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First question:  What do you think?

I like this.


Because.  The end.

…Oh, all right, that wasn’t helpful, I admit it.  So here’s why.  List of reasons.  First off, a good definition of feminism (though I am not sure if it should be called ‘feminism’ so much as ‘the practice of being a decent person who cares for the opinions of others as regards their own life and well-being’).  And as my friends know, there’s nothing that gets me more enthused than a REALLY SOLID DEFINITION.

What we have here, in case you couldn’t be bothered to read the URL, is a rousing discussion of the failings of ‘complementarianism,’ an incredibly long word that I am totally adding to my daily vocabulary.   But what does it mean?

Well, to quote, it is the view that “men and women should have different roles to fulfill in the church and the home; men lead and make decisions, and women submit and nurture.”


Let’s set aside all the surface-level debate (such as the fact that most of the women I know would very casually remove the face of whoever asked them to ‘submit’ anything other than an application for an internship) and look at the overarching structure of the problem here.

The issue is not that this idea exists.  This idea drives successful relationships.

(Lesser-known, more optimistic version of Rule 34: If you can imagine it, somewhere, someone has built a happy relationship upon it).

(this rule is modified by the Fight Club Corollary: Relationship-Rule-34 does not apply to legitimately abusive relationships.  Do not confuse abusive relationships with ones like in the movie Mr. And Mrs. Smith)

(end parenthetical aside)

The ISSUE is, as with all other creeds, as with all other ideas and perceptions, that certain people think it is the ONLY WAY.  Now.  This is not not unsurprising: as G.K. Chesterton (who is HIGHLY ENTERTAINING) says: “no man ought to write at all, or even to speak at all, unless he thinks that he is in truth and the other man in error.”  The point of communication is, it can be argued, to arrive at the truth—or, more accurately, to convince the other people that the truth you believe in is actually correct.

And so we have the obvious problem, because it is a very easy step (and sometimes an unconscious one) to go from communicating your perception of truth* to attempting to enforce it in the lives of other people, and this is precisely where humanity begins to clash in religion, in politics, in sociocultural issues, in gender roles, and even on the most basic level of connection between two people.

It can be such a well-intentioned slip—and so simple.  After all, if you know you are correct, really feel it in your heart, then obviously it is one’s duty, one’s simple human role, to communicate this truth to the world, so that all may share in it, and the harmony of the heavens shall reflect the peace of the temporal realm, and all mankind shall lift their voices in joyous unison, etc., etc.

Here is where I shall VERY SUBTLY shift this over to my larger point: the issue of OPEN-MINDEDNESS contrasted with TOLERANCE.

You might say “well, sir, clearly you are inebriated, tolerance and open-mindedness are one and the same, sir.”  If you do say such, then, I assure you, I am quite in my right mind, and I must say you are quite a gentleman—I can tell because you say ‘sir’ so often.

BUT NO, open-mindedness is not the same thing as tolerance.  In fact, ‘tolerance’ is not a term I am fond of, now that I reflect on it.  To be ‘tolerant’ of something implies that you have even the faintest right to deny its existence.

There are many people who are ‘tolerant’ who are not open-minded.  Tolerance is the ability to endure the revelation that other peoples’ minds function differently, and the self-control necessary to not fire off a nuclear salvo of sacerdotalism or what-have-you the instant something someone says contradicts your own personal beliefs in the slightest.  Tolerance is the ability to engage in a discussion about your favorite kind of dog without launching into a rant about The Corrupting Influence Of Judeo-Christian Religion In Western Society.

Admittedly, there are lots of people who aren’t wholly tolerant, even according to this rather facetious (but only ‘rather’) description.   But an even larger cross-section can be referred to as not being open-minded.

What is open-mindedness? What on earth am I trying to say? Put plainly, WHAT THE HELL AM I TALKING ABOUT?

In the simplest possible terms, ‘open-mindedness’ can be defined as the quality of neuroplasticity, the mechanism by which we can recognize and reconcile an error in our belief systems, the mechanism by which, rather than continuing to obganiate and perpetuate our views, we reassess and alter our thoughts, words and actions to reflect the truer point of view that we recognize.

…okay, so that wasn’t very simple. Oops.

PUT SIMPLY, it is the ability to listen.  Really listen.  A lot of people can detect vibrations propagated by rapid motion of air along human vocal chords, but how many of them listen to every word?   Not in the way you listen to the complaints of an irritating younger sibling or endure the barking of a dog, but really listen, evaluate each word for its cognitive-emotional content, and calculate your response and actions based upon that information.


What does it take?

What would someone have to say to completely alter the way you view them?

What would someone have to say to completely alter the way you treat them?

Do the last two questions have the same answer? If so, why? If not…why?

TOLERANCE is the ability to endure the presence of other worldviews.  OPEN-MINDEDNESS** is the ability to incorporate them into your own, to recognize the points where your actions and creed might be too harsh, where you might hold to it too vehemently.   To possess the former is, I would argue, far easier than to hold the latter.  And once one is open-minded, well, I would say, mere ‘tolerance’ is no longer even possible.

So that’s my rant for the week.  Conclusion?  Moral?  Is there a message, hidden here? Yes, and I’ll make it as OBVIOUS AS POSSIBLE.

BE OPEN MINDED.  The mere fact that an individual’s worldview does not mesh with your own does not signify wrongness.***  TOLERANCE is not enough.  Don’t base your warm, fuzzy feeling of superiority on TOLERANCE.  American society TOLERATED a certain population for many years after the Civil War was over.  We TOLERATE another one now, though the degree to which we tolerate them may shift in Wisconsin with the new legislation against visiting rights.


*Chesterton would likely laugh at the idea of a ‘perception of truth’ just as much as the idea of an ‘aspect of truth,’ but luckily for me I am actually correct in this matter and need not concern myself with such things.

** “Ideas are dangerous, but the man to whom they are least dangerous is the man of ideas. He is acquainted with ideas, and moves among them like a lion-tamer. Ideas are dangerous, but the man to whom they are most dangerous is the man of no ideas.” –Chesterton

*** “Even if we think religion insoluble, we cannot think it irrelevant. Even if we ourselves have no view of the ultimate verities, we must feel that wherever such a view exists in a man it must be more important than anything else in him.” –Chesterton




  1. Now I just really want to listen in on a conversation about favorite kinds of dogs turning into a rant about The Corrupting Influence Of Judeo-Christian Religion In Western Society.

    And I think the difference between tolerance and open-mindedness is something not often-enough recognized. I enjoyed your thoughts on it; they made me think. I like thinking, even if I’m not terribly successfully critical about it.

    • YOU. It’s been TOO LONG!
      I’m sure I could generate that…that might be a good blog post to follow up to this one. It would certainly be an exercise in creative writing.

      I’m glad my post prompted thought! I agree; thinking is good. And based on conversations we’ve had in the past, I’d say that you’re reasonably good at thinking. Maybe even exceptionally reasonably! 😀

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