Why do women want a male god?
This is an intriguing question for me. I really would like to know what women are thinking privately when they say publicly that God is male.
Do I think that Jewish and Christian women are helpless victims of patriarchy? Forced to worship a male god? And they cannot help but submit to this?
No doubt there were and are abuses in patriarchy. But I’ll guess that most women very willing embrace it for one reason or another. Otherwise there would be no patriarchy.
Did men unilaterally impose patriarchy long ago because men were interested in knowing the paternity of children?? Maybe women knew that in order to get men interested in providing economic support for their children, men had to know which were whose. Maybe women knew that in order to get men to defend their families against other men, they had to have a sense of ownership. Maybe women opted for patriarchy.
I suspect there would not be any patriarchy without the support of women, and that a major obstacle to “women’s liberation” was the “housewives” who did not want other women competing with their husbands in the workplace and thereby lessening the husbands’ salaries. Also, those women who do very well economically by being trophy brides for alpha-males probably favor patriarchy. Ditto for trophy bride wanna-bees. Ditto for women who can arrange favorable marriages for their daughters. Ditto for any young women, gently raised, who thinks her man is going to give her the life “to which she has become accustomed.”
But why settle for a male god? Maybe women want their god to look like a man because women like men. Men like women and so let them have what they want.
But I suspect there is a deeper reason for a male god: For many centuries, a “father-god” supporting the universe served as a model for men supporting their households and furthering the comfort of women. This supporting father-god was celebrated by women, I have no doubt.
More importantly: from time immemorial, women have asked themselves what can be done to control that very small subset of men who are serious threats to society – men in gangs and militias, men making wars, men being robbers, etc. The weather, health, and many other problems – no solution. But men? Partly manageable. In the public arena a wrathful father-god who acts like an alpha-male is a good choice for influencing, even controlling, men of all ages. “Don’t be a sinner or the father-god will getcha!” Possibly this sort of message can be effective on men because they tend to form hierarchies and follow-the-leader if the leader is an alpha-male. They will follow a father-god. Those men who are absolutely uncontrollable can be jailed or killed by other men who are programmed to think the wrathful father-god wants them to do this.
This is not to say that women are not fully capable of violence, but most tend to engage in more subtle forms of violence – cruelties that often are not illegal. I find myself falling into sin, maybe daily, much to my dismay, as I am not perfect either. And it is hard for this decrepit old woman to find anything sinful to do, say, or think. But I manage.
Anyway, hundreds of millions of women are content with a male god. Should I object if God is officially male? Can I tolerate that if there is some public benefit to it? What’s the harm if it is only in the public arena? Aren’t women are smart enough to take care of their own inner life in the way that is best for them? They don’t actually have to believe in a male god, only say they do.
Isn’t it a good idea for our times also, for the religions to have a male god and a male clergy to convey his commands to the problem males in our midst and to let the cooperative males know what they should do? (Doesn’t mean the clergy has to be exclusively male.)
Shouldn’t families with males be heading on down to the church to listen to this god-is-male-and-wants-to-damn-you stuff, because it is really what is necessary for some of them to hear, especially some of the teens (provided the alpha-male god is well-behaved and any tendency to foment genocide and steal land from unfortunate Palestinians is appropriately handled!)??
The near-genderless Jesus communing with his inner Abba of love and his mild mother hardly pack enough firepower to impress the more testosterone-challenged. Isn’t it still very important to retain the wrathful, punishing Yahweh and his maleness??
Now when I say “testosterone-challenged” that is just shorthand for pointing to anti-social behaviors more common statistically in the male than in the female, presumably biologically-based behaviors; not that the actual hormone plays an actual role that I know of. I think it is worthwhile mentioning these sorts of problems, even though it is taboo. We won’t find a solution unless we look for it.
Of course I do not ascribe a gender to the Almighty (to do so would be idolatry). But I’m not denying the reality of the problems we face.
The teenager rides his dirt bike up and down the road, up and down, up and down, hour after hour. Who pays for the gas? His parents who are glad to have him out of the house? What could this teen be thinking about as he rides and rides some more? Sex? Violence? Something he saw on TV? Or is there just a vacuum in his head? How can he stand the noise he makes hour after hour? (No girls doing this.) The neighbors are glad he is riding where all can see him, instead of sneaking around vandalizing houses as he has been known to do. Perhaps someday he will come to terms with his maleness.
What is going through the mind of the drone operator as he watches his target appear on a computer screen, clicks his mouse, and blasts his target but also the nearby children to bits and pieces? Just “doing his job”?
And what about the young warriors in Syria who think that by killing their own citizens, they can institute democracy which depends on negotiation, compromise, and working together? Neither side knows anything of democracy or how to manage a country.
A human rights organization sent me a world map recently showing the numerous locations of serious human rights violations in the various countries – journalists killed, villages bombed, etc. No lack of this sort of thing. I presume, although it doesn’t say it, that mostly all the perpetrators are men; men doing things women would not even consider doing themselves, and not for lack of power either. But how many of the perpetrators have a woman at their side urging them on? Or worse, telling them God wants them to do it? Or worse, the woman is just keeping silent?
Problems caused by certain types of men could be worse than they already are, if we did not have the warning out there, “Be good or the father-god will getcha!”
Frankly, I think most men couldn’t care less whether the Almighty is male or female or neither, but hundreds of millions of women believe they know how it must be and proclaim, “God is male!” Men who value civilization and an orderly society support women in this and likewise opt for a male god. Alternatively, “Karma’s gonna getcha” would seem to work effectively also.
Who decided what gender God should be? Probably women decided and men agreed.
But now our civilization is crumbling because of men’s corporate greed and men’s imperialistic wars. Now the economy is stressed from global pressures (due to runaway over-population, the US and Europe in debt, the rising third world, etc.). Now young mothers cannot rely on their men for full support and have to work outside the home away from their young children. Now half of all children are born out of wedlock (are women abandoning men? – who needs to depend on a husband when there are court-ordered paternity payments?!?!) Now institutions, exclusively or predominantly male-directed, are failing us (quality of life, climate crisis, etc.) And I suppose Yahweh, the supreme male supporting the universe, may be up for re-evaluation.
To be fair, shouldn’t I write about how men might like to have a female deity who would tell women to correct their behavior?
I don’t think women would tolerate such a deity telling them what to do.
Women generally don’t form hierarchies (structures of domination), perhaps because women don’t follow orders very willingly. Women form networks (among equals). Women can be plugged into today’s hierarchies but don’t own them and don’t embrace them, usually.
Yet women can benefit from men’s hierarchies, especially when men control other men through hierarchies. In this way patriarchy can work well for women. (But doesn’t always.)
Were men more free under a matrilineal social system? Could be. Women lived together in kinship groups. Were the men then free to live with whatever group of women they pleased; free to go about, as it were, like bees roaming from flower to flower?? Paternity of children was not a concern. Perhaps with their roaming the men didn’t have a lot of excess energy they could waste on wars and such – more peaceful times?? Under the patriarchal mode, men must stay in marital relationships (usually monogamous), working hard to support economically those children which are legally theirs, at least that is the ideal. This may not be an improvement from the men’s point of view, but is definitely beneficial for women and children. In times of plenty, there might be far less social pressure for monogamous marriage. But now that millions are slaves to tuition debt and slaves to mortgage debt, and work their whole lives and live frugally so that bank officials can have fabulous wealth, maybe marriage will come back into fashion – if it will give women more financial security.
And if Yahweh says he favors marriage.
Now I have to get back to the question of whether I can tolerate a god who is officially male. No, I don’t think God should be officially male. The male-speak should not be tolerated. The theology is warped and to refer to God as anything but “It” is ungrammatical.
More importantly, I think it is wrong for women to be misleading men and trying to manipulate them by appealing to their vanity – telling them they are godlike. This could backfire. There are far too many men who are all too ready to believe that God is male and they are superior to any woman. Patriarchy can have dire consequences for women. Women should not tolerate it, let alone promote it.
Recall the harm done to us as young girls in the baby boom generation, who were told that the Supreme Being is male and that our nature is alien to “His,” inferior, unworthy, etc. We were told that women were not made in “His” image, but nevertheless, we were supposed to pray to “Him,” a “He” who didn’t mind if alien female beings tried to talk to “Him.”
Women were denied economic opportunities. My generation was told we girls could be:
>Teachers at a grade school, but not at a college,
>Secretaries, but not bosses,
>Nurses, but not doctors,
>Authors of novels for women, but not political writers or publishers,
>Interior designers, but not nationally recognized artists,
>Nuns, but not preachers,
>Musicians, but not orchestra conductors,
>Real estate agents, but not contractors building homes,
>Clerks, but not store owners,
>Housewives, but not CEOs.
We were to be “the girls” (not women) until we were age 50 or more. The only possible way to be an entrepreneur was to become a prostitute, and even there, men ruled as pimps.
Because women’s rights to employment were curtailed, economic benefits flowed to men, particularly the most powerful alpha males, but the ultimate recipients of the benefits were the alpha women who retained these powerful males as husbands. No wonder these women of the upper classes did not want “women’s liberation;” not unless they were bored with watching soap operas all day on TV or bored with meeting with their charity groups.
The best a young girl could hope for was to marry well, become a “housewife,” and assume the social status of her husband, while having no identity of her own other than as his appendage. We are grateful that this form of servitude, imposed on all women by those women who happened to benefit from it, or who hoped to benefit from it, has almost disappeared. And changes could not have happened so quickly, within a generation, if patriarchy had been imposed chiefly by men. Rather, those upper class women who had relished being “housewives” found out that they could do much better financially and get much more personal satisfaction by being actual human beings, as opposed to being appendages of men.
But still today, I have no doubt, women pretend to be “cute,” dependent, subservient, and worse, stupid (“dumb-blondes”) before men, and practice this deception in order to manipulate men and induce them to shoulder more of the burden of supporting women and their children. The “stupid-woman-sex-object” is probably still what you find on TV. And in religion, “father-god” has been and continues to be an impetus for men to work harder to support women and their children.
Admittedly, a young woman holding a baby in each arm does need someone to work hard to help her. Maybe the easiest way a woman can get a man to help her is to cater to his every whim, tell him he is the “head of the family,” that he is like a god to her, and that God is like him? Some women figure it is worth it, to be able to get pregnant, to have their children – they endure the self-effacement and the self-debasement. Other women won’t be doormats, no matter what. Maybe if the grueling work that women do in the home 24/7, managing the household and caring for the children, had more value in the eyes of men, then women would not feel compelled to deceive men.
Going into a church where women are second class and God is “He,” and putting money into the collection basket might seem only natural if the whole purpose of your life is to make a man (your husband) feel superior and make him stay. So put the money in the collection basket – if you are a second class person. But wouldn’t it be better to find a church that lets you have self-respect, even if you always have to put your husband first? But maybe your man won’t go to a gender-equal church and he will only go to the church where he can be likened to a god? Then what? Well, he’s the boss, so the answer is obvious.
The worst is watching how most?? women constantly defer to their husbands in public and social settings. A woman should not act like she is invisible next to her husband (keeping silent, or having no opinion but his, hanging on his every word, forced smiling or giggling); rather, she should act like his partner in a partnership of equals. OK I admit that in a still-patriarchal and still not fully-liberated society, being a man’s invisible shadow is the only option for many women. But it is not right. Incidentally, they drop the invisible act the instant he is not there.
The more a woman is into manipulating men, playing up to them, wearing see-through blouses and tight fitting clothes no matter how aged or flabby she is, pretending to be stupid, etc., just to get what she wants, the more she is just plain mean to other women. She has no use for them.
Or maybe God really is male.
What kind of supreme being would be uncaring of what women suffer monthly, their pain in childbirth, and the holocaust of breast cancer, except an inattentive male?
I have asked myself that question but actually, I don’t think one’s understanding of God should be guided by centuries of male theologians doing male-speak and telling people “God is all-powerful.” A benevolent God could not be culpable for our misfortunes and would have to be something other than what we know; glimpsed only through It’s blessings.
I doubt there are many women left out there who think that they should make a lower salary than a man for comparable effort and skill. But how many women are willing to pray to “Him” in their innermost secret thoughts? I have no idea.
An official male-only god is a form of prostitution. Women prostitute themselves to this idea of a male god in order to control men and to obtain economic benefits from them. But there is inequality and harm in the exchange. Men are disadvantaged because they are deceived into thinking they are like gods. Women suffer from inequality. Wouldn’t it be better to leave the male-speak (God as “He”) in the past where it belongs?
God wants something better for us than deceit and inequality.