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Why I’m a Feminist

Those who’ve read Alara’s Call know it is fundamentally about equality. And when I discuss the subject, I do try to keep the focus on equality, because for too many people feminism is a red flag. They think it means anti-male. But honest feminism is not about pulling men down. That’s misandry. Feminism is about lifting women up. It’s about pointing out inequality and injustice and asking good men to please convince the others to not treat us like dirt.

Despite advances, we still live in a culture that devalues women. American women are far better off than our sisters in other parts of the world, but true equality is still a goal, not an accomplished fact.

If you don’t believe that our culture devalues women, you haven’t seen the stories I have. Just this week, three crossed my Facebook feed:

 

This article about how girls are torturing themselves to meet the unrealistic expectations set up by pornography.

This woman whose church shunned her because she wouldn’t apologize to the wife of the man who raped her.

This man who got off with a light sentence after raping his own daughter, because family members testified that his sons needed their father.

 

Can we pause over that last one for a moment? Because I for one find it appalling that a family—including the rape victim’s mother—made the case that what those boys needed was to spend more time with the man who raped their twelve-year-old sister. And the judge agreed.

So please don’t try to tell me that our culture doesn’t devalue women. If everyone in our culture behaved as if women as well as men were made in the image of God, we wouldn’t hear stories like these.

gender inequality feminism

Illustration by Prazis via Fotolia.com

I realize I’m preaching to the choir here. I don’t suspect that the men who read NAF are secretly misogynist. But I do suspect that many Christian men have been sold on the lie that feminism and misandry are the same thing, and therefore that feminists are practicing their own form of inequality, one that puts women ahead of men.

That’s not what honest feminism is. Feminists are people who see that our culture systematically devalues women and say “no more.” No more expecting teen girls to look and act like porn stars. No more blaming the victim for having been raped. No more putting the freedom of the perpetrator ahead of justice for the victim.

The goal of feminism is not to elevate women above men. The goal of feminism is to lift women to the same level as men. We’re meant to be partners. Helpers to one another. Any subjugation of women is part of the curse we bear for living in a broken world. It’s not part of the eternal plan. And if working for God’s kingdom means establishing that kingdom in the world until the new heaven and new earth come, then it means working for equality. Because both men and women are made in God’s image. And, as the apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” If all are one, then how can one be of less value than the other?

She can’t. She is of value. She is made in the image of God, and to treat her as any less is an injustice.

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About Kristen Stieffel

Kristen Stieffel is a writer and freelance editor specializing in speculative fiction. She's a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, Christian Editor Connection, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

One comment on “Why I’m a Feminist

  1. Kristen, while I don’t associate feminism with misandry automatically, I do associate feminism with some negative things. Including strong support of the belief in the right to an abortion. While I agree that women have rights to their bodies and their reproduction, I think that right does not extend to another human being, i.e. ordering the death of a human fetus.

    I also find that while I agree with many feminists who take a strong stance against pornography, I disagree that their objection is almost wholly based on the notion of violence against women. Non-violent porn is ALSO exploitative as is gay porn that only features men. Yet feminists almost always fall silent on these issues.

    In fact many feminists strongly supported the sexual revolution, the cultural movement that helped get us in the mess with pornography that we’re in. Traditional marriage and monogamy I find often treats women a lot better than the sexual free-for-all our society is mostly in now. Few feminists I know of say that.

    I agree that the subjection of women is a curse on the Earth (seen starting in Genesis 3 in the Bible) and agree that working to undo that curse is natural, just like working to undo the curse of disease is natural. While I do believe God intended a certain measure of male leadership in Christianity, I do not believe that applies to anything else in the world, in which women should be fully free to take part in and even to lead. I have never had any major issues with any female leaders–female leadership doesn’t bother me a bit.

    Yet I believe we will never see a free society in which women are 50 percent of soldiers or politicians or CEOs; nor will 50 percent of parents who voluntarily stay at home with young children or nurses or elementary school teachers be men. These employment choices reflect real differences between the genders, which of course vary among individuals. So while I think we can do better to be equal, full equality as defined by at least some feminists will never happen.

    I also think our society affords tremendous respect to the ideals of feminism in theory, if not in practice. This leads to instances of real discrimination against men. E.g. it’s nearly impossible in most places in the USA for a father to win custody over a mother–even if he is clearly the better parent. A mom usually has to be a criminal to lose a custody battle. This sort of gender inequality is not something I’ve heard many feminists mentioning.

    All of the above mean I do think it’s necessary to separate the cause of gender equality from feminism. I support working against gender inequality. But I’m not a supporter of feminism because of the other issues, outside of gender equality, which many feminists have embraced.

    I have no problem with you identifying yourself as a feminist. I don’t see myself as any less your friend because of you saying so.

    But I thought it would be appropriate to explain my own point of view. 🙂

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