Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Internet Anonymity

Anonymity is a common feature on the internet. On this post at my last count, 87 out of 135 commenters were simply "Anonymous." It appeared that the blog owner may have been commenting anonymously also.

The topic? Complementarianism and egalitarianism. The tempers run high. A few people still use their full names there. Others link to their own blogs. This is a serious place and in my opinion, it is the premiere spot on the internet for debating this topic.

The mix of commenters is fascinating. It ranges from totally unknown and outrageously scrappy surivors of abuse, to ministers and authors of published books. (Versus those of us whose books are neither written nor published.:-)

On another note, in the last month 4 or 5 complementarian blogs have either posted about me, or invited me to comment at length or invited me to post, all with my real name. It's interesting because sometimes an egalitarian will say to me that I approach exegesis like a complementarian. I don't know about that, but I do read complementarian books.

Here is lonely old me, having abandoned the brotherhood of man, and now I am working on the siblinghood of humanity. What next? I read a comment recently using "Babel" as a symbol of the disunity between comps and egals. Perhaps introducing a new babble can lead to some bridge building.


Ramesh said...

"It appeared that the blog owner may have been commenting anonymously also."

No. Pastor Wade would not and does not need to do that. Those comments were attributed to Wade by WatchingHISStory/Charles Page. I would discount his comments about this matter.

Anonymous said...

The question would be: what kind of bridge do you want. Do you want a bridge that allows complementarians to be complementarians (without accusation of abuse and the use of words like "Talmud") and allows egalitarians to be egalitarians (without the accusations that go along)?

Or do you want the kind of unity that Roman Catholics seek: Join us, become us, give up your convictions and we'll all have unity.

Anonymous said...

The debate is always framed on a flawed premise, that somehow equality is the opposite of male supremacy. I long for the day when everyone sees that egal is the middle ground between two extremes: male supremacy and female supremacy. Let those two extremes debate and then meet in the middle at egalitarianism.

I also long for the day when all ambition to have the final say, especially on the basis of the flesh, is abandoned for "not so among you".

Anonymous said...

I agree about being "frustrated" with anon comments, mainly because I never know which anon said what. Maybe they should sign anon 1 and anon 2, etc.

I can understand why they do it, especially if they are in leadership and do not want their pastor to find out, or it may, in the long run, hurt their minsitry, etc. They are seeking answers and are exploring alternatives. But those who make anon comments that are over the top (and with this subject there are always many) do it because they don't want to own up to their comments. They are cowards.

And yes, Wade's blog is good for these types of discussions and a balance... and I love your description of the commentators.

I used to work in a domestic violence agancy, full of feminists. They could not understand how I could work there and not be a feminist. I would tell them I am an equalist, I believe all people should be treated with dignity and respect. They would finally get it.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

I will revise/respond tonight. I think there are times when anonymity is essential.

I am thinking about this seriously. Till later.

Iris Godfrey said...

Thank you Suzanne for your honesty in this blog. I must confess, I either do not read anon comments or scan them briefly. I can understand a person doing that if they are in the middle of moving theologically on this point and are not ready to reveal who they are, but mostly I just avoid their comments. If, a person has something of value to write, then they need to be able to place the value and authority of their name alongside the stand.
Just my personal opinion. I have received such letters in the past (via snail mail) to convince me a women should not be teaching Bible. Those always end up in the trash -- not valued.
I do value others who differ with me, openly and personally. The value ends when or if they become verbally abusive.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

I obviously overstated my case. First, 86 comments all by "anon" is a little frustrating. However, I do think that on this topic some people need to be anonymous, and I am grieved that they can't have it if they feel it is important. At least in a limited way.

Next, what kind of bridge, hmmm. I am really not sure. I could cite three complementarian authors that I have a fair amount of commonality with. I guess that's a start.


Perhaps you mean no "Taliban." I'm not sure.

And apologies to the blog owner since he was not an anonymous commenter after all.

Anonymous said...

No, I meant "Talmud", as in the quite frequent reference by a commenter on complegalitarian to the "new talmud" she claims we are seeking.

Suzanne McCarthy said...


I must have missed this or just let it slip by. I don't know if it is an insult or not to call something the new Talmud. Perhaps it is like calling something "legalistic."