Monday, August 16, 2010

Gay Redux - They just keep trying...

Is it a lingering continuation of the late 19th Century apocalyptic millennialism and its charge that the growing feminism was going to bring down the world, no less? Is this all so unfamiliar…

From: Catherine Keller’s Apocalypse Now and Then, A Feminist’s Guide to the End of the World: (Some quotation marks removed for clarity. Further references available on request)

(circa 1890) At that moment, we witness for the first time the potent and now so familiar pairing of conservative gender essentialism with apocalyptic biblicism. A popular fundamental magazine wrote that when woman assumes ‘the prerogative of power which belongs to the man and seeks to dominate the world or all of its activities, as she is doing today, she then possesses the spirit of the beast and is like an angel of light fallen from heaven.’

This rare acknowledgment of the dragon’s female side seems to encode the response of the new backlash against the New Woman’s answer to the last. DeBerg demonstrates that in many of the pamphlets and articles listing signs of the end times – riots, violence, and crimes were prominent – ‘the most space was given to a discussion of the social behavior of the New Woman: the ‘easy-going manner in which women of highest rank and culture have allowed the old-fashioned rules and restraints which governed society to be relaxed.’ In these last dreadful days, women will be tempted to take part in this or that social reform, to give their sex the ballot and place them on political equality with men, for their own protection, and to reform society. Political emancipation was a sure sign of the end. Women assuming leadership roles outside of the home but above all in religion embodied a foreboding sign of the approaching tribulations: ‘but the prominence of women in a sphere inconsistent with nature and with the meekness and quietness, which are the ornament of the Christian woman is one of the signs of the times. Quite logically, if the world is constituted of the proper harmony of the two spheres, then when woman leaves her sphere the world will fall apart.

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