A couple of weeks ago a friend sent me a link to a blog where a fundamentalist woman was posting about a woman's true place in a biblical worldview. Her thoughts went beyond complementarian to the "women exist to serve men in the home by popping out babies" extreme. Apparently women can't think, can't question, and can never ever seek equality because God forbids it. In the comments it was concluded that feminism was created by Satan and that the term Christian Feminist is an oxymoron because according to God, they just can't exist. While I was amused by the idea that according to God I have no ontological reality (and yes, I know she meant that if one is a feminist one obviously can't be saved), it was still disturbing to hear women parroting the propaganda of oppression. I know it is her belief system and that it has meaning for her, but the fact that she isn't allowed to encounter different viewpoints is indicative of the reality for too many women in the church.
So why am I bringing this up? Geoff
over at Amateur Theology has asked a genuine question as to what is a Christian Feminist. He writes, "It sounds from the implication of the title that I’m having trouble reconciling Christianity with feminism. The truth, I’m afraid is that I’m far more ignorant than that. I just don’t have a solid grasp on a) what feminism really means in the here and now, and b) how that interplays with people’s faith."Makeesha
has provided a great response and the comments there have sparked some good exploration of the term "feminist". I'll include here my contribution to the comments.
Feminist is a hard word because it is usually used as a negative label that is applied as a means to ridicule and dismiss. I’ve been in groups where generally open minded people actually say things like “well, I don’t think anyone here would go so far as to call themselves a feminist…” As if being a feminist is the most extreme out there thing one can be.
I do understand that there are various streams/waves of feminism and while I have serious issues with some of them (the ones that hate men or think that sexual openness means equality), I am not willing to give up the entire history of the movement because of some fringe views (kinda like I feel about Christianity). I am a feminist because I am a Christian. I believe all people are created in the image of God and are therefore worthy as imagebearers. We are all called to serve God in the ways we are called (in ministry, work, the home, school…) and to say otherwise is to stifle the will of God. Since it has been women who have generally been seen as inferior, I think feminism is necessary to overcome that lie.
In many ways, I would rather be a “peopleist” and work for all people to be allowed to be the people God made them to be. Men and women should not be fit into the molds of gender stereotypes and should be respected for who they are. But I think the goals of feminism still have a long way to go to just get basic respect for women established.
I know I've posted this graphic before, but I think it represents the historical tradition of feminism that I respect. There has been much achieved by the strong women who put it all on the line to get basic rights for women. Basic rights that as a Christian who loves God and respects how he created people I don't understand how they could be denied. But denied they have been along with much more. I recently re-read Virginia Woolf's classic A Room of One's Own
and was shocked at how little has changed in the past 80 years for women. We still have loud and powerful men asserting that they know women are inferior and detailing for us all that we are good for in this world. Our voice is still not heard in many circles, especially in the church. And it is still a struggle to get the average person to acknowledge that these issues even matter. For many out there there just seem to be way more important things to care about than how women are perceived and treated. I think there are a lot of things that should be more important, but getting basic decency, rights, and respect for women seems fairly important to me.
So I am a feminist. I think women are people too. I think we are worthy of respect and human rights. I think God is big enough to use whoever he wants to serve him. And I will stand up with feminists against those who out of fear or hatred try to tell God otherwise.
Labels: Culture, Gender Issues