Submitted by Faith Neece
Many Asbury students and conservative Christians have concerns about the feminist movement. Managing Editor Robin Gericke recently published the article, “Why I Will Not Call Myself a Feminist,” explaining her personal issues with the objectives of feminism. While I understand these concerns, I believe that many Christians’ reservations come from a lack of proper understanding of the movement. I maintain that Christians should not shy away from the term “feminist.” As Christians, we are called to fight for justice and peace, and I believe this is what feminists across the nation are doing.
We must enter this discussion with a proper understanding of what feminism is. At its core, feminism is the belief that men and women are created equal and should therefore have equal opportunities and rights. I argue that this belief is maintained in Scripture. Men and women were both created by God in God’s image, and we are all one in Christ (Galatians 3:26-29). Men and women are distinct, but both men and women have equal standing in the eyes of God.
Feminism also argues that women in the past have been oppressed in almost every society, in almost every realm of society, including the economy, the political system, family relations and religion. It is not difficult to look at history and see that this is true. The only role for a woman in society used to be as a wife and mother. Women were expected to find a husband, submit to his will and bear his children. Women could not receive the same education as men, have careers, control their own finances or vote in elections.
We as a society currently benefit from the work of feminists in the past. We now have equal standing in our government — not as property but as people. Many people criticize the feminist movement without acknowledging the societal changes they benefit from as a result of the movement.
Despite these successes, there are still many obstacles women must overcome in our society. Women face unequal pay, bias in the workplace, unfair media representation, sexual objectification and many other issues in America alone. In other countries, women face brutality and severe discrimination. There is still much work to be done for the advancement of equality.
Equality, however, does not mean sameness. Feminists do not fight for women to be the same as men but rather try to combat the limited roles that society, not God, places both men and women in. Society narrowly defines femininity and masculinity. Feminists want to free people to seek opportunities outside of the stereotypical gender roles culture would place on them.
The main concern raised from Asbury students that I have seen is about being pro-life, particularly after the Women’s March. This issue is extremely important, but we need to fight the issue of abortion at its source. In order for abortion rates to decline, we need to address poverty, equal pay, racial segregation and health care. These are the underlying issues that influence abortion. Many pro-life leaders do not advocate for national health care, deny the role of racial prejudice in society and do little to address poverty. I have seen feminists doing more to address these issues than I have ever seen from those who identify as pro-life.
My beliefs about feminism are rooted in my understanding of Scripture. I believe that men and women were created equally by God and are made one in Jesus Christ. I believe that Christ models a way of life that seeks to free those who are oppressed. I believe He calls us to seek justice, and I believe this includes justice in women’s issues. Christians should not reject the movement, for in doing so they reject the great work that has been done for justice and equality.
In any movement or philosophy we claim to hold, we will find people who believe in things we disagree with. This does not mean, however, that we should write off the whole movement. I will insist on calling myself a feminist, for I insist on men and women’s equality.