Ten Qualities of Women Who Could Be Murderers

Mitch showed me this article today, "10 Women Christian Men Should Not Marry", by a pastor in NYC. I know I shouldn't read stuff like this because it's provocative, inflammatory, and while I'm a Christian, I'm not a Christian like that. I'm not a member of that congregation or community (nor will I ever be). And, to some extent, what they believe is none of my business.

But I did read it. And I think I have something interesting to say about it. So now I'm writing a blog post about it and wasting my morning.

According to the inverse of the list, the ten qualities of women who men should marry are as follows:

Modest Dresser
Willing to have kids
Dislikes Travel
Committed to Family

Based on this list, what I realized is the limited scale of evil the author must have when it comes to women, Lady Macbeth comes to mind, a woman very committed to her family. This list does not denounce lies, cheating, murder, torture, tyranny, imprisonment, manipulation...

Our imaginations are stunted. When we think of women being bad or deserving punishment (in the case of this article, the punishment being stamped "unmarriable") we think of, at the very worst, a woman who seduces a man to get what she wants. Otherwise, our judgement is reserved for women who step out of line, who don't conform to the lesser rank of "female".

But think of some great villains from literature: as before mentioned, Lady Macbeth, who conspires to commit regicide in support for her husband's career; Madame Defarge, the constantly knitting blood-thirsty revolutionary from Tale of Two Cities who is described as being "absolutely without pity"; or Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest who tyrannizes the wards of a mental institution.

All three of these villains conform to the gender requirements of being female, even of being female and Christian. They are devout, modestly dressed, non-feminists, and they are amazingly, potently awful.

The list of the 10 women Christian men should not marry actually gives a pretty good recipe for a quality villainess. She is someone who is squeezed and squeezed by her community until she is altered, unhealthy, in need of outlet or revenge. Or maybe she's just bored because of her wasted education or brainspace, fielding children all day that she didn't truly want.

And even better - she is a devout believer. She has a creed that she can use to justify her actions, that she can twist until her conscience quiets. As Charles d'Ambrosio says in his essay Hell House (about visiting a Christian haunted house in Texas):

"Very often I felt the tour wasn’t about conversion but enlistment, and as such, it was a test of loyalty, with anyone who was the slightest bit recreant banished. Loyalty — in its darkest form, which left so much death as its legacy to the twentieth century — rids the divided self of anxiety and guilt, so that murder smiles."


More Sex and the City

I was thinking about Sex and the City, this morning. Not sure why. I watched an episode over Christmas - the one where Charlotte gives up Christmas because she's becoming a Jew - and it seemed less impressive to me than I remembered it, coming into and out of my last years of college.

Back then, my roommates would gather round, we'd even get the neighbors, to watch Sex one disintegrating disk at a time. It was amazing, about women in their thirties - older women! The potential future! And it was smart and explicit and frank, which were qualities not commonly found elsewhere in our Christian college experience. It sounds corny, but I felt like my eyes were opened and world expanded by watching that show.

The "aspirational" nature of the show has been called out a lot as to sort of why people like it. All the women have nice things, are able to live glamorous lives. The opening scene of the movie is set to a song called "Labels or Love", after all.

And I do think people, in part, like it because they aspire to the material lives of these four women, but for me the aspiration was in the fact that women, in a future turn or phase of life, still hung out with their friends. It was a special hope and possibility, for me, coming out of college.