I used to think I was a feminist. Back in high school, when I was full of opinions (kay, maybe still am) and the world was black and white and I just knew how things were. But now I know I wasn’t a feminist back then–I was a man-hater. Okay, fellas, before you stop reading, please understand that I was a man-hater…I’m not anymore. It was a distinct yet debilitating part of my identity, and when I finally decided I didn’t want to go around wounded and limping anymore, Jesus healed me and set me free. Four years later, I still can’t get over the wonder of how he rescued me from a life of bitterness and hatred.
So now, when someone calls me a feminist, I wince and recall the times I thought that men were the root of all evil. But this quarter I’ve been mulling over feminist issues a lot, I think, for two reasons. One is a short explanation in my Old Testament course syllabus about why we use gender inclusive language at Fuller. Dr. John Goldingay explains:
The Fuller student body and faculty agreed some years ago that we would all use “gender-inclusive” language. That means we don’t say “man” when we mean “humanity,” or say “men” when we mean “people.”… The background is that the church has long behaved as if women were not really fully people, and we need to make clear in our thinking and way of speaking that women are just as much part of the image of God as men are. So I expect you to write that way in your homework and papers.
It was sobering to me to read that, and although it wasn’t anything new it hit me in a new way, and I have been considering the ways that women have been treated as though they weren’t fully people, and the ways that kind of treatment still happens.
Naturally, then, the topic I’m choosing to research for my 10-page paper in Systematic Theology 2 is feminist Christology, which means the unique way that feminists see Jesus Christ–his person, his mission, etc.
So I’ve been seeing things in this light a little more lately–becoming aware of a few of the assumptions we all live by in our daily lives, and also the way women have responded to them. Last night at dinner with my dad and my sister, Dad was telling us that when friends ask why he doesn’t have grandkids yet, he explains that all three of his daughters are in grad school–they’re not sitting around, he says. I pointed out that it seems as though we need a good excuse–grad school, in this case–to justify neglecting our determined role as babymakers. What if we were sitting around? Then must we have babies to have value?
Things like that.
And then, driving home, that old Destiny’s Child song “Independent Women” came on the radio. You remember it: “The shoes on my feet (I bought ’em)/the clothes I’m wearing (I bought ’em)/the rock I’m rockin’ (I bought it)/cause I depend on me.” This is going to sound weird, maybe, but as I listened to that song I felt overwhelmed with sadness. I thought of all these women who have been oppressed, rejected, abused, abandoned, devalued. I thought of how each one at some point decides that if she doesn’t protect, provide, and care for herself, no one will.
So, in a way, I have my feminist hat on this quarter–but I don’t want that to be as scary as it sounds (especially to you men). It’s not about a battle of the sexes, it’s about…well, I don’t really know. One of my professors keeps saying that we have to determine what the questions are before we start looking for the answers. All I know is that something’s stirring. I’ll keep you posted.
**Bonus question: what kind of assumptions can you find in the image/caption below?