The Feminist Mistake - Pt 5

Responding to Feminism
One of the most helpful things about Mary’s book, I think, is her conclusion that western society has become culturally feminist (Chapter 21). Feminism is the new black: everyone is wearing it. Even people who would never call themselves ‘feminist’ are functionally feminist: men and women.

This has affected us and our society in all kinds of ways. Let’s just consider two implications for ourselves and how we might respond.

Non-feminist views (of any kind) are now unpopular. So it shouldn’t surprise us when people are shocked at or scornful of our views if we believe that men and women should relate to each other in ways God has instructed in Scripture. Out and out mockery is even harder to deal with, but both responses are a reminder of how strange our views have become to the world. Believing in Jesus is always counter-cultural, but sometimes specific patterns of life associated with Scripture come to be unpopular in a particular society. Paul tells us in 2 Timothy that ‘… everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted’ (3:12). This helps us realise that it isn’t just believing in Jesus which will lead people to sneer at and dismiss us, but that living under his lordship by obeying Scripture in our actions and thinking will lead people to reject us in all kinds of ways.

Now society has moved in a feminist direction it will reject our view that God has ordered his world such that women and men have different roles in the church and the family. Believing this and therefore being treated poorly in any number of ways is another area of our life where we now need to entrust ourselves to God, act wisely, speak graciously and pray for others. If we don’t get a fair hearing, if we don’t have a witty comeback, we don’t need to feel stupid or angry; we can trust God to give us strength and comfort, and pray for those who treat us this way. Being treated poorly for believing and following Jesus is not a sign that we’re doing something wrong. It’s normal.

Another way this observation helps us is that it can make us aware of things which otherwise might just creep up on us without us noticing. Feminism has affected our culture and so it has affected how we relate to and think of each other. Big ideas have filtered down and become smaller ways of behaving.

For example, Mary helps us to see how excluding feminism can be. The emergence of ‘women-church’ demonstrates this (Chapter 17). Some women withdraw from churches to ‘women-church’ which will, it is expected, ultimately attract men, but are now exclusively for women. Men are excluded. It is hard to see how this is much different to the accusation leveled at men that they have marginalised women. But ‘Women-church’ is an extreme example of what has become commonplace in our society: women laughing at or excluding men. It is now common for women to make the kind of sexist jokes that would cause outrage if they were said by a man about women. It is popular for women to insult men in all kinds of ways (‘man-flu’; jokes about men and pain, multi-tasking, disparaging jokes about ‘the hubby’ etc). I’m sure we can all think of examples – from conversations at work, at the school gate through to advertising. One way we can respond to feminism is by refusing to participate. We can aim to treat the men (and women) around us with respect and gentleness. Sometimes it is hard not to get sucked into the promise of friendship with other women by mocking a ‘common enemy’, but that is a completely non-Christian attitude. As women we need men, just as they need us. So, we need to reflect that, not only in what we say we believe, but in how we treat others.

These are just two examples of how feminism transforming society may have an affect on us. Perhaps it might useful for us to spend some time thinking about how feminism has affected us and our relationships and attitudes. Do we need to trust God about anything in this area? Do we need to repent of something we’ve been doing or thinking? Are we grateful for someone else’s example in living counter-culturally on this issue?