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.

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?”).

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9 comments on “Late to the Party

  1. Squidge says:

    Aww this is super lovely to read. There are so many preconceived opinions around feminism but really it’s just about the equality of the genders- I hate how so many women are told they ‘can’t’ be feminists because they dress the wrong way/say the wrong things etc. I love how you’re trying to spread this positive message to the wider community.

  2. Tim says:

    Fellow human beings is fine with me, Sarah!

  3. Greg Hahn says:

    I’m relatively new to the party too and I can so relate to what you’ve said here, sitting up all night reading, not being fully prepared for what you find as the lights click on. It’s like, once you discover a few pieces and then find they click together, you can’t stop digging for more.

    How could we have missed this? Easy- it’s a curse…….

  4. dlr2785 says:

    The author of the previously noted essays has well-said that “-isms” are not capable of truly representing things as they are or ought to be (my paraphrase). But you would expect me to say that.

  5. dlr2785 says:

    Also, don’t forget to leave your modernist and post-modern assumptions at the door of the blog; just be neutral . . .

    😉

    • Sarah says:

      Actually, pursuant to Ray’s Scholastic metaphysics, I’m seeking an understanding of gender based on hylomorphism and other weird philosophical things. That is going to take a long time (years at least) to develop, but at least provides a starting point for the Christian perspective I want to take. You gotta understand Being in order to say what a person IS, after all. 😉

      So . . . Neo-Scholastic Gender Studies, I guess?

    • Sarah says:

      Google says: Google says : No results found for “neo-scholastic gender studies”.

      So I guess I just invented a thing.

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