Feminism. The word brings so many stereotypes to mind. The first words in our literary criticism book’s chapter on feminism were, “I’m not a feminist, I wear a bra!” Oh dear, I can feel my eyebrows rising just thinking about being so hard-core.
Instead of having a knee-jerk reaction to the stereotypes we think are feminism I think maybe we should take a closer look at what it really is. As Tamara McGinnis says in our literary criticism class, “there is a grain of truth to every theory.” I think that applies to feminism too.
Speaking of stereotypes, there is one from my hometown that I know I don’t fit. In Randle Wash. the majority of girls get pregnant in high school, get married as soon as they graduate, and spend the rest of their lives smoking a pack a day and working part time at the local gas station or grease-filled burger joint. There are people from my hometown who are still mad at me that I would be so uppity as to think I could go to college.
Where I come from, this is normal; this is how women are supposed to act. But feminism says that just because it is the norm, doesn’t mean its right. Just because women produce babies doesn’t mean that’s all they’re good for. It even says (sin of sins) that maybe our conventional views of men and women might be wrong. They might be just a little too clear-cut for reality.
So much of the time we define things by what they are the opposite of: cold and hot, black and white, male and female. Why can’t men and women share some characteristics? Sometimes men like to cook. Sometimes women are good at math. Why do we have to divide the world in half and say, “That’s your side and this is mine”?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not condoning cross-dressing or homosexuality, but I think that we are harming both men and women if we line up character attributes and say you can’t have that one if you are the wrong sex.
How do I make that practical? How do I act in a way that doesn’t view the world in such a dichotomy, but still holds to biblical standards of male and female roles? Well, I don’t have a cut-and-dried answer for ‘ya.
Truth is, I’m still working on that one myself. I grew up in a family where my mother believed strongly in a traditional woman’s role, but didn’t actually follow God with her heart. I can see where that has taken her—away from everything that is truth-centered and into an illusion where you can do whatever you want and God just is your happy helper, and I don’t want to go there. But I don’t want to have such a knee-jerk reaction that I fall off the teeter-totter on the other side either.
I think maybe there isn’t a cookie-cutter answer that we can use to trim all our situations. But maybe that’s ok. Maybe that’s how God made it, so we have to come to Him for wisdom.
You wrote this well – but I never quite figured out your answer to the main question. What I mainly got out of it was this sentence: “But feminism says that just because it is the norm, doesn’t mean its right.” So feminism is the questioning of whatever the norm is in search of… equality? Or is it just doing something strange?
Joshua Millikan says
feminist is a title that associates you with a movement which is feminism. the article does not really deal with what is feminism.
here is a sentence from wikipedia on feminism and its impact.
“The feminist movement has effected change in Western society, including women’s suffrage; in education; in gender neutrality in English; job pay more nearly equal to men’s; the right to initiate divorce proceedings; the reproductive rights of women to make individual decisions on pregnancy (including access to contraceptives and abortion); and the right to enter into contracts and own property.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminism#Societal_impact)
the movement of feminism has done some good things for women but it has also hurt women. Dennis Prager does a good job explaining one of the harms that it has done to our younger generation.
I believe there is a reason that God did make men and women different and that a women should be proud of how she is different than a man and a man should be proud of how he is different than a women.
but on average women and men are not equal. women can do some things the same as men but there are things that men can do better than women and there are things that women can do better than men.
Adrienne Goodrich says
Thank you both for your comments. I knew this is a controversial topic so I was a little nervous about publishing my piece, and you’ve proved me right!
Hopefully I can answer your questions to your satisfaction.
Caleb, you bring up a good point. Perhaps I should have put a different headline on my piece. As I tried to bring out in the last paragraph, I’m just not sure how people should act, but I think that there are certain elements of the more radical movement called feminism that are good. Such as the idea that women and men are only allowed certain character qualities. If I ever use this topic in a piece again I will be careful to label it more accurately.
Josh, I agree that feminism as a whole movement has both good and bad results for women. But would you please explain what you mean by the phrase “but on average women and men are not equal.” Equality does not mean they are the same. It means they have the same value. I completely agree with you that men and women are made differently, and in general are good at different things, but this does not make either group of less value than the other.
In my Petrine Epistles class last semester with Gary Derickson I enjoyed his lecture on I Peter 3:7 “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” Dr. Derickson talked about how the phrase “weaker partner” is here to tell men that they should be gentle, especially emotionally with their wives, not that women are inferior. He used the analogy of carrying a China vase to illustrate how men should see their wives as infinitely valuable, and thus be careful not to hurt them. The passage later goes on to affirm that men and women are equal (not the same, but of the same value) to God.
I see this is a difficult issue, and I truly appreciate both of your comments. Please keep the discussion going!
Feminism - Really? says
Honestly – what’s the point of this borderline rant?? I question whether or not you even know what feminism is, let alone how it’s applied in a secular or Christian sense. I think your very bold to use the ever increasing “blanket-term” of feminism in arguing that, just because there is a prevalent amount of promiscuous girls in your home area, that there is somehow an “oppressive” attitude directed at women that breathes tones of “If you don’t act promiscuously, you are inferior to males.”
I don’t see how you can relate feminism to a group of individuals (promiscuous girls) who made bad choices in different areas of their lives. I’d argue that feminism in today’s secular culture would say “Do whatever the heck you want with your body.” In contrast, a Christian “feminist” view argues that women are equal in their value before God. What I don’t understand is how you are pushing the point that their choices to engage in destructive behavior make humanity view them as less equal to men – THEY CHOSE to partake in those actions.
To be frank, how does a woman engaging in sexual behavior out of wedlock make her less equal than a man? Obviously it’s inappropriate in God’s eyes but whoever said that it results in making them beneath men.
“Where I come from, this is normal; this is how women are supposed to act…” – This sentence is a logical fallacy. Yes, their education level, social status, and livelihood may be considered “below average” but how can you claim that an overriding consensus of “This is how women are supposed to act” exists. I’d argue that it’s merely an accepted way of life – but it is in now way forced like you make it sound.
“But feminism says that just because it is the norm, doesn’t mean its right.” – You have to define what type of feminism you’re talking about and furthermore – I’m not even sure that in this context, that feminism is even the right term to use. (Where did all divine commands on how to live a Godly life originate?)
“Just because women produce babies doesn’t mean that’s all they’re good for. It even says (sin of sins) that maybe our conventional views of men and women might be wrong. They might be just a little too clear-cut for reality.” – Once again, whoever said that just because women choose to have sex out of wedlock (resulting in a pregnancy) makes them inferior?
I think this composition is misdirected in that it uses fallacies and your own bias to argue points and in conclusion, there is no resolution. I full heartedly agree with the poster above in that this piece does not deal with feminism…
This feels like a rant that uses a big word, feminism, to ease some type of tension that exists with your background.
Adrienne Goodrich says
Dear Anonymous commenter-
I’m glad at least that you’ve brought the aggression centered around this topic out in the open. The problem is, I don’t really understand what you’re trying to say. Mostly what I hear is the ad hominem fallacy. Please try to keep this discussion lively, but loving. (On all posts on this site please try to follow Christ’s example.)
To address my “logical fallacy” I simply ask that you re-read the paragraph. The second part of that sentence is being used as parallelism. “This is how women are supposed to act” is not applied to the world as a good thing, it is re-stating what is normal for my area.
Each time you quote my piece, you seem to get the opposite meaning out of it than the understanding that both I and my editors had. I’m not sure how you come to those conclusions. I don’t ever even address whether engaging in pre-marital sex makes a woman less-equal. That is not part of my discussion. My discussion is about whether there are points within feminism that are valuable to Christians.
Finally, to address your claim that I don’t know what feminism is, I simply ask you to read my response to the previous comments. I admit that I headlined this article incorrectly, the point is not to define feminism, that is why you won’t find a cut and dried definition in it.
Thanks all for your interest in this topic.
There are a couple reasons why this article doesn’t really work in a journalism sense.
First, your article’s title. Its misleading. I believe even you admitted this.
Second, your use of a personal experience. Nothing wrong with that except if you write an opinion piece your experience has to be meaningful. Frankly, your experience in your hometown is too general. Be specific. But this is hard with limited inches.
Third, your voice. It comes across ( perhaps unintentionally) as condescending and judgmental. Your alienating your readers. If you were to write this for any Christian publication, the editors would have to ask you to do some further edits. I think the other commentator had an issue more with the “voice” of your writing.
Fourth, your article has no “relevancy.” By this, I mean, how is it relevant to me as the reader. A good column and opinion piece takes issues that matter to his or her target audience. I’m not sure if you have a target audience. I “feel” that you are asking “yourself” the question all way through the article and by the end you are coming to almost a self-actualization. That’s fine except you talk about your mom in the end and it doesn’t really give me an application except to challenge a conventional view that you never fully develop or reinforce through your opinion piece.
Fifth, your article is not current. I don’t believe everyone sees the world and men and women as being dichotomized into “half” something. If anything, the roles of men and women have become jaded to the point where people need to understand “defined gender roles.” That’s a scary and heavily misinterpreted phrase without context. But within context and with Scripture this word appraises the value of individual characteristics of genders and why your God encourages the word “love” and “charity” go hand in hand.
With experience you’ll learn how write strongly.
If you think, I have misinterpreted your article and you wish to defend yourself. Then you have hit my sixth and final point.
Your article isn’t succinct or clear enough.
There is a difference between being “controversial” and creating discussion and being “confusing” and causing a need for clarification.
Coretta Drugan says
Wow, this was a true quality post. In theory I’d wish to write like this too – taking time and real effort to make a decent article… however what am I able to say… I keep putting it off and never seem to urge one thing done
Sarah Gaspar says
I appreciate your willingness to bring up this topic. It’s one that I feel doesn’t get a fair hearing on the Corban campus.
This is how I see feminism: the root of feminism is believing in equality- equal rights, equal opportunities.
Now, there is a spectrum, just as there is a spectrum of “liberalism,” “conservatism,” and any other “ism.”
And I could not agree with you more that our culture’s own forced gender attributes hurt ourselves. Somehow, many people in the church apply these “rules” and claim they are Biblical.
Does God say women have to like pink? Does the Bible say boys can’t play with dolls? Does the Bible say a woman’s greatest fulfillment in life is giving birth? Does the Bible say men are always stronger than women?
No. Humans say that.
I am a feminist. I value equality. I believe God wants us to fight against injustice.
I also believe this pice was written in the “Opinion” section, and people criticizing the quality of journalism should back off a bit.
I’m thinking, that if this were a more “conservative” piece, it wouldn’t have been picked apart.
But, then again, that’s Corban for ya!
This topic would be an outstanding feature article sometime…definitely interested.
Hi Adrienne. You wrote an interesting and thoughtful article. The first one I have seen that I can genuinely say I respect.
I hope I can be of a little service to you in sharing a few thoughts, anecdotes and most of all truths…
First of all, I studied 7 years tertiary level physics chemistry and mathematics and worked with some very fine and gifted women. Oddly enough, there are fewer women who study physics and the men tend to be “Aspergers”. In chemistry there tend to be fewer women in later years but they are well represented still. Many fine women went on to do PhDs in my university. In mathematics I had the privilege of working with some very clever female fellow mathematicians in third year.
My point is, God has given men and women a great gift … our intellect, which is a reflection of the Divine nature.
I have studied theology all my life also. The difference between men and women does not lay so much intrinsically in direct characteristics. Although, God describes women as the “weaker vessel” 1 Peter 3:7) which is a general reflection on the more delicate mind and body which God has gifted women with. (Of course there are exceptions to this rule). When God created Man after his image he made them male and female (Genesis 1:27). This image of God was not anything physical or even intellectual … it was a knowledge of true righteousness which was lost i the fall but regained through the new birth (Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:24).
No, the true difference between men and women lays in the creative purpose of God. God stated in Genesis 2:18, ‘I will make him an help meet for him’. In modern English it would read “a help fit for him”. Howver, in the original Hebrew it reads ‘I will make a help for the man suited to the man’. It is to this Hebrew original that the Apostle Paul alludes when he states in 1 Corinthians 11:9 ‘Neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man’.
So we see that in the creative purpose of God, woman was made for man. This was true even before the fall, but after the fall, God stated by open precept that the woman would be subject to her husband (Gen 3:16). Notwithstanding, He preached to our first parents also the Gospel of redemption of the coming Saviour who would bruise Satan and obtain redemption. Furthermore, we see the ultimate man in Jesus. HE did not teach that it is the Christian way that we exercise authority and dominion over people. He showed by example that even the Son of God came to serve and give His life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:25-28). In this we see what God is really like and how the Spirit of Christ (if he lives in our hearts would model our natures by). It is true the woman in Christ is still subject to the man because he is the head of the wife, but he is to love his wife in turn in the way Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5: 22-25).
So in conclusion, all of the propaganda that you hear in the world today and particularly in universities and the media is a part of the godless antichristian propaganda (promoted by illumina+ti). It has a very different spirit behind it and is designed to destroy the family, society and particularly the Christian faith.
I have recently re-entered university on the humanist side for a teaching degree and I am amazed at the wash of Marxist humanist godless propaganda. We don’t have that nonsense in the sciences and men and women have a great working respect for each other. However, the sociologists (which are the instruments of neworldorder) actively promote their “labellist” tactics to undermine and discredit all who dare oppose their agenda.
You must decide therefore whether you are Christ’s or one of their own.
My highest regards to you Adrienne