Saturday, June 9, 2007

In defense of Christian Feminism

Christian feminism appears to be an oxymoron. How can you be one and the other as they apparently stand in complete contradiction? The issue is how you chose to define each term.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines, feminism as: "advocacy of the rights of women (based on the theory of equality of the sexes). While the Bible is clear that there are men and women - Galatians, 1 Corinthians and of course Creation to name a few locations. But those locations as well do not indicated that women are to be beholden to men above all, rather they are to function within the will of God. That being said, we are then called according to His will and not the chauvinistic, patriarchal constructs of the Church.

I do not believe it is His will that all women become subservient doormats. Neither stay at home mom's or working mom's should be silenced and helpless. Yes, some women are wholly fulfilled as a stay at home mother. However, others are not. We are unique and gifted accordingly. We choose to ignore these unique gifting when they fall outside the realms of "women's roles," those gifting that leans towards leadership, and independence. Primarily because those roles fall outside the doctrine pressed upon us from the Church and to some extent society. We are to be some perfect balance between the chaste perfection of mute Pastor’s wife in training and Angelina Jolie in all her glory – sexy, aggressive, dangerous and powerful. Somewhere between attempting to grow up and being told literally I didn’t fit the mold for a pastor’s wife, I had a liberating moment…I realized who would want me, any of us for that matter? When you really get down to it we have candy coated the multiple personalities and conflicting values – especially those from the Christian circles under a layer of Revlon and Gap clothing. In the end both expectations do not go together, oil and water. You cannot mold a woman while she's single to be a form of Angelina only to muzzle her when that 2 carat Tiffany lands on her finger. The simple answer is to rid the church of the Angelina's right? Start breeding the new generations in the 50's mold of regimented gender ideology is the solution or is it? Of course I do not believe it is.

The answer? Stay the course, in that it's key that we understand the teachings, while being sure to understand that there are positive aspects to the changes that are occurring. It is not a travesty or the end time when a woman is called to leadership independent of a man, nor should we chastise women who feel like they are called, or motivated towards a goal.
In the end I guess all of this is just as much a defense of me. I feel called to missions and I'm tired of being treated like my passions are the reason that's I'm single. Those snide comments implying that if I could just pack away my type-A personality and passions, I would have no problem landing a husband.

1 comment:

Deborah said...

The madonna/whore complex has many permutations. As a former catholic, I believe that the inherent chauvanism in that venerable, patriarchal institution is gaining a new momentum in the US, partly due the press of Uber-conservatives and the overwhelming numbers of Hispanic immigrants who are predominantly catholic, and of a catholicism found here many decades ago. Progressive catholicism here is losing ground.

The matter of female equality, or lack of it, is regressing rather than progressing.

"Universal manhood suffrage, by establishing an aristocracy of sex, imposes upon the women of this nation a more absolute and cruel despotism than monarchy; in that, woman finds a political master in her father, husband, brother, son. The aristocracies of the old world are based upon birth, wealth, refinement, education, nobility, brave deeds of chivalry; in this nation, on sex alone; exalting brute force above moral power, vice above virtue, ignorance above education, and the son above the mother who bore him."
[From the Association’s “Declaration of the Rights of Woman,” written for the centennial of American independence. Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) read it on July 4, 1876, from the steps of Independence Hall in Philadelphia.]
-Susan B. Anthony, National Woman Suffrage Association. As quoted in The History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 3, ch. 27, by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage (1886)