If I had a dime for every time I heard someone say, ‘Yes, I believe in equality between the sexes, but I’m not a feminist’, I would be a rich woman. Bra burning, lesbian, power hungry, man-hating, whiney, entitled. These are just a few words I have heard to describe feminists.
Feminism, known by some as the other F word, has gained a negative connotation for many in and outside of Christian circles today. The word, originally intended to call for equality between the sexes, has been twisted by society to assume these negative connotations so much so that many who agree the sexes should be treated equally feel the need to qualify their beliefs by not identifying with the term ‘feminist’. It is time for Christians to stop qualifying their beliefs and reclaim the term.
If you want to know why you should care, the simplest answer I can give to anyone who identifies as a Christian is: because Jesus did. Jesus cared about the marginalized, that was kind of his thing, so it would make sense that he cares about women. If you would like some evidence for this claim, check out Luke 10:38-42, Luke 15:41, Matthew 12:46-50, Mark 16:11, John 20:11-18, Luke 8:43-48, John 8:3-11, Luke 7:11-17 and Matthew 28:1-10. Luke 10:39 says that Mary sat at Jesus’ feet. This is significant because at a time when women were not allowed to be educated, Mary sat in the typical position of the male disciples. To sit at the feet of a rabbi meant that person was one of his disciples.
In all of the Gospels, women were the first witnesses to the resurrection. Jesus trusted women, who couldn’t even testify in court, to be the first witnesses of his resurrection, which is arguably the most important event in human history. These are just a few examples of how Jesus boldly challenged the societal norms of his day to treat women with dignity and respect.
As Christians, we are called to be Christ like. That means it is a part of our calling to care for the marginalized people in society, including women.
So, if Jesus cared about women and saw them as equal to men, why aren’t all Christians proud to identify as feminists? If your answer is, “I’m a man, why would I identify as a feminist?” then you need to rethink. Jesus was also a man and he cared.
Maybe you feel uncomfortable with feminism because you see the marginalization of women as an outdated issue. If so, consider this: women with full-time jobs still earn only 77% of their male counter-parts earnings. Thirty percent of women who have been in a relationship report they have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence from their partner. Women around the world ages 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria. Women currently hold 4.8% of CEO positions at fortune 500 companies and men outnumber women 4:1 in technology heavy jobs. These are only a few ways in which women are marginalized in society today.
If your answer is simply because I feel uncomfortable with the term feminist, truly following Christ should take us outside of our comfort zones. And if you don’t want to identify as a feminist based on your ‘Christian’ principal, perhaps you should consider whether your Christianity resembles Jesus or our culture. Let us not domesticate Jesus or the gospel message as it applies to all people everywhere by being afraid to go against cultural norms.
So, yes, I’m a feminist and a disciple of Christ, and I choose to boldly participate in his kingdom vision. Will you?