“Shut up and listen.”
Men and Feminist Theology
Disclaimer: I am a white heterosexual male, and a Christian theologian. 5 labels easily define my privilege. These labels describe five key ways that ascribe to me privilege and power in society. Five labels define my privilege but cannot fully define me as a person.
However, I actually need feminist thinking and feminist theology to teach me the ways that those privileges affect their capacity to act, and to tell me at times to shut up and listen.
Those four words, probably are among the most common complaints (and misunderstandings) about the role of men in feminism, or about any sort of privilege as it enters into the conversation. It makes feminism seem exclusive to men. And it makes people uneasy, if we believe in the radical equality of men and women, why should men be told to shut up and listen?
To “Shut up and Listen” is actually liberating. As a person who lives at an intersection of privilege, that is probably hard to hear, but I believe that it is true. It is an invitation, we get to sit, listen, and hear. When we are talking too much (as people of privilege), we actually can’t listen.
By listening we relearn our language, we learn to act differently, we learn to think differently, and we learn to be differently. We actually encounter the voices and stories of the other parts of the Body of Christ in the world. We hear from the people who are closer to the sorts that Jesus would be hanging out with, the people on the margins.
Men (and people of privilege) for you the truth from feminist theology and thought is you are deeply impoverished if you are hearing only one set of voices, especially if that voice is dominated by white heterosexual men of power. Our voice has been the dominant voice in the conversation since the start of civilization. Shut up and listen.
Women, keep the conversation going, speak up and speak out, we need your voices. For other minorities, especially where you experience an intersection of inequality, please speak up all the louder we need your voices even more. Your stories and your challenges bless us and call us more deeply to the life that Christ wants for us, Challenge us and speak boldly to the heart of the issue. Speak for the sake of Justice and Speak for the Truth. We need your voices and need to learn to listen to you.
The topic I chose was designed to provoke, and to tackle a misconstrued idea in feminism. I am looking forward to the conversation it may spark. I will follow the comments below and do my best to weigh in accordingly. Constructively speaking I think men and people of privilege can benefit from feminist thinking and feminist theologies. I consider myself to be a feminist-influenced theologian. The resources, methods, practices, and postures that we can learn from feminism work to help make us better—better citizens, neighbours, friends, and even better scholars. Also I need to extend a thank you to Olivia, her willingness to include this blog post is wonderful and bold, and I appreciate the invitation to share my thoughts
Andrew is a student of Theology at Wycliffe College in the MA program, he is finishing his thesis on the theology of the City, (exploring the impact of Harvey Cox and Jacques Ellul) and has broad interests in contemporary theology and ethics. He is a graduate of Huron College (BTh), and spent one semester abroad in South Africa studying theology at UKZN in Pietermaritzburg.
Currently Andrew and his wife Emily are living in Toronto, with their two cats Samson and Morgan.
Look out, he may start a blog of his own one day!