Feminism

The Fight for Feminism

The feminist movement in America has been one of the most destructive forces Satan has used to bring ruin in both the culture and the home. Angry women who have experienced abuse and mistreatment from men rightly scream for justice. Feminism throughout the 20th and 21st centuries has been used as a way to right wrongs, but, in seeking equality, women continued to push the envelope on what is the acceptable and normal place of a woman within society.

The feminist movement brought about the 19th Amendment in the early 20th century, giving women the right to vote. Although it may look innocent on the surface, and even necessary, this was the beginning of change to the social infrastructure of the American family. No longer was the man of the household responsible to represent his entire family while voting. Households became divided. Now women were given the opportunity to vote for themselves, often against their husbands.

With the start of World War II came countless openings in factories and the workforce. Previously women would have been looked down on for taking jobs away from breadwinning men and stepping outside of the sphere of the home. With propaganda such as ‘Rosie the Riveter’, women were not only encouraged to fill the shoes of men, but were portrayed as heroes for keeping the country running while their men were on the front lines. Thus began the normalization of women in the workforce.

The 1960’s were marked by the sexual revolution, and saw feminists fighting for abortion and equal pay rights, influenced largely by Betty Friedan and her book The Feminine Mystique.

While it would appear that feminism has been empowering and calling attention to the plight of women for only the last 100+ years, a closer look will reveal that the fight for feminism and equality has been around much longer.

Since the Beginning

Feminism has been defined as (1) the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes and (2) organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.1 In the articles and books written by feminists, their goal and hope is to become completely equal with men. They desire all the political and social opportunities that men are given: the ability to climb the professional ladder, the right to earn just as big a paycheck as any man, and the ability to enjoy the pleasure of sex while divorcing themselves from the possibility of procreation and responsibility.

Frankly stated, feminism raises “men” who have the biological capacity to bear children. Women say they want what men have. At the root of it all feminism is a desire for control, and a lack of trust. Whether we realize it or not, this root is a part of each of us as women. Feminism has been around longer than the past 100+ years, and has been affecting lives since the beginning of time.

“Unto the woman He said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (Genesis 3:16).2 That word translated desire “implies an aggressive desire, perhaps a desire to conquer or rule over, or else an urge or impulse the woman has to oppose her husband, an impulse to work against him.”3 It is part of the curse, part of our sin nature for women to desire control and subtly manipulate, both in the political arena and in smaller areas within the home.

Though we would never admit or show our support for the feminist movement today and its liberal agenda, the feminist attitude caters to a woman’s natural bent, and is something that we need to actively fight against and surrender at the foot of the cross. Far too often we settle for manipulation and the lies the world feeds us about a successful woman, instead of trusting and embracing the role for which God has designed us. Even within our conservative circles we can become ashamed of desiring the unique call God has given to women.

A God-given Calling

During my senior year of high school I would avoid talking to people about school. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed school, and was proud of the fact that my formative training was just about completed. But there was a follow-up question that I learned to brace myself for, “What are you planning to do with your life?” Sometimes it was, “Where are you going to college?” I started off answering the question by proudly declaring that my dream career in life was to, Lord willing, someday be a wife and mother, and raise my children to be Daniels in our hostile western culture. In the meantime I would continue to work, and seek to walk into various opportunities as God brought them.

As the year progressed I experienced more unease about my childhood dream, and embarrassment about how small my aspirations appeared to other people. Being a wife and mother was all fine and good, but what else was I going to do with my life? People insinuated that a woman needed something more on the side to truly be successful and use all her potential. I had grown up believing that to be a wife and mother was one of the greatest callings God could place on a woman’s life.

Within the Anabaptist community, I have seen an increasing number of women feel the need to find part or full time work outside of their home and family for various reasons. Not all these wives and mothers are empty nesters either, some have very young children. And while every situation is different, I believe it becomes dangerous when all of mom’s energy is thrown into work, and her God-given sphere of influence within the home suffers and is put on the back-burner.

Although many of us may be unmarried, and have no idea when or if we will ever become a wife and mother, how we view these roles and encourage young mothers around us will greatly affect our future.

Embracing the Difference

God has given women a set of gifts unique to her. It has been said before, “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world” (author unknown). Women have the ability to tear down the men in their lives or to build them up and be an encouraging force. Women have the opportunity to create a safe haven for their family members, away from the chaos and harassment of the world.

Our culture desperately needs women who are willing to embrace the role to which God has called us. I believe we should revel in our differences and not compare ourselves to men, but be grateful for the ways our strengths and weaknesses compliment each other.

Sarah Sarah Miller lives with her husband Timothy near Sarasota, Florida. She has a passion for the truth and sees most things in black and white. Sarah enjoys reading, traveling to new locations, or spending time with her husband.

Sources Used:

1. “Feminism.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 21 May 2016
2. The Holy Bible, King James Version. Nashville: Holman Bible, 1998. Print.
3. Grudem, Wayne A. “Pg. 38.” Evangelical Feminism & Biblical Truth: An Analysis of More than One Hundred Disputed Questions. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012. Print.

Related post: Planned Parenthood

8 thoughts on “Feminism

  1. This is an excellent article on feminism showing some of the modern roots of feminism and showing how it stems from our sin nature in Genesis 3. There is one item that I disagree with both as an unbiblical world-view and as a breach in logic. I would appreciate your thoughts on this. Am I thinking biblically or am I completely missing the point?

    The thing with which I disagree is this; Sarah connects college education with the feminist struggle for equality, control and self-fulfillment. While many people do attend college for economic and self-centered reasons, I think that viewing education primarily as a means to wealth and self-fulfillment is an unbiblical view of education. That is, we tend to view education only as a way to make money and acquire power. Seeking riches and power are unbiblical priorities to have for education, job and any thing else in life. Lets adopt a biblical view of education rather than label education as worldly.

    I see education as a way to know Jesus and to make Him known. In fact I see all of life from that perspective. When deciding where to live, what job to have, what education to acquire and any other life decision I always ask; how can I best know Him and make Him known?

    When seen in this light, equality, control and self-fulfillment become irreverent to education decisions. Instead I ask; what education will be of the most benefit as I seek to know Jesus and to make Him known?

    Following are three reasons that I believe it is biblical and beneficial for women to go to college:
    I have found that education increases our knowledge which gives us an audience with more people who don’t yet know Jesus.
    Education gives us access to places that we otherwise wouldn’t go. Eduction improves our access to many countries, colleges and many other institutions.
    For a wife and mother having a more advanced education can give her a broader base of knowledge which tends to broaden the knowledge of her husband and children. This is especially useful as a family seeks to teach their children a biblical world view on science in particular and all subjects in general.

    In conclusion, I agree with Sarah’s view on feminism but not education. I would love to see a post on the biblical principals of education. What do the rest of you think? And, Sarah, what do you think? Does education have value for a wife and mother seeking to live biblically? Thanks again for your excellent thoughts on feminism.

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  2. As a college student myself, and yet definitely not a feminist, I really appreciated your thoughts, Jeremy, on the benefits of education for women! I agree with you and was encouraged to hear a biblical perspective on a college education. I don’t think that Sarah’s article necessarily equated a college education with the feminist perspective though, just that it was something she did not feel called to pursue. I don’t think that a college education is a necessity for everyone, but for some it is where God has called us and seeking excellence in that education can glorify Him. My concern is how I can continue to be grateful for the opportunity to attend college and yet not embrace the feminist ideals. I appreciated the article as a check on my attitude, and thanks again for your thoughts on the usefulness of a college education even as I hope to someday be a wife and mother.

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  3. Sadie, thank you for your comment. I agree, I was excessively hard on Sarah in my attempt to make a point. Sarah, If you read this, I do apologize and I appreciate your tackling a very important topic. A feminist perspective does excessive damage in Anabaptist families and churches. On the topic of feminism I am right with you.

    I do think that with in our lifetime a college education will become as necessary as a high school education was in our parents generation. We as Mennonites will need to once again learn what it means to be in the world and not of it.

    Additionally, I live and share the good news in a country where a college education is needed to stay long term. I grow weary of hearing potential co-workers say I would come but I don’t have a degree so I will go to a country where I don’t need it. The harvest is plentiful here but the laborers are so few. We would love to have you join us when you graduate.

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  4. I really appreciated Sadie’s comment. I think she perfectly summed up where I’m at on the college issue. I’m sorry Jeremy if you felt that I was being hostile towards college students in the passing comment I made, that was certainly not my intent. While college was not part of God’s plan for my life, I would not say that college is not an option for women, or that in seeking higher education a women automatically becomes a feminist. Not at all. I would say that in making a decision to attend college, one should have a specific field or career in mind, not haphazardly decide because it’s what the culture has said is normal. Also the voices we surround ourselves with and the people we allow to speak into our lives is very important! Attending college is not a decision that I think should be taken lightly, as it seems our culture does.

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    1. Sarah, thank for your thoughts on feminism. This is an important topic and I am thankful that you are willing to tackle it. I do worry that we Anabaptists support making life choices based on career when we should be making those choices based on ministry. Thanks again Sarah, I look forward to learning from your future articles.

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  5. I read this and cringed just a little. First of all, I will state that I do not agree with all the aims of modern feminism. However, there is a whole lot more truth to “feminism” than what many Mennonites want to admit. I will address one part of it below. I am also going to say that I might be taking some of your words in a way you didn’t mean. If so, please reply with a clarification.

    Why did I cringe? Because so-called feminism got a few things right. Equal pay is important. The gap between men’s pay and women’s pay simply perpetuates the belief that women do not have as much value as men and that their work in this world is not as important as men’s work. That belief is a result of the Fall and a lie of the devil. Let me tell you my perspective. I am a single woman with the same expenses as a single man. Likewise, a single mother has the same expenses as a father. I have to pay my rent or house mortgage, buy my groceries, get an education, deal with medical expenses, pay a car repair bill, make car payments, put money into savings, and so much more. If my cost of living is just as high, why should I be paid less?

    Is my work somehow not as valuable or important just because I’m a woman? When minorities are paid less just because they are a minority, there is a hue and cry about racism, and rightly so. Paying someone from a minority less than a Caucasian coworker is clearly stating that we place less value on them than someone who is white. Then, why, as Christians do we tend to shrug off the pay differential between men and women?

    To me, it appears to be a double standard. I worked for a company that was owned and staffed mostly by Mennonites. The men actually said, straight to the faces of their female coworkers, that women couldn’t do work as well as men, so they should be paid less. And this was in an industry where it was all desk work! If the men were doing physically more dangerous work than women, I could maybe understand it, but such is not the case in most industries.

    At that time, I was struggling to keep my head above water financially. One of my female coworkers, who was extremely capable and who the boss admitted was one of the best he had and he couldn’t do without her, had to threaten to leave before he would raise her pay to match the worth of her work. If we as Christians truly value each person as God values them, it shouldn’t matter what gender or what race someone is on payday.

    Does that mean that men and women accomplish work in the same way? No. Men and women do have different ways of viewing the world and accomplishing tasks. That is the way God designed it. If the world were all male or all female, it would be incredibly lopsided. Is it true that men generally have more physical strength than a woman and so therefore, there will be some industries in which there are fewer women? Of course. That’s simply reality. However, why pay a male nurse or accountant more than a female nurse or accountant? It makes no sense. Something is seriously skewed when women make up much of a certain industry, partly because the companies prefer to hire women because they can pay them less. If they hire men, they need to raise the salaries.

    There are many, many ways in which the Fall skewed the ideal relationships between the genders. One of those is the persistent idea that women are not worth as much as men. For proof of that, simply look at all the cultures through history (and today) who either aborted little girls or left them on the streets or in the mountains to die because sons were preferred. As Christians, we strive to alleviate the suffering from famines and wars and drought and disasters, all a result of the Fall. That is good and right. But when we perpetuate the suffering of women by indicating they have less value, it’s a good thing? Oh, we don’t always say they have less value, but too often, our actions show that we believe that. When it comes to women and the relationships between the genders, we as Christians tend to perpetuate the curse of the Fall rather than redeeming it.

    In the end, it’s not about “feminism.” It’s about acknowledging the brokenness that exists in the relationships between the genders and making better choices to bring healing and restoration in this fallen world.

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    1. Ellen, thanks for your comment! I think you are 100% right that women should not be discriminated against based on gender. While I cannot speak for Sarah (hopefully she will have an opportunity to reply as well), I think the overarching purpose of her article is to challenge the feminist spirit that says “You don’t need men because you can do everything that men can do.”
      Thanks for your interest in the blog! We always appreciate thoughtful, respectful comments like yours!
      Sincerely,
      Ian Miller (blog editor)

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