If there was another word, I’d be happy to use it, but since there’s not, well, I feel like I need to redeem it.
I am a feminist.
I have been for years and years, I just didn’t know it, because I never actually looked up what the word meant, I just listened to scared people talk about what they didn’t understand, and became one of them.
Contrary to how I imagined feminism to act, this movement isn’t about how we women treat other people (though the decent ones among us work within the Golden Rule: treating others the way we want to be treated). It isn’t about bringing men down or punishing them for the sins of their fathers.
Feminism (the ideal and the activism) is about changing the way people are treated.
Women in particular, yes, but ultimately all marginalized people.
Feminists are speaking the obvious, because it keeps being ignored. They’re saying that women have historically been treated as less than men (anyone who’s paid attention already knew this. Google is your friend if you weren’t one of them. I won’t judge). We’re pointing out that “humanity” has meant men by default (Medical studies are a terrific example of this bias). And we (some of us) are pointing out how males are getting a bit irrationally testy at being limited to 50% of the good stuff.
I use the “Merry Christmas” kerfuffle as an analogy.
At some point, retailers noticed that some people spend money for reasons other than Christmas. Not being the types to discourage consumption for any reason, these proactive capitalists modified their advertizing materials to be as inclusive as possible. The use of the words “Merry Christmas” plummeted.
The pro-Christmasers fought back with their dollars, which is totally their right, but others (inappropriately) called the change in language religious persecution.
I argue that the majority simply got a taste of what the (holiday) minority lived with for generations. For me, it was an education, not an assault.
Pro-MCers can totally ask for respect and acknowledgement. Feedback is a great way to teach people who want our money. The point is that MCers were used to being the default, and I wonder sometimes if the outrage expressed isn’t about change and demotion along with all the other loaded elements of the shift.
As for my brand of feminism and faith, I have often rejected the role of activist, but I have walked for a while now as an advocate.
It makes sense if you think about my role as a writer, as someone who offers words as bridge between people and ideas.
I was gratified this weekend to read a list of [faulty] reasons attempting to explain why women’s gifts are largely ignored by the Church.
Calling them what they are (largely fear, and lack of experience or imagination) really put things in perspective for me.
Then a dear Christian lady, who would never approve of women in leadership, asked me what kind of female leadership I was advocating within the church.
It made me frightened and angry and sad, all at the same time, because I knew there was nothing I could say that would make her approve of my position, and I didn’t want this issue to be a relationship-breaker between us.
I went with the truth anyway, wording my answer as carefully as possible.
Anywhere a woman is gifted, that is where she should work. God gives gifts to be used, and scripture has examples of women at every level of leadership.
This is a painful subject for me, because management (specifically of food and children) is all women are typically allowed in the church, and is something I am distinctly *not* gifted in.
Not where I am now, but both for teaching (even beside/with Jay) and for music (songs a man picked) I was told “No-because-you-are-a-woman.”
It left me useless, which is nothing I wish on anyone.
Feminism matters, in life and in the Church, because change does not happen spontaneously, and our culture, both of faith and general practice, is anemic. We are sick and undernourished because fully half of all the population is excluded by default, or challenged to “do better” with fewer resources.
We have people, valuable contributors, who never reach their potential because enough other people have made decisions before considering the individual.
It is a logistical nightmare, but that is part of why it takes so much energy to sustain this movement, why some people complain feminists are fixated on one problem, how this one way the world works is all they see.
There is nothing easy about telling the world over and and over again that the sky is blue, that water is wet. There may be “bigger” things going on every minute, but what is closer to home than our value and identity?
This is what we are fighting for as feminists: to do what we were created to do, and not be patted on the head (or carefully not-touched if “they” are male and are scared of being seduced by even a condescending touch) as we’re told by someone not-our-creator that the way He made us doesn’t fit their plan.