Why Can’t You Be A Christian Feminist?


I’ve come across a number of blog posts recently stating that you cannot be a Christian and be a Feminist. I may not be a Christian myself, but I know a number of Christian Feminists. As such, I find the argument absurd.
There are many different versions of Christianity. At it’s base, it is simply the belief in the God of the Bible, Jesus Christ, and the Bible as a holy text. That leaves a lot of room for added beliefs, which is why there are so many Christian denominations. It is also why each church is a little different. So to say you can’t be a Christian and a Feminist is ridiculous.
Dances in the Rain stated that “You cannot call yourself a Christian and a Feminist at the same time, not in today’s society. Once upon a time feminism may have been about the right for women to vote or to work but not any more.” So feminism is okay so long as you’re fighting for the vote or to work, but not if you’re fighting for anything else? Why is it Christian to fight for women’s suffrage and the right to work? Why is is not Christian to fight for the right to not be harassed while walking down the street? Or the right to be taken seriously after being raped? Is the right to medical care not Christian? What is it that makes certain right Christian but not others? And if feminism is not about women’s rights any more, what is it about?
She goes on to say “So why doesn’t feminism mesh with Christianity? Let’s see what some of the leading figures of modern feminism have to say…
‘It is important for us to encourage women to leave their husbands and not to live individually with men… All of history must be re-written in terms of oppression of women. We must go back to ancient female religions like witchcraft’ – The Declaration of Feminism, November 1971.
……. Witchcraft….. How lovely.”
Oh, is this what I’m supposed to believe now? Oops, I guess I’ve been doing feminism wrong.
The majority of feminists do not accept this. Very few feminists believe that women should up and leave their husbands. For one, that is a very heteronormative statement. It assumes that all women are straight and intend to marry, or are married to, men. This is not the case. I also don’t know any feminists who wish to re-write history. However, the idea of re-writing history comes from the fact that the subject of history has very much focused on rich white men. This is an actual problem. So much of history has been ignored because for a very long time historians were rich white men who only wrote about other rich white men. This is actually something that the Feminist movement of the 60’s and 70’s improved. You can now actually study the history of women within academia. Feminism brought that about. As for witchcraft, I know you think it’s real, ad it’s evil, but it’s not. The whole witchcraft thing was their way of saying “lets celebrate women. Let’s worship women.” They were tired of the male-only deity worship of the time.
Dances in the Rain continues “’God is going to change. We women… will change the world so much that He won’t fit any-more.’ – Naomi Goldenberg, Changing of the Gods: Fem…inism and the End of Traditional Religions (Quoted at beginning of From Father God to Mother Earth)
I didn’t realize God changed. Did you? Oh, what was that? Riiiight, it says in the Bible that God is un-changing. Awesome. God: 1 Feminists: 0”
Wait…I thought you were arguing that Christians can’t be feminists, not that feminists could be non-Christians. I thought that was obvious. What with feminists in the early suffrage movement coming out and saying things about how there is no god, and god so obviously shares the beliefs of his worshiper, etc. But the existence of non-Christians doesn’t mean there aren’t also Christians within the movement.
Dances in Rain asks “What do you think is more trustworthy? A never-changing, all-powerful God who cares about you and loves you? Or the ‘potential’ of your crazy neighbour down the street who owns five dozen cats? Or maybe you want to believe in the ‘potential’ of all those amazing politicians….”
*Who do you think is more trustworthy. People aren’t whats. But that’s beside the point. I think my neighbour is more trustworthy, because they actually exist. That means they actually have potential. But, if I were a Christian, couldn’t I just say that my neighbour has potential because of God? Couldn’t I say that God made it possible to trust them? I don’t really know why you think that this is actually an argument against feminism.
She then continues “’No women should be authorized to stay at home and raise her children. Women should not have that choice, because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one’ (Feminist pioneer Simone de Beauvoir, Saturday Review, June 14, 1975).
Okay, this one gets me, because ten years from now I want to be at home, taking care of my first baby, not having to worry about work and who’s taking care of my little girl or boy. Do not take away my rights to take care of my future children at home.”
What does this even have to do with Christianity? There is actual contention with this issue today. Many feminists do think that women should be putting work ahead of families. But others don’t. I’m among the second group. If a woman wants to work rather than have a family, fine. If she wants to have a family and not work, fine. If she wants both, fine, but I wish we lived in a society that gave women the opportunity to do both without having to sacrifice one for the other.
Dances in the Rain then argues “’Marriage has existed for the benefit of men; and has been a legally sanctioned method of control over women… We must work to destroy it. The end of the institution of marriage is a necessary condition for the liberation of women. Therefore it is important for us to encourage women to leave their husbands and not to live individually with men.’ – The Declaration of Feminism, November 1971
Ladies, do you feel that marriage only benefits men? Because I’m not so sure. I mean, I’m not married, but I cannot wait until I get to marry the love of my life and live with him. And he’s going to take care of me in a way that I could not take care of myself. I’ll be happy and cherished and loved and I can’t think of a better life I will benefit greatly from marrying him.”
Historically speaking, yes, marriage was for the benefit of the man. The woman stated out as her fathers property and became her husbands property. It was common for the husband to either give the father of the bride a gift as payment for her, or to receive a gift from the father (this depended on the culture and time period as to which it was). Marriage was political: it was unlikely that neither partner even knew the other, let alone that they loved one another. It was meant as a way for men to gain more political power. Marriage for love is really a very modern thing. So yes, marriage was for the man for a long time. That doesn’t mean that it has to be that way now.
Why do you think a man can take care of you better than you can take care of yourself? Let’s look at this from a modern perspective: Most undergrads are women. That mean that you have a higher chance of going to university or college than your future husband. College grads on average make more that those who never went to college. That mean that you have the potential to make more than your future spouse (though it’s still unlikely). Women today do tend to work. It is easier to find a place to live if you’re single, though it’s generally cheaper to co-habitate. Though finding a roommate isn’t generally hard. Women also find it easier to find a place than men do. And, if you want to own a house and have kids (ie. The American dream), well, that’s now a pipe dream for many in our generation. Housing prices have skyrocketed, but wages have only gone up slightly. That means it’s nearly impossible to own a house on one salary. And kids are expensive. It’s unlikely you’ll even be able to afford to be a stay at home mom. Not unless you get very lucky.
She then states “I’m going to stop with the quotes there and say that no matter what, feminism is NOT the answer. God is.”
Why can their only be one answer?
“Whatever evil there is in these areas cannot be fought with feminism. When I see feminism I see the devil working against God, against women, against children, and against the sanctity of marriage. It breaks my heat to know that so many women buy into this.”
Where is this evil? What is it doing? Because I see no evil caused by feminism.
http://wildaboutegypt.wordpress.com/2014/11/04/feminism-and-christianity/
Now, since you’ve had your opportunity to pick out some of the worst feminist quotes you could find, let me share some good ones:

culture-of-strong-women1

iggy

mandela

maya

femconv

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36 responses to “Why Can’t You Be A Christian Feminist?

  • 61chrissterry

    In any movement there are bound to be differences of opinion, but within these opinions many will be similar or common to others, but not all. So it is a matter of choice, in that does the movement and its members have sufficient common opinions to which each individual member can relate to.

    So, if they they are Femanists and can also relate to the Bible in a similar way, then they can also be Christians.

    As to believing in any written text, is this purely not, in some ways also opinion, take history, which by the term must have occurred. But in all the occurrences, they are also coloured by opinion. This can be seen by how history is related in differing parts of the world as it is coloured to each individual area and by the opinions of the persons deemed to be recording it. Also history can be rewritten if an area has a change of its power structure.

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  • RSampson

    Telling people that they can be either Christian OR feminist is like telling me, a biracial person, I can be either black OR white but not both.

    Like

  • emilysbrainworks

    Most of what is called “Christianity” in America today has very little to do with the actual teachings of Christ and much more to do with (mostly male) interpretations of ancient writings, often taking them way out of context. Visions from the likes of Dante and Bunyan also play a huge role.

    But to be a Christian simply means to follow the teachings of Christ. Just like to be a Jungian means to follow the teachings of Jung. Or to be a Marxist means to follow the teachings of Marx. The actual message of Christ (if you take away everything else and read what he preached. A great way to do that is to get your hands on The Jefferson Bible) is a very consistent one: love, humility, forgiveness, and fellowship with others are the most important things. It’s basically the same message any good psychologist “preaches”, which is why I like to think of Jesus as the first great psychologist. If you live life the way he tried to teach us to live, you will find the peace and joy (heaven, if you will) that’s not possible when you go around hating, holding grudges, believing you’re better than others, isolating yourself in your superiority, etc.

    If you are degrading anyone (and that means women), not treating them equally, then you are not loving them. Dances in the Rain has it backwards: you can’t call yourself a Christian and not be a feminist. I’m a Christian, and I can’t imagine I could be so without also being a feminist.

    Liked by 1 person

  • mitchteemley

    The central point here, I think, is that there is a wild diversity of understanding as to what the term “feminist” means. Perhaps one should establish a clear definition and then ask people their views regarding THAT concept of feminism.

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    • hessianwithteeth

      Well the problem is as follows. Feminism like all movements of any size is not perfectly unified. Second and more importantly while feminists are clear about wanting equality of the sexes, and more recently equality of genders. There are many groups around which want to say that feminist are actually man hating female supremacists which have taken over key institutions. No any given person is probably going to find them selves in between these two positions, but the final problem is that while we pose that feminist are about equality, there always going to be a few people who come by, hardly read our post, and rant about those evil feminists. Other wise we’d be glad to have those kind of conversations if come around.

      Also we have discussed what feminism is at length through our blogs short history so we have posed definitions in the past, but it’s difficult to have to retread the same ground over and over. Even then there is no guarantee that anyone will agree to a definition.

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  • empecee

    Seeing that the historical figure identified as Jesus seems to be 1st ever recorded socialist, I can’t see why cant people be both
    Christian and feminist. After all feminism is just one aspect of socialism.

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    • paidiske

      It’s anachronistic to call Jesus a socialist. And besides, in what records we have of him, he seems to have thought that economics and politics were less important than the Kingdom of God.

      I don’t think feminism is just an aspect of socialism, either, since it isn’t interested in what type of economic system we have, just that gender not determine one’s ability to access and participate in it.

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  • paidiske

    I am a Christian. I am a feminist. For me, these things integrate very well, (I could quite happily say that God is a feminist) but of course I’m aware that’s not true of everyone. I’ve been accused of everything from witchcraft to betraying the sisterhood.

    I do think part of the angst is being driven by changes in the church. Just this morning my boss and I were talking about minimising potential misogynistic backlash against me now that I am a priest.

    Good, solid, relatable apologetics – from within whichever strand of thought – is essential to building understanding. (So is being willing to listen to others!)

    Liked by 1 person

  • caelesti

    I believe it’s a matter of how flexible you are willing to be with Christianity- or any other religion. And folks- don’t get your definition of feminism from Rush Limbaugh, and I won’t get my definition of “Christian” from the Westboro Baptist Church. Thanks. One assumption I see both atheists & Christians make is that of a “flat” interpretation of the Bible- that every part of it, every verse is equally important. Even fundamentalists generally do not see it that way. There are certain parts they regard as more important, and use them to interpret other parts- it’s called a hermeneutic, to get fancy.

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  • Jamie Carter

    I am a Christian Feminist. Do I agree with everything under the umbrella “christian”? No. Do I agree with everything under the umbrella “feminist”? No. But I understand where people think they are a contradiction in terms. Many Christians value all life – especially for the unborn. The last few decades many feminists have been fighting for the right to choose whether or not to bear life. Because these two stances are polar opposites – many people can’t imagine one could be both and on both sides. For me – I don’t know what I believe. I know the world’s youngest mother was five years of age when she gave birth to her child. It’s not uncommon today for 11, 12, and 13 year old girls to find themselves pregnant, not because they’re sinning sinners, but because their cousins, their uncles, or other relatives were really naughty. As much as I am for the lives of the unborn, I’m also for the lives of these accidental mothers who should get a chance to be a teenager.

    Some might say “adoption is the solution.” But these young mothers will still have to go through a lot more trauma and confusion before that can take place. I don’t see many Christians offering legal help, holding the guilty accountable, providing financial support, counseling counseling (not Christian counseling because we all know that is flawed), etc. It is, after all, for easier to hold up signs condemning women that don’t want to be mothers for having gotten pregnant than it is to prevent the violence against women that causes many unwanted pregnancies. When pastors stand up at the pulpits condemning feminists because of abortion, then people get the impression that anything and everything related to feminism is bad because it’s contrary to the Word of God. People are also historically blind to a degree – Prohibition, for example, was a time when many women banded together to ban alcohol so that their husbands would have enough money to help feed them and their children and there would be less alcohol related domestic violence – back then if a woman’s husband would not provide, she could only turn to her family and her church. Schools don’t always teach that. History only remembers the women who were really important such as Mary and Elizabeth, Martha Washington, Betsy Ross or really infamous such as Eliabeth Bathory.

    At this moment, Christianity is in the midst of a Biblical Manhood / Biblical Womanhood debate. Complementarians generally believe that because men are the leaders of the family, their wives should stay at home, raise the children, and follow their lead. Egalitarians feel that there is equality between men and women to such a degree that it doesn’t matter whether or not the man or the woman works or leads – whatever works for each family is what they should stick with. They point to the idea of mutual submission as being a necessary ingredient for successful Christian marriages. I’d agree with you that choice here is essential. God gave us the choice to be believers, therefore I believe he gives us the choice as to how we are to be Christians about our day to day life – and that might look exactly like the letter of the bible or it might look a lot like the spirit of the Bible, and it might look a little bit like both – God calls us to choose, so we should have the ability to choose.

    Christianity seems to be stuck in a kind of “leave it to beaver” “father knows best” mode of thinking – those black and white 1950s sit-coms are the ideal by which they want everybody to comply because it looks like it was the golden age of modern Christianity. (If you ignore what really was going in real life.) Families went to church together, wives stayed at home, which were neat and tidy, the wives always looked like they were ready to play the part of the hostess in a moments notice and children pretty much did obey their parents. It was before the radical feminism and civil rights issues of the 1960s, and it was before the idea of biblical gender roles needed to be created as a response to feminism’s assertions about the equality of women. The world today isn’t so black and white, and has no love for tradition or stereotypes. Sorry to leave you with such a long comment, but the issues of feminism and Christianity are like ice-burgs and we can only see so much as surface issues, but there’s much more that remains hidden that needs to be brought to light to be dealt with.

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  • truthtangible

    Feminism is even just about women. It is a belief that ALL people should be treated equally and have equal rights regardless or gender, race, age, etc. Feminism is really “humanism” but that term is associated with a different movement already.

    If you can not be a Christian and be a feminist then you basically confess that your God has biases and discriminates. Jesus was a feminist. He treated women, even ones of ill repute and of other races, with dignity and respect. In a culture where women were little more than property, where the poor and the sick where shunned, where people of other races were “unclean”, Jesus treated all of then as equal in value and rights to the rich male rulers.

    I am a Christian feminist.

    Liked by 2 people

    • clubschadenfreude

      Jesus did call a woman a dog in Matthew 15 (though he did relent and heal the child). The bible often doesn’t present a uniform clear message about such things as feminism, freedom, etc. A lot of things Paul says are quite opposed to women having equality with men.

      I think that one can be a Christian and a feminist, just like one can be a Christian and a bigot, or a Christian and a communist, etc. It just depends on what parts you decide you like.

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      • truthtangible

        The Bible doesn’t preaching uniform clear message about almost anything. That is part of why it is tricky. Paul is among the most tricky to read because he seems self-contradictory all the time. And I agree that you can be a Christian and be almost anything else. Although I would be careful equating feminism as seemingly equal to bigotry or communism. Maybe some other examples of what you can be a Christian and also be would have been a better choice. 🙂

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        • clubschadenfreude

          and this makes me wonder how anyone can assume a magical omni-everything entity had anything to do with reading it.

          I meant to use bigot and communism because I knew someone would want me to use only nice terms about what Christians could possibly be and that would be misleading. As for communism, Jesus was a great practitioner of it. 🙂 Now, big “c” Communism is quite a bit different.

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  • armondikov

    Once you’ve accepted that “Christianity” and “Feminism” are broad terms that unify a bunch of (relatively) diverse ideas rather than being just one monolithic thing, then I don’t think you can have a problem with the idea of a Christian Feminist, or a Feminist Christian.

    As your argument with one of the other commenters here points out, some people seem to think it’s a battle over some arbitrary vowels and consonants, not the ideas people actually have. How can you even begin to have a constructive argument if someone’s immediate reaction to the F-word is to assume you’re a man-hating anti-equality nut based on no evidence but one single word being used as an identity?

    Liked by 2 people

  • ekpreston

    Very interesting post. There’s a new movement within feminism called “third-wave feminism.” It came into being because some women felt like there wasn’t a spot for them within feminism. For instance, many felt like if you were a housewife or a capitalist, then you couldn’t be part of the dominant feminist movement. Third wave seeks to redefine what being a “feminist” means. It claims that, indeed, you can be a feminist and be a capitalist. You can be a man and be a feminist. You can be a Christian and be a feminist. The whole idea is about the individual and about pushing societal boundaries through everyday acts and through embracing seeming contradictions. Granted, the ideology has some issues, but I think that I like it best and that it is rather accepting and welcoming.

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    • hessianwithteeth

      Third wave feminism has been around for a while. It’s over 20 years old. Some people have even posited that we are entering the 4th wave of feminism. What you’re describing seems to be Intersectional feminism.

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      • ekpreston

        Hmm, I would disagree. Third-wave came about during the 1990s with its pioneers being Naomi Wolf (The Beauty Myth [1991] and Fire with Fire: The New Female Power and How It Will Change the 21st Century [1993]), Rebecca Walker (particularly with her 1992 Ms. Magazine article “Becoming the 3rd Wave” and her 1995 To be Real: Telling the Truth and Changing the Face of Feminism), and Barbara Findland (Listen Up: Voices from the Next Feminist Generation [1995]). There has been talk of a fourth wave, but it has gained little steam and hasn’t truly formed due to it being so new. It doesn’t mean that it won’t form, but it’s still in its nascent stages.

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        • hessianwithteeth

          I don’t see what you’re disagreeing with. I said third wave feminism has been out for 20 years, you said it began in the 1990s. 1994 was exactly 20 years ago. There’s no disagreement there. I said some people say we’ve entered a fourth wave, you said it has gained little traction. There’s no disagreement there. So what are you disagreeing with?

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  • paolalozare

    It think it is possible to be a Christian and a feminist. Read Proverbs 31:10-31. If anyone sounds like a feminist, the woman described in that passage does. Besides, I consider myself a Christian feminist 🙂

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  • Tree Hugging Humanist

    At some point the American public decided to label feminism as something it is not and then insist that others adhere to their new definition. Why this is the case I do not know. Perhaps myatheistlife will enlighten us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • hessianwithteeth

      I will be interested in seeing what it is that they bring to the table. Though I suspect I won’t be surprised. It’s rare for an anti-feminist to actually understands some of the difficulties actually faced with in the feminist movement. Strawmen are far more common.

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  • truthcube

    I am a christian and I believe you can be whatever you want. Don’t get me wrong. Your views may be wrong, but a person can still be saved by the blood of Christ. If somebody says that you can’t be a christian and a (fill in the blank) then that means salvation is achieved by what we do or what we believe about secondary issues (not pertaining to Jesus’ life and death) and that is not correct. Salvation confess by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone!

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    • hessianwithteeth

      Says Christianity, many around the earth would disagree. You think it is correct, but I have to ask what kind of evidence could you possibility bring to the table to substantiate such a claim. And how could it be that salvation has nothing to do with your quality of your life, the good deeds you do. It means that any mass murdering ideological nut bag get to go into heaven so long as he believes in Jesus, but a kind soul who spend more time and effort into helping other, and living a caring life, who just never bought into the whole Christianity gets no reward. Such doctrine is the amoral, it has nothing to do with morality. It your fine with that all right, but there doesn’t seem to be anything merciful about this doctrine at all. IT does make such a god seem petty though.

      Liked by 1 person

      • truthcube

        John 3:16. “Whoever believes in me will not perish, but have everlasting life” it’s pretty black and white, though I do agree that a person who continues in murder is not saved because a true conversion changes the heart. He will murder no more. But that’s a pretty heavy issue. Very different from femenism.

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        • hessianwithteeth

          Well the bible is rarely black and white and the gospels are full of contradictions making this rather unclear, but that doesn’t really get to the crux of the issues I was bringing up, but your are correct that it’s a bit off topic.

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  • myatheistlife

    Neither feminism or monotheism are good for society. Combining the two seems destined to fail. Good luck with that.

    Like

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