Updated on July 6, 2017
Updated on July 6, 2017
I am a Christ follower, Jesus lover, equal rights supporter, human defender, all in one package. It’s something I sum up by claiming the label of feminist right along with Christian.
I believe in the equality of the sexes which makes me a feminist. (Shudder.) I believe women should be valued no less and no more than men. People of every gender, race, nationality, and ethnicity should be valued equally. Let’s be clear, people are not equally valued if they are not treated with the same dignity and allowed the same opportunities as others. So when a women or person of color is paid less or not given appropriate justice, that screams “you are not valued as much as the white male!”
There will be many Christians who disagree with me. Go ahead and cling to your theological beliefs and single verse-out-of-context ways. At the end of the day, the Bible is clear that God loves all people. God determined the value of each human when he DIED for each and every person. He declared what we were all worth, the very life of God. Everyone, not just men or white people or able bodied people. Everyone. This is all I need to know to come to many of the same conclusions as “a crazy liberal feminist”.
The world tries to convince us of something else though. God tells me I have just as much value as men. The world tells me I’m worth on average 18% less than any white man. If I were a woman of color, the world would bump that down to 46% less than any white man. This is in direct opposition to what God says about our value.
The world would like to say that when injustice is perpetrated against me that the perpetrator may only get 3 months in jail (cough Brock Turner cough). God demands justice, that we all pay dearly for our crimes. He is kind and good and loving to offer his son to take on the punishment of our crime. But justice must be served. The world makes attempts at justice, but it is often not enough. Especially when sexually attacking and violating a person isn’t treated as worse than defacing the Hollywood sign (6 months in jail vs. Brock Turner’s 3).
How is it people who don’t believe in the Bible or God can see the world is wrong, but many Christians would say it is fine? (“Women have rights already”, “She shouldn’t have been wearing that short skirt”, “There’s no more racism”, “Ya’ll need to stop complaining and respect America”.) The Bible is clear that the world is not fine! Our culture is broken, our justice inadequate and unfair, our lives devalued, and our person-hood attacked. If you agree the world is broken (sin, it’s called sin), then the logical conclusion is inequality is very real. We are not living in a post-race society. Women do not yet have complete equal rights. In light of this being a feminist makes sense.
I could give you all the facts and statistics in the world to show women are not as equally valued and appreciated as men. But apparently many do not care about facts, about truth. They care about feeling blamed, falsely accused, or maybe even feeling some guilt, and so choose to deny what is reality for 51% of America. I could give you those statistics. I won’t. You can look them up yourself. Instead, let me tell you a few stories.
(Names and a few details have been changed for privacy. Otherwise, this is all very real.)
Kelly interviewed with the CEO of a company. Despite her nerves, she stayed confident and likable. They went through her qualifications. She had a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern in Accounting. She nailed the interview and had to be hired. On her way out, a young man went in to interview. She could have been worried, but there were multiple positions open. The company offered Kelly an Admin Assistant position. While not ideal, she considered it a way to get her foot in the door.
Kelly saw the same young man from her interview day at her orientation. The company hired him as a Junior Accountant to one day take over numerous high profile accounts. Kelly thought given time and loyalty she could have that same path. So, she worked as an admin assistant who reported to senior assistants. It wasn’t long till she discovered the young man not only had a bachelor’s degree in accounting, but had also graduated from Northwestern. Their GPAs were near identical. After three years staying a low level Admin Assistant while the young man had already taken on some high level accounts, Kelly found a different company.
Asia walked along the street, the mid-day sun beaming on her face. Spring had arrived. Work had been hard this past week so a beautiful Saturday turned into the perfect remedy. She made her way down the city streets, people nodding to her and dogs sniffing her shoes. A coffee sounded delicious. She turned down a street toward her new destination. A man’s voice carried up to her. “Shake that ass, honey!” Asia ignored it as she had done many times before. Ignoring it may be safer but it didn’t take away the mortification or humiliation. Her face burned with it. She clutched her purse tighter.
Steps grew louder from behind. They fell too fast, too close. She turned her head to see who was coming up behind her. A large hand slapped her butt and grabbed. She whipped her head back around to watch the man run down the sidewalk and turned down an intersection. Another man across the street simply shook his head. Asia’s heart thumped in her chest. Her face turned redder. She pictured chasing him down and punching him as she continued on to the cafe. She didn’t feel safe until she locked her door behind at home two hours later.
Nicole didn’t feel comfortable walking home alone. Too many of her friends had told her stories that convinced her to never take the chance. She found herself as one of the last people at this campus library before close. She texted a few friends to see if any of them were around to walk her home. Her friend Ryan ended up being close by in another building. He offered to meet her outside and get her home safe. They talked about their upcoming finals and all the stress that came with that week. Eventually they found themselves in front of her door.
Nicole offered him some coffee inside as a thank you. While many could assume this to be strange at night or full of innuendo, she knew he would be pulling an all night-er to study. Ten minutes later they were drinking coffee on her couch talking about their least favorite professors. Twenty minutes later Ryan raped Nicole on her own couch. Maybe no one was home in her neighbor’s duplex to hear her cries for help. Maybe if she hadn’t felt the pressure to be nice in return for his kind act. And maybe if she hadn’t trusted someone she had known for years. Either way, she had been raped. Either way, she saw her attacker in her friend group two days later. It would be a few years before she had the courage to tell anyone what happened that horror-filled night.
Valeria clenched her fists. She didn’t even know why they were arguing anymore. Maybe it had been building for a while. Who knows? Trevor made another sarcastic comment. She threw it back in his face. Eventually they calmed down enough to talk it through. “You’re just not thinking about this logically,” he said. “What do you mean?” she asked. “You’re all more emotional and men are more logical is all.” “You mean I can’t be logical because I’m a woman?” “No, just that it’s harder for you is all.”
The next day she talked it through with her close friends. “Well, we are more emotional,” Tara said. Isabel piped in with, “True. It’s just hard for us to keep it all bottled up.” Valeria couldn’t believe it. She knew Trevor wasn’t more logical just because he was a man. In fact, she often planned more and made fewer changes due to “how she felt”. They talked about it later that night. He insisted again she was not as logical as him because he was a man. Valeria logically made a pro and con list and ended their relationship two weeks later.
One of these stories is my own. I’ll leave you to decide which one. The other stories are firsthand accounts from women I know personally. The point is that regardless of what has happened to me, my world is one where being a woman is a disadvantage. My world is one where yelling “help, fire!” will save my live more than “help, rape!” ever will. Whatever happened to my friends, their world is filled with prejudice and violence because they have vaginas. Justice is a distant hope saved for Kingdom Come, peace a reality only in prayer, freedom a marker of heaven the church often denies. I’m okay with claiming to be a lover of Christ with the label of Christian. I am equally okay with claiming to care about equality of all people with the label of feminist.
While the world will always be a bit broken until Jesus returns, he also taught us to pray “Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” Matthew 6:10. The world becoming like God’s Kingdom is the goal. It can happen now in pieces, step by praying step. It can arrive around us right now, action by chosen action. I fight for freedom, for women to be empowered, for men to be freed from their own gender constraints, for the King to reign in our lives and the Kingdom to be a reality for us all. I am a Christian feminist.