Why Feminism (Part 2)
“Perhaps it is no wonder that women were the first at the Cradle and the last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man—there never has been another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronized; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them as ‘the women, God help us’ or ‘the ladies, God bless them!’; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unself-conscious. There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly guess from the words or deeds of Jesus that there was anything ‘funny’ about woman’s nature.” Yes, it is no wonder that the women were first at cradle and cross.” ~Dorothy L. Sayers
Feminism matters to me plain and simply because Jesus matters to me and He also seemed to believe in this radical notion that women are people. So, if I truly want to be His follower I think I should at least consider the notion as well. But also, I’m a feminist because we still need them. Because women in the same jobs with the same education level make less money than their male colleagues. Because even though women make up 50 % of the population in the U.S. they’re still considered a minority. Because girl babies are more likely to be aborted than boy babies. And all of that matters. For more reasons you can check out the link to this video (NSFW due to language).
So, those are some of the more mainstream reasons for why feminism and why it matters. But I have other, maybe less mainstream, reasons too. Yesterday I talked about some of my experiences at a conservative Bible college (you can read that full post here). I talked about learning to live within ‘the rules’. To give more context, ‘the rules’ did not necessarily apply to the classroom (though I likely often appropriated them to make myself sound smarter than I was), ‘the rules’ applied to those after-class-in-the-dorm-or-in-the-dining-room discussions (you know the ones where there wasn’t a somewhat mature impartial professor present to play referee). These were the discussions that ended with one roommate in tears, or because the boy you were engaging stopped caring about what you, the woman, had to say, discussions where your own immaturities and that of your peers was magnified as you threw terms like ‘heretic’ at the one you disagreed with, discussions that ended with you wishing you were a boy.
In truth, I didn’t really want to be a boy at all, what I really wanted was respect. I wanted to play on an even field with my male peers. I wondered how it would feel to enter a conversation and not feel like I was fighting an uphill battle with my feet stuck in quicksand. I wondered what it would feel like to be able to just talk about theology and not have to talk about theology while also trying to prove that as a woman I could talk about theology (that is seriously exhausting stuff, hence fighting an uphill battle with my feet in quicksand). I wondered what it would feel like to discuss theology and not worry about ‘the rules’. Because ‘the rules’ left me impaired and I could not really freely discuss as a wholistic human being, at least not if I wanted to be taken seriously. And that’s a very serious problem. Because it does not matter if women are invited to the theological round table or not, not if they’re invited but expected to play by male rules, because if that’s the case then it does not matter what they say at the table, their real voice has already been lost. And that matters. It matters because they were created in the image of God, both male and female, and so long as women are not allowed to think and speak and be women and be taken seriously the church will continue to form only half a theological picture. You need both image bearers. And we’re just not there yet, so yes to feminism, and yes that it matters.
As too far more personal reasons, feminism is important to me because women are important to me. My precious little sister, my friends daughter, my brothers girlfriend, my mother, my aunts, my grandmothers, my roommates and friends past and present are important to me. And because men are important to me too, and I want my father, my brothers, my cousins, my uncles, my grandfathers and my male friends to be blessed with a full theological picture. And I want and hope that one day my little sister (or if I should be so blessed with children perhaps my daughter) is able to enter any theological, philosophical or even political discussion with men and never question that she’s on an even playing field. That she’ll never feel that her ‘female-ness’ holds her back, that she’ll embrace her femininity in a church that encourages her to pursue whatever role God has designed her for and she will not have to wonder if being a girl means she’s disqualified. That’s why feminism, that’s why it matters.