The Feminism We Don’t Need

Christians should be on the front lines of those who champion valuing and protecting women

“Western feminism settles for nothing less than a top to bottom reinventing of marriage, femininity, and motherhood. Honorable endeavors like opposing sex-selective infanticide, pornography, or ritual female genital mutilation are scarcely what occupy the concerns of today’s feminism.”

 

As a fourth grader, I filled my role as Vice President of our elementary school bank with such a staggering solemnity that my path to becoming the first female President seemed not only viable, but unavoidable. I was ambitious; I cared about women; and I liked being a girl. Which meant I was ready for feminism to creep into my adolescent worldview. I spent most of my spare time as a 14 year old campaigning for pro-feminist politicians and scrutinizing statements made by male public figures.

After converting to Christianity, I began to revisit those basic questions: What exactly do women need to be empowered to do? Am I oppressed for being female? What is femininity? My eyes, which I thought were so wide open and enlightened, looked around to see the pro-women people I stood with held ardently to certain tenets I now called sin. I thought I could ignore the dangerous rationalizations about choice and women’s health, which have come to define this movement’s talking points. But it has become apparent to me that the modern feminist movement ignores some real problems, while fabricating superficial ones. If in listing examples of modern marginalization of women, photoshopping of celebrities is included in the same breath as sex trafficking, then it seems any sense of perspective has been lost. This sisterhood promises freedom, but eschewing submission and promoting abortion leaves women anything but free. As a result, I came to the conclusion that feminism had abandoned me.

Western feminism settles for nothing less than a top to bottom reinventing of marriage, femininity, and motherhood. Honorable endeavors like opposing sex-selective infanticide, pornography, or ritual female genital mutilation are scarcely what occupy the concerns of today’s feminism. The banner of women’s liberation amounts to not much more than an insistence there are no mental, physical, or emotional complications to conjugation with anyone, ever. Strangely, women are both equal to men and better than men. The movement’s definitions are odd and empty and sex somehow has no relation to the babies it conceives. When I read accounts of babies born alive from failed abortions being left on tables to die, I hate what feminism has become.

The maddening part is that there are real ways women are oppressed, but third wave feminism gives those ways a backseat to qualms about media portrayal and invented “microagressions” (which are, by the way, the antithesis of Prov. 19:11). In our current curious culture there is an odd delight in being offended. There is just that weird way about us where we find taking offense empowering. We get to have been wronged and therefore bravely upholding a virtue. We like a force to battle against and joining something bigger than ourselves. The simple existence of different viewpoints assumes oppression. Even Twitter will now let you report a post for being offensive, disrespectful or “in disagreement with my opinion.” Instead, I wish feminist voices would devote their efforts to protesting real injustices. When I hear “equal work for equal pay” or see another post about Hobby Lobby’s war on women, I cannot help but think feminism has done better with selecting slogans than identifying actual problems.

Margaret Sanger’s disciples claim to have freed our gender by opening doors, but many goals in the feminist mindset are not freeing at all. Women are encouraged to grab all they can at no expense—to measure their worth by how much they control their autonomy. Conversely, as Christians, we are to depend on God, not ourselves. True freedom is to be able to not sin. It only comes from Jesus Christ. It is for God to find you pleasing. How could being free possibly include disavowing God’s order and design? If feminism has evolved into different manifestations of trying to buck submission, we must stay away. Trying to take control is running from the treasure of being under headship. Godly forms of authority are instituted for our good and to save us from death. Even with fumbling, imperfect hands, my elder carefully shepherding me is not the enemy. In its right design, entering into all the blessing and provision of marriage is never a prison. A man who is a cruel husband does not necessitate an uprising against men. It necessitates that man’s need to repent.

Christians who help women in hard places or celebrate the many noble and inspiring things women have accomplished might be tempted to identify as a “feminist.” But should that be called feminism? Let’s call it being a Christian. If you are (rightly!) sympathetic to the real problems women face, go ahead and love your female neighbor as yourself, but don’t allow all kinds of wrong thinking to sneak in the back door.

If I could rewrite the feminist narrative it would be this: We are equal in value and dignity before God. We should, along with men, have a spirit of submission before our God. We cannot and should not do everything men do, as we are not the same as men. We should be protected. While only males should be ordained in the church, women can, like men, receive and proclaim Christ’s kingdom. I reject that to support real things to help women means I must embrace abortion on demand and deny biblically sanctioned submission. Christians should be on the front lines of those who champion valuing and protecting women. We do not, however, overlap with the current feminist mantra. That is good. To be a real woman all you have to do is, well, nothing. Because God made you one or he did not. I love being a woman. But even more than I am female, I am in Christ.

This article was previously printed on the Gospel Coalition, and is used with permission.