making peace with feminism

Despite caricatures implying otherwise, feminism is not a dirty word, and it is not defined by its detractors. Feminists believe in gender parity, working to name and dismantle the structural inequalities that prevent us from experiencing wholeness in our relationships, organizations, communities, and systems.

We don't hate men. Feminism seeks to liberate us from "sexist role patterns, domination, and oppression," and feminism is for everybody [bell hooks]. Men do not lose when women, genderqueer, and non-binary people are treated as equal, and feminism has a considerably higher view of masculinity than the culture at large.

We don't think men and women are the same. Equality speaks to worth, access, and opportunity, not sameness. Feminists reject narrow, prescriptive gender-based roles, which as a Christian, I see clashing with freedom in Christ and the unique ways we're called and gifted to image God.

We aren't against "traditional" gender roles. Feminism upholds agency, and it's not about making the "right" choices. We also acknowledge that some things framed as choices in these debates are luxuries afforded the few, and that the voices and experiences of low-income women, single women, single moms, childless women, women of color, gay and transgender women, and women across the globe matter every bit as much as affluent white women and mothers.

We aren't angry, except when we are. When women identify sexism or offer dissenting perspectives, watch how quickly they are written off as crazyangry, or worse. When I critiqued sexism in the emerging church, I was accused of launching a witch hunt, ignoring the gender and power dynamics of both my argument and history. No matter how gracious Rachel Held Evan is with critics, some spew truly nasty, gendered insults her way, and threats of violence have startlingly become standard for many who write about feminism online. In subtle and explicit ways, women's voices and experiences are diminished, sending the limiting message that "good" women pipe down and play nice.


Peacemaking is the work of restoring wholeness created and lost in Eden. It is the Kingdom of God taking ground over oppression, brokenness, and violence and shalom shining light on every shadow obscuring the image of God.

Feminism is about human dignity and liberation. It is a movement with a history, present, and purpose that cannot be erased by careless or calculated efforts to cast it as boogeyman or foil.

Feminists strive to topple hierarchies, level playing fields, and raise the bar. For all of us.

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