Sunday, June 13, 2010

Passionately outspoken for Christian feminism

I have been reading too many critiques of feminism in the Christian blogosphere recently, as if it were to blame for anything one doesn't like. The premise seems to be that we have only had _______ since women have been declared equal under the law. Now fill in the blank with the economic crisis, earthquakes and oil spills. I would like to take credit for modern dentistry myself, but I forget how it is a consequence of feminism. Not that explanations are usually required.

According to Mary Kassian, a prominent Canadian Christian author and anti-feminist, "pornography, and rape and homosexuality and sexual perversion were uncommon and rarely encountered" in the 1960's, preceding the expansion of feminism. I personally thought all these vices were alive and well in Sodom and Gomorrah, where feminism doesn't seem to have had much traction.

In a blog comment on this post, Mary Kassian declares,
    I think feminism and Christianity are incompatible. Feminism can’t be “redeemed.” If you’re interested in finding out more about the history and philosophy of feminism, I suggest you read my book, “The Feminist Mistake.”
However, Alex, a brave commenter and Christian woman, responds to Mary Kassian at length and with passion about the proper attitude of Christian women towards feminism. Here is one of her later comments,
    We must remember that we owe a lot of our freedom today to the feminist of the past. The fact that you can write a book without using a male alias, the fact the we can get ‘equal pay for equal work’, the fact the rape is illegal in marriage, the fact the a women’s testimony is not worth less than a mans and many more freedoms have been won. Truly if you want to see the effects of feminism, look to the places without it. In places like Asia and Africa were girls are married of young, sometimes 13 year old to 50 year old men, were women are treated as the property of the father to be bought and sold, were women have babies so young that they suffer from fistulas, were women are worth less than a man, so much so that a Christian women’s testimony in court is worth a quarter that of a man’s and were 6 billion babies girls have been killed simply because they were female.

    In times gone past a woman’s testimony was so unreliable they had to be tortured to prove it because they ‘made up things’, in times gone past women older than 13 without husbands were considered old hags, in times gone past women were thought not to have souls, which was only begrudgingly over turned by the church who decided they ‘may’ have souls.

    Surly we must look and thank our predecessors for the fact that we are not thought of as less than a man. Sure they made mistakes but so many freedoms we enjoy today are due to their brave fighting, their protests, imprisonments and pain for our freedom.
    We must thank them by going forward to free women throughout the world from violence, humiliation and destruction.

    Say what you like about feminism but first look to the sufferings of women around the world and think of how we can improve their living standards, improve their treatment to more than house slaves or cattle, improve their pregnancies so that they don’t die in birth or get pressured to abort babies girls. Say what you like about Western feminism but look to the women and girls of the developing world and help them. What they need are basic human rights and to be treated better than cattle. In the west this was achieved by brave men and women fighting for recognition. It was called Feminism. What will we do for people in the developing world?

    We mustn’t lose sight of what it means to be a Christian woman, but part of what it means to be a Christian woman is to love and serve other women around the world. Call this movement what you like, Christian women fighting for and caring about other women around the world, in the past it was called Feminism, today who knows what we will name it but it must happen!

    The problem with simply slamming feminism is that it draws attention away from our responsibility to women around the world who still need these rights; still need this love and care.
And may I add that there are still many women on this continent who need this love and care. As women, we need to care equally for both other men and women. But that is the premise of feminism, that women need to be cared for equally and as equals.

I am sorry that Mary Kassian cannot say thank you to the first Christian women who went to university, paving the way for her.


James F. McGrath said...

Thank you for highlighting the irony of an educated female author saying she is opposed to feminism!

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Thanks for the comment. I am surprised at the many negative comments about feminism that I read on the internet.

I enjoyed listening to your interview tonight. I appreciated how you articulated your views and learned a lot from it.

Hannah Mudge said...

I love this post! I have been struggling with opposition from Christians to feminism recently and posts like this reinforce why the two ARE compatible and why feminism is *not* the 'evil' that many seem to think it is.

Sally said...

""pornography, and rape and homosexuality and sexual perversion were uncommon and rarely encountered" in the 1960's, preceding the expansion of feminism. "

I think this is the biggest load of rubbish I've heard, thank you for exposing the nonsense.

Not heard of, and not talked about are two VERY different things!

Donald Johnson said...

Mary K. has an agenda and what she sees is filtered thru it.

Michelle said...

Dear Mary Kassian,

Read a history book. Any history book. New or old.

- Michelle

I appreciate your blog. Keep up the good work.

Lin said...

It is amazing that this passes for scholarship or even theology in comp circles. It is not even logical!

Homosexuality was rampent in Patriarchal cultures.

Barbara Page said...

Dear Suzanne,
I was fascinated by your article in the Ecumenical Review in 2008. Please tell me that you have published other works - I need to read what you have written. I am researching Proverbs 31.

Your Fan,
Barbara Page