Nope. ‘But’, nothing. There’s no but. I’m a feminist.
The woman who has just become the Turnbull Government’s Minister for Women said, in 2014;
“I have never been someone who labels herself in terms of feminism, I’ve never been someone who really associates with that movement. That movement was a set of ideologies from many, many decades ago now.”
I don’t even begin to know where to go with that.
It’s not just frustrating, it’s also incorrect. This article provides a good, quick overview.
(Look, this post is a bit directionless. I have lots of feelings about this but I’m not entirely sure what they are exactly…)
So many teen girls that I know don’t want to be associated with the term, and one of my male students said last week ‘I think people should have equal rights but I don’t like it when women get all Feminazi’. Surprisingly, he couldn’t actually articulate what that meant. And then I made the joke about how wanting equality is exactly like invading Poland…
I’d like to say that I’ve never had a problem identifying as a feminist, but I’m pretty sure I was in the ‘well I want equality but I wouldn’t want it to go too far’ camp when I was younger.
Silencing tactics that try to stop dialogue and infer that you are being unreasonable. I still don’t know what people mean when they say ‘too far’. Well, I do know what it means actually, because I have been stupid enough to engage in parts of the internet where MRAs lurk. And Reddit. I should know better…
Christianity and feminism.
The two things aren’t incompatible.
I’ve been surprised to learn just how ‘feminist’ the early Jesus movement was, as recorded in the New Testament.
Although current dialogue often sees Christianity as a patriarchal religion that relegates women to roles of subservience and deliberate silence, this does not accurately reflect the early church. Within a patriarchal Greco-Roman society, Jesus chose women as disciples, supporters and travelling companions, and Paul, long regarded as a misogynist (certainly by myself) , praises many women active in ministry at the time, describing Phoebe in Romans 16 as a ‘deacon’ and Junia as ‘outstanding among the apostles’.
Some of the lines that have stopped me connecting with any of Paul’s writings (‘the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak’ 1 Cor 14:34) are now regarded by many to have been inserted by those who composed the deutero-Pauline writings. When read in light of the approval and encouragement that Paul gives to women in his other writings, this line is totally incongruous.
Of course, as it became part of the establishment, these early beginnings were silenced because = Patriarchy. But, at its heart, Christianity isn’t incompatible with feminism. Women were leaders, passionate adherents, and an important factor in the spread of the Gospel in the Roman Empire.
Maybe if we can understand that within any given group, there is a huge array of ideas, and apart from certain broad definitions there is room for a diversity of viewpoints.
The fear of claiming a truth because of the perceptions of others, or buying into the idea that ‘feminism’ or ‘Christianity’ is so narrow that it can’t handle discussion or diversity trivialises the importance of both these traditions.
They are both old enough, and tough enough, to handle our questions and our doubts.