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 remains: This is not an accurate representation of feminism. Whether we talk of the 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.
I will quickly give an example of begging the question: “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, short 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. According to Owen Strachan, a man staying at home with children when his wife works is a “man fail“. Why would he say that? Staying at home with children is, to him womanhood or “acting like a woman”. Financial provision is manhood or “acting like a man”.
Whatever their definition of womanhood, we have to accept their definition to believe them that feminists are encouraging women to be like men. Here are a few examples:
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 of the 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 of Jesus and the 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 makeup, 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 makeup on it. A painted face is no more womanly than manly, nor is an unpainted or un-smiling one more manly. 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 could 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 encourages 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…”