Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Spring Quarter Gender Balance Award

It's that time again! I have an exceptional number of classes this term (6, at the moment, all for credit), so this quarter should be exceptionally exciting. Well, ok, the post will be longer. I'm going to leave out my Greek class since it's technically part of last quarter, and I'm pretty sure I've blogged about it already. As for the other five:

Liturgical Music 2: Four required books.* The two main texts are by men, as is one of the other two. The last one is co-authored by a woman, but it's not a part of any of the regular readings - it's proposed as background. (I suspect they're also all white, but can't confirm that right now.) Sadly, I'm going to have to rate this an Unacceptable.

Gospel of Matthew: Three required books. One is by a man. One is by a woman. One has essays from both male and female feminist scholars, edited by a woman. (I love me a book that has feminist scholarship by both men and women.) (I'm pretty sure they're all white scholars, though I don't know.) Rating: Excellent.

Readings from Cultural Spaces: Three required books. One is by a man. Two are anthologies edited by men. In one of those, 2 out of 11 essays are by a woman. I don't have the other yet, so I can't say what that one looks like. Ironically, this class is an Unacceptable. (It is, however, excellent on scholars of color.)

Modern Church History in the North Atlantic World: Four required books. Three are by men. One is co-authored by... wait, nope, two men. (One, however, is by a scholar of color.) Rating: Unacceptable.

Preaching C: This term, there are two new books. Both are by (white) men. Sadly, after two quarters at the top, this class rates as Unacceptable.

For all of you who skipped the above evidence - the clear winner of my Spring Quarter Gender Balance Award is Gospel of Matthew!

I'm only expecting one class over the summer, so we'll be on hiatus until fall, when we'll return for the ever-exciting Fall Quarter Gender Balance Award!

*Some classes also include readings beyond the required books - for my reasons behind not crediting those readings, check out my post from last July.


The young fogey said...

The opponents of the attempted ordination of women agree with you, ironically, that there are 'gender differences' except we prefer the old-fashioned, correct word 'sex' (even though its meaning has narrowed and so may make modern listeners giggle) because those differences are hard-wired and not artificial constructs (which is what 'gender', a grammatical term, means: a chair is feminine in Spanish for no reason intrinsic to chairness; it's arbitrary).

Although there is cultural bias, we also hold that a book is valuable - acceptable as you might say - based on its content, objective truth or falsehood, not the sex, race or culture of its writer.

So according to your worldview, are black women a sort of master race? With the charism of infallibility?

Seems more like Marxist ideology than good scholarship. Or the 'white devils' in Louis Farrakhan's 'theology'. I also remember Leonard Jeffries in the news around 1990... Mother Teresa: evil 'ice person'. Idi Amin Dada and the killers in Rwanda: good 'sun people'. Misandry and reverse racism (only according to Marxism, oppressed groups are entitled to practise that).

Have the standards for training for the ministry gone down so much that these views are accepted by bishops, selection conferences and theological colleges?

Anonymous said...

This is a point that we, scholars of color, have to address better. The truth is that we need more women scholars of color in the guild. I would label all of these texts as first-generation scholars of color texts. More recent anthologies and books, most of which are still at press, will be more gender-inclusive.

One correction and some additional facts for your survey:

-In one of the books you mention, "Stony the Road We Trod: African American Biblical Interpretation," you state that 1 out of 11 authors are women. Actually it is 2 out of 11. I know Clarice Martin, and she is definitely a woman.

-In the book that you don't have, "Voices From the Margin," only 6 of the 28 authors are women within the book's 33 chapters. One of the six "women," however, is actually a group of six women who co-wrote a piece. This would fall under the category, "unacceptable."

-In the course packet: 4 of 10 authors are women.


Baruch Grazer said...

the young fogey wrote:
Although there is cultural bias...

Sure. As I see it, that alone is adequate reason to strive for equity in representation. So why introduce all the straw-woman arguments that follows (the "according to your worldview" stuff)?

The young fogey said...

The trouble is Beth didn't say 'I don't like these books because they're biased and here's how' and then give quotations so we can judge their content. (Maybe some or all of them have cultural bias.) She said they are unacceptable because they were written by whites and/or men. We're supposed to judge the content based on race and sex. (An inversion of Martin Luther King's 'I have a dream' speech.)

Isn't the idea that a black writer necessarily speaks for the black race condescending and racist? (A kind of tokenism?) I know at least one woman who resents it when it's claimed that somebody speaks for her because of the speaker's sex.

Beth said...

I didn't say I disliked any of the books we've been assigned. I'm perfectly happy to buy them all, but I want ALSO to be reading things by people who aren't white men. If I were reading only things by black women, that would be just as big a problem - it's just unlikely to happen in most classes. As far as quality, I take it for granted that any book assigned should be worth the read. That's not at issue in this particular award. What's unacceptable isn't any particular book, it's that the sum total doesn't include something by a woman.

I agree that I don't want to be held to something just because a woman said it. I also think women and people of color should be allowed/encouraged to write/publish about topics other than their sex/gender (there's a difference between grammatical gender and human gender, btw) or color.

The young fogey said...

Thanks for the clarification, Beth, but again, what are race and sex in themselves to do with the subjects of the books? (Just like there's no such thing as black maths or female physics.)

Incidentally, I know why (historical connotation) but still find it funny that coloured is right out but people of colour is approved of.

Anonymous said...

If you believe that one's identity--whether racial, sexual, gendered, class-based--informs how one thinks then race, gender, sexuality make a huge difference in subject matter or content.