A funny thing happened this week on Facebook. I was “outed” as a feminist. To my knowledge, that had never been a secret, but it caught some folks off guard. Apparently, their ideas about feminism clashed with their ideas about Christianity, and they couldn’t wrap their heads around someone who believes in both.
Rather than ask questions, they went for the jugular. They called me names, called me insane, and a great cry rose up to “block” me. (Oh no. Please. Don’t block me.) To be fair, that’s standard Facebook etiquette. I just found it a little hard to swallow when those same people went on to post lovely pictures with inspiring Bible quotes about kindness.
“[Feminism] is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” –Pat Robertson, as quoted in the New York Times, August 25, 1992
It’s an old quote but it’s making the rounds on Facebook, to thunderous applause. Or teary-eyed laughter, depending on your bent. The quote itself is bizarre on so many levels. I wondered why anyone would forward it. But after consideration, I see that this quote precisely encapsulates some people’s fears. And those who misuse the name of God to manipulate followers (::coughPatRobertsoncough::) capitalize on those fears.
Why would they do that? Besides the obvious (humans resist change), there is a more pressing concern: Politics. It’s interesting that this quote stresses political motives three times. If you’re a student of the Bible, as Robertson says he is, you know that the number three is of special significance. When something is said three times, take notice.
If we take out the emotion and the non-repeating accusations in Robertson’s quote, the one main point we’re left with, the reason for the scare tactics, the point he says three times–socialist, political movement, destroy capitalism–is fear of political change. And that is the reason this quote is still popular 25 years after it was first printed. Politics in the US is scary right now.
So, anyway, the Facebook people felt that I misrepresented myself by claiming to be a Christian for 38 years, studying the Bible, writing about Jesus, staying happily married to a man for 32 years and counting, staying home and homeschooling my five children, and admitting to feminist leanings only whenever the subject came up. I can see how that might confuse people into concluding that I’m a sleeper agent that will one day talk straight, Christian women into leaving their husbands to become Wiccan lesbians. Because, socialism.
Is it all just semantics?
My grown kids tell me it’s a generational thing. It’s the word that’s offensive, not the idea. They say the term feminism no longer means equal rights; it means anti-male. For that reason, a lot of people who genuinely believe in equality don’t call themselves feminists.
I get that. Some women who hate men call their hate feminism. Some men hate women and call it traditional values. Haters say anything to justify their own bad behavior. I’m still not throwing out the word.
A woman who seeks to put men down is a sexist. A person who seeks to lift women up to create equality is a feminist. The men and boys in my life know that I’ll fight just as ferociously for their rights as I do for females. They also know I probably won’t have to.
Why not use a more neutral term, like humanism or egalitarianism? Because humanism includes rejecting a belief in a Higher Power, so that doesn’t fit my Christian faith. Egalitarianism encompasses so much more than male/female relationships. And it’s tame. When we hear the word feminist, the female cannot be ignored.
I will continue to call myself a feminist as long as women and girls worldwide are considered the property of men; as long as women and girls worldwide are denied education, jobs, and decent healthcare; as long as women and girls are blamed for “provoking” or “allowing” violence against themselves; as long as preachers blame wives for their husband’s infidelity, and encourage women to stay with abusive men; and as long as the Constitution of the United States does not guarantee equal rights to all persons regardless of their sex.
When injustices against women and girls are righted, we will no longer need to keep emphasizing female empowerment. Until then, I’m a feminist. Deal with it.
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28, NIV
1/22/2017 UPDATE: More Facebook drama ensued after I posted the link to this post on my wall, as one dude started right up with stereotyping. That led to a back-and-forth between us. I stopped, and he and his buddies continued. At the end, it was one dude literally saying nothing else except for calling me a “feminazi”.
Anyway, one of my real-life friends told me face-to-face that I sounded angry in my response to the dude on Facebook. I wasn’t angry. (If I get angry, I say so.) But since I respect my friend’s judgement, and I know she’s got my back, I deleted the comments, but left the link.
Whew! I’m glad this week is over. Be well, peeps.