This morning, I came across the following tweet from Baptist theologian Owen Strachan (courtesy of Matt Mikalatos):
"When I hear women & men challenging God’s order, saying…“Women should do more than just serve in the nursery or teach children.“ I wonder why they have such a low opinion of those babes in the nursery? Why such a low opinion of children?"
Best comment from last few days (AB). pic.twitter.com/a7vbyWx55M
— Owen Strachan (@ostrachan) May 11, 2019
My first response: “Hey Strachan, the 1950s called. They want their tweet back. (And I didn’t even know the 1950s had Twitter, but apparently so.)”
Here’s another more provocative way to respond courtesy of a slave owner in the 1850s: “When I hear abolitionists challenging God’s order, saying … ‘Blacks should do more than pick cotton,’ I wonder why they have such a low opinion of cotton in the fields? Why such a low opinion of cotton?”
Of course, the downside of that reply is that guys like Strachan would completely miss the point: “You’re comparing working in the nursery with precious infants and toddlers to slavery?! Arghh!”
Needless to say, that isn’t the point. The point, rather, is that the abolitionist has no problem with cotton-picking, per se; rather, they have a problem with the institution that forces one racial group to pick cotton. By the same token, there is nothing wrong with working with infants and toddlers in the nursery. Indeed, that is precious and important work. What is wrong, and that which the Strachan critic rejects, is the imposition of that specific job on those of the female gender.
Strachan is committing the fallacy of false dilemma in which he erroneously assumes there are only two options: either value children in virtue of restricting women to the nursery or disvalue children in virtue of not restricting women to the nursery. But of course, those are not the only options.
And so, we see one more danger of sexism: it can lead to bad reasoning.