Submitted by Rebecca Frazer
In last week’s edition of the Collegian, Robin Gericke wrote about why she does not call herself a feminist. While a number of students supported the article, many expressed vehement disapproval. Yet in reality, Robin stated a viewpoint shared by a good number of her peers, not to mention many evangelical denominations and leaders. Why are people so angry?
I think I know, because I have felt a similar anger. In truth, I probably hate oppressive patriarchy more than the strongest feminists on this campus. When people oppose modern feminism, it can seem as if legalism, patriarchy and prejudice win the day. Consider a culture where women are required to wear long skirts every day, are never permitted to attend college or work outside of the home, and are commanded as adults to remain at their childhood house and serve their fathers unless they are given away in marriage. Imagine that these women are expected to bear eight to 15 children and are prohibited from public prayer or speaking any words in a religious setting. Imagine that they become so isolated, intellectually stunted, and overwhelmed from childbearing that some develop mental disorders and even exhibit suicidal behavior.
I grew up on the edge of this culture — a hyper-conservative, religious, patriarchal sect that followed the teachings of an organization called Vision Forum. I vividly remember times as a teenager when I and my sisters were accosted and judged by sect leaders for ambition or the choice to wear pants. Although my personal family was against the sect’s teachings, sometimes I wondered if I was dishonoring God and my feminine calling by wanting to pursue college and leadership. I eventually studied Scripture and remembered that I was a child of God, and I found Bible-based freedom to be an educated, ambitious, bold woman.
And yet, I refuse to call myself a feminist.
I’m not uneducated — I know my feminist history. I know that I owe a great deal to the efforts of classical feminists, and were feminism still what it used to be, I would wear the moniker proudly. But modern American feminism, as stated in the Women’s March on Washington Unity Principles, tells me that women “must have the power to control our bodies and be free from gender norms, expectations and stereotypes” and that I must support “open access to safe, legal, affordable abortion.” Modern feminism tells me I must support Planned Parenthood, the lead sponsor of the Women’s March, despite the 300,000 abortions that they perform annually. Modern feminism tells me that I must affirm all forms of sexual expression. In short, modern feminism tells me to submit to no person or expectation — to be proud of any choice I choose — to roar in independence.
Modern feminism simply replaces patriarchal oppression with self-oppression. When we attempt to rule ourselves instead of submitting ourselves to God and to whatever leadership He places in our lives, we find ourselves in the same exact situation as my patriarchy-oppressed friends: lonely, unfulfilled, depressed, and sometimes exhibiting suicidal behavior. As we read in James 1, freedom comes when we become doers of the word, gazing “intently into the perfect law that gives freedom.” Having been freed by that submission to God’s word, I will never choose to be chained by a movement that exalts abortion, unencumbered sexual expression and unhindered self-rulership.
I decry patriarchy. I also decry modern feminism. I deny myself, take up my cross and follow Jesus