Transition

If you were already reading Jesus & Venus, you’ll have noticed a few changes and a marked decrease in design quality on the site over the last week or so. Since I haven’t written anything on the blog in a long time (for reasons I outline here), I feel nothing but happiness as I announce that I am repurposing the site to feature my new character, The Unnamed Heroine, and her series of stories.

Jesus & Venus will still be available as a sub-blog of this site, and any links to its existing posts will continue to work, at least as far as my testing has been able to determine. While I have not finished the new site design yet—as will be apparent to anyone who visits during the next few days or weeks—I hope it will still prove readable and user-friendly when it is finished, and I thank you all in advance for your patience.

I can’t promise regular, or even very frequent posts, but I will write about any important news in the life of my character. I am also considering other kinds of content along the same theme, which will probably be exclusive to the blog.

Whether you’re new to me and my work, or you’ve been hanging around for a while, thanks for your readership and support.

♀ Moving On

A little over seven months ago, I asked my wife to proofread the first post on this site, then I pressed “Save & Publish” with a growing sense of anticipation. I had spent almost four months reading books and articles, collecting news links, pre-writing a few posts, and making lists of topics I planned to cover. By the time I actually launched Jesus & Venus, I was bursting with ideas I simply had to put in writing and share with the world.

This is no longer true.

Some of the topics I wanted to write about turned out, as I learned more feminist theory, to be irrelevant or misguided. Most, though, found their homes either in one of the columns I published every Thursday or as reactions to linked news items. I even picked up new ideas from my interactions with other feminist friends online and the diverse array of news sources I spent hours reading every week, and I wrote about many of these as well. But for some weeks now, I’ve felt I had nothing much to say.

This isn’t a knock against feminism; I doubt there is any one topic I would want to write about indefinitely. I don’t have the kind of brain that thrives on constantly obsessing over a single subject, and I’ve always done better when working on projects that have definite completion points (like screenplays). Since I have several such projects currently begging for my attention, I plan henceforward to devote the bulk of my writing time to them.

Because I feel so deeply invested in gender equality, I will, of course, keep reading news and op-ed writing about the world of women and feminism, so I will continue to post links to the site on a fairly sporadic, limited basis. But this Saturday will be the last day of regular publishing at Jesus & Venus, and I am discontinuing the Venus Weekly newsletter.

I have very much enjoyed my interactions with readers, and I hope you derived even a fraction of the benefit from reading the site that I did from writing it. Please feel free to seek me out on Twitter or through the contact page if you want to stay in touch.

It has been my privilege to bring you the news. Thank you.

Venus Weekly #2: Coming Saturday

Issue #1 of the newsletter went out this past Saturday, and I can truthfully say that all the people I’ve talked to about it (me) thought it was wonderful. As a brief reminder, Venus Weekly gives you a brief recap of what I think are only the most important news items from the past seven days. You can sign up for it here.

♀ Announcing Venus Weekly

Frequent visitors to the site may have noticed that the block in the sidebar that usually reads “a feminist christian news digest” now invites you to “sign up for the Venus Weekly newsletter”.

This did not happen by accident.

I am pleased to announce Jesus & Venus’s free email newsletter, which will publish directly to your inbox every Saturday. It will contain links to what I think are the most important or entertaining news stories from the preceding seven days, along with the full text of my favorite “Radical Woman of the Day” post for that week. Some weeks, it will also link to the longer posts I write every Thursday.

If you read Jesus & Venus through RSS and think the amount of content I’m publishing every week is just right (or maybe not enough), Venus Weekly might not be for you. On the other hand, if you have trouble remembering to visit the site or wish I didn’t give you quite so much reading to do, you may love it.

You can sign up for Venus Weekly here or by clicking the link in the sidebar. The newsletter is powered by MailChimp, who take your privacy and preferences very seriously, so it will be easy to unsubscribe later if you change your mind.

This is an experiment. If I don’t get very many subscribers, the newsletter will probably stop after a while. I want readers to have the option of getting the news delivered to them at predictable intervals rather than having to remember to come here to get it, but if it turns out that’s not what any of you want, who am I to boss you around?

Either way, thanks for reading. I feel delighted and privileged to bring you the news.

♀ The State of the Weblog

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This is my last long post of the year. Next Thursday is January 3, 2013, so next time you hear from me (probably talking about Chapter 6 of The Feminine Mystique), we’ll be starting a new year.

I’ve been writing Jesus & Venus for over four months, which doesn’t seem like a very significant marker, but it’s the end of the year, so I feel like doing a wrap-up/state of the union post.

I’m burned out.

I know that sounds like a dumb thing to say after only four months of activity, but I read so much terrible news on a near-daily basis that it really gets me down sometimes. Even worse, such a staggering amount of blind drivel or outright misogyny comes through my RSS reader every day in the form of anti-feminist op-ed pieces, rape culture apologia, and even friendly fire, that I’ve found myself more and more frequently getting so angry that sitting down to process the news for all of you has taken every bit of determination and stamina I can muster. Good news or unadulterated awesomeness shows up far less regularly, and the victories are often small.

Anyway, as whiny as this may sound, here are by far the four greatest contributers to my burnout.

Ease of Burnout

I burn out quickly on nearly anything that isn’t going perfectly, and frequently even on the things that work out well. I’m a generalist; I have a wide array of interests, and this is only one of them. It’s all too easy for me to abandon things that don’t charge my batteries at the moment and move on to another project I’m more excited about. I also get easily bored with ongoing projects once I’ve gotten into a regular rhythm, particularly if they don’t have a foreseeable end date. 10 years post-college, I’ve come to terms with this character flaw, and I think it’s healthy to acknowledge it from time to time.

Abuse of the Bible

Many or most of my Christian friends are not feminists or egalitarians, and I read several Christian websites that are indifferent, or passively or actively hostile, toward the goals of feminism. I try to be open-minded, so I recognize that some parts of the Bible could, fairly legitimately, be interpreted in opposition to egalitarian views. 1 Timothy 2:9–15 comes to mind first, of course, and the dearth of women holding positions of spiritual or political authority—exceptions notwithstanding—could easily trouble me absent my views on progressive revelation.

But people rarely employ the strongest arguments when opposing feminism from a biblical platform, and when they do, they almost never seem interested in an actual dialogue on the subject. Instead, they tend to stick with the same three tactics: Interpreting The Curse as prescriptive for women (but not for men), universalizing and canonizing the mythologized version of the 1950s sold to them through film and television of the day, and selectively applying Old Testament law. When I (or others) disagree with these practices or try to engage them on a hermeneutical level, they nearly always respond by questioning our commitment to the authority of the Bible, conveniently ignoring the many components of the Christian feminist platform actually based on the Christian scriptures. When other theological disputes can be politely handled without these sorts of accusations, I begin to wonder just how scared of sexual equality these people must be to behave so reactively.[1]

Rape. Rape, rape, rape, rape, rape, rape, rape.

I quite literally cannot read a single day’s worth of news without seeing a horrific account of a rape or a story about miscarriage of justice in a rape case or perpetuation of rape culture through legislation. Women everywhere are having their sexual autonomy taken away from them, and hardly anyone seems to actually care; the most common responses seem to be some form of victim-blaming or decrying human nature, or both. The occasional meting out of justice or positive institutional or political change brings hope for a future culture of consent, but our present reality bears little resemblance to the ideal.

Evangelicals—my people—are among the worst. We struggle to not conflate behavior we consider “sinful” with behavior that mitigates the injustice of rape; the former is and will probably always be up for debate, but the latter is a flying unicorn, and we need to stop believing in those. As much as we may not like it when young people get drunk and rub up against each other, a woman who does this is in no way at fault if she gets raped—the end, full stop.

But Evangelicals—and nearly everyone else—think that we can keep talking this way about women and still effect change. We can’t. We can’t perpetuate modesty culture without contributing to the perpetuation of rape culture. We can’t keep teaching our youth that sex is shameful and dirty without putting girls (and boys) at risk for un-reported sexual abuse. We can’t train women in rape-avoidance techniques without subtly communicating that rape, when it happens, is a little bit their fault.[2]

Believe me when I tell you that I struggle with empathy. I’m a cold-blooded, callous bastard when it come to anyone but my own kith and kin, but this issue still makes me—again, quite literally—scream out loud at my desk on some days.

Ideological Snobbery Among Feminists

This one is probably going to anger people, but I’m putting it in anyway. While many feminists I read and interact with online are lovely people, most are mean-spirited, flippant, or dismissive at best when encountering ideas that conflict with feminist dogma.[3] While I understand that nearly everyone tires of saying the same things over and over, as a relative newcomer I have repeatedly observed that feminists are largely preaching to the choir because the congregation is tired of being harangued.

Now, some websites or individual bloggers have no interest in reaching non-feminists. Some do not even intend to persuade. I think of Sarah Moon, who has made it quite clear that her blog is an emotional outlet, not a news source or platform for debate. I also continue to derive a semi-guilty pleasure from the steady stream of snark flowing out of the Jezebel writers, who fall loosely into the category of “pundit”. On the more journalistic end of the scale, Feministing and The Feminist Majority Foundation Blog, while newsy, seem to be aimed entirely at existing converts.

I’ll cite a specific event as an example: The Good Men Project’s recent series of posts on rape culture, which many (rightly, I believe) categorized as rape apologism. You’ll notice that the link above leads not the Good Men Project website but to an article for The Guardian by Jill Filipovic, and that is because Filipovic was the only feminist writer I heard of who responded to the event with a reasoned, balanced commentary befitting a journalist.

The near-universal reaction from the rest of the femisphere boiled down to: “Screw GMP. No one should ever read them again; they’re terrible people.” An entirely legitimate reaction for writers who just want to blog about personal experience or vent their emotions, this is not at all tenable for anyone who wants to consider themselves a journalist or news source. Ignoring the opposition, even when they write something so wrong that you have to spend half an hour cooling down before you can respond, is not an option for a journalist. If, as they say, most of the feminists I follow really no longer read The Good Men Project, they are abdicating any claim to the title.

And that is fine, but where are the feminist journalists? Where are the serious, well-reasoned op-ed pieces defending our positions? Seriously: where are they? I feel like they must exist; I just haven’t found them yet. Someone point me in the right direction. Drop me a line in the comments, using the contact page, or on Twitter. For now, though, the feminist corner of the internet seems very closed off to dialogue. This alienates people who are open to feminist ideas but put off by our unbending dogmatism.[4] I know, because I have conversations with these people. As a perpetual evangelist, this troubles me.

Why I’m Not Giving Up

Firstly, I don’t want to be a quitter. I’ve quit a lot of things in my life; I don’t want this website to be another one. In any case, it has more inherent value than most other things I’ve attempted.

Secondly, people. As much as I may occasionally (or frequently) disagree with some of them, I’ve met several wonderful people since I started collecting the feminist news. Despite never meeting any of them in person, I feel like some of my new friends could turn into lifelong friends. Their various individual brands of feminism—and Christianity—make me feel happy, and more importantly, they expand my thinking and push me to be a better feminist and a better Christian.

Finally, the goal. The Goal. Slightly expanded from the About page, The Goal of Jesus & Venus is, through a steady stream of news carefully peppered with opinion, to persuade Christians who aren’t quite sure they are feminists or egalitarians that they really are, or should be. No one else that I know about is doing what I’m trying to do, and I feel like I’m doing it well. I could do it even better, and if my readership continues to expand, I think I can achieve that goal.

I’m going to push through this period of burnout. Four months is a very short time, considered with proper perspective. 2013 is going to bring plenty of raw material, and I’ll be here to digest it into a form you can consume in just a few minutes a day. This may sound kind of hollow after all of the above complaining, but I’ll say it anyway: Thanks for reading.





  1. I should clarify that many of my complementarian friends are wonderful people who do not engage in any of these tactics.  ↩

  2. At least, not using the type of language and logic we’ve been employing up until now.  ↩

  3. I use “dogma” here in the non-judgmental sense of “doctrine considered central to the movement”, not in the pejorative sense of “beliefs held irrationally in despite of evidence to the contrary”.  ↩

  4. This time, I am being pejorative.  ↩

Site Maintenance

The Jesus and Venus site is (obviously) horribly broken right now, and I'm not sure why. I have a support ticket in right now with Squarespace, the company that powers the site. Hopefully it will be back to normal soon; in the mean time, I deeply apologize for the lapse.

Update: Everything appears to be working properly now.

Your News Schedule

Now that I’ve been writing Jesus & Venus for a few months, I’m starting to figure out a posting schedule that works for me and my other projects. Currently, the Colophon says that I post every day, but that hasn’t really been true in practice. I want to be predictable and deliver on what I say, so I’m changing both the Colophon and the actual posting schedule.

Henceforth, I will post linked articles on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, and I will continue to write longer, op-ed-style original posts on Thursdays. This setup has two advantages: 1) It clears out a couple days every week for me to accomplish other things, and 2) It tells you, the Reader, on which days you should check the site for updates.

I hope (and think) that this will make Jesus & Venus a better site for all of you.

Site Maintenance

Over the next few days, you may see occasional posts from Squarespace, the service that hosts and manages this website, who are trying to solve a low-level technical problem with the code that auto-tweets to the @JesusAndVenus Twitter account.

This will most affect those who subscribe to the RSS feed, as I have no way of deleting those posts from your RSS readers after they’ve already been downloaded. Please bear with us, and thanks for your patience.

Thanksgiving Break

The blog will take a short break from posting in celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday. The Stauffer clan all gather in my town for Thanksgiving, so I will be spending the weekend attempting to engage in just the right amount of feminist fury with my relatives, who are pretty open-minded but can only take so much at once.

I shall resume posting the news on Saturday. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!