Friday, November 22, 2013

Christians on Top

The Supreme Court is hearing a case that involves Christian prayers at town board meetings of elected officials. Because the prayers are Christian, which is on top of our religion hierarchy in the U.S., for centuries many people have not questioned whether the practice is in violation of the separation of church and state and say that the prayers are inclusive of the nation. Obviously this opinion is based on hierarchy because what is good for the top is considered to be acceptable for everyone in the hierarchy.

The religion hierarchy is so strong in the U.S., particularly among the right wing who depend on religion to maintain their power and their base, that just talking about Christian prayers cannot provide enough traction to make the hierarchy visible. Columnist Jeff Schweitzer uses role reversals to bring focus to the special privileges  that Christianity enjoys.  

"The obvious problem of course is that not all citizens believe Christ is our savior. No big deal, you say? What is the problem you ask? Would any Christian or Jew tolerate a town meeting opened exclusively with an Islamic prayer from the Quran? How would our Christian citizens feel if the meeting were opened with pleas to Allah? Or if the opening prayer was done in Hebrew? The answer is obvious and self-evident: it would be offensive, and clearly counter to the ideal of freedom of religion. That reality simply cannot be denied. Still not convinced? Then imagine an imam, bearded and turbaned, in traditional dress, standing before our United States Congress, invoking the Quran to open every session of the House and Senate. Not comfortable with that? Then imagine how every Jew, Muslim and Atheist feels with each opening of a government meeting with a Christian prayer."

To understand the possible liabilities to a person who is considering holding the top accountable by objecting to Christian top-of-the-hierarchy practices, we can read comments from Barry Lynn:  You need a zoning variance for your small business. You will need a majority vote and you will be noticed – and indeed singled out – if you happen to reject the prayer-giver’s invitation to “bow your head,” “join with us” or “stand up.” What attorney would counsel a client to make herself known as a person not going along with the crowd as she, moments later, seeks assistance from that body?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Ranking Movies to Encourage Strong Women

Swedish cinemas have started to rank films according to gender bias. That's a welcome change.

In order to receive an "A" rating, a movie must have at least two named female characters who talk to each other about something other than men. Wow, this seems like this requirement would not be difficult to pass, but many films have failed, including "Lord of the Rings," all "Star Wars" movies, and all but one Harry Potter film.

This rating is a refreshing way to pull us out of our hierarchical programming that doesn't notice when men dominant our movies, and women are relegated to subordinate and submissive roles.  We hope that this rating system spreads quickly, so that we reach their stated goal of seeing more female stories and perspectives on the cinema screen.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Bullying Grooms Leaders of Hierarchies

Bullying is receiving well-deserved attention these days. We are pleased because bullying is one behavior that our children learn at an early age that can be used to build and maintain hierarchies. The excuse “boys will be boys” is dangerous because it trains the top group that they will be allowed to act as they please and be let off the hook when they dominate and destroy others.

CNN reports that in her latest book, "Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World," Rosalind Wiseman reveals the ways boys think, uncovers their complicated emotional lives and explores how the power of their social hierarchies influences their emerging identity.

The article describes a principal who dismissed a bullying charge and tried to convince a mother of a victim that the behavior wasn't bullying, but instead, it was simply boys being mean. Wiseman says that principals that act like this are literally telling boys they have the carte blanche to not only continue the behavior, but increase the abuse because they can get away with it.

These principals are training boys to build hierarchies and use harassment and violence to stay on top. In order to stop our hierarchies, we must stop grooming those on top beginning at an early age.