Today is International Women’s Day which is a big thing in parts of the world like Europe. The first time I heard about this celebration was when Deb and I lived in Russia back in the mid 90s where IWD is a huge deal. The roots of this movement began in the early 1900s on the heels of the industrial revolution where women experienced great oppression and unfairness. In 1908, some 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay, and voting rights. This movement continued in other countries and the first official day of celebration was held in Austria in 1911 and followed in the US with the 19th Amendment in 1920. On this day of celebration I’m remembering some influential ladies in my life and am thankful for them, but I’m also a bit saddened at the agenda of the modern feminist movement. Is this because I’m opposed to women’s suffrage and really am a chauvinist at heart? No. Rather, it’s because I am totally for women and sense that what has arisen out of this healthy and right call for equality has now morphed into a recipe for tears. The problem that many may not grasp is the mistake of equating equality for sameness and thus a drive to purposefully remove any difference between the genders.
Yes, I believe that ladies can rise to any job or position they want and I believe that Margaret Thatcher was a perfect example of this as the first female Prime Minister of the UK. I like Maggie and her conservative politics and would have voted for her if I were a Brit. I believe in equal pay for equal labor.
This is all good, but it does not remove the differences of our gender. Only women can have babies and nurse them. Typically, most men draw their confidence from a drive for career while women usually do better at relationships. It’s also interesting that in Russia, where feminism reached its heights under Communism, that ladies are still given flowers on IWD. Interesting, as one would not normally give a man a flower on Father’s day and he’d much rather have something a little less delicate anyway. For the most part, flowers are associated with beauty and the connection is naturally made with ladies because of their gender of a softer, elegant, glorious, and more nurturing nature. Exceptions? Sure, but this does not negate the fact that in creation God made female and male as equal in value but yet different in nature. The scriptures are clear that there is indeed a difference in male and female and to fight against and deny the difference between the sexes is to deny the glory of womanhood. This is a phenomenon that the misguided efforts of feminist in the 60s and 70s and some of the post-modern Christian feminist thinkers of today have not connected the dots on. The mix up is one of thinking that if the two sexes are different that one must therefore be inferior to the other. Such is not the case in the eyes of God at all. I often point out that in creation; Eve was not merely the final act of God’s design, but the height of his master plan. I often tell people that Eve was the zenith of God’s creation. Eve brought and brings wholeness, completion, and beauty into the world. What most people just don’t see is that denying this reality will actually work against women. Maybe the best way to illustrate this is again from our time in Russia. I remember countless occasions where I would step onto the subway system and witness men sitting down while women stood. Very rarely would a man stand up and give his seat to a woman. Why, because the Soviet culture had worked very hard to remove any and all differences between the sexes. The experiment worked great and the “female of the species” had to fend for themselves just like the males with no differences at all.
On the other hand, when our differences are noted and celebrated, womanhood takes on an entirely new glory. When we all see God’s design, then even men begin to treat women with respect and honor. That’s why I still teach my boys to open doors for women and not burp at the table when ladies are present. (when it’s just us guys though they let it rip) When ladies find their worth in who they are despite whether or not they have a high power career, then they begin to shine with a mystery and glory that men simply cannot achieve. Truly there is something good about femininity which many in our modern Western Culture have lost. So some thoughts on how we can realize something better.
1. Men . . . stop being jerks. Rise to be the men that God has created you to be and then treat women with the honor and respect they deserve.
2. Ladies, don’t be afraid to be women. By that I mean to ignore the lies of culture and the evil one that says you are of less value than men. This is simply not true. Rejoice in who you are as feminine. If you want to pursue being the first female President of the United States, then go for it. Just make sure you’re on that path because God has called you to it and not out of a fight for self-worth and validation.
3. For all of us, if we’re going to live out the Kingdom of God on earth, then let’s find our value, roles, and expectations in the Word of God instead of Cosmopolitan, Hollywood, or other media outlets which ignore God; the author of both female and male.
What else would you add?
Here’s a few other resources:
-Deb’s blog post on IWD
-Recent interviews on Focus on the Family. Modern Feminism and the Gender Blur.
– ‘Manning Up’ by Kay Hymowitz: Has the Rise of Women Turned Men Into Boys?
Sam, if that is the only definition, then you’ve got me and if Michele Bachmann was the other ticket in opposition to President Obama in this past election I would have voted for her and she would have been the first Female US President. The reason why I would still reject taking on the term is because of the multitude of other un-official definitions applied to the term. I am not a Democrat (or Republican for that matter) but there are actually some things that I could agree on in the greater Democratic platform. Agreeing on a point or two does not make me a “Democrat.” I would conjecture, though maybe a long shot, that there are actually some things in the greater “Republican” platform that you would agree with, but I get the feel that you would never take the “title” Republican upon yourself. There are a number of problems in the greater “feminist” movement which would preclude me from wearing that term. I am all for advocating rights for women just like anyone else and especially celebrating women as God created them to be, but I cannot buy into everything that the greater social movement advances.
I used the illustration of the monetary value of a dollar. You have dollar bill and you have four quarters. In monetary value they are equal. In function they are different. Part of the greater post-modern feminist movement is desirous to eliminate any semblance of visible function or roles. Yes, we would all agree that women can give birth and men cannot. But there are women who don’t celebrate that distinction as something beautiful and God ordained in such a way that they glory in it. Sometimes it is merely a biological function like the animal kingdom. In addition, there are a growing number of women who have evolved into the “feminist” thinking that with modern science they don’t even need men on this one due to artificial insemination. Considering birth, I would also ad that abortion is a huge stone in the greater feminist fortress and thus a reason why I can’t accept that term for myself.
You noted that “society” advocates the elevation of one sex over the other and that was part of my main point; that the answer is to find balance in the Word of God. Even when you read something like Proverbs 31 you find a very ambitious and successful woman, but there is nothing in there to indicate she rejects the leadership of her husband in the home or chooses not to carry a beautiful spirit in the world.
As to your “specific” question, maybe I needed to be more “bulletpointish.” Though brief, I did refer to the blur in roles and point you to the last link I included in the post. I would now also point to the interviews on Focus on the Family. The interviews were of ladies and not men, who would not consider themselves “feminists” but are very successful. Yes, I have not read a book or article with the specific title, “Feminists say there is absolutely no difference between the sexes,” but the message is seen in the greater modern cultural picture of which we now live. Many of these are in area of roles which tend to easily fit one sex better than the other. Yes, there are exceptions, but many in this movement want to build everything around the exceptions and blast those who may actually like what some call “traditional” roles. Deb shortly touched on this in her post that some “feminist” leaning women in her history did just that.
PS, wow, kind of cool to get a response of “interesting post” from Sam.
Jim, I believe you have touched on a very profound point here. I alluded to it in going back to creation and the created order, but the sin point is key. Before the fall, the relationship between not only Adam and creation, but between Adam and Eve was without tension. When Satan tempted Eve and sin entered the picture, the relationship fell. So history has been this fight between male and female since then with usually male coming out on top simply because of brute strength. But before the fall, there was harmony and each served God in their divinely crafted identities. So the best way to bring healing is to go back to God’s design. We’ll get things wrong, but at least it’s a path to pursue instead of the brokenness of the world.
When God called Adam out on his sin of eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, God cursed the ground saying, “through painful toil you will eat from it.” The curse of the ground did not diminish Adam’s worth nor did it say he would not know a fruitful harvest. The curse did not say that man would not have good soil to work with or be able to cultivate a good crop. The curse just made it where he would do it through a lot of work, toil, sweat and frustration AND no matter how much work was done, there wouldl always be the thorn and thistle to contend with. How frustrating, to say the least, is the experience of tasting success in our labors and seeing the quality in who we are and what we can accomplish yet knowing it is never just a given. It will always have to be dogged by toil and hardship. I would say that is a healthy reminder of the cost of sin. I believe it is a painful reminder of how broken our choices have made this world and the philosophies that drive our societies.
Now, go back one verse to when God is calling Eve out on her choice to also sin by eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God says, “Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.” The frustated relationship we see between men and women on this issue is a consequential result of sin. If I can relate this to what transpires with Adam’s curse, this does not diminish a woman’s value or worth. The curse did not say that woman would not have good relationships with men or be able to develop a good, healthy, caring, shared responsibility, etc. marriage. It did not say women would not find success and see their full potential met in the work place, home, etc. The curse just made it where she would do it through a lot of work, toil, sweat and frustration AND no matter how much work was done, there wouldl always be the thorn and thistle of a ruling man to contend with. Again, how frustrating, to say the least, is the experience of tasting success in her labors and SEEING THE QUAILITY IN WHO GOD MADE HER TO BE and what she can accomplish yet knowing it is never just a given. It will ALWAYS have to be dogged by toil and hardship. I would say that is a healthy reminder of the cost of sin. I believe until Jesus returns it will be a painful reminder of how broken is our world and again our philosophies that drive our societies.
Ok, now shoot holes in it.
Adjective~ advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men.
Noun~ an advocate of such rights.”
Feminists do not believe in elevating one gender over another.
Our society elevates MEN over women in a clear, demonstrable and terrifying manor. You just professed that you do not agree with society’s elevation of rights for men over women in regards to political, legal, or economic rights.
That makes you a feminist.
In the same way that Abolitionists did not believe in the abolition of ALL laws, merely the ones pertaining TO slavery, feminists do not believe in the elevation of women OVER men, merely their equality WITH men. If you agree with that idea, you are a feminist. It’s what the word means.
Please ignore the negative connotation that comes with the word. It is all contrived and constructed to perpetuate a paradigm that you, to your credit, do not believe in.
The rest of your response is worthy of comment, but I need to work a 14 hour double tomorrow, so I must defer.
Thank you for such an interesting post.
P.S. I can’t help but notice, despite the length of your response, that you did not answer the only question that I asked. Where have you read or heard feminists espousing the idea that there are no differences between women and men?
Well Sam, I hate to say it . . . but I’m not a “Feminist”. Nor am I a “maleist.” (if that’s a word) I am neither pro one sex over the other and thus see no need to create a special term celebrating one over the other. Obviously there is WAY too much in this conversation to be conveyed in one blog post and that’s why I actually began it with some trepidation.
I understand that this term and movement was begun because men were jerks. But the reason why they were jerks is because they took their eye off the ball on what God’s design is. On the other hand, many in the modern “feminist” movement have done the same thing, taken their eye off the ball of God’s design. Many people attack the bible because of OT passages taken out of context and fail to realize that God and especially what is seen in the NT elevated women way beyond how their contemporary cultures treated them. Jesus spoke to women and honored women in a culture that something like that never happened. Paul clearly noted that when it comes to grace and kingdom entrance, there is neither male nor female. The Bible really does elevate women, but it also clearly brings out roles for men and women in such institutions like marriage which is probably where you and I would depart on thinking.
Egalitarianism thinking has really been made popular with many post-modern “Feminist” Christian thinkers and Ephesians 5:22-33 is probably a big launching platform for that debate. The Greek clearly indicates a choice on the part of the wife to submit, respect, and follow the lead of the husband and many folks today simply relegate that in their thinking to merely something of the first century culture. “That was then” they say and they also blow it out of proportion by joking about how this meant
(at that time of course) that the woman was unequal and “subservient” to the “dictatorial” husband. That fits neither the language nor greater context of the passage. Yet, that thinking is still their major drive to say that if we are really and truly “equal” then we cannot have a “leadership” role within the marriage and anything of such is simply old school and unenlightened and barbaric at worst. But yet I find it interesting that those who want to remove the clear teaching on this passage as a mere cultural interpretation do not honestly carry the same thought all the way down to verse 25 where the husbands are called to “love” their wives in the same way that Christ loved the Church. The Greek there is “agape” which conveys an idea of choice to sacrifice and do what’s best for the other person. In other words, the Bible clearly calls the husband to give up his life for his wife. The bible does not call the wife to make such a decision but rather to support him. Yes, the Bible calls the wife to support and willingly choose to follow her husband’s lead, but in this context, Paul spends way more time admonishing the husband on how he needs to love his wife. Peter carries that a step further and notes that if the husband is not treating his wife right then God will not listen to his prayers. It’s a big deal.
What’s interesting about this debate and the greater context is that Paul uses this relationship to illustrate the eternal relationship between Christ and the church. Christ died for us and we (both female and male) follow him.
This discussion and debate reminds me of the huge Promise Keepers movement in the 90s which seems to have plateaued in the early 2000s. I remember at the mammoth rally in Washington DC, which was much larger than the Million Man March, there were a bunch of feminists outside the Washington lawn who were protesting the program. I somewhat laughed at that and thought, “well that’s kind of stupid, what woman would not want to be married to a man who actually kept his promise?”
But why were these ladies protesting, because of the misguided idea that because these guys actually believed in Biblical roles and were now taking their responsibility seriously, that they were somehow saying that women were inferior.
Part of this discussion theologically goes back to creation where Adam (male) was created first with a purpose but yet he was incomplete. Eve, (the female) was created out of Adam and completed him. Paul, writing to Timothy actually picks up on this in part of his reasoning for male / female roles in the corporate situation. In 1 Tim 2:11-13 Paul employs a present infinitive phrase to indicate a consistent and ongoing role of teaching and having authority over other men in the church. This would be in such position as an elder or pastor depending on how people want to translate chapter three. This would be the only area where the Bible calls for male leadership outside the house. This does not mean that women cannot teach and ladies like Beth Moore, Elizabeth Elliot, and Mother Teresa are just a few examples. Biblically we have ladies like Deborah in the OT and ladies like Lydia and Phoebe in the NT. I often note to people that the very first missionary was actually the lady in John 4 that everyone ignored but Jesus. So in fact what we really need are more women serving in the church in other areas than just the nursery and praise band.
Attempting to wind this down here . . . but speaking of the blurring of gender roles, you might check out that last link I included in the original post. An emotional point for me was over the past several months as the Pentagon removed the ban on women in front lines action. Are there women who are tough enough to make that happen? I’m sure there are, but the bigger picture in our culture can logically lead to a point where my daughters would have to register for selective services. One of the articles about that time noted a female colonel, who apparently felt some inequality, stated that the drafting of women was indeed needed to shore everything up for equality.
Ok, to really close this thing down now, in my own life, I’ve freely admitted the mistakes that I’ve made by not listening to Deb’s advice on some things. A true Biblical marriage does not mean that a husband is a jerk and runs over his wife. That’s stupid. However, the scriptures are clear that the guy is charged with leading his family and the wife is charged with supporting his lead. If he’s smart, just like in any other human relationship, he knows that good leadership means that you listen of the advice to the others around you. (This would especially be true of me considering that Deb is way smarter than I am)
“I believe that ladies can rise to any job or position they want,”
“I believe in equal pay for equal labor,”
“…in creation God made female and male as equal,”
Calling the women’s movement a, “healthy and right call for equality,”
Steve Hinton, you just came out as a feminist!
Congratulations, my friend. I am proud of you. I and the rest of your family have had suspicions for a while, but now that you are out, we are all so relieved.
You are in great company. Together we can all march forward and try to make a difference together, my friend.
P.S. Never, in all my years of reading feminist literature, have I read the ridiculous argument that there is no difference between men and women. Please tell me where you have read this or seen this. I’d like to know who is saying that.