Last week I told you I would be tackling the tough question of what the role of a Christian woman is. I’m starting to wonder if this is what this year’s series has been leading up. If maybe this is the question I’ve been trying to get at all along. I’ve asked it to myself so many times in so many different ways. Especially this one: Where should I stand on the issue of feminism in today’s society?
My first core English class in college began to make me unafraid of the “f” word. Until then, I equated feminism with words like “anger,” “no-bra,” “self-reliance,” an overall I-don’t-need-you/don’t-mess-with-me mentality. But, before he assigned us to read extremely complex explanations by thinkers like Adrienne Rich and Gayatri Spivak, my professor gave a very simple explanation of feminism: It is the belief the women are entitled to an education and a career. Hm. This definition did not seem scripturally astray. Nor did it sound scary. It sounded like me. And probably sounds like you. We don’t burn bras; we just believe women have gifts that translate outside the home.
So it surprised me when a girl in my class chimed into the discussion complaining about feminists. Hadn’t we decided the modern definition is harmless? Not to her. She didn’t want to be in college. She didn’t want to be in class. She was only here because of the societal pressure to gain an education. When what she desired was marriage and a family. Something attainable without a degree.
I was mad at her. How could she not appreciate where she was, what she had, all that she could be? In college, the possibilities are endless: so much to learn and try and succeed and fail at. Even being an “intern” sounds like a glamorous opportunity. And after hundreds of years with this door of possibilities closed to our gender, here she was wishing it hadn’t been opened. How embarrassingly regressive of her.
Or was it just me? As soon as I got mad at her, I saw my own aggression and recoiled at it. In undergard I placed this unreasonable pressure on myself to make perfect grades, be an active member on campus and use my summers to either further my education or get job experience. I was not chill by any means. Looking back, I realize I was striving desperately to prove myself and that my gender in no way hindered my intelligence or capabilities.
I didn’t know what the right reaction to this student’s complaint was, but I knew mine was wrong and for some reason grated against my Christian nature. What does Jesus really say about this issue? I had never asked him before because I didn’t see the Bible as a place to learn about feminism.
Now, I believe scripture explains feminism better than Rich or Spivak ever could. What exactly does it say? I’ll explore that next week.