The word “feminist” sometimes frightens people. It really shouldn’t. Sometimes people automatically link the word with the more extreme examples coming from the Third Wave Feminists of the 1980s. The picture black and white photos of Hilary Clinton and Gloria Steinem, their faces full of rage–angry women who seemed to hate men while striving for some kind of lesbian utopia where men were relegated to lives on the sidelines serving us.
This is not true for all of us. I love men, I do! Especially the four men I’m closest to–my hubby, my kid and my nephew and, oh yes–Jesus. So don’t lump us all in with these radicals. I’m not. I am, however, radical for Jesus.
While some of these women did come across as men-haters, I think that their abrasiveness was less militant and more frustration from the ages-long suppression of their ideas and voice. One such feminist I’ve come to admire from this period is Gloria Anzaldúa. I studied her writings, and was particularly struck by her books This Bridge Called My Back and Borderlands.
When I began reading Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/ La Frontera: The New Mestiza, I initially thought it interesting reading but not so relevant to me. What do I have in common with women who live on the border, in no man’s land, with no real place to call home? What connection do I have with their struggle? It sounds like a bloody, hard-fought fight, and one that is not nearly over. Even their version of God and heaven excludes them. I have a home. I have a family. I have an education and history. My God accepts me, and even longs for me.
Still, I sometimes felt the discord between feminism and Christianity. How could I be both Christian and feminist? Was this possible?
Yes. Sarah Bessey, in her book Jesus Feminist, writes:
At the core, feminism simply consists of the radical notion that women are people, too. Feminism only means we champion the dignity, rights, responsibilities, and glories of women as equal in importance— not greater than, but certainly not less than— to those of men, and we refuse discrimination against women. 4 Several years ago, when I began to refer to myself as a feminist, a few Christians raised their eyebrows and asked, “What kind of feminist exactly?” Off the top of my head, I laughed and said, “Oh, a Jesus feminist!” It stuck, in a cheeky sort of way, and now I call myself a Jesus feminist because to me, the qualifier means I am a feminist precisely because of my lifelong commitment to Jesus and his Way.
Does Jesus, at any point, tell women to shut up? Does he shame them, discard them, tell them to find their place?
In fact, Jesus is kind of a feminist Himself.