Wiener Wackiness

Last Updated on Saturday, 16 December 2006 01:08 Written by Father Bill Saturday, 16 December 2006 01:08

One of Vienna’s new “gender-neutral” signsGender light has finally dawned for the gender-oppressed in Vienna, Austria.   According to an AFP story at the city of Vienna has finally launched an initiative to raise awareness about  gender equality.  In the process, thousands of oppressed and marginalized women  will now be able to cross the streets and use exits in safety and confidence.  Co-incidentally, hundreds of  thousands of males will now be able to take seats on subways, trams, and buses  which were formerly designated for elderly, pregnant, or child-toting women. 

Vienna’s “Gender Mainstreaming Project” is supposed “to give both genders the same exposure and ensure an equal distribution of chances, opportunities, and duties by changing the gender of figures pictured on familiar signs,” a spokesperson for the Wiener Rathaus (Vienna City Hall)  stated.  “Because it clashes with fixed visual habits, the campaign compels people to think, look, and act different,” said Sonja Wehsely, city councilor in charge of women’s affairs. Under the new guidelines now being implemented across the city, signs that formerly used male characters will have their female equivalent, while the opposite will also be true. 

Marvelous improvement in quality of life for the women of Vienna is just around the corner.  Uncounted hundreds of thousands of females have been stranded on street corners, discouraged from crossing at safe moments, because the sign that signaled them to do so was an ideograph of a man.  Now many thousands of female lives will now be saved, as women no longer get run over by trams, busses, and garbage trucks in Vienna’s streets.  Gutters that used to run red with female blood can now be cleaned.  The city’s landfills will no longer be gorged with the crushed and broken bodies of female pedestrians who gauged incorrectly when best to cross the street.

The public decency department of the Wiener* Polizei (Viennese Police Department) will add several thousand new staff, to manage the expected rise in disorderly conduct events in the use of public restrooms.  Both sexes are expected to react testily to the presence of the opposite sex in public toilets formerly marked for one sex or the other. 

“Yes, it will be dicey for a while,” said Alosius Schlagobersfürgehirne, Direktor des Wiener WC und Pissoir** Amt (Viennese Water Closet and Public Pisser Authority).  “But, these times of civic turmoil advance us toward the day when all can relive themselves in the company of anyone without a care.  Surely that goal is worth the effort!” he exclaimed.

The reactions from Vienna’s men was mixed.  “Well, it’s certainly going to be an improvement to have women crossing the streets with us,” said one middle-aged Wiener.*  “It will improve the appearance of the crowds in the middle of the streets to see female figures there who are not dashing for their lives or being crushed by streetcars because of their pedestrian indecisiveness.” Other men hailed the new availability of seats on public transportation formerly reserved for pregnant and elderly women. 

Some members of Vienna’s gay community were less sanguine.  “Undoubtedly, the presence of women in the middle of the streets and in the pissoirs is going to change the social dynamics,” said a local tourist guide who specializes in GLBT clientele. “Many GLBT citizens will have to learn a whole new protocol for social interaction in those places,” he explained.

On the other hand, Dominetta Donnerblixenmachen, Dominatrix of the City of Vienna’s GLBT Affairs Office, sees the new gender mainstream project as merely the first step toward mainstreaming all the genders, not just the merely biological ones. 

“The new signage is an advance, of course,” she said.  “But, there is nothing in the current ideographs to signal anything beyond body parts.”  Donnerblixenmachen has already set up a task force to design ideographs which represent gay, lesbian, transsexual, and bisexual persons.  “When we have a fair consensus in our communities, we’ll present them to the Viennese City Council for inclusion in all the usual places — public transportation and toilets, street crossings, and boarding stations for trains.” 

The more “organic” gender-inclusive signage for Vienna’s public squareDonnerblixenmachen displayed the current front runner for more gender-inclusive signage, an ideograph with a female form sporting a moustache, and a male ideograph with breasts and voluptuous lips.  “It’s a more organic approach to communication,” Donnerblixenmachen explained.  “This design was put forth by the La Cage Aux Folles Coalition for Sexual Sanity.  Presently it has the support of about 57 percent of the GLBT community we have surveyed.”

A more spiritual provocation for thinking about genderOn the other hand, Donnerblixenmachen explained, “others are campaigning for a less organic approach.”  She displayed an alternate signage, similar to the one Vienna is already deploying, except that an abstract symbol for “male” is imposed on a female ideograph, and vice versa.  “If the Rathaus imagines that the current signage will get people to thinking, they will think all the harder with this more purely spiritual signage.”

One segment of Vienna’s population will be exempt from gender mainstreaming.  AFP reports that a roadworks sign picturing a woman in a skirt digging into a pile of dirt and used on a campaign poster for the gender mainstream project will not see the light of day because of “traffic regulations.”  Project activists are busy researching just what this means, with a view to ensuring that all genders have equal access to the ditch-digging sectors of the economy.

PETA’s purely symbolic signage that omits references to human beingsMeanwhile, the local chapter of PETA continues to wage an unremitting campaign against “the anthropocentric chauvinism” of the gender mainstreaming project.  “Why have symbols of humans at all?  Even if the city uses signs for dozens of genders that are conceivable, they’re still human!” says Fifi Hundeundkatzeundvögelundsoweiter. “Species justice requires that we use only abstract symbols for all the genders.”  The local chapter of PETA has taken up a campaign to replace all the ideographs in the city that presently depict humans with signs that suggest all genders in purely symbolic form.  

Will Vienna’s cutting edge gender mainstreaming project spread beyong the Wienerwald?  History suggests it may.  A century ago, a psychiatrist named Sigmund Freud attempted to catalog the features of Vienna’s pscho-sexual aberrations.  In an understandable ego-centric error, he supposed he was observing a general pattern of human psychology, rather than the idiosyncracies of a post-empire mass neurosis confined mostly to Vienna within the Guertel.  But, in a surprise still affecting the West, Freud’s error became established as the premier psychological model of Western Europe and the  Americas. Today entire university schools of psychiatry suppose all humanity is substantially identical to the navel-gazing neurotics of fin de siecle Vienna.

With a precedent like that, can gender mainstreaming for the rest of the West be far behind?

*The German name of Vienna is “Wien,” pronounced “veen,” as German W’s have the same consonantal sound as the American or British letter “v.”  Thus, in German, “Wiener” [pronounced “veener”] is not a hot dog, but a male resident of Wien (i.e. Vienna).  A female resident of  Vienna is a Wienerin. 

**Pissoir is a mild French vulgarism used throughout Europe to label public latrines for men, though it would appear they may now be used by women in Vienna.

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Christians for Biblical Anarchy

Last Updated on Friday, 15 December 2006 10:39 Written by Father Bill Friday, 15 December 2006 10:39

Christians for Biblical AnarchyMy friend Michael over at the Complementarian Christian Coalition Forum has delivered himself of a cogent bit of polemic against religious feminism (aka evangelical egalitarians).  Applying their usual arguments against patriarchy (including the patriarchy inherent in the Biblical worldview) to the governmental institution of the police, he lays out how and why we should form a new organization:  Christians for Biblical Anarchy.

 A sample to whet your appetite:

You know, I was thinking. Policemen do a lot of terrible things. Some
let their power and authority go to their heads. They can intimidate
people and abuse them. And they can even legally carry around the
tools to do this! We all know how they will gang up on and beat up
people they pull over. They even do it in front of their own
dashboard video cameras, as we’ve all seen. How arrogant and out of
control can you get? (I saw a new one yesterday.)  

Read it all here

I’d propose an organizational meeting for the Christians for Biblical Anarchy, but  … hmmm.  That’s kind of counter-intuitive, no?  Kind of like the whole idea of Biblical equality. 

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The Camel’s Nose

Last Updated on Thursday, 14 December 2006 12:37 Written by Father Bill Thursday, 14 December 2006 12:37

Standard Camel’s NoseEveryone knows the story of the Arab and his camel, how he allowed the camel on a cold night to put his nose into the tent in order to keep warm.  By morning, the tent was full of camel, and the Arab was outside in the cold.

This is a parable for the development of many Christian organizations.  For reasons too large for this blog to explore, the Christian version of this parable always casts the orthodox in the role of the Arab, the heterodox and heretics in the role of camels.  The parable is unfolding in our day with those who are reappraising classical, orthodox, and Biblical notions of sex, these playing the roles of camels to Arabs who are the custodians of the tents (denominations, mission boards, and seminaries). 

A modern camel’s nose to the PCA tentCase in point: Carolyn Custis James and her increasing occupation of the tents named “evangelical Christianity” generally and the “Presbyterian Church in America” specifically.  In the latter case, a few lonesome voices  have repeatedly called for PCA institutions to repent of providing her venues to spread her egalitarian agenda in an ostensibly traditionalist denomination.  So far, no cigar.  Or, rather, it’s been more and more of the James’ nose in the PCA tent. 

It would sound ludicrous to speculate on how long it will take the PCA to shed its complentarian policies.  A generation?  Less?  Things move fairly fast these days.  There are those exceptional cases of the Missouri Synod Lutherans and the Southern Baptists who pulled back from the brink of worldliness.  But, in the past century of the evolution of Christianity in America, they are the glaring exceptions, not the rule.

At any rate, for those who like to watch these things develop, keep your eye on the PCA as the conservatives within it continue down a trail trodden by the mainline denominations from which the PCA separated only a generation ago.  And, keep your ear tuned to those intrepid Bayly Brothers, whose voices crying in the Presbyterian wilderness may one day finally be heeded.  Or not.

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