The F Word

I was raised in a Patriarchal Christian culture. Not that my immediate family was very patriarchal, but the tones of my childhood were that of “men’s work” and “women’s work” even though I didn’t fully understand why. My mom always seemed to try to interest me in womanly things. Read me Christian Femininity books and hyper focused on my female label to the point that I had wondered if I was really allowed to have male friends or even boyfriends. There was always this cautious tone in the air when I spoke of males in school. Like being female I wasn’t always quite allowed, but no one directly told me not to have, men who were intimate friends.

Fast forward to today, and I identify as a Feminist. Something that my family struggles with a lot. I’ve told them my rational, and they agree with me, it’s sound, but they refuse to identify as Feminist even though they mostly, with very few exceptions, believe in women having equality. This has always puzzled me, and it was not until recently that I discovered, while they agree with the ideals, what they disagree with is the word. It’s not the equality that they fear, but the label of Feminism.

Why?

Because we don’t like those feminazis who ruin the name.

Really? That’s the whole reason? Because last time I checked, Christian’s have had a lot of crazies that have ruined the reputation of the faith and they don’t seem to have a problem identifying with that.

Yes, but feminism is different. It’s not a religion. Besides we don’t identify as Christians we call ourselves Christ Followers.

Yeah? Well it’s the same difference. Both identify with the same religion and claim to believe in the same God. What’s the difference between the terms? Besides, Feminism, while not a religion, still is a deeply held value system that directly affects the daily lives of all women because of it’s direct correlation with political polices that can alter the conditions of daily life. Just because a perfect God heads up the religion doesn’t mean it’s not made up of imperfect people trying to practice it, interpret it, and will probably never fully achieve the perfection they strive for. Which is why the grace of God is so important to the faith. Forgiving imperfect people for their failures.

It’s similar with the ideal of feminism. In theory, equality is the perfection. In practice people are trying to interpret and follow that ideal, and they are imperfect. Which makes the ideal, perhaps, not fully attainable. What is missing is the grace factor. Humans cannot forgive each other for mishaps very easily. Even Christian people when faith requires them to forgive others, still choose not to offer forgiveness.

While this idea of forgiveness is not directly part of the ideal as a whole, it certainly helps with self identification as well as attempting to achieve equality by allowing the culture to change and forgiving it for its past failures. Because forgiveness is hard, people choose not to identify with Feminism, because it means forgiving the man bashers and feminiazis and being willing to be associated with those they deem unforgivable.

Irony of ironies.

Feminism isn’t a dirty word. The world is an imperfect place made up of imperfect people. Christianity is something I still identify with, but I also identify with Feminism. I am not afraid of the messiness of humans. I am a human who is also messy. I am flawed and imperfect and I fail a lot. Because I am a failure in some things, means I can allow others to be failures in things too.

I am not afraid to associate with those who have given those labels a bad name. Because that is what the support of my faith, and the support of an agreeable ideal are worth to me. What they are in their truest form, without the mess and without the radicals, are worth supporting. My Christian family is worth supporting even when they fail. My sisters in the struggle are worth supporting when they’re struggling and failing.

Most importantly, I believe women are important to God just as men are. I believe women are unique vessels made with great intention and purpose to help heal one another and the destructive cultures around us. I believe that God made me for more than just furthering His Kingdom by having a family, but by allowing my free time to be dedicated to helping support my fellow sisters in so many ways. I believe that God made me to give birth to ideas instead of children, and I believe that there are other women out there who are the same and it is no less of a blessing.

I do not believe women are strictly made to compliment men. I believe they are made to bring God joy, weather that be with or without a husband. I believe there are women called to singleness intentionally so that God can use them more effectively. I believe God made women to make their own decisions in a culture that struggles to allow them to, and it was done for the intentional purpose of humbling and changing that culture. I believe that if the culture does not change, God will hold them accountable in many ways for it and the culture will suffer consequences for having done so. I believe God has used women, and will continue to use women to make great changes, like Mary, and Ruth, and Rahab, and Ester, and Deborah and so many others were used in the Bible to cause great changes in the tapestry of time.

Above all, I believe in forgiving people as my God has forgiven me. I believe in recognizing that humans are flawed and broken and in loving them even when it is difficult. I believe that God is perfect and will redeem the flaws of my brothers and sisters if they are willing to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ, admit their failings, and let the Holy Spirit work in them to be useful to the Kingdom. I believe that Christians will cause the shift towards a better future, even if it is not on this side of Heaven.

I believe all of these things, and that is why I am both a Christian and a Feminist.

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