There has been a lot of talk lately on the news and social media about Feminism. From campaigns such as “This is what a Feminist looks like?” to hashtags which declare #whywedon’tneedfeminism, everyone seems to have an opinion. This conversation has of course sparked debates in the church community about what the opinion of Christian women should be about Feminism.
To some people, Feminism is simply a wave of liberalism and secularization threatening our entire nation. It is believed to be a symptom of an even bigger problem. To others, it is a movement obligatory for an intelligent, independent minded, confident woman who lives in freedom from male domination.
So, here is the basic question: Am I a Feminist?
My unblinking answer: Yes.
But, before you stop reading this blog and unfriend me on Facebook OR tell all your friends how cool I am and bust out in celebration (depending on your personal stance), let me answer the most important question that no one seems to be asking: What does Feminism mean to me?
You see, I disagree with both beliefs I listed above. I wouldn’t fit comfortably in either one of those camps.
For starters, I don’t believe Feminism (as a whole) is a threat to Christianity. I don’t believe Feminism (as a whole) is breaking down God given gender roles or the family. I believe extremism is doing that. Extremists exist in every movement, every religion, and every societal group. But, is it really fair to judge a group as a whole based on the attitudes or actions of its most extreme members? I know, as a Christian, that I would not want someone to judge me based on the atrocities that have been committed throughout history in the name of “Christianity.”
Secondly, I don’t believe in obligation, nor do I believe that males are the problem. I know some really great, Jesus-loving, honorable, warrior-hearted men. I was raised by one. I grew up with them. I am surrounded by them. I go to church with them. I crack jokes with them. I break bread with them. So, I have no interest in living in complete freedom from men. They are a precious part of my life. They are my brothers and my friends, my teachers and my mentors, and my companions in this journey called life. I don’t think this makes me any less feminist for feeling this way. Feminism becomes a problem when women start judging other women for not being “feminist” enough.
So, back to the question: What does Feminism mean to me?
Feminism, to me, is the basic belief that men and women have equal value in mind, heart, and body, and that this value should be reflected under the law and in our daily living.
Feminism is the idea that I am no less valuable because I was born a woman.
Feminism is the belief that my femininity is not a curse or a burden to be overcome, but that women can change the world…just like men can change the world.
Feminism is the incredible notion that just because I am a female, that DOESN’T mean that my mind doesn’t have power, my words don’t have significance, and my dreams don’t have depth.
Feminism is the belief that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. I can do ALL THINGS…not just “womanly” things, but ALL things. And that if God calls me to a task, He will see me through it, regardless of my gender.
You wanna know where I get all of these ideas about the value of women from? Jesus.
During the time period when Jesus lived and served, women were not worth very much to society. They were property. The law treated them unfairly, and they had no outlet for their self expression. How many times in Scripture does Jesus take the time to reach out and get directly involved in a woman’s life? I can think of two times off the top of my head without even pulling out my Bible: the woman with the issue of blood and the woman caught in the act of adultery. He took the time to reinforce their value in front of a crowd of people. Through His words and His actions, He told the world… “Hey, I see them. I love them. They matter to me, and they should matter to you too.” That’s powerful. Furthermore, in John 20, who was it that delivered the news that Jesus’ tomb was empty: a woman. Did the disciples have a hard time relying on the account and word of a woman, I wonder? Or, had seeing how Jesus treated the women in their midst changed their hearts and minds?
Does the Feminist movement have its share of extremists and problems? Absolutely!
Even still, I can’t be anti-feminist. I can’t draw that line in the sand. You want to know why?
Because I can freely walk into the polls and place a vote.
Because I can decide between working at an office or working in my home.
Because I have a say (both personally and legally) as to how I am treated by others.
Because I have a choice whether or not I will marry a certain man.
Because I am allowed to speak in church.
Because I can serve in a leadership position.
Because I can receive an education.
Because I can write and publish my thoughts without using a pseudonym.
The feminist movement had a hand in all of these things. Women who believed that they were worthy of equal treatment in society and under the law fought for these things.
Please, instead of assuming or judging other women, let’s talk about Feminism. Be brave enough to ask the question: “What does Feminism mean to you?” Be brave enough to listen to the answer with an understanding heart. Let’s stop judging each other because of our professions, our ages, our marital status, our denomination, our political affiliation, or our wardrobe. Let’s stop assuming that because someone says they are a Feminist that they are a pro-choice, anti-homemaking, man-hater. Let’s stop assuming that because someone says they are not a Feminist that they are an uneducated, male-dominated, naïve little girl. Let’s just stop assuming all together!
Because I think there is one thing that Christian women can agree on, without all the labels and judgment calls.
When we look at the women of the world, we too say, “We are seen. We are loved. We matter to God, and we should matter to you too.”