How Some Evangelicals Inhibit Feminism
So let's talk about feminism. According to dictionary.com, it means: "The doctrine — and the political movement based on it — that women should have the same economic, social, and political rights as men."
Here's a simplified definition:
I really don't know many people who would argue that women ought not to have the same rights as men. However, many people do act like feminism is a negative thing. Growing up, I had the idea that a feminist was a person who went around disrespecting men (which was the ultimate sin, basically), who probably didn't shave her legs, maybe had short hair, and would never get married. My parents certainly did not intentionally make me believe that feminism was wrong, but when you grow up in a conservative, Christian circle, that's usually what happens.
Somewhere during college, I started being discontent and frustrated with gender stereotypes. I can't tell you how many Bible studies I've been to and how many books I've read that focused on submission, motherhood, respect for men, being a pure and beautiful flower waiting for Prince Charming, guarding your heart, and being the Ultimate Helper to your future husband.
If anybody knows me on more than a superficial level, you know that I am competitive. I am aggressive. I am not usually a compassionate listener. I am results oriented. I am independent. I am assertive. I am passionate. All of those are masculine character traits. For such a long time I tried to change that part of my personality to being more Proverbs 31-like. You know, being tender, gracious, sensitive, supportive, caring, a good cook, a good homemaker (whatever the hell that means), and such. I even journaled about the type of man I wanted to marry and wrote that he should have a strong personality so he could overpower mine. That way I wouldn't be too outspoken. All the books and sermons told me that as a woman, that's what I should be. That's why I was created.
But that's bullshit. Complete and utter bullshit. All of those character traits are gender stereotypes. I honestly felt like a Bad Christian for awhile because I didn't fit the mold of what a "goodwife" should be. And that's about the time I found the Episcopal church and a blogger named Rachel Held Evans. Her article on feminism is wondrous. You should read it. Here's what she says about the passage about wives submitting to husbands:
"...in the famous “household codes” of the epistles, instructions for women to submit to their husbands are either preceded or followed by instructions for slaves to obey their masters. And so comparisons between modern marital relationships and those of an ancient near eastern culture should always be approached with caution and with attentiveness to context."
The Episcopal church doesn't insist that women must always submit to men. It doesn't insist that men and women follow socially constructed gender roles. It doesn't insist that women must be silent in church. It empowers women, gives them a voice, and gives them the freedom to be who God created them to be. Many other churches are similarly supportive of women, but the Episcopal church is the denomination I've found where I feel like I belong. My thoughts and feelings are not considered less important because of my gender.
I can't tell you how much I adore Chase. He doesn't make me feel like a bad wife for not cooking dinner. He cooks dinner with me. He helps me clean. When there are decisions to make, we make them together. When we can't agree on something, he doesn't veto my opinion and do whatever the hell he wants, rather we talk about it and come to an agreement. I'm incredibly, incredibly thankful to have married somebody like him rather than somebody who "lovingly" folded my personality into a box so that I could resemble the Proverbs 31 woman.
So basically, I am very much a feminist, although I do shave my legs (usually), do not usually disrespect men, I am married, and I will probably have short hair soon. :) I guess I only fit into two of the four categories I thought about feminists when I was younger. That's not so bad. I still get frustrated when I hear Mark Driscoll (a ridiculously popular "restless and reformed" pastor) say a quote like this:
“If your wife is working, you are a selfish bastard. How dare you make her shoulder her half of the curse and part of yours as well?”
"Women will be saved by going back to that role that God has chosen for them."
"We do not believe in feminism because we believe that men should responsibly lead homes and churches with sacrificial love like Jesus Christ.”
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