymond Burke on Feminism

I just saw Vicky Beeching tweet a link to this article at Christianity Today entitled Feminism to blame for men’s crisis of confidence, says cardinal. I’m sure you can tell by the title that there are some ridiculous ideas presented here.

Marginalized Men

How about this one, alongside referring to men as “marginalized”?

Unfortunately, the radical feminist movement strongly influenced the Church, leading the Church to constantly address women’s issues at the expense of addressing critical issues important to men.

Amy Elliot Dunne

The Women of Gone Girl

I was generally quite happy with the movie Gone Girl when we went to see it in theatre, which is now quite a while ago and I just haven’t gotten around to the final edits on this post. It’s that dark grittiness characteristic of David Fincher, very well acted and cut together, which is always interesting to me. You don’t really know where the story is going, unlike most movies when you know the ending 10 minutes into the movie.

Some have critiqued its portrayal of women, however, and that is probably worth discussing a little bit more.

(spoilers will follow)