Feminism vs. Femininity On Three Roles of Women
by Daria Woods
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What turns a quirky fashion statement into a fad? And what transforms a fad into something timeless? What causes a book to reach the bestseller’s list, while other equally well-written books gather dust on library shelves? From feminism to yoga, activities and ideals once held only by fringe radicals have become the norm. We all would like to know: Why and how?
Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point, attempts to answer these questions. Gladwell writes of the Hush Puppies, once a little-known shoe brand that inexplicably gained worldwide recognition:
“In the case of the Hush Puppies, the great mystery is how those shoes went from something worn by a few fashion-forward downtown
hipsters to being sold in malls across the country. What was the connection between the Manhattan East Village and Middle America? The Law of the Few says the answer is that one of these exceptional people found out about the trend, and through social connections and energy and enthusiasm and personality spread the word about Hush Puppies.”
What caused the Hush Puppy fad? According to Gladwell, it was surprisingly simple: a small number of people actively spread the word.
In the 1960’s and 70’s, a new wave of feminism swept over America. This wasn’t your grandmother’s “Votes for Women” campaign. This movement threw orthodoxy out the window. Men were labeled “oppressors” and feminism became known as the “women’s liberation movement.” The movement redefined womanhood and pushed Biblical perspective into the shadows. It was unconventional and extreme--and it transformed North America.
Yet, like the Hush Puppies’ rise to stardom, the feminist movement’s success was not due to political action or protest marches. Its success can be traced to a group of people who simply spread the word.
In 1968, film editor and feminist Kathie Sarachild brought a new strategy to light. The best way to promote feminism, she found, was to form “consciousness-raising groups.” Small groups women would gather together for annual meetings in which they would each share experiences of “oppression” and discuss common difficulties they faced. One scholar noted, “Feminists agreed that consciousness-raising, or ‘speaking bitterness,’ was the most potent, effective tool in the mobilization of the feminist movement.” (Mary Kassian, The Feminist Mistake)
This should be no surprise. In Proverbs 12:18, Solomon speaks of the tongue’s power: “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Here, Solomon ranks words with an instrument of war. What more piercing weapon exists than the tongue? When it has taken thousands of soldiers to change cities into minefields, fewer words have changed the face of empires.
Yet there is one factor that pulls an ideology into popularity which researchers often miss; ultimately all is controlled to the One causes mouths to open and shut. He is the One who allows a movement (however temporarily) to ignite or fade into the footnotes of history.
While feminism may be a dominant philosophy of our time, in the end “…the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom He will.” (Daniel 4:32) Perhaps I may live to see this ideology discarded as a new “ism” claims the spotlight, but at the closing of the day, His Word will prevail.
What ignites a dream into a movement, and a movement into a revolution? Feminist researcher Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” I would add that all changes have occurred only because God allowed them---and He always has the last word.
Part One/Part Two/Part Three
Christian leaders today are asking, what is the future of Christianity in America? What will this new generation, “Generation X,” do with the faith of their fathers? “I’m looking at the data,” said Ron Luce, founder of the popular Teen Mania youth rallies, “and we’ve become post-Christian America, like post-Christian Europe. We’ve been working as hard as we know how to work — everyone in youth ministry is working hard — but we’re losing.”
The Christian portion of Generation X has its work cut out for it. It is estimated that 42% of American women will have an abortion before the age of forty-five. According to a recent census, only “49.7 percent” of American households are based upon marriage. “Co-habitation” has taken the lead as the most common “lifestyle.” Within the next few years, Generation X can choose to either uphold these statistics or do away with them.
Imagine if every female did not consider herself just physically different from males, but a uniquely feminine creation, made in the image of God with a special role. Imagine how different our society would be if women viewed themselves Biblically. Women would not be valued not as commercial items, nor as independent individuals thrown out the door at the age of eighteen to live their own lives, but as people much Beloved of God.
It is not the presidents, senators, celebrities, or national icons with whom is entrusted the opportunity to change to culture for Christ. We, the young women of Generation X, have been given the opportunity. We have the chance to conform to Biblical femininity, and in so doing, show the world that we are followers of Christ through our wholehearted obedience.
We're Not Alone
When Moses was leading the Israelites through the wilderness, he realized how dependent he was on God. "If Your Presence does not go with us,” Moses said, “do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that You are pleased with me and with Your people unless You go with us? What else will distinguish me and Your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?" (Exodus 33:15)
It is vital for us to remember, as beautiful as femininity, modesty, and purity are, these principles alone will not save society. They will impact society positively, but will fail in true bringing about true transformation. If we attempt to change the culture positively without Christ, we will be doing only what every other political and human-wellness group has done in the past. We will be approaching the symptoms of the problem, without addressing the heart of the issue.
Our hearts must first be changed, and within us must dwell a passionate desire to go only where God leads. We must be as Moses. With hearts so focused on Jesus that we obey out of love for Him and a desire for His glory, how could the culture not be changed?
Ron Luce quote: Laurie Goodstein. "Evangelicals Fear the Loss of Their Teenagers," New York Times, Oct. 6, 2006
Abortion statistics from "Citizen Link"
Marriage statistics: Sam Roberts. "To Be Married Means to Be Outnumbered," New York Times, Oct. 16, 2006
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-Ellen Willis, November 14, 1981 issue of The Nation
"Feminism...is the cutting edge of a revolution in cultural and moral values... The objective of every feminist reform, from legal abortion ... to child-care programs, is to undermine traditional family values."
"Since marriage constitutes slavery for women, it is clear that the women's movement must concentrate on attacking this institution. Freedom for women cannot be won without the abolition of marriage."
"I am woman, hear me roar/In numbers too big to ignore/And I know too much to go back an' pretend 'cause I've heard it all before... /If I have to, I can do anything/I am strong (strong)/I am invincible (invincible)/I am woman.... /With a long long way to go/Until I make my brother understand."
-"I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar" by Helen Reddy
“The utopia envisioned by ideological feminists would be a world free from any concern for gender--a world where masculinity and femininity are erased as antiquated notions, and an age in which the categories of male and female are malleable and negotiable.”We live in a culture that is saturated with feminism. In the name of equality, feminists demand gender neutrality, insisting that there is absolutely no difference between the sexes. Feminism's indignant cries in the name of justice are only shabbily-disguised attempts to forever do away with the “archaic notions” of manhood and womanhood. Chivalry is shunned, mistaken for chauvinism, and all submission to male authority is considered degrading and demeaning.
- Albert Mohler
Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them.”
God created both men and women in His own image, making us spiritually equal individuals. But He also created us with distinctly different roles. In Genesis 2:20-24, we see that God created woman to be man’s helper. In marriage especially, man was created to be the leader, and woman to be his helper.
Submit? Who, me?
"So, who do you think should be the leader in the family?" I asked.
She smiled before responding to the question. "Well, I believe in a democracy. Both the man and the woman should lead. But, you know, in many cases it depends on the man. Some men just shouldn't lead a family. Sometimes the wife is far more competent!"
My face expressed my disbelief. "But... but that's totally unbiblical!"
This view on roles within the family are very common. Many believe that submission to husbands and fathers shows weakness, but in fact, the opposite is true. Submissiveness is a beautiful virtue. Far from appearing as weakness, it shows inner strength and a spirit that trusts in God.
Colossians 3:18: “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”
Ephesians 5:22-24: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”
Ephes. 6:1, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right."
The gender roles described by God in the Bible are balanced. But since we are sinful people, these roles can be twisted. Unhealthy, controlling leadership in a husband or father is devastating to the dynamics of a Christian family. A girl or woman can mistakenly allow herself to be taken advantage of physically and emotionally by her father or husband, while thinking that she is submitting. Women in these abusive situations must seek immediate, godly counsel.
The Root of the Problem
Feminism isn't really about equality, you see. It goes down to the heart: worshipping ourselves rather than the Creator. Our hearts are naturally rebellious; we have no desire to submit to any authority. Without Christ, it is utterly impossible for us to submit to our fathers, and, one day, to our future husbands. Only when our hearts are before God, broken and humble, can we accomplish this. If we cannot first joyfully submit to the Lordship of Christ in our lives, how can we expect to joyfully submit ourselves to our earthly fathers and future spouses?
You and I may not be feminists, but we still struggle with feminist attitudes. We all have the same constant challenge: to die to ourselves daily, and live for God; to kill pride by putting others above ourselves.
Questions For Discussion
"...Two women may jump from an airplane and experience the thrilling freedom of free-falling. But there is a difference: one is encumbered by a parachute on her back and the other is free from this burden. Which person is most free? The one without the parachute feels free--even freer, since she does not feel the constraints of the parachute straps. But she is not truly free. She is in bondage to the force of gravity and to the deception that all is well because she feels unencumbered. This false sense of freedom is in fact bondage to calamity which is sure to happen after a fleeting moment of pleasure. That is the way many women (and men) today think of freedom. They judge it on the basis of immediate sensations of unrestrained license or independence.... But the mature and wise woman does not seek this freedom by bending reality to fit her desires. She seeks it by being transformed in the renewal of her desires to fit in with God's perfect will (Romans 12:2). The greatest freedom is found in being so changed by God's Spirit that you can do what you love to do and know that it conforms to the design of God and leads to life and glory."(Grudem, Wayne and John Piper. Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, pages 38-39. Crossway Books.)
A blog by three young ladies who have a desire to serve the Lord and encourage other young women around them.