Feminine, Feminist, Feminazi

June 9, 2010 at 8:24 pm (Articles, Attitudes, Godly Living) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

I visited a young ladies’ blog the other day. While skimming the sidebar, a chicklet caught my eye: the image was a young woman, dressed in a frilly blouse and a curly hairdo from the 19th century with a “charming smile” pasted on her face. Printed across the top were the words “This is what an anti-feminist looks like: Fear us!” I sat back in the leather desk chair and chewed on that simple statement for several minutes, my thoughts in a spiral.

I know the intent of the image is to prove ridiculous the accusations and fears of the militant liberals, but I’m afraid the label sometimes fits Christians: anti-feminist. Read: reactionary. How often do we react to feminism, even changing the label to variations such as “feminazi”, only to completely miss the point? The complaint about the error of “feminism” is that it is a reaction. So, why are we reacting to a reaction? Why are we complaining about the caricature drawn of us, when we are returning the favor? Are we in danger of becoming militant anti-reactionaries on the other end—militantly feminine, militantly anti-feminist, “feminazi” in our own right?

How many feminists do you know? To be honest, I have an aunt who would describe herself as a feminist. She’d have voted for Hilary Clinton. She would likely counsel women not to be in a hurry to marry or to have children as young as she did. I’m quite certain she’d support a pro-choice cause. She would encourage higher education (college) and pursuit of fulfillment (career) for women. I disagree with my aunt on many points of practice, but my aunt is not my enemy. I love her. In fact, she is quite possibly the most supportive member of my extended family. She has praised and encouraged my rather counter-cultural practices and even applauded me for work at a Crisis Pregnancy Clinic. Since visiting Nathaniel and Lauren last year, she’s developed a profound care and interest in Lauren, as well. You might find it interesting that I would consider my aunt to be very modest in her manner of dress. She’s also very wise with finances. She’s a devoted grandmother, has been happily married for over 40 years, is an excellent listener, a wonderful cook, a talented seamstress, takes good care of her home and is even interested in healthy, wholesome, natural eating. And she loves Jane Austen.

You might be surprised by how much you have in common with the average feminist.

The fact is that the feminists have some legitimate concerns. They are concerned about women being domineered by selfish men. They are concerned about women who are overworked, exhausted, unfulfilled and unhappy. They are concerned about women who have no respect for their minds or bodies. They are concerned about women who are unsure of their identity. They are concerned about women who dumbly, blindly, unthinkingly do whatever they are told just for the sake of tradition. Quite frankly, they are concerned about half of the curse that followed sin in the Garden of Eden. Yahweh told the woman, “Your man shall rule over you harshly.” And in their eagerness and enthusiasm to liberate women from this curse, they often bow down to the first half, “Your desire shall be to control and manipulate your man.” Feminists are not the enemy. They are the prisoners. “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, principalities and forces of darkness.” They have been taken captive, deceived, manipulated and mistakenly continue actimg out the curse–just like every lost person. What the feminist doesn’t know is this: in the crushing blow that He dealt to sin and death, Jesus liberated women. It is finished.

Through Christ’s liberation from sin and death, we are free to be all that God intended, and obedience to Him is the ultimate fulfillment for women. The feminists are concerned about women. They claim they want what’s best for women. Christ’s work offers that and His word enumerates it. When we respond to the charges of being “anti-woman”, let’s be wary of responding with personal opinion, nostalgic appeal, or tradition. “Feminine” is a shaky stronghold from which to fight. Let’s be wary of reacting to lies and simply focus on acting according to the truth. Christ holds the answer to the feminist argument. Let’s respond with the truth that liberates.

See, a mental image of Jane Austen or “traditional” femininity leaves room for much that is ungodly.

Gossip? Check. Silliness? Check. Laziness? Check. Wastefulness? Check. Self-absorption? Check. Discontent? Check. Flirtation? Check. Plenty of women are “feminine” without being godly.

I remember seeing another blog poster declaring something about “getting back to Biblical femininity” and scratching my head. Biblical femininity? In all my recollection, I couldn’t remember finding the word or any variation of it in scripture. Another time a young lady posted a picture of a pair of ruffled, pink, spike-healed shoes with the comment, “I love, love, love them! Aren’t they so adorable and feminine?” My thoughts were something more along the lines of frou-frou and impractical. And I actually chuckled at the “anti-feminist” picture, which lookedl to me, exactly like the pictures of young suffragettes in the 19th century. How did the image of a wild young woman in one century come to typify the “conservative” of another? Old-fashioned does not equal godly. Girly does not equal womanly. Traditional does not equal true. I’m not trying to attack femininity–or those who promote it. My concern is that we might inaccurately portray femininity as the standard of godliness and so find ourselves in an indefensible position. There’s nothing wrong with femininity. Feminine simply means womanly. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with being womanly. It’s just that the term is so ambiguous that it can hardly be held up as a legitimate argument for anything. Much of the time it’s an issue of personal taste. One young lady found a pair of pink heels to be feminine, while I thought they were silly and unattractive. There’s nothing wrong with appreciating femininity, with appreciating beauty, with appreciating nostalgia. There’s nothing wrong with liking to wear a flowy white dress and tuck daisies into your hair—as something that appeals to an individual woman. My concern is that we might inadvertently portray an our favorite image of femininity as an image of godliness.

But the Bible, the ultimate yardstick, tells us what God intends women to be: strong, wise, hard-workers, courageous, able to give an account for what they believe and practice, able to evaluate all that they hear, helping younger women, good managers, shrewd stewards, and well-satisfied to be women. (Check out Proverbs 31, 1st Timothy chapters 2 and 5, and Titus 2.) Does that resonate with femininity or feminism?

When the feminist is concerned about women who are weak, why would we hold up pictures of languid women, dressed in white muslin and doing fine-needle-point doilies? Let’s model for them the woman who is dressed in strength and dignity, who girds her arms with strength and makes her arms strong. When the feminist is concerned about daughters at home who are wasting their lives, bored, wandering aimlessly through the house and singing “Someday my prince will come”, why do we hold up pictures of damsels in distress and talk of how we dream of marrying someday and pine away because our biological clock is ticking? Let’s model for them that godliness that is accompanied by contentment, that the Lord has appointed a time for everything, and that serving the Lord in any situation is a joy and a delight. When the feminist is concerned about women being uneducated or ignorant, let’s take our cue and prove that God gave us a mind and commanded us to be innocent, yet shrewd. “Get wisdom” says Proverbs. Study of God’s word is greatly deepened by studying grammar, language, history and logic. When the feminist is concerned about women who must find their identity in a man, we should prove that our identity is safe with Christ. He is ours and we are His. In Christ we have everything pertaining to life and godliness. But Christ is no male chauvinist, as demonstrated by His sacrificial relationship with the church and this is His picture for marriages to be. Not domineering men and manipulative women, but unified couples. Let’s picture for the feminists, what God intends for marriage to be—another avenue for serving God and others. When the feminist is concerned about women who are frumpy on the one hand or obsessed with being beautiful on the other, let’s prove that the virtuous woman dresses in scarlet and purple and that she possesses a self-control which never fades. When the feminist is concerned that women are permitting themselves to be objectified by flaunting their bodies, let’s not respond in shame, but with reverence for our bodies, as temples of God. When the feminist is concerned that women are marginalized, let’s point out that women are unique and the Lord has uniquely gifted us to carry life. We recognized that women are indispensable to society. We are equal with men, yet different, and we don’t feel the need to compete. We certainly have a production edge when it comes to children—yet it’s not something we accomplish on our own. There’s nothing wrong with appreciating “femininity”, but let’s stop hurling “feminine” images and start modeling godly womanhood. Sometimes we can learn from our critics.

If we are upholding Biblical truths, we’ll be demonstrating that we have achieved with Christ what the feminist cannot without Him: we are happy, intelligent, fulfilled, strong, confident women. Happy because we rejoice in the Lord. Intelligent because we know what and why we believe, and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Fulfilled, because we are doing what we were created to do and therefore are able to do it well. Strong, because the Lord is our strength and we are working out our salvation. Confident, because who is there to alarm us when God is our shield?

And isn’t that what the feminists want to see? If they are honestly looking for the best interests of women, your unapologetic obedience may lead them to Christ. There’s no call to go to battle against the feminists. There’s no call to set our goals up as opposite of theirs. Why react against a reaction? Our best defense is simply to live a purposeful, cheerful, godly lifestyle, to share the truth of Christ’s liberation by our words, to offer love and kindness to all, and to let the Lord prove that our lives, our talents, our minds and our hearts are not wasted or enslaved, but are full and free.

“When a man’s way is blameless, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” ~Proverbs 16:7

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11 Comments

  1. Melinda said,

    Yes, Yes, Yes!! Praise the Lord! thanks so much for this post. It proves that I am not alone! 🙂 Your rich insights blessed me! I will be linking this article on my blog indefinitely.

    Thanks, Abigail!

  2. Renee said,

    You’ve hit on the nail! Amazing.

  3. Vanessa said,

    Thank you for this article! Flippant femininity isn’t Godliness. The women that God praised in the Scriptures would never have fit into Victorian culture. It is so important that we make the Bible our guide, not any kind of cultural values.

  4. Abigail said,

    Thank you, Abigail, for this post! It was very good, and I enjoyed reading it. Thank you for writing it!

  5. Lauren said,

    Oh dear Twin-in-law, this was lovely! So, so true.

    And I love your aunt, too. 🙂

  6. Emily said,

    Thank you so much for this post! SO true! I’m so excited that you put this so eloquently in words what I felt, but couldn’t explain like you have. Keep the truth coming!=)
    Blessings,
    Emily=)

  7. Karen said,

    I ♥ ♥ ♥ this post! Really! I do!

    (Totally as an aside, I have an exceedingly hard time reading your posts in the light color of your font….not that you have to change it for me. lol}

  8. Julie Garst said,

    Thanks Abigail for your post. You outlined this subject well and it gave me a lot of food for thought.

  9. Fragrant Fragments # 12 | A Sweet Fragrance said,

    […] Feminine, Feminist, Feminazi. ”Feminists are not the enemy. They are the […]

  10. Lauren Ashley said,

    Thanks for some really wonderful thoughts! I’ve been thinking about some of the same things lately. It seems that “feminity” has become something of an idol, replacing true godliness with fluffy pink stuff, only concerned with the outer, not inner, appearance! It is true that many “feminists” are concerned with things that we should be concerned with as well…

    ~Lauren

  11. åslaug abigail said,

    This was a GOOD post, very needed. You have insight!!
    Thanks for writing it, Abigail!!

    åslaug abigail

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