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.
Is it too much to ask you to care that for all of history all over the world women have been treated as lesser beings? Is it too much to ask you to listen and understand that we’re trying to learn how to define ourselves in a world that still looks at us as “not men?” In a world where traditionally masculine traits are praised and traditionally feminine ones are considered weaker and lesser?
Nothing prepared me for the pain of the realizations of the last few months. Nothing prepared me for sitting up last night reading about how women have been viewed as deformed versions of men throughout history. I sat there just thinking . . . James Brown was right. It’s a man’s world.
Dear Christians, please listen. Feminism is not some orchestrated attack on traditional values. I can be a feminist and still hold marriage and family in high esteem. But it’s worth thinking about whether all our “traditional values” are Christian or whether they carry with them entrenched sexism which is at odds with the Gospel. Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly privileged to live in this time in this country. I’m about as free as a woman ever has been. But don’t think that means we’ve arrived. And please realize how terrifying that is for me. If I were born in another time and/or place I would have been born to a life of subservience by default. I’m sorry, that’s a problem for me.
As it is I still have to deal with double standards. I still have to fight for my place in the world. I still find myself having to prove again and again and in various ways that I am “just as good as a man.” I find we still even have to argue (at least when among Christians), long-winded argument after long-winded argument, just to reach the conclusion that women have the right to leave their abusive husbands or parents. There’s a long way to go, ladies and gentlemen (or should I just say “fellow humans?”).