My Brush with Feminism

JackI have, now and again, had occasion to pop off on the subject of feminists who can’t decide if they’re trying to channel a swaggering machismo persona – or delicate, hyperventilating, victimhood. And the thing is, the whole situation is funny. It really is. One minute these ladies are rough, tough, and hard to bluff . . . and the next minute they’re pasting trigger alerts on all the sharp corners of everyone’s lives like those dreadfully inelegant foam protectors for the edges of coffee tables. You’ve seen those moments of high heels gone wrong in which the poor girl staggers violently in every possible direction before actually falling down? That’s what the evangelical feminists remind me of. There’s no clear trajectory. One minute they’re galloping nor’-nor’-east, and then suddenly they’re staggering to the sou’-sou’-west. On the one hand, they want to be hard edged modern women, all pant suits and nun chucks, but then again, what they really want to be is tender and empathetic, cherishing and tenderly petting the hurt feelings of everyone everywhere.

Like I said, I find that whole thing funny. But actually, in a surprise move, I wanted to actually take a moment to explain in what way I totally sympathize with them. I don’t agree with the nonsensical road they’ve taken, mind you, but I can at least understand how they came to be in this ridiculous place.

Men. Men who are chumps. Let us be frank – that’s the real problem here. If we want to dig in and get down to first causes, this is where the problem lies. There are lots of chumpish men of course, and each is chumpish in his own way . . . but there’s one particular breed I wanted to look at for a minute.

The thing that makes the evangelical feminists (which is a bit of an oxymoron really) as mad as fire is that Great Nemesis of the Western World – Patriarchy, and anything that reminds them of patriarchy, or alliterates with patriarchy. (Like “Paul” for instance.) So let’s take a moment to peer into the bushes that the feminists are setting up a squawk about. What men do we find in that camp? Well, if we let the feminists define the boundaries of who is in “That Camp” then we find a whole smorgasbord of men because it turns out that feminists aren’t terribly good at defining their terms. We find little tin-pot dictators who advocate for old school patriarchy and who rule their sparsely populated and badly educated red-neck demesne with a rod of iron. But we also find timid little would-be-hipster-city-dwellers who are trying to hide behind the label “Complementarian” and hoping that will fool the feminists and make them go away.

Interspersed in there we find a whole number of strong, faithful, masculine men who assume a godly authority in the home . . . but, and let’s be real here, we also find plenty of men who are chumps. By the grace of God, I have lived my entire life surrounded by the first kind . . . but I have actually been around the block a time or two, and I’ve seen plenty of the second kind as well. And it’s those men – the chumpish ones – who provide much of the ammo which the feminists are flinging at the faithful men. So I would like to humbly offer the suggestion to the menfolk – if you don’t like the feminists, then for heaven’s sakes stop making their point for them!

I’ve had men (in the name of headship and submission) tell me I ought not to be educated.

I’ve had men (in the name of headship and submission) tell me I ought not be wearing anything but dresses.

I’ve had men (in the name of headship and submission) tell me I ought not to disagree with them . . . because I was a female and they were male.

I’ve had men (in the name of headship and submission) tell me that any woman who disagrees with a man doesn’t have a gentle and quiet spirit.

I’ve had men (in the name of headship and submission) tell me that women don’t need an education, because they only need to know how to have babies and cook.

And I’ll be straight-up honest with you. I didn’t handle those men in a very saintly way. I called them names and made rude remarks. I danced around in a tight little circle and lit my hair on fire. And without fail, after about ten minutes of conversation with these pills I was ready to wear nothing but pants for the rest of my life, go to law school, run for president, and become a rugby player.

I remember sitting at dinner one time when I was probably 19, and I was venting to my dad about the twerp who had told me I needed to wear only dresses. (And no, he was not an NSA student, so don’t go running away with the idea that this is the kind of thing NSA breeds.) Anyway, I was vowing by all that was holy to never wear a dress ever again  as long as I lived – because I didn’t want that guy to think that he had convinced me. To me, at that moment, the ultimate ninth layer of hell would have been for that guy to see me wearing a dress and say, “nice dress.” I would die first, yea verily, I would DIE before I let that happen. (Basically, what I’m telling you is that I would have made an awesome Rachel Held Evans. I, too, can rocket up like an indignant jack-in-the-box suffering an emotional spasm.) But Dad said something at dinner that night which was phenomenally important for me to understand. He said something like, “Look. You don’t want that guy to be able to dictate your clothing choices to you, right? Well, if you swear off of dresses – you will have allowed that guy to dictate your clothing choices. You will have allowed his opinion to sway what you pull out of the closet and put on in the mornings. So keep wearing what you want to wear, and don’t give that guy a second thought.” Holy cow, that was huge. And freeing. And phenomenal. Basically, Dad was telling me to be above that guy, not descend to his level . . . which is exactly what I had been doing, even though I was violently disagreeing with him. In the name of not letting him boss me around . . . I was actually letting him boss me around.

I also remember my dad pulling that same guy aside at one point or another, and saying basically this. “You are supposedly the champion of headship and submission. But if you had even the vaguest understanding of what headship and submission actually means, you would realize that you are not Bekah’s head. I am. What she wears is absolutely none of your business, and by trying to dictate to her you are demonstrating that you actually have no idea what any of this is about.” That one made me happy. It did.

But here’s the thing. In the same way that I was ready to violently disagree with some guys in a way that actually was letting them lead me . . . there are many (many) men who, in the name of violent disagreement with feminism, are letting the feminists lead them. Which is ironic if you think about it. For these guys, the ultimate “weak man” is one who is led by women . . . and yet they are letting a bunch of fussy and self-serious women dictate their theology, their family arrangement, their life choices. Their guiding principle is that if it makes the feminists mad then it must be right . . . which means they set their course based on what the feminists are doing. The feminists are the wind beneath their wings. They’re being led around by the nose by a bunch of shrill and intolerably bumptious, insecure women – and, what’s even sadder, they’re congratulating themselves the whole time about how strong and masculine they are. The irony of course, is that the feminists are doing the same thing. Being led around by the nose by a bunch of blustering, self-important mushrooms – and congratulating themselves all the while about how they’ve thrown off the old shackles of submission. The whole sad situation is like one of those caterpillar trains that has accidentally gotten itself into a circle but everyone still thinks they’re making great progress.

I think there are plenty of men who are attracted to the biblical idea of covenant headship in the home . . . because they don’t understand it whatsoever. They think it gives them the right to camp out on their testosterone and boss everyone around. To be honest I think this is because they are weak-sauce little putzes who are unlikely to get any respect on their own, so they like to cluster around a strong man or strong teaching, hoping that they’ll get a little “trickle down” masculinity and moral authority by virtue of proximity. So they find some alpha male to stand next to and they puff out their chests and put their thumbs in their suspenders and talk in their deep voice and smoke cigars and drink scotch and have faux-intellectual discussions and think that is suitable behavior for the Head of the House (all rise). These are guys who set an incredibly low bar for themselves (facial hair is the basic requirement), which is why they are threatened by any woman with brains or abilities. Maintaining their authority depends upon keeping the women around them uneducated enough to be suitably impressed by their cheap swagger, cigar collection, and leather armchair. Or their cheap swagger, their can of chew, their camo jacket and their hunting rifle. Or their cheap swagger and their Bud Light and their man cave. Whatever it may be, they put on the accouterments of what they think is “manly” and then hope everyone will read that as godly masculinity.

Thankfully, I didn’t grow up with that as a father. God was gracious to me, and gave me a father who trained me to be unthreatened by that kind of little man syndrome. If I functioned purely on the basis of my instincts, all my hackles go up when I’m confronted by men like that. But I had a strong father who taught me that being irritated and reactionary is weakness not strength, and he taught me to be strong enough not to be swayed by weak men. It took a lot of practice and a lot of dinner conversations, but I got to where I can snicker when I see that kind of guy rather than let it actually affect my behavior. I don’t need to let that kind of weak man change what I think, or how I behave . . . not in any direction.  My father also taught me to have an extremely high bar when it came to the kind of man I would willingly submit to – and I love it that my husband is now instilling the same instincts in my three (strong) daughters.

You can’t choose your father but you can (thank the Lord!) choose your husband . . . and I would encourage all the single ladies out there to make sure you understand the difference between counterfeit masculinity and the real thing. Don’t be fooled by bluster. Don’t be fooled into thinking that’s what leadership ought to look like. But also don’t let yourself be steered into reacting against that kind of man and veering into the other ditch. Don’t fall for a weak man dressed up as a strong one . . . but also don’t think that a weak man acting like a weak man will make you happy. You don’t want a husband who’s a dictator, but neither do you want a husband who will be your girlfriend . . . and to be honest I’m not sure which one of those options would be more hellish.

Which is all to say, I sympathize with the feminists’ assessment of a particular kind of man. But I would argue that the feminists have shown a shocking lack of insight into what the actual problem is, and they have taken the weak road out.

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72 thoughts on “My Brush with Feminism

  1. Wow. Great insights and great writing! Your dad also gave you his gift for metaphor, though the one containing the word “bushes” might be a little mixed.

  2. “…a bunch of fussy and self-serious women…” Well, that’s rather snide, and not very Christlike, I don’t think.

  3. “they are weak-sauce little putzes…” Is there biblical precedent for godly women to use obscene language?

  4. If you could sit down and read this from the perspective of a loving, intelligent, kind, completely normal woman who has studied the Bible for herself and does not find the “authority-over” doctrine you believe in, you would see how incredibly condescending and sarcastic it is. Besides this damaging approach, it betrays throughout a deep lack of understanding of what feminism is and what feminists believe and advocate.

    There is room for you under the roof of feminism, because it is simply the belief — in perfect harmony with the Bible — that men and women are equal. In Christianity, there are women who study and don’t believe in a hierarchical authority among human beings; and there are women who study and believe in that hierarchy of authority. And there are many women in both groups who believe that men and women are equal.

    But the writer is making clear that there is no room in her spiritual economy, even for civility and kindness and understanding your “opponent,” for women who don’t agree with her that they should be under the authority of men. Saying she was sympathetic, couched between inaccurate and sarcastic remarks, in no way indicated godly sympathy. This was uninformed and deeply disappointing in attitude and spirit. I hope with time we can come together as sisters and as heirs *even if* we don’t agree on this point.

  5. [harnessing my inner Trueman] But my kids were twice spared stitches from those dreadfully inelegant foam protectors…

  6. Thanks you make some really great points. I’m delighted that you’ve been surrounded by the real thing when it comes to strong men, the world certainly needs women in your position to speak up loudly so the rest of us know its possible. One thing though – are Fathers head of their daughters? Sounds neither Biblical or helpful to me. Please explain.

  7. I find parts of this piece to be, at best, reductive and, at worst, dismissive — your diction speaks to your clear disdain for feminists, which is fine (I guess) but don’t throw around the word “sympathy”.

    This part, for instance, missed the mark:
    “On the one hand, they want to be hard edged modern women, all pant suits and nun chucks, but then again, what they really want to be is tender and empathetic, cherishing and tenderly petting the hurt feelings of everyone everywhere.”

    “They”? Really? There is zero grace here.

    This is actually what stuck out most to me:
    “The thing that makes the evangelical feminists (which is a bit of an oxymoron really)…”

    It sounds to me like you are drawing boundaries of who gets to be an evangelical and who doesn’t. It also sounds to me like you don’t personally know anyone who would say they are a Christian feminist (in which case, you should read “Jesus Feminist” by Sarah Bessey — she is a wonderful, godly woman)

    I get that this wasn’t written for someone like me. But I’m a Christian and a feminist, and yes, Jesus loves me too. In the same way that it doesn’t serve either of us for me to imagine you as a simple, indoctrinated woman, it also doesn’t serve us for you to see me as some banshee pagan.

  8. This entire article is an intellectual atrocity. You resort to the most inane stereotypes of feminists in order to make your point. You reduce “feminism” to an emotional reaction stemming from encounters with “chumps”, and fail to acknowledge what feminism is really about: addressing and working to correct institutional misogyny, both in our society and in our churches.

    Also – holy cow, how sheltered has your life been?? Your most upsetting encounters with men were all centered around your clothing and your education? I take it then that you’ve never:
    -been molested or sexually assaulted (1 in 4 girls/women is)
    -endured sexual harassment on a regular basis (1 in 3 women is)
    -been the victim of our country’s abysmal maternity leave policies (out of 185 countries, America comes in dead last in its maternity legislation)
    -attempted to obtain a doctor-prescribed form of birth control, only to discover that it’s not covered by your insurance (but ED medication most definitely is)
    -performed the same job as your male counterparts while earning approximately $.78 to their $1.
    -been spiritually abused by a system that convinces you God has created a heirarchy in which you are allowed far less power and control and authority than your husband, and in which you are basically a second-class citizen in your own home.

    Your elementary-level understanding of feminism makes me sad, both because you are a grown adult whose ignorance is showing, and because you are a woman who should be about the business of uplifiting and advocating for other women – ALL other women, not just those who think and believe and behave like you.

  9. While I appreciate so much of what you said . . . You said it yourself, “God was gracious to me . . .” You have no idea what it is like for so many women who cannot get their head around the idea of a loving, wise father preparing them for life. Your words imply (though I don’t think you meant to) that God was not gracious to a myriad of women. You are prepared; most might be not only unprepared, but battered, broken, and bruised. Speak to that; please, speak to that.

  10. Well, this was a very mean-spirited post, not to mention totally ignorant of what feminism actually is. But I guess if it made the author feel like she is superior to other people, then it served it’s purpose.

  11. Regarding the word “putz”, I’m not a Yiddish speaker but I seem to remember it being used on “Happy Days”. I think it’s lost some of its, um, potency.

  12. The opening lines describe diversity amongst people, some feminists may be like that. Some non-feminists are definitely like that. No big revelation, just people being people. The rest of the article went on in such a nasty manner: insulting men, insulting women, drawing a woefully inaccurate ‘straw man’ picture. As others here have said: mean spirited and desperately uninformed.

  13. Looks like feminism is the wind beneath your wings! Was there an actual point here, or are you still in high school, crafting snarky little jabs to girls you’re jealous of?

  14. my husband and I lead each other as equal partners… why does one have to be ‘the head’ over the other? it’s the way god intended it, originally. I think we should strive to get back there. to paradise.

  15. I think you’re firing on all cylinders judging from the comments section. I really appreciate your frank talk and thoughts. Not pulling your punches is what is needed today in a world desperately trying to not say what they are saying.

    Keep on being “mean spirited and desperately uninformed”.

    p.s. I’ve got two young daughters and how they can be similarly uninformed.

  16. Brava! Brava!

    This repentant former feminist cheers you for this. Get six feminists in a room and seven will eventually tell a tale of some sort of poor relationship with a man, whether it be brother, father, pastor, husband, etc. at some point they encountered a man who was somewhere on the scale between mere chumpery and downright abusive.

  17. Emily, when you ask “how sheltered have you been!?” do you mean to imply someone is behind the times for not having experienced physical, emotional, or spiritual abuse? Do you recommend everyone get out and experience abuse sometime?

  18. Thanks Bekah! My absolute fav out of your whole post and the bit I’m framing for future reference is this “God was gracious to me, and gave me a father who trained me to be unthreatened by that kind of little man syndrome. If I functioned purely on the basis of my instincts, all my hackles go up when I’m confronted by men like that. But I had a strong father who taught me that being irritated and reactionary is weakness not strength, and he taught me to be strong enough not to be swayed by weak men. ” Awesome girl!

  19. Thank you for speaking from your heart. I just want to encourage you to remember that your life is your reward. Everyone doesn’t have to agree with you. You speak from experience and out of a heart to help. At the end of the day, you get to go back to your beautiful life. The people who oppose you, sadly also have to go back to their lives. Hopefully, everyone is as satisfied. Don’t listen to your ill-informed attackers. Remember, Jesus was killed. People tend to forget that. He made people angry, he spoke boldly, he was hated. People have this fairy tale idea that Jesus was all sweet and everyone received his message happily. Not so! No stones form me. You keep walking out your salvation, Sister. Much love!

  20. i am not sure what to think about this post. it felt insulting and i am not sure if it will help any of the feminists that act like you describe see the point. because the comments show, that those feminists shout out of their hurt now with mean comments towards you…

    but i absolutely agree that acting out of hurt actually gives the person who hurt you power over your actions, when they shouldn’t have it. in the end we are held responsible for our own actions. that’s why Jesus told us to forgive. because if we don’t our actions are tied to the hurt we’ve experienced. we will always get hurt as long as we live in this fallen world, but we have to be firm in that we will not let the enemy win over our souls. we ought to be strong through Jesus when we are weak. and as some of the commenters said, there are many many women out there who are hurt and beaten and to them ‘feminism’ is a ray of hope that maybe one day somehow the system will protect them from being abused. what they need is grace and the protecting love of Jesus who picked up the broken women and healed them. I am sorry, but your article does not accomplish to bring this redeeming message across.

  21. I think a crucial point that Bekah is trying to make for all of the seriously abused women who are reading this is: okay, maybe it is too late for you to have the blessed life that Bekah has lived. Do you want your daughters to have it? If it’s too late for them, how about your granddaughters? If the answer is yes, you have to stop complaining that she has it and you have to deal with whatever tragedy you have to deal with. I just read a heartbreaking blog about a mother who had to bury her little girl after a degenerative disease slowly killed her. That mother is clearly hurting in a way I can barely imagine, but she isn’t bitter towards anyone else, including God. yeah, Bekah may have had it easier than you, but what is she doing with it? She is trying to show you Christian women have to give those blessings to your kids. Don’t you want your kids to be blessed. For those of you readers who aren’t Christians, until you have had a bath in the Blood of the Lamb, anything you read on this blog will frustrate you.

  22. Bekah, btw. Whatever became of that young man?csometimes that kind of posturing is based off being college aged. Did the Lord bless him and straighten him out?

  23. Bekah, thank you for this! Sometimes I tend to have exactly the same reactions as you do to the “chumps,” except that without a clear example of biblical headship in my childhood, it can be harder to sift out the bad from the good. Your dad’s advice to you in that instance was gold! So helpful.

    (Side note . . . I hope that I never find myself on the wrong side of your pen! And I mean that as a compliment.)

  24. Your writing style has me in stitches! I love it! I wonder at commenters who put limits on, and impute attributes to your audience. After all, much of your article is simply retelling your experiences and people often receive understanding from such, expressed in many different styles. God loves wonderous variety! I think one stumbling block perhaps is not defining “feminism” at the outset. Implications of varying definitions abound in the comments.

    I was raised steeped in humanism and feminism. Not really the bra-burner type, but more the egalitarian type that says, ” only a fool would lay her life in the hands of any person….take care of yourself!” I was saved by the grace of Jesus in adulthood, was blessed to sit under superb discipleship, and my learning curve has been sharp. Now my naïveté is revealed in my dismay at the objection to your observation that Christian feminist is an oxymoron. I thought as Christians we could share that as a baseline assumption. Feminism is a non-biblical (sinful) reaction to societies lead by men (because societies always are, whether by tyranny, abdication, or Godliness) acting in non-biblical (sinful) ways. Some commenters assert that feminism is just and necessary because of the problems imposed on women by men (not obeying Christ). This position supports the point of your article.

  25. I loved this line from your dad: “But if you had even the vaguest understanding of what headship and submission actually means, you would realize that you are not Bekah’s head. I am.” BOOM!

    Except the problem is- that idea is completely unbiblical. You and I can argue all day long about what it means when the Bible says that the husband is the head of the wife. But one clue to that meaning is that the Bible never says the man is the head of the slaves, or that the father is the head of the children, even though all of those are expressed in the same passage. (Ephesians 5:21- 6:9)

    “Head” (kephale) is spoken of in exactly 3 relationships, and they are all intimate ones. Your dad was your authority and he was your boss, but he was not your head. Not in the biblical sense anyway.

    I hope you see what my friend Jory wrote in response to your article. I think she makes very valid points. http://www.jorymicah.com/an-open-letter-to-rebekah-merkle-doug-wilsons-daughter/

  26. “It took a lot of practice and a lot of dinner conversations, but I got to where I can snicker when I see that kind of guy rather than let it actually affect my behavior.”

    Unless I’m missing something, you just defined maturity as growing in your ability to snicker at someone else. This is not maturity, it’s arrogance. This post is mean-spirited, judgmental, and rude. I can’t find one iota of love anywhere in this essay, and that tells me everything I need to know about your theology.

  27. I’m not the first person to say it, but will say it anyway: patriarchy as you have lived it IS FILLED with chumps! Filled with insecure, small men who have figured out the only way they can be king in their oh-so-small domain is to participate in this non-biblical theology, where (conveniently) they get to be king by divine creed. Out here in the Really Big World of ecumenical Christianity, where men and women proclaim Jesus as Lord and serve side by side, there are countless incredible men who have no desire to be the boss of a woman. They want to be partners, just like God designed it way back when. Funny, that. There is a whole lot of thriving going on outside of “christian” patriarchy. I hope and pray you find your way out.

  28. Haley, there is a problem with your argument. If we are supposed to be like Jesus and Jesus is like the Father, then what do Psalm 2 and Paalm 59 teach us? They teach us that derision is a sometimes appropriate response when man overreaches.

  29. Rebekah,
    It seems to me that there must be a certain “kind” of femenism or certain interactions with femenists that you and others in the comments are reacting to. Because almost everything you said about calling out men who try to rule over women– well– to call that out IS femenist to me (and I think based on the comments, to many others). It feels like you are trying to disagree with me, while agreeing with me. A lot of what you said sounded so pro-women and so femenist, that I found it confusing to hear you adamatly refuse to be considered femenist. I would humbly add my suggestion that you actually have a lot in common with most women who call themsevles “evangelical femenists.” It seems to me, that you are concerned about the specific case of how “headship” in marriage is played out, but that is only one way in which men and women interact in this world, and that you also feel concerned for how many men are not tought well in our culture that they should focuss on being the best person they can be rather than apppearing to be “manly.” Love and concern for how culture treats men is essential to Christians who also want to care for and love women- they are not mutually exclusive. I think at the core, you care about the same things I, and many other femenists do.

  30. I’m not a christian, so I am just trying to figure all this stuff out…maybe someone can help me… is “complementarian” just another word for “self righteous gasbag”?

  31. I still think it’s funny how people hold “civility, love, and kindness” like a knife to your throat. 😉
    As for me, I like my women saucy. Maybe because I like them strong. And nothing betrays weakness and insecurity more than the mortally offended.

  32. Wow….so being submissive to dad, or husband, or whomever is one’s “head” makes you mean and sarcastic it seems to me. I am a conservative Evangelical (at least in most respects) and I am also a feminist. Contrary to your assertion, it is not an oxymoron. The dictionary definition is: “Someone advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men.” I in no way whatsoever resemble your descriptive first paragraph. I could write more, but I’ll just say DITTO to everything Terri said.

  33. It is a travesty that good writing, wit, and logic bounce off the bubbles of emotional authority that is our current culture. The fight for biblical womanhood that actually looks like something (pretty) has many foes, many of which have here laid aside their avowed enemies apparently to attack the real problem, the Tom Bombadils skipping around happy and free from their grasp. Thanks for the post. I found it courage giving.

  34. Hey, Mrs. Marc Otto, sassy does not mean the same thing as rude. This post was rude. You can be a “sassy” woman without being arrogant and cruel to people who aren’t on your side. You can also maybe learn the definitions of words because feminism does not mean what Rebekah thinks it means. So not only is she rude, she’s also seemingly not very educated on the things she claims she’s against.

  35. Just realized the word used was “saucy” rather than sassy, which is funny because saucy is usually used as an alternative word for “sexy” rather than being bold and outspoken. So I guess Mrs. Marc Otto doesn’t understand what words mean either.

  36. Dear Rebekah,

    Please stop using the word “feminist” and its counterparts because you have absolutely no idea what it means.

    In your article, you state that you can’t understand “evangelical feminists” – I’m guessing you mean evangelical Christian feminists, not feminists who are spreading feminism. You use the words “funny”, “nonsensical”, and “ridiculous” to describe feminists.

    Those are exactly the words I would use to describe your diatribe.

    Feminism is about the social, political, and economic equality of men and women. (Normally people don’t put “men” in the definition, but I do because you cannot have equality without two parts. That’s math, people.)

    The definition says nothing about religious equality. While I am personally a fan of religious equality, I realize that this idea goes against approximately 80% of all world religions.

    So let me explain to you what feminism means to me and why I would never attack a Christian woman in the name of anti-feminism.

    Feminism is the idea that women do not need their genitals mutilated in unsanitary conditions. Here is a link to some information on it: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/

    Feminism is the concept behind giving women the right to vote. Here is some information on women’s suffrage: http://www.history.com/topics/womens-history/the-fight-for-womens-suffrage

    Feminism is the idea that women should receive equal pay for equal work. Here is some information on this: http://www.dol.gov/equalpay/

    Feminism is the concept that women are not property. I’m personally a huge fan of feminism, as I do not see myself as property.

    You know who else seems to be a big fan of feminism? Jesus.

    Jesus interacted with women. He had conversations with them. He dined with them. He ministed to them, and they to him. He healed their illnesses.

    When men came to him and asked him to justify their mistreatment of women, he never did. At no point did Jesus ever treat women differently than he treated men. Never.

    And that’s what feminism is.

    As one writer to another, I humbly suggest you not use words if you do not know the definition.

  37. I’ve heard “saucy” used often as a substitute for either seductive or sexy quite often, as well. But I guess it can have multiple meanings/uses? Either way, I tend to agree with Jane’s overall point that you can be saucy (sassy?) without putting others down and or having an arrogant or holier-than-thou attitude like the one displayed in this blog post.

    To Rebekah, I would say that if you don’t identify with the feminist movement, that’s fine, but the mischaracterisation and stereotyping of feminists in this post is disheartening to say the least. Feminism is a movement that aims to give women freedom and options, one of those options is being able to stay at home and raise a family if you wish. I’ve never met a feminist that hated homemakers, their only beef seems to be with the idea that being a homemaker is the only option for women or somehow the One True Calling for all women, rather than just one of many valid options. And it’s not about hating men or being bitter, either. Only recognizing that we live in a society that has a longstanding history of putting men ahead of women and stifles women’s dreams and ambitions.

  38. @Jane, I think what I was saying is that I have a hard time believing “rudeness” is what people take issue with around here. 😉 And yes, it’s “saucy.” I’m pretty sure I don’t like sassy women near as much.

  39. Did someone send the feminist trolls over because they obviously aren’t regular readers of this fine blog?
    Emily, see Factual Feminist on YouTube for refutation of your tired statistics.
    Katie, in your description of Jesus as a feminist, do you see Bekah or other non-feminists doing the opposite? I quote: “Jesus interacted with women. He had conversations with them. He dined with them. He ministered to them and they him. When men came to him to justify their mistreatment of women, he never did. At no point did Jesus ever treat women differently. Ever.” I’ll quibble with that last line because he did only choose males as his disciples. But if that is your summation of evidence that Jesus was “a big fan” of feminism, then maybe you’re the one with the wrong definition of feminist or complementary and aren’t so bad after all.
    To many others who thought Bekah was acting superior by talking about how God was gracious to her in the great men that surrounded her, how ridiculous is that. Gracious means she didn’t do anything to deserve it but she got it. Sometimes we get hard providence in the area of men or any other area of life. But do we have to be hushed from talking about how God has blessed our lives cause it make cause others to feel inferior? No, and secondly, coveting others’ blessings is a sin.
    Also, describing the sinful attitudes that are common among feminists isn’t unloving. If it were socially acceptable for men to be abusively angry, we would hope bloggers could be brave enough to expose their vice by poking holes in their self-contented bubbles.
    Thank you for the straight talk, Bekah!

  40. I think the author made a very valid point about one of the practical weak points of patriarchy (For the record, I think there are enormous hermeneutical weak points of complementarian theology as well.) As she pointed out, patriarchy only actually works when men act just like Jesus. All the time. In every situation.

    It sounds like the author feels she was fortunate to be blessed with a loving father and a loving husband as her first and second “heads.” She is living the rare best case scenario, which I would argue still leaves her vulnerable to the bad decisions of her “head.” Even a wonderful, loving father/husband is still not always godly and good. He is still a fallen human prone to selfishness against the women in his life, even if he manages to choose godliness more often than not.

    For many women who must obey their “head,” they are required to live with the consequences of choices that they never made up to and including verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. When a woman cannot say no, she is in a very precarious position that is totally dependent on the goodness of her “head.” When that “head” is a bully, a misogynist, or an abuser, what recourse do these women actually have? Evidence has shown time and again the vulnerability of women in patriarchal communities, be they Western or not, Christian or not.

    Patriarchy still requires submission even if the “head” is mistaken or cruel, even if the “head” is not a believer. That is an open door for very bad things to happen. The author is completely correct that this is EXACTLY what godly feminists are concerned about because we see it happening. Maybe the author is fortunate to have avoided it, but many are not so fortunate. It is for them that we ask complementarians with voices and positions of power like the author to stop and consider whether or not there is biblical weight (aside from the practical) to the egalitarian position. I grew up and married into a complementarian community, and it was this exact practical issue (what do women do when their “heads” are wrong/unreasonable/unkind/abusive?) that led me to consider the merits of egalitarianism. After 2 years of intense study of both sides, I concluded that the egalitarian position had a much more solid biblical backing. I urge everyone who has not taken the time to consider each side honestly to do so because there are real women and children whose lives are deeply affected by being underneath ungodly “heads.”

  41. All I can say is there must be a lot of woman around here that have never read Jane Austen. Bekah has drawn characters in much the same way that Austen did. Somehow since dear Jane has been dead 200 years, we can laugh and learn from her writing, but heaven forbid we find the same grace in someone who is still living.

  42. B’,
    I was in Moscow in the mid 80’s, so I can’t remember which daugther you are, though I know at least you are not your brother! ; – )
    Anyway, I thought your post was pretty simple and well balanced. A major point being that any over reaction on one’s own part, tends to work against one’s self.

    Who knew that would be such a tough sell to some?

    Uh-oh, a “woman” taught me or at least reminded me of something good, I think The Word calls that fellowship! Thanks and Salt to you! ; – )

  43. Thank you Bekah for sharing those words of wisdom. We see what this has produced in your family and are thankful you would pass on the words of encouragement. Our 3 daughters will be learning how to react or not react around these types of men.

  44. Jesus had no female APOSTLES. He did, however, have female DESCIPLES. There is a difference in terminology.

    Personally, I’m not going to waste my breath on the rest. There are some very insightful counter arguments stated here to which the author dismissed in a later post as women whining about hurt feelings. Clearly, anyone who doesn’t laud her with praise is worthy of her derision. Therefore, why waste precious time trying to reason with someone wearing blinders.

    I will, however, say; blessing to you my sister in Christ. I’m full of joy that your life and view points bring you happiness. My only prayer for you is that you may show some of that grace and kindness to those you disagree with. That, is biblical and God honoring.

  45. I’m not even a feminist anymore. But I found this to be really insulting and dismissive and sarcastic and condescending and just awful woman-hating stuff. Sorry. I do love this site for the inspiration but this was a lot of nastiness lacking very much the humble spirit becoming of a Christian.

  46. Wow. Thanks for reminding me what that yoke feels like. Fully redeemed, grateful to be where my God-given gifts can be used for His Calling. And may I never, ever have a heart and mind and hate that writes such a piece as this.

  47. I don’t know how I wondered on this blog, but I regret I did. Just a few paragraphs into your post and I could not believe you have a tagline on your blog “encouraging Christian women.” The rough, coarse, heartless and judgemental language you use about people who are supposed to be your sisters in faith, albeit they might be different than you, is appalling. The devil needs not ever worry about destroying the church if this is what Christians do to each other.

    Now, if you excuse me, I need to cleanse my mind from the awful aftertaste of the few paragraphs I made th error to read here. I’m certain that someone who hatefully verbally beats up on others would not care.

  48. I left evangelicalism almost a year ago, and articles like this remind me why I left. The arrogant dismissal of people who don’t share your particular viewpoint, the unabashed name-calling, and wrapping it all up with a “biblical” lesson as though you didn’t just spend the entire article doing the former two things.

  49. I absolutely see what you are talking about in so many of my friends who talk about being Christian feminists. It just can’t be done–it’s a lie. I love how you were able to get the point across so clearly and concisely. What I am mulling over now is the way in which it was presented. I struggle at times to know the difference between the truth having sting and truth that may not be loving or give grace to the hearers. I don’t know what I think about some of the phraseology in this post. Was it beneficial to write what you said with the sting it could carry for those “on the other side”? I honestly don’t know, but it’s something to think about. I enjoyed your post! It was good to hear from someone who isn’t a Christian feminist. These days it feels so hard to find women who are biblically centered and logical in their thinking. So much of today’s feminism is so emotional, its extraordinarily difficult to have a discussion about it.

  50. At the risk of having my response be called “shrieks and howls”, I nevertheless feel compelled to express my disappointment at the tone of this post. Had this been the first time I read Feminagirls, I would chalk it up to a hate site and I would certainly not return. And then to see the post defended with the same vigor, after numerous grace-filled challenges, I find it very sad. Regardless of how you feel about feminism and those who propagate it, the word choice in the writing does not reflect the love and grace which the Lord has shown to us. I’m surprised the other writers of this blog have allowed it. I urge you, Bekah, to submit your attitude to the one who laid down his life for you, and to ask him whether there is “any offensive way in you.” (Psalm 139).

  51. I think it would be helpful if you defined “feminism” and “evangelical feminist”. If my husband and I consider ourselves equals in our marriage, does that automatically make be a feminist? Does it make him one, too? If I work outside the home, am I a feminist, or am I just a feminist if I want to be paid the same thing as my male co-workers in the same job? If I do most of the housework, all of the cooking and all of the clean-up, does that make me not a feminist? If we both agree that we are able to say “I’m not in the mood tonight”, and the other will understand, does that make us feminists? If he earns most of the money, but I’m the one who physically pays the bills because I’m better organized, and he’s perfectly happy with that arrangement, where does that sit on the feminism scale? I should probably tell you that I often find labels confusing and usually meaningless.

  52. Teresa asks…

    “they are weak-sauce little putzes…” Is there biblical precedent for godly women to use obscene language?

    And the answer is *yes* – Deborah in Judges 5:30.

  53. I was also blessed to grow up with a loving, strong, and wise father. I have watched my parents’ marriage for the last twenty years and am always blown away by their courage, commitment and support for one another. Yes, they’ve fought, disagreed, and gone through struggles together; but they’ve always trusted and depended on God, all the while following him to the mission field in service of his call. I am their daughter, an evangelical feminist, missionary kid, and a disciple of Christ, just trying to follow God. I have not experienced blatant sexism by the men closest in my life; quite the opposite actually. My feminist views are not sourced in some kind of grudge with men, even men living sinful, selfish lives (as you claimed). My feminist views (views of men and women seen as equal in value) are sourced solely in the Bible, and the belief that God has created us equal; equal in His image, and intended to be used for his purposes to lead others to salvation. I respect that you disagree with feminism, but spouting off insults and stereotypes targeting everyone you disagree with, is not an argument or a defense for what you believe; it’s logical fallacy. Okay, so you don’t believe in feminism; I encourage you to study what you believe further so that when you write posts about it, you don’t gain followers who don’t just love to read salty words aimed towards their favorite target. Instead, the people who read your work will like because it intellectually affirms what they believe. And even people who out-right disagree with you, could actually respond to you intellectually, instead of just being disgusted by how you think about everyone who disagrees with you. Your writing can either spark distrust and anger, or communication and discussion on theological and social issues that would benefit all of us to talk about. I hope you choose the latter.

  54. Kamilla:

    I was wondering – what is it that you are doing/ thinking/ behaving now that you are a “repentant former feminist”. What has changed and why.
    How do you define feminism?

    Thanks, in advance, for you reply.

  55. “You’re not Bekah’s head. I am.” Um…you have a head. It’s right at the top of your neck. You can use it to think. You don’t need your dad’s head, for anything.

  56. Oh, boy. Here comes trouble! Bekah, you got all the fighting genes, didn’t you?

    Appreciated your analogy of the caterpillar – spot on. It’s so hard not to be reactionary, rather than taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, as we must. I remember when lots of folks in the homeschooling community were trying to reproduce the Victorian era, because it seemed to be the opposite of what the uglier segments of feminism were advocating. Turns out the Victorian era had its own problems. Shocking, eh??

    I really appreciate the positive view of womanhood presented by the Femina Girls. Visitors to this blog might not realise that you guys spend a lot more time meditating on and modelling a courageous, Biblical femininity than slagging feminism.

  57. @ Katie – Your question is disappointing. The answer is obviously no – but you knew that already, right?

    Of course you don’t need to have been abused to care about and decry abuse. Of course you don’t need to have been denied appropriate healthcare in order to advocate for reproductive rights. Of course not. You also don’t need to be a man in order to listen sympathetically to men talk about the struggles they face as men. You also don’t need to be African-American to declaim systemic racism and racial injustice. You don’t need to be homosexual in order to ache over the ongoing marriage debate and the discrimination and hate it brings to the surface.

    Are you getting the idea?

    Here’s what you – and Bekah, and seemingly scores of commenters on this post – are missing: the key is relationships with people who aren’t like you. By simply entering into relationship with someone who is not like you – whose life is not like yours, whose background is very different, whose thoughts and opinions and lifestyle don’t match yours – you broaden your horizons and your perspectives immensely. THIS is why I’m not sheltered, Katie; it’s because I’ve intentionally sought out and befriended many, many people who are nothing like me. I don’t need to BE transgender or black or homosexual or living in poverty or an atheist to “get” what that’s like; I have friends and community members who are all those things, and when I sit in conversation with them and listen to them with an open mind and an open heart, I am educated beyond description.

    It’s that easy, Katie. It’s that easy to leave the sheltered bubble that Bekah and her ilk have apparently never escaped. Her examples of the “trials” she faced at the hands of men are just laughable when viewed through the lens of THE ACTUAL WORLD AND THE WOMEN IN IT. My guess is that day in and day out, Bekah is surrounded by people who are just like her, and that is sad for her. She is missing out. Relationships with varied individuals would do a world of good for her worldview. Instead, she seems to have a calcified understanding of the world that has hardened and grown brittle from lack of outsider perspectives.

  58. Sorry to disappoint Emily. I didn’t know the answer to my question, which is why I asked it. That second line was disingenuous snark though, which I apologize for. When you stated Bekah was “sheltered” for not having experienced abuse I wondered if you really meant that she was sheltered for not having experienced abuse. Your clarification helps immensely. She is sheltered for not having relationships with others who have experienced abuse. That makes sense to me, but it is not what you originally said. I also have absolutely no idea if it is true of Bekah at all.

  59. @ katie – true; however, I have yet to read anything of Bekah’s that would suggest she is in relationship with people who are different from her. Truly, I think most people aren’t; we naturally seek out relationships with those who share our belief system and who have a core of common experiences w/ which we can identify. This is natural and comfortable; unfortunately, I also think it is unhealthy and leads to an insular and narrow worldview. Seeking out agenda-free relationships with people who are not like you is like exercise; it is uncomfortable at times, but it is sooooooo good for you.

    I can’t fathom that Bekah could sit with a woman who has been sexually abused (again, as many, many women have…my psychologist father reminded me last week that the stats are more like 1 in 3 now than 1 in 4) and say to that woman what she has said in this post. I can’t imagine she could sit with that woman and tell her, basically, “Don’t let your heinous experience at the hands of this man dictate your choices. You just do what you do and forget about this guy.” That flies in the face of everything, everything, everything we know in the mental health field about how to properly care for victims of abuse, how to help them recover, and how to help them frame their abuse. I am thinking right now of a young woman I know who was brutally raped in her early teens by an elder in her church – several times. Now, 15 years later, she has deep and damaging scars, both psychologically and emotionally. She is just now beginning to get the intense therapy and spiritual counseling she needs, and if she continues with this, she has every chance of healing as best she can. But I cannot imagine sharing the content of this post with her, telling her her rapist was “just a chump” and that she should basically pull herself up and get on with life, and not let her rape define her choices. The truth is, her sexual abuse HAS irrevocably shaped her life. Her task is not to suppress or to minimize it (two things the church has attempted to do in her life again and again). Her task is basically to find her “new normal”.

    Basically, this entire philosophy – that all women can glibly say, “I ain’t gonna let no man dictate my choices for me!” – reveals how shallow Bekah’s worldview is. Let me be clear – my life has been a lot like Bekah’s. I have miraculously made it to my mid-30’s having never experienced real harm at the hands of a man. However, I also know that my experience is in no way normative, and that I am in the minority – the small minority – of women. It’s telling that Bekah doesn’t see that truth for herself, that she would write a prescriptive post like this, publish it without any caveats for women who have been directly harmed by men, and assert that this is good advice for women everywhere. The notion that all women who identify as feminists and who would advocate for women are just “reacting to chumps” is unbelievably minimizing – and it reveals Bekah’s ignorance in this matter.

  60. To all,

    When God the Son submits to the will of God the Father, are they unequal? Does submission mean inequality? Is there inequality within the Trinity? Surely it would be unorthodox to suggest such. Conflation of “submission” and “inequality” seems to be a common hindrance to dialogues like the one taking place here. If submission necessarily negates equality, then were are going to have serious problems with our doctrine of the Trinity, among other scriptural topics.

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