Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Churches, Always Keep It Real - Remember, I'm Watching You


Have you seen this? Billboards and media coverage all over Johannesburg. Go have a look now - this is what you will see:

"Men be men. Women be women.

Real men are in short supply. Children are missing them. Women are missing them. The city is missing them. And what is a real man anyway? Boozing with the boys, posing at the gym, looking slick in a suit, or sipping herbal tea during a facial? Will the real man please step forward! Drawing from the book of Proverbs, this series will help men be men, women be women."

The participating churches as listed are:

"GODFIRST
KEYSTONE CHURCH
URBAN LIFE
SANDTON CITY CHURCH
JUNCTION CHURCH
CITY LIFE CHURCH
EASTSIDE CHURCH"

Wow, that's really arrogant.

Billboards don't come cheap. And some ass-hat also registered a domain and built a website to promote this horse manure as well. Somebody really, really wants to get this message out there Obviously some churches have way too much money to waste on telling people how to live. What a load of misogynistic, sexist bullshit!

And what is particularly annoying is the inclusion of a transwoman and a drag queen in the picture - showing the stubborn refusal to accept diversity and to accept transgender people as NOT male. That's right, you bunch of ignorant nutters - what the hell else must we cut off before you acknowledge our existence? Presumably, males should all look like the Mr Bean lookalike holding the baby while his wife is away working? Are nannies and day-care centers such a new invention? Is there a Commandment to say "Fathers shalt not help raise their children, nor lift a finger to do things around their partners"? Or is it listed under "Thou shalt get a lowly woman to do it"? Really, just about the only alternatives left open by this insulting poster is the dull gray business suit, short-back-and-sides and a combination of shorts and rugby shirt to cover the boep. Right. Sorry, Rev, but us females like variety - and so do males. And I'm sure that those who fall in-between do as well - and yes, we do exist - ask Caster about that. The gender BInary you cling to so tightly is a FALLACY.

Add to that the following picture that appears on one of the participating churches websites:


"Men be men, women be women, pansies be flowers". WTF

"Pansies be flowers"?? WTF?? That equates to "don't be gay/trans". If this is not a blatantly anti-gay and anti-trans statement, then what is? Boy, let me tell you something - this proud pan-sexual transsexual woman will kick your bigot ass! Don't make me come down there! This campaign appears to be targeted against sexual orientation and gender identity - and freedom of expression.

As far as I can tell, a bill-board and public media advertising is in the public domain - otherwise known as "in your face", which means you can't avoid seeing it - and if it is offensive, be offended by it - which means there will be a lot of unhappy people out there right now - and a small number of small-minded bible-thumpers who will be answering some pertinent questions to the people in the gray business suits with no sense of humor whom they seem to like so much. Religious advertising should not be allowed on such media - because it is bound to cause offense by its very nature - but especially when it is meant to offend - such as this example.

I think they get off on telling people how to live and making "sinners" out of everyone who disagrees and thinks for themselves and dares not to conform - and look- they have that big old book to back them up too - you know, the one that is only half complete and that they don't even understand themselves?

See, this is what I'm talking about - instead of doing something actually good and useful, like feeding the poor, sponsoring children's education or building houses etc, they are putting themselves up on a pedestal and telling everyone else how to live - in this case, men - whom they say are not acting or looking like ahem - "real men". Right - and pretty soon, these fundamentalists are going to start acting like another world famous religion and insist that men start to wear beards to prove their manhood to others, and treat their women like servants who belong not in schools or working, but in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant. Oh wait, they already are trying that.
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But honestly, these folks wonder why they are losing support, why their churches are emptying? Maybe it's because of their attitude, their condescending know-it-all presentation? Perhaps it's because they have missed the point - that few people like a know-it-all, especially one who is basing their philosophy of life - and dress regulations which they want to force on society - on a something as wonky as a collection of 4000 year old proverbs??? Come on!

This message is arrogant, cocky, presumptuous and also, sadly for them - far from unique.

It is new to South Africa, yes - but this sort of rubbish has been visible in places around the world for some time now - such as in the USA - where it comes from. That's right - yet another great import into this country from the US Religious Right's arsenal designed to promote conservatism, conformity, obedience to their narrow-minded views - and of course, lest we forget - to keep us all firmly stuck in those gray little pigeon holes which forbids the blurring of lines between traditional genders and gender roles. And yes, once again, it boils down to the "P" word - no, not that one - the Patriarchy.

Like other countries around the world today, we face a bombardment of religious rhetoric and empty platitudes streaming from the Religious Right, channelled through their affiliates and allies in loco. Prime examples of this are other countries in Africa, such as Uganda, where fundamentalist churches have been brainwashed through years of indoctrination by their First World masters and have taken their intolerance and hatred of diversity to the next logical, practical step - demanding the death penalty for anyone who dares to bend the traditional definition of gender, such as the entire GLBTI community and jail-time for anyone who dares to help them. This influence can also be seen in numerous other African states such as Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya and others. And all just because some people can't be content with their own faith and their own state of being - they are so weak and pathetic they allow themselves to feel threatened by the way other people look, live and feel. Shame.

As you can see by the list of churches involved, these are not mainstream "real" churches - but singular independent "evangelical" wannabe's. "Cults", we would call them in the old days, following their own fundamentalist brand of a religion, because they do not agree with the way the more traditional mainstream (or REAL) churches deal with particular topics. Let me say that again - it seems a bunch of churches which themselves are not "real" are criticizing males for not being "real" according to their own "unreal" standards. I find this irony unsurprisingly hypocritical.

Pretty soon, if this sort of brain-washing and malicious, intolerant and anti-social behavior is not addressed, I envisage incidents around the world in predominantly "Christian" countries similar to some predominantly "Muslim" countries, where fashionable youths are being held up at gunpoint and violently have their hair shaved and clothes vandalized. Run everybody - it's the "moral police". Does this seem right to you? Yeah - far right - radical, in fact.

According to the ideology of the Patriarchy, if you are male and don't reflect their preferred image of manhood, you are not a "real" man and are somehow also a threat to God and his obedient flock of dimwitted sheep. If you are female and don't conform to their set standards, you are not a "real" woman - but are equal to Adam's first wife, Lilith - who should in fact be a role model for the feminist movement today - having refused to bow down before arrogant Adam and kneeing him in the nuts for not treating her as an equal.

How many of these errant crusaders even know the story of Lilith? How many of them even know Lilith even exists in the dusty pages of their much mistranslated and edited scriptures? Funny that the anti-gay firebrands are out there proclaiming parrot-fashion that "God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve". Despite the obvious question this raises, being "who the hell made Steve then?", I suppose "Adam and Lilith" just doesn't rhyme well enough for them. Or perhaps it is the idea of giving Lilith any acknowledgement - the woman who dared to demand equal treatment of her husband?

This "moral police" attitude is not unique just to churches though, but is increasingly finding its way into politics. Eleanor Poulter of the ACDP (African Christian Democratic Party) has said on Facebook - "Freedom of choice and freedom of expression are smokescreens for justifying and endorsing indulgence in depravity." - and there you have the ACDP's attitude and intent towards human rights in a nutshell folks - be very afraid if they ever gain more seats or influence in government, because then you can kiss your freedom goodbye.

Right. Um. So if you think in any way outside the box - in other words, dare to disagree - or are a free thinker, you are "Satan's slave" - a clever deception intended to equate dissent and free thought with evil and slavery. And yet being a mindless lemming, swallowing volumes of bovine excrement as truth and fact without question - somehow makes you free. There is one thing rather striking to me in that sentiment - the sign above the gates of an infamous Nazi death camp - "Arbeit Makt Frei" (Labor Makes You Free) - look it up.

Back in the old days, when I was in the army, people used to ask how you felt about something and we used to give a popular answer - "I'm a mushroom". On further prompting, we would elaborate by saying: "They keep us in the dark and feed us shit". Is this pattern of blind obedience and acceptance not akin to the doctrine of a vast army of oppression extending control over its minions? Uncomfortably similar, I would say. 'Nuff said.

"By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes." - William Shakespeare, (Macbeth). Apparently he was one of ours too.

The Windhoek Lager ad springs to mind, in this case with the big man saying to these fundamentalist embarrassments to their religion: "Churches, always keep it real - remember, I'm watching you."

Epic Fail.

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