Mars Hill and Deja Vu: What Pastors and Pornographers Have in Common
On March 9th 2013 for International Women’s Day, Stop Patriarchy will be holding a rally at Westlake, in Seattle…but we are not stopping there! We’re going to be protesting several sites that represent the war on women, and how that war is intensifying. The first place we plan to protest is Mars Hill Church…then we will make our presence known in front of the Deja Vu Showgirls strip club/porn store. In between those spots we will be stopping at bus stops to speak out and protest rape and sexual assault. From Delhi to Ohio, and everywhere else, from the global epidemic of rape, to the attacks on abortion rights, from the burkha to the thong…if you are not fighting the war on women, you are condoning it!
Here’s why we plan to go to Mars Hill and Deja Vu Showgirls….while these are presented as opposing forces by opposing sides, they actually have MUCH more in common than most people think. The Christian fascists and the pornographers both enslave women, and they both strip women of their rights, their voices, and their humanity.
We’ve been to both places, to check them out, and investigate what they’re all about, and I’ll condense some of our experiences here. In the porn store, as we looked over their selection of DVDs, I happened on one that was titled Chester Molest Her. It described child sexual abuse, and whether the performers in this movie were 18+ or not, why would anyone find even the idea of that arousing?! It’s sickening, and furthermore, in the film The Price of Pleasure, they show that there are clear links to both child porn, as well as the ‘barely legal’ kind of porn and actual child sexual abuse. When you consider that rape and gang rape are major themes within pornography, and that this is an industry, a multi-billion dollar industry, that has become more mainstream at the same time as it’s become as increasingly violent, cruel, and degrading, you can begin to see that pornography is fueling rape, and pornifying the culture in a way that normalizes rape and sexualizes violence against women. Pornography is sexualized violence, and by sexualizing violence, you render the violence invisible….by the same token, if you take away the sexualization, what’s left is the violence, violence that is being carried out mainly against women.
Take a look, a searching and honest look, really see the truth about the global epidemic of rape. See what happened to Joyti Singh in Delhi, India; and what is continuing to happen to women and girls there: most recently three girls, ages 7, 9, and 11 were brutally raped and murdered, and left to rot in a village well. And before you say… “Well, that’s India, that doesn’t happen here in the same way”…take a look at the Richmond gang rape that happened a few short years ago, and then look into what happened the summer of 2012 in Stuebenville, Ohio to a 16-year old girl who was dragged unconscious to three parties and repeatedly raped by members of the high school football team who also urged onlookers to urinate on her. These rapes are not different from what happens to women in India, and everywhere around the globe. The cold truth is that there is no place on the face of the planet where it is safe to be female.
Also while in this porn store, I picked out another video that, in the description on the back of the DVD case, described the dreams of young girls… “What do girls want to be when they grow up? Porn stars, of course!” This is what the porn stores and strip clubs think of young girls and women, and what the role of women should be in society. They want women on their knees, and subservient.
At Mars Hill Church, we were surprised when after the introductory pastor got things started, they showed a video on a large screen of Mark Driscoll preaching Ephesians and talking about people finding their identity in Jesus. I’m sure that this consolidated sort of approach shows an understanding of the need for solidity in the message in order for their church to grow….and I can see why people might be drawn into this church, and Mark Driscoll. He’s funny, charismatic, somewhat sophisticated in approach, and he offers a matter-of-fact absolutism in an era of uncertainty and insecurity.
Let me break down some of what he laid out in what we heard that night, and it points to some of why Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church is really horrifying, and really a dangerous growing trend in Seattle. They interpret the bible literally, and encourage/have ways that people “Connect” in order to carry out this biblical literalism in their daily lives, including in the roles of women and men in marriage. They say that homosexuality is a sin, they believe that Satan and demons are real, that people who are not practicing their particular breed of evangelism as well as everyone else that is secular or ‘other’ is going to a literal hell, a “lake of fire.” As evidenced by a story he tells of a man that is interviewing him, who asks him if he (Mark Driscoll) thinks he’s going to end up in hell…Driscoll asks him a few questions, and then says, “Yup, you’re goin’ to hell.” He justifies saying this, by saying that it isn’t cruel to tell people that they’re going hell, the cruel thing would be if you didn’t tell them, and then end up going to hell. Oh yeah, and God is wrath….and yoga really is probably demonic.
We heard one especially heartbreaking story (“testimony”) from a woman who is part of the MHC ‘choir’….she had a really amazing voice. Yet, in the content of what she said, well, it made me want to bolt for the door, and/or start sobbing. She talked about moving to Seattle in order to get into the music scene, but now she sees that she worshiped music as an idol, and she now sings only for MHC. She was “living in sin” before, by having a sexual relationship with a woman. She grew up without a father, but now has a perfect father in God.
Let’s go a little further with all this, and be clear that MHC is actually right about what the bible says! The bible taken literally is a horror for people, especially for women, children, and gay people. This is a book full of things that people made up and wrote down thousands of years ago, when people- not least of which were women- were literally enslaved. No one should need to wonder why, in a patriarchal society, they produced a book that was and still is intensely patriarchal. This book was used to justify and encourage all sorts of horrors: women treated as slaves and property, raping of women and forcing women to marry their rapists, the stoning of women, the abuse and murder of children and babies, the execution of gay men, the execution of “witches.” If you don’t believe me, well, read the bible…all this and more is in there. And of course, there is the ever present idea that women are really no good, but they can redeem themselves by submitting willingly to their husband, the church, and by fulfilling their only acceptable and laudable role: having and raising children.
While we’re talking about the role of women being reduced to breeders of children, we also need to talk about abortion and birth control. What does MHC have to say on that topic? It was not that surprising to read online that they oppose abortion, and consider it murder, along with forms of birth control like the morning after pill, progesterone-only pills, as well as IUDs. This includes cases of rape. Been raped? Well, according the MHC you have to pray about it, and talk it over with your pastor, and they want ‘to love and serve and pastor you’……but their bottom line answer is that abortion is always wrong.
Again, let’s be clear, this time on what the overall situation is concerning abortion and birth control rights. Abortion rights are more under attack, more dangerous to provide, and more restricted and difficult for women to access than in the whole history of abortion being legal. Woman are harassed and stigmatized for having abortions, and abortion doctors and providers are terrorized and killed for providing women with this choice. While Roe v. Wade hasn’t yet been overturned, the majority of women cannot gain access to abortion services in order to use this right. Already 97% of rural counties are without abortion providers. In taking out our slogan: Abortion On Demand and Without Apology, and struggling for people to be out in the streets protesting on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Stop Patriarchy! ran into the idea that abortion is murder from both the Christian fascists as well as people that consider themselves pro-choice. This shows exactly how much ground has been lost in this battle! To be clear, this is a battle over life and death, but NOT for the reasons that the so-called pro-life movement professes. This is a battle over the lives of women.
Women are not incubators and abortion is not murder. Abortion is a essential right that determines whether women will be free to decide the direction of their own lives, whether women will be able to participate fully in all realms of society, whether women will die in seeking illegal and unsafe abortions, and whether women will be criminalized and jailed for miscarriages and other pregnancy related issues. An estimated 70,000 women die globally every year due to lack of abortion rights. Notably, there have been protests in Ireland over the death of Savita Halapanavaar, a 31-year old woman who was denied an abortion after she started to miscarriage, and died as a result. Fetuses are not babies, they have the potential for life, but they are not full human beings until they are born, and able to live outside of a woman’s body. A fetus is subordinate to, and dependent on, a woman’s body in order to develop into a baby. To elevate the status of a fetus to personhood is to deny a woman her humanity, and forcing women to bear children against their will is like rape: it is the forcible control over a woman’s body and life by a male-supremacist state.
Mars Hill Church provides a laid back and hip approach to all this biblical literalism….you can smoke, have tattoos, and still live the mentality of the Dark Ages. People should reject this, and protest this! Mars Hill Church and their ideas about the world, and how the world should be, are from the Dark Ages, and they, like the pornographers and sellers of women, also want women on their knees and subservient.
Mars Hill Church: we see through your tattoos, and the cigarette smoke, to the reality of what you represent. Deja Vu Showgirls: we see through the lies about sexual freedom, to the reality of what you represent. On March 9th, for International Women’s Day we will be there to say: Women are not objects. Women are not things to be used for the sexual pleasure of men. NOR are the breeders of children. Women are full human beings, capable of full equality in every realm! We refuse to accept a world which enslaves and degrades half of humanity simply because they are born female. We are done turning our heads and making excuses. We are done swallowing the daily insults and abuses. We are done blaming ourselves and/or each other. We are done choking on our rage. We dare to confront this war on women head-on, without fear, and without compromise.
Join us on March 9th at Westlake at noon, and join us at these venues of female enslavement and degradation as we protest them and what they represent. Join us as we protest Mars Hill Church and their “Biblical Marriage Class” which teaches the real-life submission of women to men, reduce’s women’s role to breeders of children, and demonizes LGBT people. Join us as we protest Deja Vu Showgirls for selling women and porn- which is not about eroticism and sexual exploration but about sexualized violence against, and humiliation of women and girls, and helps fuel the world-wide epidemic of rape.
Get in touch with Stop Patriarchy Seattle at email@example.com