One of my most difficult struggles as a Christian involves feminism. There. I said it. I'm a feminist. No, I don't wear combat boots, and yes, I love men like crazy. LOVE men. Wouldn't life be much simpler if I didn't? However, the exploitation of women's sexuality and the glaring double standard women battle every day deserve commentary even in 2005. The Equal Rights Amendment still lacks ratification, and I'd be a liar to say I think that's OK. And you thought my last column would ruin my dating chances.
Not only as a feminist, but more importantly as a Christian, I am appalled that we continue to exploit women in this time. The sex trade in third-world countries, and the U.S. for that matter, sickens me. And yes, women make lots of money taking their clothes off for cash (or so they say), but gosh wouldn't it be a great world if the shot-callers and boyfriends and, dare I hope, husbands, used that cash and energy to foster spiritually positive relationships with women?
To me, feminism does not equate wanting to be like men, though many will use that argument against feminists. I understand that men and women are just programmed differently. I love that the feminist movement includes rights of children; it mirrors our God-given instincts as nurturers. Feminism is also not about lacking a sense of humor. It's not about hairy armpits or buzz cuts or a prideful pursuit of materialistic power.
It's about questions such as: "Why would he want to rape her? She doesn't look like a day at the beach?" Uh huh. Florida Circuit Judge Gene Stephenson asked this right before offering the defendant a plea deal.
It's about women who have devoted lives to children and home while their husbands pursued careers to support them, and the same women who find themselves in poverty when they have the audacity to divorce the same man when (and IF, y'all ... and IF) he cheats or becomes abusive or develops a drug habit. Yep. Those women were supposed to have the resources to support themselves.
On the other side of that coin, we have Ralph Drollinger, a pastor in California who called women legislators "sinful" because they dared to leave families for their jobs at the state capitol. Weren't they supposed to be able to support themselves? No, wait. Those women were supposed to be home taking the risk of not having the resources to support themselves.
In the meantime, we are bombarded with terms such as "welfare queens" and "feminazi."
It's about Rosie the Riveter, who left her home to support a family during war time but then marketed cleaning products and spotless homes when it was time for her to get back to the house and time for men to take their jobs back. Rosie was raising children and working while her husband was off at war. Kind of blows that feminists-have-destroyed-the-family argument out of the water.
Not to mention the women who were serving overseas as pilots, nurses and other military personnel. Yes, they did. Even before June Cleaver devoted her life to cooking and cleaning for the Beaver.
Sure, some have enjoyed the Cleaver family life, but God himself has told us there is nothing new under the sun. I find it hard to believe that divorce and single motherhood are the result of feminism, especially since both men and women have dogs in that hunt.
Again, I'm a Christian, and a Baptist one at that. For me, personally, the ideal home would include a mother and a father. In fact, I spent some time as a "stay-at-home" mother, and it was a true blessing. I had more time to volunteer and to teach my son that helping others is more rewarding than the accrual of stuff. I could go on, but I won't.
But, as they say, stuff happens. I found myself in a situation that compromised my belief system. I could go on, but I won't. Now I find myself giggling when I complete forms at a Baptist church, naming myself as "Head of Household." Hey! I'm the one who brought the kid to church!
I have found I can be a Baptist and a feminist all at the very same time. While I find some Baptists' devotion to men as head of the household both tiresome and not applicable to all families, I love that my church encourages my personal relationship with God. Just last Sunday, my pastor said it just pleases him to death when we disagree because that just shows we are exploring the Bible on our own.
Bottom line, being Baptist no more makes one narrow-minded or sexist than being a feminist gives one hairy armpits. Of course, the world would be much easier if we could define these labels so easily, but the shades of gray remain. Plus, the sweeping generalizations run both ways. Amen, and pass the lipstick.
Emily Braden is a free-lance writer and mom who lives in Rankin County with her son "Monkey" and her dog Zeke.
as a newcomer to the South , or even not, I appreciate your article.
Feminism is, as you say, about supporting and honoring the strength
of women, that's it in a nutshell. I just heard on MPR today (around noon) that Essence magazine is doing a year long effort to confront the demeaning rap lyrics that amount to verbal abuse towards young women. (older women don't count of course..) there's still a long way to go.
ok, here I found it, Take Back the Music.
Interesting sunshine, and thanks! The commentary was very interesting. I just LOVE Kevin Powell. And Ludicris, well just bless his heart. I do respect him as an artist, but with a simple line like, "If you ain't cuttin' then I'll put you on foot patrol." says it all to me. OH. If I'm not screwing you, then I am not worthy of respect? Please.
I love what Jill Scott says. Our sexuality is coy and sly and sweet...