Before I delve into the question of how Christians should evaluate feminism we need to first briefly delve into the question what feminism is. As with all
Feminism is not one movement. It is better to speak of a whole range of feminisms, some are Christian, some anti-Christian, some are moderate, some radical. What they all have in common, however, is a desire to see women have an equal opportunity in society. Some feminists want to achieve this through radical protests, others through bringing about change slowly by changing laws one by one.
Some feminists are philosophers, sociologists, and anthropologists who analyze human societies in order to expose and eradicate the evil of the patriarchy. Others are simply citizens who are trying to change things from below by living their lives in a different way. All feminists, however, are united in their struggle against the patriarchy, a term that denotes the structure of our societies and cultures in which men take the lead and rule with power and where women follow, serve, and submit to this power.
Three waves of feminism
There have been three waves of feminism. The first wave took place in the 19th and early 20th century and concerned itself with the right of women to vote and to own property. As crazy as this may seem today, women were not allowed to vote in those days. And if it wasn't for this first wave, things would be the same today.
The second wave in the middle of the 20th century concerned itself with equality for women socially, economically, culturally, and politically. Women ought to be able to work without their husband's permission; there was to be no 'marital exemption' for rape, etc.
The third wave of feminism began to include non-white women as it realized that its notion of essential femininity was based on what the male-dominated world had imposed. The idea of female heterosexuality was attacked as well. Feminists also realized that their discourse was really only that of white middle-class women.
Feminism and Christianity
More conservative Christians find a lot of the feminist talk weird and strange. Yet, there is a shared concern: justice. Justice may not be understood the same way for Christians and for feminist, but one can hardly argue against the call for justice for women. One can hardly object to the struggle to stop abuse against women and to make sure that women receive equal pay in the workplace. Who would not agree with the idea that rape within marriage is still rape?
It should be no surprise, then, that there are feminist theologians, such as Rosemary Radford Ruether, Elizabeth Johnson, and Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, who have done and are doing a lot of work trying to examine Christian faith and practice from a feminist standpoint and who attempt to unearth in the Bible this same radical justice for and on behalf of women.
- Introduction: What Is Feminism?
- 6 Reasons Why Christians Should Reject Feminism.
- 6 Reasons Why Christians Should Embrace Feminism.
- Two Biblical Approaches To The Position Of Women