Because Christianity is bigger than Biblical manhood or Biblical womanhood (Blog of Retha Faurie)

There is a statement that makes feminists of all stripes cringe. Call it false testimony, call it the straw man fallacy, call it begging the question, the point still remain: This is not an accurate representation of feminism. Whether we talk of first wave, second wave or third wave, whether we talk of Christian egalitarianism, radical feminism or liberal feminism, this pervasive lie never becomes the truth. Sadly, many of those who propagate this lie are Christians:

““For years, the feminists lied to us,” Christian author Lisa Bevere shouted from the stage. “They said for us to be powerful as women, we needed to act like men.” 

This is a great example of the fallacy called begging the question, or circular reasoning. In circular reasoning, you have to accept the conclusion to accept the argument made to reach the conclusion. 

For example: “I trust Matt, because Matt says he is trustworthy.” (If you do not trust Matt, you will not trust Matt’s word to prove his trustworthiness.)

Here is the problem: Some people made a narrow definition of womanhood. Not all of them have the same definition. For some, womanhood is mascara and nail polish and sexy, tiny dresses. For them, a cross-dresser in drag is “more of a woman” than a female mechanic in an overall. For some church people, preaching a sermon is manhood and any woman who preaches is acting like a man. For others, it is long hair, long dresses, or child raising. Mark Driscoll once said the church should discipline stay-at-home fathers. According to Owen Strachan, a man staying at home with children when his wife works is a “man fail“.

Whatever their definition of womanhood, we have to accept their definition to believe them that feminists are encouraging women to be like men. For example:

   Sexist 1: “Politic leadership is a man’s job. From Cleopatra to Angela Merkel, women leaders all act(ed) like men.”

     Feminist 1: “Politics is not for men only. Therefore, a woman in politics does not act like a man. She acts like a woman in politics.”

Sexist 2: “Wives should submit to husbands because Bible, not vice versa. Wives who are equal decision makers are acting like men and making the marriage a gay marriage. i

     Feminist 2 (Christian feminist): “All believers should submit to one another, that goes for husbands and wives. None should lord it over another, because Jesus and Bible. If wives are not the only ones who should submit, women who have equal say are not acting like men.”

   Sexist 3: “Women who do not put on make-up, who do not smile a lot, who do not make most of their looks are acting like men.”

      Feminist 3: “Women’s faces, like men’s, do not naturally have make-up on it. A painted face is no more womanly than manly. You are woman enough, however you look. Looking pretty is not the rent you have to pay to live on earth as a woman. You do not have to please men with your looks.”

Whatever your definition of womanhood, feminists can only want women to act like men if some actions belong in boxes called “manhood” and “womanhood”. So, at the very least, ask anyone who makes that accusation to tell you what “manly” things they think feminism encourage women to do. The answer will teach you more about their idea of manhood than about feminism.

If manhood and womanhood have only biological definitions, the roughly half of humanity with movable gametes (sperm) is male, and the roughly half with unmovable gametes (ova) is female. A sperm producer who looks after his children is manly. An ova producer who rules a country is womanly.

And no feminist encourages women to produce sperm or tells men to have egg cells. The conclusion is that feminists do not ask women to act like men.

—————————-

i In a podcast called “Feminism in your Church and Home”, Russell Moore actually said: “… most of the people in our churches are in same-sex marriages right now, they just don’t realize it. Because you have … marriages in which we do not have male headship…”

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Comments on: "Feminism for dummies: We do not ask women to act like men!" (10)

  1. Very well presented. Thanks!

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  2. Hello, once again a wonderful, enlightening argument. However, I would like to hear you address the other side too. I have heard, all my life, by professed feminists including my mother, that to be a homemaker is bad for women even if they choose it for themselves, that women must put careers above family or they are weak, that you should want “more than just a home and kids” because that isn’t enough to be happy for anyone and just gets in the way of your real life, that relationships with men must be “on the side” because a woman should never ever be dependent on a man in any way, that we have to “beat men at their own game” etc. If these ideas (presented to me by feminists as essential to empowerment) didn’t come from feminism, then where did they come from? You show the sexist voice saying the wrong thing and then feminist voices always saying the right thing, but sometimes feminism teaches wrong things too.

    frankly, I was deeply relieved to learn post college that actually it is ok to want kids and put family first, but for a long time I felt damaged by feminism, and I know many others who have rejected all things feminist for that reason. I do completely agree that feminism *should not* pressure women to “act like men” or value traditionally masculine behavior above traditional feminine roles, but you write as if feminism doesn’t ever promote any bad ideas ever. Feminism is a human institution and it does have corruption in it, it does give bad teachings sometimes. As much good as feminist voices have done for the world and my life personally, I wouldn’t pretend it’s perfect and always right and good.

    Of course, this doesn’t invalidate anything you’ve written here. But I think for balance it would be good to acknowledge that feminism does sometimes make missteps. call it “false feminism” promoted by feminists if you like, but please don’t pretend it doesn’t exist.

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    • I believe you that feminists like that exist. I am sorry for your experiences. But in order to be a feminist, you only need to stand for female liberation from oppression by patriarchy. Not all feminists will agree on what is needed to free women from patriarchy.
      Feminists with bad ideas of whatever stripe are still feminists, just like Christians who disagree with us on, for example, woman pastors, are still Christians.

      Sometimes, people have bad ideas. It happens to members of all groups, feminists included.

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      • Completely agreed! I appreciate the sort of internal correction of misrepresentation that you do for Christian communities and am glad to hear you do the same for the feminist voice as well. Unfortunately, I’ve seen so many women (myself included, temporarily) be so harmed by these feminist corruptions (could they be called “heresies”? 😉 ) that there is a temptation to swing to the other extreme and assume all feminism is misogynistic; it’s similarly to the way some think that if some Christians are irrational and hateful, that therefore the canonized Christian teachings must be worthless. It’s a difficult line to walk, wanting to present the best while acknowledging the shadow. Thanks for all your work in this area!

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  3. Hi Veronica
    You wrote:
    Hello, once again a wonderful, enlightening argument. However, I would like to hear you address the other side too. I have heard, all my life, by professed feminists including my mother, that to be a homemaker is bad for women even if they choose it for themselves…

    The choice between a homemaker or a career wife are two vastly different types of marriage arrangements
    1. Conjugal marriage or holy matrimony (patriarchy)
    2. Egalitarian (feminist) marriage

    Egalitarian marriage is basically a public declaration that a couple is experiencing the most pure and intense form of romantic love from a dating or living together relationship Here is why many live together couples often complain that nothing changed once they were married. Of course, no change is possible (other than a piece of paper) because a couple just goes from an egalitarian relationship to another egalitarian relationship. In fact, it was gross sexual immorality that redefined conjugal marriage into the current form of egalitarianism. Premarital sex tends to follow people into marriage and once it reached critical mass- it redefined marriage. Furthermore, all illicit relationships like premarital sex, adultery or homosexuality are egalitarian relationships.This is why same sex marriage had to become accepted into law.

    The egalitarian view does not totally rule out the conjugal view because egalitarian marriage is based on whatever the partners want it to be! It assumes that the unifying good of marriage is the subjective desires of the partners involved. So, if a woman feels like being a housewife-she is free to do so.
    However, she or her husband won’t be legally protected because this isn’t an egalitarian relationship.You cannot enshrine the egalitarian view into law and still claim the benefits of the conjugal view. Its not legal anymore.

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    • “all illicit relationships like premarital sex, adultery or homosexuality are egalitarian relationships”
      Naama, I explained to you before what “egalitarian” means.
      There is nothing inherently egalitarian about illicit relationships: Abuse and domination -evidence of non-equal or non-egalitarian relationships – are common in gay relationships too and a lot more common in live-together couples than in married ones.*.

      “Conjugal marriage or holy matrimony (patriarchy)”

      Patriarchy does not equal to holy marriage! Pornography and prostitution – men using women as objects – is as much part of patriarchy (male rule) as the kind of marriage you envision.
      And “conjugal marriage” is a tautology.

      __________

      * No reason to believe an abuser will improve by marrying, rather evidence that people with abusive partners are less likely to marry.

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  4. Hi Retha

    You have never explained to me what egalitarian “means”. Instead, you created a strawman argument by misrepresenting what I said and then proceeded to answer your own questions.

    You said “There is nothing inherently egalitarian about illicit relationships”
    Yes there is! This is the precise reason why these relationships are considered sinful: they are based on the subjective personal fulfillment of each partner.

    You wrote: “Patriarchy does not equal to holy marriage”

    Yes it does! You see, you have to re-shape scripture and the historic teaching and practice of the church like a wax nose in the palm of your hands to make such a foreign paradigm fit.

    You see, sex cannot be separated from a man’s provision and protection and sex cannot be separated from a woman’s acceptance of his provision and protection. A man will have the physical maturity to have sex, but he still has no basis to engage in sex if he cannot financially care and support a wife.These both go hand in hand with each other because a man’s sexual expression needs to be part and parcel with his care and provision of his wife.This is why virginity is such an important aspect of holy matrimony and why I was a virgin until my wedding night. We could have fumbled around with a condom in the back seat of a car and after the fact each of us go onto our separate ways,or we could just rub skin together while we both work and share the bills. However, this would have been a distortion of the sex act.
    Furthermore, my husband needs to have authority over me because he is totally responsible for me. It would be very cruel to my husband if I expected to be an equal or greater authority because he would end up bearing all the responsibility for my decisions. I would be a tyrant and he would be my slave since I would be acting like an authority without any accountability.

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    • “You have never explained to me what egalitarian “means”. ”

      I have answered it in my lexicon. I spoke about the meaning in posts you previously commented on. I clarified misconceptions you have about egalitarianism in my comment section several times.

      “[Egalitarian] relationships … are based on the subjective personal fulfillment of each partner.”

      Christian egalitarianism is about having equal opportunity to use your gifts, about equal input and thus equal ability to help in the couple and church making wise decisions. How about “patriarchy is about the subjective fulfillment of the male’s wishes over the woman’s”?

      “You wrote: “Patriarchy does not equal to holy marriage” Yes it does! … A man will have the physical maturity to have sex, but he still has no basis to engage in sex if he cannot financially care and support a wife.These both go hand in hand….”

      That is not the meaning of patriarchy. Patriarchy means men ruling – whether they provide for women or not.

      “Furthermore, my husband needs to have authority over me because he is totally responsible for me.”

      Hhhmmmm. You believe he has responsibility for you, and you do not have responsibility for him? Before God’s law, everyone would give account before God for themselves. (Rom 14:12; 2 Cor. 5:10). He will not be responsible for you there. Before man’s law, a husband is not responsible in a special way a wife is not. (A breadwinner may be responsible in a way a homemaker is not, but that counts in couples with house-husbands too.)

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    • Thank you for sharing a different view. Please help me understand. You say your husband is totally responsible for you. Are you not totally responsible for him, too? I understand if you say God created men and women and therefore we are not the same, but we do not have to be the same in order to be equal.

      Like

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