"in defense of feminism"

“all stereotypes aside, “If you believe in, support, look fondly on, hope for, and/or work towards equality of the sexes, you are a feminist.”

*nodding frantically in agreement* and a side note, equality does not mean that we are the same.

It’s interesting, when I talk to my close friends who are not Christians about feminism, it’s assumed that we all consider ourselves feminists to some degree. But the word feminist spoken of positively, has to be said in hushed tones in corners and behind closed doors in most of the evangelical Christian world.

In my circle of non Christian friends, we are all stay at home moms. We all rely on our husbands for our primary source of financial support. None of us “wear the pants” in the family or lord over our husbands. None of us berates, belittles or otherwise talks about our husbands as if they are lesser beings. We honor our husbands and we hold in high esteem the role of wife and mother.

But we also vote (and sometimes get to vote for a woman), wear pants, have opinions and voice them even in mixed gender company. We all have high school diplomas and have gone to college (some have multiple high level degrees from prestigious male dominated institutions). We all have had jobs and earned our own money at some point in our lives (and some of us continue to do so). We all enjoy the freedom to own property and open our own bank account if we choose. We can say “no” to unwanted sexual advances. We can escape an abusive spouse and find refuge. We can testify against a sexual predator and see justice served (in the best case scenario).

I could go on but I don’t think I need to. Hopefully, my point has been made.

Feminism, for all its faults, for all its extremes and fanatics, has served us and continues to do so. There’s nothing to be ashamed of to consider ones self a feminist. I identify with feminism, not because of the few loud and extreme voices that get sound bites on the radio but because of those women “in the trenches” raising the bar of equality little by little. Those women who teach their daughters that they can be and do anything God puts on their heart. Those women teaching their sons to respect women and to fight along side them for equality. Those women in churches around the world who continue to be held back by religious “traditions of man”. I identify with feminism because of my friends, not because of the politicians or the lobbyists.

Yes, the term is inflammatory in most of the church, primarily because of misunderstanding and political fervor, and for that reason, I don’t often bring it up in the company of modern church folk (it’s not worth it). But now, I feel the need to defend feminism against the gross generalizations and caricatures presented by so many of my well intentioned brothers and sisters in Christ.

I also feel the need to distance myself from the fanatical side of feminism. To insure that I am not caricatured along with them.

Feminism, for me, as a Christian, speaks out on behalf of the core of a woman’s identity - that it is rooted in the God who created her with purpose and destiny, not in a man. Feminism stands up for women who are feeling pressured into having an abortion and says, “abortion hurts women”. Feminism looks at the girls in America who feel they have to bare as much skin as possible without being nude and embraces them and whispers in their ear that they are more than objects to be gawked at and groped. Feminism looks behind the walls of our institutions and our businesses and stands up for a woman’s right to earn as much as a man and take on the same responsibilities if she is able (after all, not all women are able or even desire to be supported by a husband). True feminism confronts the advertising, film and porn industry and calls them to task for their objectification of women. Feminism speaks out loudly against human traficking/prostitution slavery. Feminism seeks justice on behalf of girls and women world-wide in cultures that view the female of the species as less valuable that the rats they poison.

You might ask, shouldn’t all Christians be doing this? Why use the term feminist if you’re not just wanting to be inflammatory. Good question. First off, there are lots of words and concepts that have gained negative press, some I feel no longer represent me and I have abandoned them while others I continue to use because I maintain an ability to identify with them. Feminism has evolved since the turmoil of the time of “free love”. Those who are stuck there are in an unfortunate position of misunderstanding but I for one refuse to be identified with that SMALL “era” of women’s rights.

And yes, all Christians should think this way. But they don’t. And the fact is, it took women, FEMINISTS, to take a stand against the injustices happening to them in this country and around the world. Why? Because only the women could know and understand the plight of fellow women. And along the way, men have caught on, they’ve seen the truth behind the movement. Feminism has been willing to take a stand, willing to sound alarms and take up the rallying cry when gender injustice is apparent. “Feminism” in principle, long before the official movement began, has been fighting for equality for centuries.

Another question you might be asking, “Why do we need classifications?” In other words, you’re saying, “your self identification with feminism offends my sensibilities, why do you have to use that word anyway?” There’s a sociological response to that but I’m not qualified to give it. Let’s just say that it is what it is and as long as “feminism” as a classification means something to me I will wear the label proudly for the purpose of identifying with like minded women world wide.

Does that mean I’m a bra burning, man hating, liberal fascist? Hardly (well, liberal maybe, but not theologically so). And anyone who takes 5 seconds to talk to me would know this. But it does mean that I value the freedoms feminism has fought for and continues to fight for stateside and around the world.

It means I will continue to speak out on behalf of women and their rights in the eyes of God and his created order to equally coexist with men. All women in my charge will be given an equal chance in the church to teach, preach, prophecy, lead, worship, pray and cast vision as they are led. These things have been planted in my soul by the Spirit of God and regardless of anyone’s feelings about feminism, I will continue to take a stand.

3 Responses to “in defense of feminism” | Skip to comment form

  1. LMcC Says:

    Right on! :)

    I got your link through CBE’s Scroll. It’s good to find more Christian pro-life feminists. There just aren’t enough of us…. but with the blogs, nobody can say we’re not trying to get the word out.

  2. Mak Says:

    amen! thanks for stopping by

  3. Swinging from the Vine | Why I AM an egalitarian Says:

    [...] piece I wrote awhile back that is along these same lines is “In defense of feminism”. You might find that helpful in understanding my pov on these issues as [...]

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This post was written by Mak (contact).

It was written on January 14th, 2007 at 1:25 am and was filed under feminism, gender, sexuality and tagged with the words .

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