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"Feminism" - A Discussion.

In recent conversations with both women and men, along with some comments that have been left here on the blog, I've been left a little puzzled about the term "Feminism" or "Feminist." It seems that it carries such heavy connotations for some, but for others, it's passed off rather flippantly.

When I think of a "feminist," in all its social & political implications, here's what I picture:

I think of a strong, independent woman. I think of a woman who is confident in her identity as a female... She's comfortable in her own skin, aware of her sexuality. She also fights for equal pay for an equal day's work because it's deserved, and she stands firm against injustices done to other women... both in her own country and around the world.

But what does the Church say about feminism? Why is it so attacked in Evangelical circles? Can I not be a Christian woman and also a feminist?

Where is there space for equality? Where does the man/woman divide start and finish? Is there a place in the Church for women to be bold, independent, and (gasp) leaders?

Can feminism be dangerous? If a line is indeed necessary, where do we draw it? 

Okay, enough jabber from me. What do YOU think about feminism? Are you a feminist? How would you describe it? What has been your experience with feminism in the Church?


  1. "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18)
    It is sin in the heart that causes men to treat women in ways that are meant to demean. It is sin that sets one person above another. And it is sin that seeks to use counterfeit solutions to counteract these inequalities. The only true cure for inequality is obedience to God's Word.

    Sorry i didnt answer all the questions. But i think this sums up my thoughts on it.

  2. I ran across this post and oddly enough I am just about to start a series on my blog about this. Here is the long and the short about what I think about feminism (and any other -ism for that matter). I think that we all would have to raise our hands in response to the question "am I a feminist?" I say this because at this point in America we are living in a post-feminist culture. Feminism is in the air we breathe. So that means that we have to know what Scripture says about who we are as women and begin to let the Holy Spirit renew our minds in regards to what our culture is telling us and what many of us have allowed ourselves to believe about our roles, God's design, etc...The only true equalizer is that we are all sinners in need of the grace of God. Yes, women are oppressed in this fallen world, but it is only in Christ that those inequalities are made equitable. Feminism, Communism, Capitalism, Racism, Progressivism, does not have the power to fix our broken world. Follow my blog in the coming days (the series will begin next Monday) to read more about this and check out my "Rough Edges" page for more on why I am so interested in this topic. Thanks for posting this! Sorry that I was so lengthy in my just hit on my most favorite thing to discuss! Keep asking these questions, it is so important!

  3. I think there's danger in assuming we live in a "post-feminist" culture. Women still don't make as much money as men (a textbook I use that's a couple of years old says 77 cents to a man's dollar), which itself is a huge problem. There are still prevalent gender stereotypes, particularly within the church.

    I taught some courses at a Christian liberal arts school and was surprised by how differently I was treated by students as a single vs. a married woman (I taught one semester as each). They didn't mean anything by it, but it showed the difference in the level of respect a single woman earns verses a married woman (i.e., one attached to a man) in Christian circles. I have half a dozen friends (at least!) who are in their late 20s and still single (by circumstance, definitely not by choice), and they feel this stigma significantly within the church.

    I agree with "A Diamond" that "only in Christ" are these "inequalities" made equitable, but that doesn't mean we should sit down and just let inequalities stand. I'm a firm believer in standing up for myself and my gender in gentle but firm ways. One of my favorite women in the world is fond of going to her denomination's annual conferences (where she is usually the only woman, and a deacon at that), and reminding them to not just use "he" in church literature when talking about those who work in the church. She gets laughed at. She gets eyes rolled at her. And she still goes, every year.

    We're not post-feminist, especially in the church.

  4. Thanks for the feedback cbe. I would love to clarify my earlier comment a bit. What I meant by post-feminist is that our culture by and large is aware of the inequities between the genders that exist within our world. We are post-feminist (in America, the developing and under-developed world by and large is far behind in terms of the oppressive ways that women are treated, socially, physically, spiritually, etc.) in that women in our culture today don't even have to think about whether or not women are "as human" (as the Greek philosophers questioned) or "as worthy" as men.

    We grow up knowing these things and we grow up in a culture that has allowed women to step into every sphere of life. Earlier in my life God allowed me to see that I was measuring my success and sanctification not by Scripture but by my own self-righteousness that was often founded in feminist thinking. No one taught me that...I soaked it up from our culture seemingly by osmosis. These advances have been made via the sexual revolution, the advancement of birth control, the movement of women out of the private domain and into the public sphere as well as many,many, other factors. Girls today don't have to wonder if they can go to college or major in a science field or vote come November which is a pretty great thing I think! However, the examples of women that exist in our world today (particularly those in the public eye) exist because of the doors that were open by the 1st, 2nd and arguably 3rd wave of feminism. These women's behavior is often anything but a model of a gentle and quiet spirit that is precious to God (1 Peter 3:3-4)

    That isn't to say that there aren't inequities still in existence that need to be addressed but my point is that the danger is that we begin to measure our success, worth, hope by the standards that feminism in some ways has imposed on us rather than the litmus test of our heart and behavior which are found in Scripture for the believer.

    We do need to speak out when we see inequities, but only with Christ's work on the cross for each of us in view. Cbe I applaud your friend for being bold and standing for women's role and acknowledgment in the Body of Christ. It is important for us to be wise and to offer perspective for the men in our churches that are in leadership positions. I pray that all of us do that with grace and love at the forefront of our heart and mind. Thanks for making this discussion interesting and thanks to the outdoor wife for opening the door to this discussion...if you haven't noticed I LOVE to talk about this stuff!

  5. My personal opinion based on my observations as a 27 year old women...

    I attended a public high school in a liberal University town, and a Christian liberal arts college. Both taught me about feminism from a very positive standpoint. I appreciated that education and along with my parents teaching, I was told as a woman I can pretty much do anything I want...

    What I see personally in America is a generation of neo-feminists who didn't partake in much of the struggle, but have this attitude of oppression and ultimately being better than men.

    I know that is a blanket statement, but it's what I see a lot of and fear that my daughters will be influenced by. I am ALL for equality, but I think a large group of my peers have shifted into assuming we are the better sex. More women are graduating from college than ever before. What happens if we get to a point of control and dominance that men were at 100 years ago? Do we assume that would be good because it's our turn? What are we doing to ensure the pendulum doesn't swing the other way?

    We often quote the 77 cent's to a dollar stat...I am always skeptical of stats...As a strong independent woman, if I worked at a company and found out I was getting paid less than anyone (man or woman) at my same job, I would confront the boss and get an explanation for why. We must not assume women are to naive to inquire and make that change.

    Ideally, I want to motivate men to be all that God designed them to be and I want men to motivate women to be all that God designed us to be. I will gently fight against injustice, but the thing I feel I have to fight harder against is a superior mindset. I will not operate out of fear of what could be, but what I am called to be and do as a woman and specifically a Christian woman.

  6. I'm a great deal older than most of you . . . 45 . . . so my perspective may be a bit different. When I think of "feminist" or "feminism" I think of anti-man. It's the I can do anything you can do better song taken to a degree that says I can do anything better than you because I am female and you are not. It's putting someone down because of his gender as a backlash to historic constraining of women.

    As far as the equal pay goes . . . it's hard when you work for organizations that forbid discussing salaries. You may know of the inequities, but saying you know they exist opens a different can of worms that you probably don't want to get into. Even (or especially?) in Christian organizations.

  7. Wow Nish, I think you really kicked up an ant pile! Great blog with some very interesting perceptions of what they think about Feminism! I really think you nailed it with your picture of it. " I think of a strong, independent woman. I think of a woman who is confident in her identity as a female... She's comfortable in her own skin, aware of her sexuality. She also fights for equal pay for an equal day's work because it's deserved, and she stands firm against injustices done to other women... both in her own country and around the world."

    Me being "I think" older then all these lovely women. 53 years young
    that back in the day when this all came about it was very threatening to men, and also to the Christian organizations and it ended up being mis-understood. And yes Sheryl, a BIG can of worms.

    I will be interested in reading Diamond in the Rough's topic on it...

    Well done Nish!

  8. First, I love femininity. I love the differences in the genders. I LOVE that I live in a world where I get to vote, where I can pursue the education I desire, where I can attain a job outside the home...should I choose.

    However, I think men and women are inherently different. Equal AND different. And the attitude that is exhibited on the poster on the right of your image is what bothers me, "Ignorant Men!". You see it portrayed all over television and media. Dopey men, men who can't take care of their children, weak men who still live with their mother.

    I don't know...I have boys and I don't want them to grow up thinking that they are LESS than WOMEN in our pursuit to promote equality for women. I don't think we need to put one gender down to exalt another. Both genders need to lift each other up respectfully.

    :) just my 2 cents!