Feminism

"Captivating" Review: 77-92, "A Special Hatred"

lucifer

Other possible titles for this chapter could be:

  • “Satan Makes Them Do It.”
  • “No One has Free Will. Satan or God Decide Everything Always.”
  • “We’re Not Quite Sure how to Construct a Rational Argument.”

Today’s post might be just a touch snarky, as I’m a little bit tired of their nonsense. There are two glaring problems with this chapter, but before I jump into them, I want to begin by highlighting how self-contradictory John and Stasi are. Because they adhere to gender essentialism, they are incapable of recognizing the problems that come with thinking about people that way, and it forces them to make arguments that aren’t internally consistent.

Something that happens in this chapter makes me feel all sorts of conflicted, because I want to be heartbroken while I also want to smash things. It’s funny how often the two go hand-in-hand in my life nowadays.

But a young, rebellious, unwise woman set loose with a Eurail Pass and a bleeding heart attracted cruel attention. While traveling through Italy, I was sexually assaulted, and although I was furious at the man, deep in my heart I felt somehow worthy of assault … Later, in the south of France, I unwittingly put myself in a dangerous position. After enjoying a few too many drinks … I accepted a ride back to the hotel from the men we had been drinking with. You must be shaking your hear as you read this, knowing what was coming. I am. Their offered ride did not lead us back to the hotel but instead to a private location where I was raped.

Internalized misogyny logic: trusting that men aren’t rapists means getting raped is all your fault, you foolish girl.

I understand this perspective. It’s where my head was for three years after I was raped and assaulted– I believed in all the lies of my sub-culture; “men only go as far as women let them,” and “you can incite a man to rape you by being sexually impure,” as well as many others. Stasi believes that women can be at fault for the sexual violence perpetrated against them– both passively and actively. The fact that Stasi is spreading these lies around as a rape survivor is shattering, but it also makes me angry. There are so many toxic messages in this book I am desperately sorry for all the men and women who have read it.

However, contrary to this paragraph, Stasi and John go on to make the argument that violence against women exists because Satan hates women for the following reasons:

  • He used to be beautiful. Now he isn’t, and he can’t stand that women are pretty.
  • He is a murderer, and he hates that women can make babies.

Neither ones of these makes sense, but Stasi and John are convinced that this is true because they believe that 20th century white middle-class American stereotypes about gender apply to everyone who has ever lived. To them, men are not beautiful, which just baffles me. Also, apparently, human females are capable of asexual reproductionWe definitely make life all on our own and we don’t need sperm to do it. Nope.

They also go on to claim that Satan targets women because we are “the weaker of the two [sexes].” I was a little surprised that they made this argument, because its premise is that women are either morally or mentally (or both) inferior to men. If Satan targeted the woman because she was “weaker,” it necessarily means that women are more easily deceived, have weak moral wills, are not as autonomous, aren’t as capable of expressing agency, and are more easily corruptible than men. That’s some pretty blatant misogyny.

What also frustrates me is that they frame the way that Satan targets women as “an assault on femininity.” That’s just more of their gender essentialism speaking, but heavens does it make me want to tear my hair out. Being feminine and being a woman are not the same thing, and this belief centers the white, heterosexual, American perspective as the standard. But, to them, “femininity” and “womanhood” are not just synonyms, they are the exact same thing.

John closes out the chapter with six pages of blaming Satan for his sexism. After describing a woman’s soul as “a bloody mess,” he spends a lot of time talking about how, as a manly man who mans very dudely, he doesn’t like taking the time to understand women.  But that has nothing to do with sexism or misogyny or patriarchy. Nope. It’s because Satan wants to use him to get back at women for being pretty.

So, these are the conclusions of this chapter:

  1. Rapists rape because Satan made them do it, but they only rape foolish people who sort of deserve it anyway.
  2. Misogyny and patriarchy are really just Satan attacking women cuz we’re pretty and are capable of being preggo.
  3. It just makes sense for Satan to attack us. Men are more moral and more intelligent.

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  • EvaM

    Honestly, why are you continuing to read this? If I were you I’d shred that book and use it for kindling.

    • Because of the tens of thousands of people who have read it and continue to believe that it’s a wonderful book.

      • I, for one, appreciate your suffering through this and venting about it. Your commentary has helped affirm me, at least, if not many others. I read the book as soon as it came out years ago when I was still searching through the popular evangelical self-help doctrines for the reason why I hated myself. This book only served to increase my shame over not acting feminine enough (not to mention deepening my humiliation over being a ”weak” female in the first place), and sent me into a pretty deep depression. Which, of course, I was supposed to pray myself out of to be a happy, demure, peace-filled Christian beauty. *gags*

        Anyway, thank you for struggling through this book with us.

      • EvaM

        Well you have a much stronger constitution than me. I’d have given up long before now.
        It really saddens me that stuff like this is still published…and worse, celebrated…

  • Does the next chapter explain how God ordains that women have a special burden to bear? Because that seems pretty consistent with their argument so far and would pretty much put the icing on the cake.

    • Not explicitly– it is the subtext of this chapter, however.

  • THANKS, MILTON.

  • cm

    *sarcasm*
    ….but don’t you know that it is not a bad thing for women to be weak and deceived because that is what makes men special…….if women weren’t weak and frail and stupid, however would men be able to fulfill their god-ordained knight in shining armor/save the damsel in distress role? how would men and women relate to each other at all? women wouldnt have anything to do with men and would just run off like the amazons of old………..patriarchy and all the subsequent suffering to women and children are god ordained in order to solidify these biblicaly ordained roles of suffering woman/noble strong man/leader/saviour.
    How would my husband feel any love for me at all if I didnt make him feel good constantly by belittling myself???

  • Kiersten

    Did anyone else think “omg, he’s referencing periods” when women are referred to as “a bloody mess”?

    Cuz I did. And it made me mad.

  • Samantha, I am so glad you are doing this, even when it drags on. Keep up the good work! 🙂

    …reading…

    Satan was pretty- wait. What? Before God threw him out?? Isn’t beauty a specifically feminine trait in this book and a truly manly man is too hideous to look at when half draped with a sheet?

    Did- did Satan used to be gender queer?

    Was his ‘fall’ and banishment to earth actually God’s botched attempt at reparative therapy?

    • That thought occurred to me, as well. See what I mean about how their argument doesn’t have internal consistency?

      I also wonder if this possible interpretation of Lucifer as genderqueer has been used to literally demonize intersex people? One of the illustrations I found when I was looking for a illustration of Lucifer was of an orgy, where one of the participants is clearly intersex (from a text called “120 Days of Sodom”).

      • Ya know… I have this theory about the Angels and all that… Ya know how according to “scholarly men” in the old days they were defined as being “neuter but Male”? Like, they completely lacked sexy bits but presented as males? I have this theory of angels that actually errs on the OPPOSITE side of the spectrum… that Angels, like Michael and Gabriel and yes, Lucifer, were functionally intersex or something like that and chose to present as either gender or neither if that was their wish…

        Of course, being a storyteller at heart I get to PLAY with that theory in worlds of my own creation… but I kinda like the idea of the Archangel Michael as this Amazon Woman Warrior just kicking all kinds of butt across the heavens…

        • Liralen

          Have you seen the movie Constantine? I absolutely love Tilda Swinton’s portrayal of Gabriel.

          I completely agree with you – but instead of the word “intersex”, I generally use “androgynous”. But some form of “neuter” may be more accurate. It really does not make sense for immortals to have a gender. What’s the point if there is no need to reproduce?

          • I have seen Constantine and I really like that portrayal. I use “intersex”, though, because angels were the template that one of the scientists in the ancient background of one world setting used to create their super soldiers… thus they *needed* the ability to reproduce. Yes, “neuter” or “androgynous” would be more accurate for actual heavenly creatures that did not require reproductive capability… unless they do need that ability and we just didn’t need to know about it.

            I am a firm believer in the idea that there are more things out there in Reality than we needed to have mentioned in the Bible. Shakespeare’s “more things in Heaven and Earth” Philosophy, so to speak.

  • Gram Pol

    Women are the weaker sex, which is how Satan influences men to rape them. Because logic.

  • Satan hates women because they’re pretty? That’s the goofiest justification I’ve heard in a long time.

  • Is this the chapter where they quote a passage from Ezekiel, say it’s about Satan, and then when you check the actual context, it’s a prophecy about a very specific corrupt king (and I remember thinking the language in the passage was really poetic and then got pissed off at them for taking it out of context).

    • Yup. I almost mentioned that today but it’s a pretty common evangelical interpretation.

  • Ryan

    Hi Samantha,
    I just found your blog today (via Relevant) and have spent the afternoon reading a number of your posts. A couple thoughts:
    First, I enjoyed your writing, but I was so sad to read of some of the things you went through. I’m very sorry those things happened to you. I don’t believe that’s what God intended at all. I think you’re taking some good steps towards rebuilding something positive here, I’d encourage you to continue.
    Second, I wasn’t sure quite what the issue was with your hair. I got most of the way through that post and I thought I had the endurance to stick it out, but then, you lost me. So, not sure what the deal is there, but, if it’s not inappropriate for me to say, in the pictures here, anyway, I think your hair looks great.
    Finally, reading this post specifically, while the book you’re reviewing sounds dreadful, I’m interested in what seems to be an off-handed dismissal of the idea of gender essentialism. Not that I’m coming down on one side of the other of that debate, but I bring it up because in another post you appear to be supportive of the transgendered community. And yet, it seems to me that the very nature of transgenderism demands a presumption of gender essentialism, does it not? That is, if there were no essential differences between a biological man and woman, then it would be difficult for a transgendered person to be, for example, a man stuck in a woman’s body, right? Just a thought.
    Thanks for your writing,

    • Aibird

      If I can step in as a trans person, gender essentialism is very, very hurtful toward the trans community. It is often used against us to try to prove our gender identities are invalid. Also, the transgender community does not demand gender essentialism at all. You’re thinking about it in the wrong way. (Also, as a side note, not all transgender people are a “man stuck in a woman’s body” or a “woman stuck in a man’s body.” That’s a bit of an outdated (and sometimes hurtful) way to view it, and does not in any way describe all transgender people’s experiences. It’s a lot more diverse and complicated than what gender essentialism would have you believe.)

      First off, sex and gender identity are not the same thing, which is part of what you’re assuming here. Sex is a set of biological traits, which may or may not align with how doctors assigned your gender at birth. (Depending on if you were intersex, and again depending on your chromosomes — which, by the way, there’s six different combinations of chromosomes. That’s all I’ll say on this. Someone more knowledgeable should step in for this side of the discussion.) Your gender identity is your innate sense of gender — housed in your brain — and that may or may not align with the gender assigned to you at birth. If it does align with your assigned gender, then you’re cisgender.

      Your body is quite a bit malleable actually depending on the hormone treatment you take and if you opt for surgery. However, that doesn’t mean that there is no biological differences between male and female. There is biological differences, but they are not necessarily set in stone differences either.

      Another note: You’re also completely erasing non-binary people here. That’s another problem with gender essentialism. It erases non-binary people entirely, and they also exist in the transgender community. As a non-binary person, I find gender essentialism to be incredibly hurtful and frustrating because of this.

      That’s all I can say for now. I’m a bit tired.

      • Ryan

        Hello Aibird,
        Thank you for responding. I would certainly not want to say anything intentionally hurtful to you, though I would appreciate discussing this with you a little bit.
        I think a lot of this depends on how we are using the phrase “gender essentialism.” In my reading, I’ve seen it used many different ways over the years to refer to many different versions of the idea.
        Most traditionally we have the gender essentialism that we might associate with the Madmen era, or traditional fundamentalist churches. The basic idea there is that there is more difference between a man and a woman than just the external differences; being a woman, or man, means you are also different on the inside. We might just as well call this “hierarchical essentialism,” or maybe better yet, “patriarchal essentialism”, since the internal differences it focuses on are usually those which they think make a man “strong” and a woman “weak.”
        Partly in response to that version of essentialism, we get early feminism which argues that there are no “essential”, i.e. internal, differences between a man and a woman; they may happen to have some physical differences on the outside, but inside they are both equally human and equally the same. Thus, there’s nothing a man can do that a woman cannot also do, etc.
        Then a decade or so ago we start to see in the scientific study the sexes the assertion that there are in fact some internal differences inherent – that is, essential – to one sex or the other. The most famous example of this, I think, is that lab study where subjects thought they were auditioning to be a news anchor and have to try reading a teleprompter, focusing on the camera, listening to the producer in their earpiece, and moving a coffee cup out of the way on the desk all at the same time. The results were that most women had no difficulty doing all those tasks simultaneously, while most men had great difficulty. Their conclusion then was that women were naturally – i.e. essentially – better multi-taskers, We might call this version of essentialism “benign essentialism” since – as a scientific discipline – it’s not focused on evaluating the differences as “good” or “bad”, “strong” or “weak”, but rather focuses simply on reporting the data. Neither does it characterize such differences as superior or inferior (a better ability to multitask is only useful if you need to multitask).
        I could go on, but I am also tired. The common denominator between all such versions of essentialism though is that there is an interior identity that can be distinguished from the exterior identity; that is, which biological body you happen to be born into does not say all there is to say about your identity – there is a separate, distinguishable identity on the inside. That is, I think, the core idea of essentialism. Different versions of essentialism work out that idea in different ways, but it’s still the same core assertion.
        In my reading, the trans community tends to depend upon that same assertion – that they have an internal identify that is distinguishable from their external identity – and in that way they hold their own version of essentialism, yes?
        Not that I’ve read deeply on it. In fact, the only reason I’ve read much at all on this is because I was studying fundamentalism, and stumbled onto feminist critiques of essentialism that targeted both fundamentalism and the trans community at the same time, which I noticed because it’s not every day that you see those two groups lumped together!

  • Alas, the idea that women are inherently inferior – and more capable of being deceived – and hence the root of evil – goes WAY back.

    I would list out the quotes that I found researching one of my own blog posts, but I don’t want to retype it. If you don’t mind, I’ll just link it. http://fiddlrts.blogspot.com/2014/06/modesty-culture-part-8-sexism-and.html

    • Also, trigger warnings for all kinds of bad stuff in that post. Read only if you are in the mood to throw things at the screen.

  • eX-Man

    I just found your blog and all this, and straight off, your covering of this garbage is helping me unlearn my toxic gender crap in about the same way the leftbehind slacktivist series helped me start the process of shedding ‘end of the world mortal terror’ and ‘everything people say is in the bible is literally there’ (i swear i had to re-read genesis five times before i cognitively accepted it says NOTHING about the snake being satan, for instance). i mean that in the highest of praise, believe me! these is soooo good for me and the people i share it with, this is spiritual healing leading to freedom, straight up.

    i hope you don’t mind me using the latest post in the series to quick-thought catchup on this book?

    so yeah first off, you don’t need me to tell you this, but seriously, every time these books have done ‘boys dont’, both me and the friend i’m reading this to go “ummmm…excuse me but.. :hand raise:”

    in fact, half the books’ lines about ‘deep down you want (feminine thing) but feel horrible because you know society would look down on you and you feel broken’, feel like they’re speaking to me as a person raised male who is only just starting to explore all the awful repression and insecurity i had. and actually feel finally more healed and closer to god than ever the more i just intentionally give up upholding alleged ”””masculinity””’.

    trying my moms clothes when i was 3 or 4, wistful fantasies as a kid of being a princess, a home-maker, of ball room dancing in the following part, of finding assertiveness and confidence made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, etc etc… i’m guessing they never intended that angle! i would kill to hear john respond to that~

    and just to realize right from the get go theres a problem, if this is a book primarily by a woman, for women (against women really tho, if its honest), why the heck is her husband so prominently co-authoring???? seriously john, no one needs your ignorant sexist ass butting in to shrug and say ‘boy, WOMEN, am i rite *waits for laugh track*’.

    he even GETS TOP BILLING ON THE BOOK. seriously, what the heck!?

    it reminds me of these awful disgusting toxic ‘for men only/for women only’ books i saw on my moms shelf that she and my dad got given when they got engaged, and i just could NOT get over how the book for husbands is written by a husband, and the book for wives…>>>is written by the same husband<<<. friggen WHAT??

    b'yeah, sorry for my rambling. you own, and thank you so much!

  • I read these posts of yours almost religiously, as they’re helping me understand where some of the flawed thinking I’ve lumped about with me FOR YEARS has come from. Whether it was intended or no, the Church put a lot of this bullshit into my head and I gulped it down, thinking it would make me less sinful. Boy was I wrong. Thank you for writing. x

  • Just realized that I have felt very lucky NOT to be raped because I have done things like go to other countries and meet new people, use hostels and here in America (gasp!) go to stores late at night.
    Because my family berates me for being foolish for this, I have internalized the message that if I were attacked, it would be my fault.
    And recently, after a date pushed me down and then got mad when I didn’t want to have sex with him, but thankfully let me go, I thought it was my fault because I let myself be alone with him!
    Grr…