making peace with feminism

Despite caricaturesmischaracterizations, and posts implying otherwise, feminism is not a dirty word, and it is not defined by its detractors. Even Jesus-y folks believe in equality sometimes, which is why many of us count ourselves both Christians and feminists. 

We don't hate men or masculinity. Feminism seeks to liberate women and men from "sexist role patterns, domination, and oppression," and feminism is for everybody (bell hooks). Men do not "lose" when women are equal, and dismantling patriarchy benefits us all. We affirm the full image of God in every person.

We don't think men and women are the same. Equality speaks to worth, access, opportunity, and treatment not sameness (and we're not there yet). Although sexual differences are biological, many gender differences are socially constructed and vary widely among people of the same gender. Feminists reject narrow, prescriptive gender-based roles that clash with freedom in Christ and the unique ways we're called and gifted to image God.

We aren't against "traditional" gender roles. Have kids. Don't have kids. Work. Stay home. 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 trans* women, and women across the globe matter equally, too.

We aren't angry--except when we are. When women identify sexism or offer opposing perspectives (even in a most calm and fair manner), watch how quickly they are labeled "crazy", "angry", or worse. No matter how gracious and generous Rachel Held Evan is with critics, people spew truly nasty, gendered insults her way. I haven't encountered a great deal of that personally, but when my feminist critique of the emerging church went viral, I was accused of launching a "witch hunt," a particularly strange allegation ignoring the gender and power dynamics of both my argument and actual history.

Policing tone is a way of diminishing women's voices and sends a clear message: "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. It is shalom shining light on every shadow that obscures the image of God.

Feminism is about human dignity and equality, not "man-hating" or matriarchy. 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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