AM I A FEMINIST?
There’s been a lot of talk lately about feminism. Some celebrities have given speeches and taken public stands on this topic—this cause. Am I a feminist? Well, I guess it depends on what you mean by that. If you asked me if I was a Christian, I’d probably answer you the same way. There’s a lot of stigma attached to both labels so I’d be reticent about slapping either on my chest, depending on whose company I was keeping.
I think that’s an important part of my journey—and an important part of each of ours. We want to align ourselves with certain doctrines, methodology, organizations, denominations, causes, and view points. Maybe it’s because we want to solidify our identity—to join in with something bigger than ourselves.
The difficulty we face, is that labels often make complicated issues and realities very one-dimensional. And they leave us with people arguing on Facebook and coming to hurtful conclusions that leave others feeling misunderstood, judged, and generally alone.
The Jesus we read about—that we have come to know—is more interested in including the outcasts and in healing the sick and damaged souls around, than aligning himself with a cause. He breaks rules and blows past religious constraints to offer love, forgiveness, and better ways of thinking all the time. I think we’d be better to follow his leadership than to try to fit into any mould the world has come up with.
A little while ago, a dear friend made a thoughtless comment about women. You have to understand, he’s suffered some pretty significant damage by women in his past. Because of his experience, he is pretty strongly opposed to anything resembling his version of feminism, whatever that is. He commented that the fall of mankind and all of the dysfunction of our world exists because of women.
Normally, I would just dismiss this kind of Neanderthal, misogynistic thinking, quickly insulating myself from its hurtful intent. But this was different. This was a friend. It bothered me for weeks.
How could he blame womankind for all the pain in the world? It was ludicrous! How could he blame me?!
While I was wrestling with the question of why his comments had affected me so much, I came across a pretty graphic video of a woman undergoing a c-section. I held my breath as I watched, and when it was over, I slumped to the floor, held onto my abdomen, and cried. Hard.
Last week, I watched as my little sister gave birth to her beautiful baby girl. She was in so much pain. She was so brave.
When you give birth to a child, whether “naturally” or by c-section, you go through one of the most extraordinary and most traumatizing things a human can. You are faced with a task that is daunting, terrifying, exhilarating, excruciating—and, even surrounded by people who are there to support you and cheer you on, you are in many ways alone. It is nearly impossible to describe the terror of relentless pain and the unpredictable outcome of each delivery. Will the fight end in unbearable loss? Will I come out the other side of this valley holding a child?
A jagged scar lines my belly from our youngest daughter. Puckers and stretch marks cover and re-figure my body. I no longer fit into the mould. Insecurity and exhaustion are outweighed by the four sparkling little lives that surround me. And the one who waits for me in eternity.
We are the ones who carry and deliver life. We are the object of lust and discrimination. We are the beautiful ones. We are the despised ones. We nurture. We are abandoned. We are pitted against one another. We comprehend the intangible things in life. We are not deemed worthy to lead. For most of history, we were beaten without remorse, considered property less valuable than a cow or a son. We were violated. We were blamed. We were weak.
We were left in a field, covered in blood. Our gown was torn. And then—He came.
I believe we were all created in his image. Male and female, each bearing the resemblance of an incomprehensible God of love. From the beginning, we had an enemy who sought to tear us apart. To tear us from our maker by covering us with shame, and to turn us against one another.
I believe we are equal, and beautifully different. I believe we will always be stronger when we choose to lift one another up and honour one another’s diversity. When we defend each other against any lie that tells us we are anything less than extraordinarily important. Each one of us.
Am I a feminist? Well, I guess it depends on what you mean by that.
(Photo by Carla Jackson)