Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Feminism and Christianity

I have written a fair bit about the women who have been primary role models for me. I haven't much use for the notion that a woman seeks out or prefers only male role models. That gets in the way of one's basic identity. You can't do away with your sex, so you have to get over it.

I say "get over it" because it is very common for girls to go through a stage when they would rather be boys, but boys do not usually go through a stage when they would rather be girls. So, in fact, women really do have to get over the enormous injustices perpetuated by both the church and society. Some parts of the Christian community are sadly in collusion with the lower echelons of non-Christian culture, sharing the lowest common denominator, that of keeping women down.

I see the best in women. I work in a secular environment in a public school where my colleagues all consider themselves equal to men, AND they want to marry, have kids, stay home for a while, maybe part time, and just be with kids, and have a long term marriage. These are the openly stated goals of the women I work with.

We celebrate each baby that comes along and ensure the mother her continued welcome at staff events with the baby. Just because she takes maternity leave does not mean that she is not one of us. The baby is brought into the school and paraded from class to class. At lunch the administrator takes the baby and holds it till it falls asleep, gently rocking it. I kid you not, this happens, and the last day of school we all celebrated the announcement that one of our younger teachers, married last year, is pregnant.

These women are the product of secular feminism. I have learned a lot about how to be happy as a woman from these women. Too bad my experience of church has not been so benign. Too bad other people's experience of feminism has not been so benign. Too bad, but we have to admit that Christianity has been used to promote a lot of terrible events and practices, and so has feminism. However, we need both.

Here are some definitions of feminism.

  • The view, articulated in the 19th century, that women are inherently equal to men and deserve equal rights and opportunities. ...

  • A school of though that examines the oppression, subjugation, or inequality of women. Feminism has flourished since the middle of the twentieth century and has taken different forms, focusing variously on language, the construction of power, and the institutions that perpetuate sexism.

  • (a) a range of contemporary theoretical perspectives (political, sociological, legal, psychoanalytic, literary, philosophical) in which women's experiences are examined in relation to actual and perceived differences between the power and status of men and women; (b) a social justice movement in ...

  • The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.

  • a doctrine that advocates equal rights for women

  • feminist movement: the movement aimed at equal rights for women

  • Feminism is a collection of social theories, political movements, and moral philosophies largely motivated by or concerned with the liberation of women. ...

    J. K. Gayle said...

    Thanks for this post, Suzanne. And thank you for writing, in Feb 2006, of teacher, Grace Irwin. It's people like her (and you) who flesh out progress for women (and therefore for men and women) in our communities. And when there's so much misunderstanding and disparagement of such progress, some of us really appreciate how you set the record straight. So when writing of Irwin, you rightly observed:

    "When people write about Evangelical Feminism like it was some regrettable aberration of our contemporary culture, they simply don't know what women really are. There were no men fussing about whether Grace Irwin could teach men."

    David Reimer said...

    ... boys do not usually go through a stage when they would rather be girls.

    Funny. I have a distant memory of realizing that, because I was a boy, I could never have a baby. I was gutted! (So to speak...)


    David Reimer