#reasonsineedfeminism

Do we need feminism? I mean, really need it? What would we lose if we axed it from society? There’s a hashtag on twitter at the moment that reads #reasonsineedfeminism. Many of the posts associated with it are about the existence of misogyny, or the victimisation of girls, or the exploitation of girls and women across the world. It’s hard to argue with that. There is also this article by Steve Biddulph about feminism starting in the home (it is excellent and you should read it).

#reasonsineedfeminism

#reasonsineedfeminism

The problem with labels like ‘feminism’ is that it is immeasurably broad, and different people mean different things when they use it. Nevertheless, it is generally agreed that there have been three major ‘waves’ of feminism. First wave feminism occurred during the late 19th and early 20th Century and focused on promoting equal marriage, parenting and property rights for women. You probably know this wave best through the work of the Suffragettes who campaigned for women to be given the vote. In our own nation, South Australia was the first state to grant this in 1893. Second wave feminism focused on other issues of equality (e.g. ending discrimination). It viewed inequality as inherently political and the product of sexist power structures. Third wave feminism digs deeper, questioning the very nature of femininity itself, along with the gender roles that so often go along with it.

If we get that clear, I don’t know that many people who want to axe the fruit of feminism from society. They might disagree with third wave feminism, but no one really wants to go back to a time when women didn’t have the vote, and husbands had the right to rape their wives.

But I am a Christian. Doesn’t that mean that I don’t like feminists? Well, no. Actually I think I would describe myself as a feminist (so long as I got to provide some clarifications). I have, here. I don’t think the ‘feminist OR Christian’ is a fair dichotomy. I think it’s wrong.

If as Christians we are to have any chance of sharing the good news of Jesus with our world we must understand the extent to which feminism has influenced our friends. It is in the water we drink. The air we breathe. It is not enough to tell people who have grown up in this climate that they no longer need feminism because they have the gospel. It is lazy and doesn’t actually think about people. There are points of synergy between feminism and the gospel. This is the task set before us.

The gospel transforms broken relationships. The gospel brings life and hope and peace. These are all things that women who suffer violence and inequality need. The gospel gives me the vision of the future, and even though I know I cannot bring that perfection about, I can still work towards it. Because I believe things don’t need to be this bad. I believe God doesn’t want women and girls to be enslaved. I believe God is for them.

So. I stand up for women’s rights. I stand up against the sexual exploitation of girls. I stand up against the sexualisation of young girls. I fight against the objectification of women in the media. I can tell a woman that she doesn’t need to sell herself to find value. And I can do all these things as a Christian.

If I can do them all as a Christian, then why do I need feminism?

I need it because sexism, objectification, and exploitation still exist. I need feminism because it highlights the problem for me. It looks for places where abuses are occurring and brings them to my attention.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “#reasonsineedfeminism

  1. So I’m just not sure we need feminism in its current form. I am angered by the way some societies treat women (thank you Steve Biddulph for this article that raises awareness against injustices against women around the world). I admit to being an idealist and having grown up in a time where feminism was ‘the air we breathe’, of never feeling like I had less opportunities than my brother, of always enjoying being female and never feeling marginalised because of it. Privileged and rare in the world. However I would also like to critique feminism at this point (or at least my limited understanding of it). I resent that feminism seems to promote that people are seen as equal when the volume of our voice is the same (first wave), when they are paid the same (second wave), or when they can express their own identity and sexuality over and against others (third wave). These opportunities are not what make people equal. In my work with people with disability, I work with many people who will never vote or speak, who will be financially dependent on others for all of their days (in fact the costs of dignified care are very high) and they will not choose how they express their identity including their sexuality or gender. These people are still equally made in God’s image- equality is not achieved by what you do. I also resent the anger that feminism causes. If someone makes you angry, your actions are defined by them, you have not won. You are reactive, not proactive. Of course there is a righteous anger against injustice, but that should still be jealous for yet motivated by what is good. I am frustrated that anger against ‘oppression’ forgets that every oppressor is both the victim and perpetrator of sin. I would rather women (and men) fight together against sin, the world and Satan, than against each other. I dislike that feminism is quick to look to self definition and my own needs, rather than the needs of others. Lastly, I sometimes resent that feminism forgets it may be part of the problem of ‘the narcissism of fashion, the paralysizing anxiety over body issues and pleasing boys’. It is my opinion that third wave feminism contributes to this. It saturates society with the sexualisation of women, because sex is the new power equality. This has become the ‘air we breathe’. This traps women in needing to be sexy and attractive to be powerful. It traps men into seeing women as sexualised, which has been proven to prevent them from listening to a woman’s opinion. I delight in Steve Biddulph’s comment on fatherhood- because I have experienced it myself. He closes the article with, ‘Fathers are the first opposite gender relationship a girl has, and set a benchmark which can immunize her from manipulation or misuse by boys’. Fatherhood will also model to men, how to treat women. Let’s help women and men, daughters and sons, look to the Fatherhood of God, to be first defined by him, having been made in his image, beautiful and precious and powerful in his sight. To being empowered by grace to serve the oppressed but also the perpetrator of injustice, by bringing them both the Gospel and all its outworkings. To treating men and women equally. To honouring their unique contribution, voice, sexuality, abilities. To honour people even when their voice or contribution is not the same. To subvert society by entering into it but working for a greater justice and mercy. Comments please.

    • Thanks Meghan! You’re right – equality does not solely depend (even ultimately depend) on one’s ability to earn/speak/self-define. But I still think that this doesn’t mean that these aren’t good things worth fighting for. I’m not happy to live with inequality when it can be different. And you’re right about sex becoming the new power play (women are now free to objectify themselves – what a messed up thought that is!). It is sad, and at least partly a product of feminism.

      It’s not perfect, I get that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s