My father recently joined facebook. I'm not sure what my parents' goal was in child raising-if they hoped to send another right-wing evangelical off to spread the gospel/fight the culture wars/ raise like-minded children, they failed miserably. If they were hoping to raise a gutsy compassionate young woman who thinks for herself and has a fierce loyalty to Christ and the Church, they hit a home run. Given this dichotomy, I had to family-proof my facebook profile. A couple photo albums were marked off limits, the link to this blog hidden, and I left two facebook groups:"I'm sorry, Jesus probably wasn't white...or Republican" and "This is what a feminist looks like."
This wasn't easy-"Feminist" is a label I've sported proudly since high school. Somewhere, I may still have a button or t-shirt with the above statement...or perhaps, the more direct "Feminism is the radical notion that women are people."
And as I'm leaving facebook groups, the NYT is stepping up publicity for Nick Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn's upcoming book "Half the Sky." (I have this pre-ordered on Amazon, and am literally breathless with anticipation. September can't get here fast enough)
"Feminism" at the end of the day is the believe that women have meaning and purpose outside of men. It is the contradiction to Freud's belief that anatomy is destiny. That in legal matters, a woman's testimony should be equal to that of a man, that women have the right to own property, that they deserve the same quality medical care as men. Women are not accessories or servants, and are unique and individual, not to be traded in for the newest model. Feminism is NOT about male-bashing, hyperindividualism, or removing all restrictions from abortion. And "Feminist" is *not* a derogatory term, and I'm sick of hearing it used as such.
And every time I hear one of my Conservative Christian friends talk about "submitting" to her father/fiance' ...a shiver runs down my spine. I think this mentality of "all responsibility resides with the man and ultimately, I will only be held accountable for how well I obeyed" is downright dangerous. If gender confers absolute authority....we are left with no defense against polygamy or the bride burnings of India. If women surrender the ability to think for themselves and be held accountable for their *own* decisions, they have also surrendered their integrity, their ability to be righteous, fair, merciful human beings. That's a high price for being "obedient."
Ironically enough....the Blessed Virgin Mother is often considered the "ideal" of "biblical femininity." However, Mary's submission was not to mortal men. I'm sure an unwed pregnancy was the *last* thing her father wanted for his daughter. It required divine intervention to interrupt Joseph's plans for a quiet divorce. The Mother of God defied the male authority figures in her life in order to submit to God Himself- and this defiance is *why* she is venerated by the Church.