Sunday, October 19, 2008

Real Feminism

I caught this stupendous video on Justin Taylor's Between Two Worlds. Here is a link to his article.


Sasha said...

While she has some good points, I think she comes to wrong conclusions.

She blames the subsequent feminist waves on the "first" one as if these ideas hadn't existed before women decided to rally together in America.

She blames the 3rd wave on the daughters of the 2nd wave saying that's why we have such a "raunch culture today" placing no part of responsibility on men.

She defines feminist movements as something that is a defiance of God because women wanted to define femininity apart from the Bible. I don't believe it is defiance against God to demand equal rights and to fight for some of the good results of modern feminists. I certainly would not go as far as she does calling it, "sinning against one another."

Now if only the far left and the far right could focus on their common ground instead of polarizing one another we could demand good changes for family structures, health care and education to actually empower women instead continuing to make feminism a dirty word. Maybe then we would see women something akin to the strong Proverbs 31 woman who speaks with wisdom.

Steven Douglas said...

Hi Sasha!

I was hoping you would jump on this one. I agree that what she is saying here is directed solely at women. I think that is mainly on account of her ministry. As a "far right" Christian woman, I think she believes that her role as teacher is over women and not men (she is not egalitarian). Therefore, she is not addressing men. I think she might have a few things to say about men's sins, too. She may come on a little too strong "against women," however.

I agree with her, though, that there were sin and rebellion issues in all three waves of feminism, but that doesn't make everything they accomplished wrong. I don't think she would have us return to a time when women could not vote. Certainly we can see the disasters that came with the sexual revolution which was directly related to the Feminist movement.

I definitely agree that it would be nice for people of all stripes to focus on what we have in common, but there are times when polarization is a good thing. Think about Elijah and the prophets of Ba'al Berith. There is a point at which you have to stand for what is right, especially when morality is on the line.

Further, while she (I think rightly) accuses the feminist movements of sin, I don't think she is trying to completely unravel their work. Rather than seeing feminism as a dirty word, I think she is attempting to remove the tarnish. I think she would like to redeem feminism for the Gospel. I also think that she would certainly agree with you on the Proverbs 31 woman stance.

Other than those disagreements, I would like to know how you would envision the right and the left coming together on feminism. Could you detail some ways to make it a reality? What do you mean by "empower women," and how does that compare/contrasst with what the far left means? Thanks for your great input!

Sasha said...

My definition of far left and right would be long and drawn out, so to make a quick distinction as to how I see it in America here's the context. (To understand the complex nature of the various feminists, see some quick definitions from Wikipedia below my comments.)

Left-pro-choice, anti-government regulations controlling freedom of speech, reproductive rights, etc., dislike of any gender roles.

Right-pro-life, often associated with the religious right desiring government to place moral restrictions upon society, for different yet equal gender roles.

The biggest issue that I see them not working together on is help, education and awareness for women who have been abused, sexually assaulted or are facing an undesired pregnancy. Instead they are so focused on trying to get the courts to leave Roe vs. Wade in place or overturn it that they are wasting thousands of dollars that could have gone to preventive care.

This is where you may disagree with me greatly, but as I see it, the government's definition or policy is not going to change a person's heart. What really makes a difference in a woman's "choice" is whether or not she values life to begin with, and then whether or not she has the support to make it through the most difficult time of her life.

I'm not sure that the far left and right could set aside their differences though. For instance, those who so closely relate to the religious right assume that they cannot be part of an organization that encourages safe sex while helping women through an undesired pregnancy, and those who are far left are too judgmental to associate with those who preach abstinence only.

What if that issue was not emphasized for the sake of offering true assistance? What does it matter to a woman who is in need anyway? It just places all the blame upon her and none upon the society structure, lack of education, abusive man or unavailability of options where she lives. I'm not saying that abstinence should be thrown out as an option in preventative care, please don't misunderstand me, I'm just highlighting where both sides alienate each other when they focus on something other than the immediate issue at hand.

Another area that feminists could have an impact upon besides focusing on who has control of the body of a woman is education. This is part of what I call the empowerment of women. I do not see that there is an oppression of women in this area, I simply think that there is lack of encouragement.

It takes a lot of effort and support to convince a teenage mother that she could one day run her own business or have a salary sufficient to sustain her family. What would happen if there was a campaign to provide extra resources/teachers for life skills with the focus not on equal pay opportunities but simply the ability and knowledge of how to take the next steps. The battle ground of the home economics class with lefts and rights wanting sex education (or none) their way, combined with the tip-toeing that teachers have to do with explaining domestic tasks leaves little time and room for addressing how to balance a checkbook, how to recognize an abusive relationship, how to prepare and make healthy choices, let alone how to make sense of the college system and select a course of action to a future career with proper resume and interviewing skills. Public schools are all but forgotten by feminists on both sides except in the area of sex leaving upper/middle class mothers with the burden of raising funds for text books.

I would like to rail on health care next, but I digressed a little from your questions already. The empowerment of women by the far left is really not that different than the empowerment of women by the far right. What really polarizes is the issue of who has control of the woman's body? Where the difference in definition of empowerment lies is with those who are anti-feminists versus feminists. The far right has often been mislabeled as anti-feminist as a way of stopping academic debate.

Anti-feminist are not just men. They are those who believe that a well-functioning society coincides with the God-given or biological role of a woman and that family structures would collapse without a woman's dedication to her traditional roles within the male-dominated hierarchy. They see feminist actions as destructive to families and societies as well as discriminating against men. What I don't think they realize is how close they are to far-right feminism or some versions of Christian feminism. Perhaps empowerment to them means a woman well-adjusted to her role as mother and house-wife with a bread-winning husband who appreciates her.

I hope I answered your questions, it's always an interesting discussion with you Steve! There's so much more I could go on about and explain in detail, but I'll save that for specific questions in the future.

For more thought on this, here are the Wikipedia definitions:

Issues important to liberal feminists include reproductive and abortion rights, sexual harassment, voting, education, "equal pay for equal work", affordable childcare, affordable health care, and bringing to light the frequency of sexual and domestic violence against women.

Radical feminists feel that there is a male-based authority and power structure and that it is responsible for oppression and inequality, and that as long as the system and its values are in place, society will not be able to be reformed in any significant way.

Socialist feminists see women as being held down as a result of their unequal standing in both the workplace and the domestic sphere.

[Christian feminists] major issues are the ordination of women, male dominance in Christian marriage, and claims of moral deficiency and inferiority of abilities of women compared to men. They also are concerned with the balance of parenting between mothers and fathers and the overall treatment of women in the church.

Anti-feminism is opposition to feminism in some or all of its forms.

Steven Douglas said...

I enjoy our conversations, too. I think we actually agree on quite a bit. I think you are right that there needs to be more education, and more significant help to people in their situations. I also see a role for the church in there.

The problem with the argument between the left and right, though, deals with more than just politics. There are whole opposing worldviews at play. The people on the "right" are those who have struggled to maintain traditional cultural and religious roles, while the "left" have attacked them. I do not disagree that some things needed to change, but I would suggest, like a pendulum, the left went too far.

Really we cannot divorce feminism from the culture it was formed in. It would not have been possible if it were not for the rise of biblical criticism, modernism, the advent of methodological naturalism ("scientism"), individualism and the "Death of God" movement. Feminism as a general whole walks hand-in-hand with a cultural "throwing-off" of "archaic" notions about faith, family, and roles.

I realize I sound like one of those anti-feminists, but I don't see myself so much that way as one who would seek a biblical approach to the family and roles. That does not mean "Sally" has to stay in the kitchen and the bedroom, working for her husband, but it does mean that we should not let rebellion reign in our lives, whether we are men or women. I certainly advocate a "whole life" for both men and women, in all, righteous, forms. I would just like to see feminism divorced from the ideals of Margaret Sanger (methodological naturalism/Eugenics) and other unbiblical notions.

Steven Douglas said...
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