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How Religion Helps Men Evade Personal Responsibility

By Amanda Marcotte
Wednesday, October 30, 2013 13:40 EDT
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I posted at XX Factor about this website where women set out to shame “homewreckers”, i.e. women who slept with or even “stole” boyfriends or husbands who presumably had a monogamous commitment to another woman. It’s a brief post that doesn’t mention the blog of the woman—titled I’m In Love With A Serial Cheater—who started this shaming site, but I ended up reading many blog posts from it because, to be frank, the experience of being a woman who has completely absconded any personal dignity and is so devoted to even the most grotesque sexism is really alien to me. I began to almost feel sorry for the blogger, whose shitbag of a husband is clearly enjoying the hell out of having his wife and his mistress fight relentlessly over him. The only thing he has to do for the pleasure is occasionally pretend to be mildly sorry, but honestly not even that, because the blogger is 100% clear that she believes that he has no choice but to fuck a woman who offers. It’s mind-boggling and distressing to realize how many women have completely bought into the notion that a man’s only as good as his options.

But what I didn’t really touch on in the Slate post is the role religion plays in all this. The blogger printed a letter from a reader that really shows how religious beliefs that men are leaders and women are submissive helpmeets do not, in fact, encourage male responsibility. In fact, they do they opposite. Here’s an excerpt from the letter, titled “Open Letter To The Homewrecker”.

You don’t know my husband. I know him inside and out 14 years’ worth of mostly ups and a few downs that made us. 47 years that made him. His family, his needs, his desires, his weaknesses and his strengths. You don’t know him. You know what he tells you of himself. What he pretends to be in a dirty little secret world. It’s in his heart to serve the Lord and lead his family as a Kingdom Man, but his flesh is weak. Satan preys on him to distract and destroy and you are but one of many of the enemy’s tricks. Yes, TRICKS. My husband is caught in a spiritual battle and he is losing as you continue providing satanic ammunition. Manipulative texts, dirty pictures and Satan laughs at both of you and the destruction you seek to deliver. No, you don’t know my husband. If you did, you would know that he will not leave me. Not for the kids’ sake or child support but because he LOVES me in a way you will never know. In a deep and eternal way that doesn’t stop even if our relationship did. He desires me in a way he never has anyone else. I provide a sense of safety, stability, warmth, passion and freedom that no one else will. Unconditional love and acceptance in the safety of his covenant of a family. If you knew my husband you would know the juvenile infatuation that prompts him to reach for you will prompt him to reach for another if he was without you. That the chemical reaction in his brain is nothing more than a horny-teenage impulse and is unstable at best. The deep, abiding and familiar love he seeks he has at home. That when he is truly alone, it’s his family, not his harem that he misses. If you knew my husband you would know that romantic texts and sweet nothings are his player’s lines. Not his love language. He speaks his love in his actions – love is an action word for him. He shows it in making sure his family is taken care of in every way. All his empty words might get you to send one more dirty video or maybe get him laid, but he will tire of you soon. If you knew my husband you would want the best for him. You would want him to listen to the Spirit and God and move in the direction he moves him, which is not anywhere near you, my dear. You don’t know him.

Despite the fact that this woman believes that her husband is the “leader” of her family, the responsibility to hold the family together doesn’t belong to him, but to some random woman that he apparently has to fuck because men supposedly have no self-control. This always amazes me, the way that people with sexist beliefs both think that men can’t handle even the basic responsibility of keeping a promise but nonetheless are supposed to be the leaders while women are supposed to be followers. The bad logic of that should be screamingly obvious, and yet people don’t see it.

Frankly, as this letter shows, the reason they don’t see it is largely religion. Obviously, a lot of religious people are smart, rational people on the whole. (I’ve never met a smart, rational person who didn’t have a wacky belief or two, and so it follows that a popular one would be religion.) But religion is one of the best ways that humanity has ever come up with to bamboozle people out of noticing giant flaws in a system. There’s no logical reason to argue, “Men are so irresponsible and flighty that they can’t keep their dick in their pants, so let’s give them the power to run the world and give none of it to women.” You need to add, “God said so,” at the end of that so that people stifle the obvious questions.

To be clear, I neither think that men are natural leaders nor that they can’t say no to sexual opportunities that they know are wrong. Men can and do that all the time, and aren’t inherently worse at it than women. The belief that a man has to fuck if the opportunity presents itself is one that’s often trotted out not only to justify cheating but even sexual assault. It’s a belief that needs to die in a fire, be dragged out, and set on fire again. I just want to point out that not only are both beliefs false beliefs, but they contradict each other. Some people are capable of managing that cognitive dissonance without religion, but to get entire populations to go with it, telling them God said so is an excellent way to keep them from noticing that obvious bullshit is obvious.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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