Late to the Party

I’m reading about feminism for the first time. I keep my eye on some general feminist blogs as well as blogs specifically related to Christian Patriarchy and Complementarianism. Now I really want to read de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex. If nothing else, that’s a brilliant title for a book: woman is always conceived as the “other” compared and contrasted to man. It’s enough to make you wonder. Hence Sayers’ question “Are women human?” I haven’t had the privilege to read that yet either, but I read another blogger’s review which I found very helpful.

I grew up hearing about the evils of feminism: the attack on traditional marriage, man-hating, crazy sexual liberation, etc. Feminism was bad news. Now I’m realizing how important it is to hear women’s voices on women’s issues. Feminism means a lot of different things to different people. Some feminists wouldn’t consider me one of their ranks because I’m anti-abortion (but I am fascinated by reproductive rights and I do recognize that this issue is crucial to women’s freedom. Our biology is both the source of our power [the ability to create a tiny human is pretty incredible] and a source of weakness [there’s a reason barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen is a trope.]). But regardless of all the variances, all the missteps (and both are to be expected in every field of human discovery), the thing is, it’s more than time to hear women’s voices. Continue reading

Comment on First Things Blog

Edit: My comment was too long by about 200 words for First Things. Below is the full text, but I will edit my comment to make it fit.

A writer at First Things weighed in on the Duggar scandal. Finding her approach unhelpful, I offered a response in a comment. The comment was subsequently removed. I have inquired with First Things as to why they chose to remove it. That comment is pasted below.

“Ms. Yost,

I appreciate some of the perspectives you are attempting to offer in this piece. You are correct that there are number of unhelpful or imbalanced responses surfacing at this time, and I understand why you might feel the need to respond. I think we both agree that all involved ought to be treated with compassion, love, respect, and understanding.

Unfortunately, I don’t believe your response is characterized by a fair attempt to understand and interact critically with those with whom you disagree. For instance, your characterization of some of these writers as “roaring blogresses” is both unnecessarily disparaging and, frankly, sexist (you invented a word to carry on your unflattering portrait and unnecessarily and irrelevantly identify their gender). While I do believe that there are correct uses of polemics, your dismissive attitude here reads less like a well-reasoned criticism and more like a lazy dismissal of your opponents. You are an academic; I know you are capable of better.

Furthermore, the way in which you attribute motives to your opponents is both unChristian and unprofessional. The supposition that “some of us seem to want the ghastly percentages to go as high as possible,” and that rape culture is “a handy thing for feminists to talk about,” is not an assertion you support; instead you assume it. Certainly, you can trust many of your readers to agree because of the fear which we conservative Christians often have towards feminism and its supposed assault on the traditional family. You are in this way neglecting your duty to your readers: rather than challenging them to think more deeply and critically, you capitalize on their fears to make your point. While I know how these beliefs about feminism arise, and I believe that some of them are at least partially grounded in reality, I think largely many of these criticisms are caused by misunderstanding and miscommunication as well as attribution of motives on both sides.

Finally, I implore you to reconsider your flippant attitude regarding the Duggars “version” of Patriarchy. I don’t know your personal history, but many women raised in patriarchal environments (whether they are as strict as Bill Gothard’s organization, of which Jim Bob and Michelle are still very much a part, or more lenient in the style of John Piper) do not have the option to pursue higher education like you are doing. This is rarely because they are outright forbidden to do so, but their choices are so constrained that they believe they prefer the “better” choice of homemaking and eschew other areas of personal growth and fulfillment. I experienced this myself. Despite having supportive family and friends, it was still extremely difficult for me to choose to pursue graduate level Biblical Studies, but I’m so glad now that I did. As a woman in academics, I think you should be able to understand how potentially damaging patriarchy can be to women who have more gifts and abilities than homemaking. I realize this may appear tangential, but your casual attitude about the effects and problems of patriarchy in your article suggests that you do not perhaps understand well the dynamics of a patriarchal home like the Duggars’.

As a Christian, as a woman, as an academic, and as a former enthusiastic advocate of Patriarchy, I ask you to reconsider your approach.”