Am I a Feminist?

Feminism. Such a loaded word. But what does it really mean? And…should I count myself among the numbers of those who support it? My first inclination is to say “no”.

Why? Because I believe that God endowed men and women with qualities that are unique to their gender. I do believe those qualities are generalizations, and apply to many of us, but certainly not all of us. But I also believe those generalizations are there. I don’t think it’s a load of patriarchal bull to say that most (but not all) men feel more worthy and more capable as fathers and husbands when they provide for their families financially. Or that they (again, mostly) have an intuitive desire to protect women. Or that they are able to separate their emotions from their logic, and thus can often make difficult decisions more rationally.

And I also can’t help but believe women have unique qualities too. For most of us, our emotions and our logic are all jumbled up together, which makes it so much easier for us to think compassionately. And most of us have a deeply ingrained desire to fortify our loved ones and make them feel like they can conquer the world. And we also are pretty darn good at nurturing children and raising them well. And so forth, and so on.

So. I guess you could call me a feminist to the extent that I don’t think men are more inherently qualified for leadership roles, and that women would bring an entirely different perspective to the table that is no less important in a role of leadership. But I also think that most women would be less able leaders than men where thinking rationally is extremely important (say, being a military officer). And I think men would be less capable leaders than women where thinking compassionately is extremely important (say, being the head honcho at an orphanage). Do I think there aren’t any women out there at all who wouldn’t make great military officers? Not at all. And do I think there aren’t any men out there who would make great heads of orphanages? Nope. I just think that, generally, each of those roles fits naturally with the unique qualities God gave to men and women.

Now, I’m still not so sure if these ideas are coming from my own mind or from a mind that has been brainwashed by my hierarchy-minded church upbringing (it’s happened before, and I’m still working through breaking out of being “brainwashed”). Maybe this idea of men and women having unique and distinct qualities is purely a social and religious construct, and has nothing to do with how God made each gender. But everything in my experience tells me something to the contrary, tells me that the way I think and act and live my life is pretty different from the way the men in my life think and act and live their lives. So at least for now, that’s what I’m going to go with.

So. Does that make me a feminist or not?

P.S. Gaaah. It definitely is a sign of being “brainwashed” that even typing the above question gave me chills. “Heaven forbid I ever become a feminist!” screams the dying fundamentalist in me. Guess I still haven’t broke free of the stigma surrounding the word “feminist” yet.


Posted on September 18, 2013, in Questions, Womanhood. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. The definition of a feminist is one who believes that women are equally as valuable as men and should have the same rights and opportunities. It’s not about elevating women over men and it’s not about leadership roles or being different. Everyone should be a feminist, even men. Being a feminist doesn’t mean burning your bra and trying to take over the world. Also, I find your generalizations harmful. I believe you wrote an article about why we shouldn’t put God in a box. Likewise, we shouldn’t put people in boxes. At the very least it make anyone who doesn’t fit the mold feel uncomfortable. It also puts up barriers to those people. They may not be able to do the things they feel called to do because of their gender. Or if they do, they may be made to feel uncomfortable and end up constantly defending themselves to others. This is very frustrating. Also such generalizations hinder our ability to truly understand, support, and love the people in their lives. I would caution you to do some research. While many of these claims are readily spread by conservative Christians, they have little or no scientific or psychological backing and are largely untrue. The Bible may seem anti-feminist. That’s because it is. It was written in various times in history where women were not considered to be as valuable as men. They could not typically own property, make their own decisions, participate in politics, or receive any education. Their purpose was to produce sons and quietly support their husbands. I think that at the heart, these debates among Christians about a biblical gender understanding can really be called cultural differences rather than spiritual mandates.

  2. Defining specific qualities that men and women have uniquely isn’t quite the same as putting them in a box or forcing them into a mold. You’ve just got to keep in mind that those qualities are going to be expressed differently, based on individual personalities, worldviews, etc.. Yes, I am a unique individual. But I am also a woman – my femininity is part of who I am and part of what creates my identity. And my femininity plays a role in how I make decisions, and how I view this world, etc. If I were a man, I’d see everything through a totally different lens.

    As far as the Bible seeming’re right. The culture that much of the Bible was written in was largely misogynistic and definitely very oppressive of women. But every now and then, hidden in obscurity throughout the pages of the Bible, you see women like Huldah, and Deborah (,, and in the NT, it was to women, and not to men, that Jesus chose to first reveal himself after his resurrection.

    There’s a whole lot more I could say about the Bible, and how it is absolutely full of feminist-friendly ideas. I can go into more depth with if you’re interested. Regardless, I’d really, reeeeally encourage you to read A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans (I think Marlia has it right now, ask her to lend it to you). It’s fantastic, I just can’t recommend it highly enough. And before you dismiss it because of the title, bear in mind that the author is a quite liberal feminist. 🙂

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