I am (still) not a feminist

by Anna Blanch on March 8, 2013

In honour of International Women’s Day, 2013.

I am (still) not a feminist,  but I am a Christian who believes that our world needs a serious shake up.

I am still not a feminist, but I’ll defend your right to be one and to call yourself one.

We still need to raise awareness through discussions like FemFest and global campaigns like 16 Days of Action.

We need to talk about Feminism(s) and we need to talk about (not) feminism.

There is always a danger in defining yourself by what you are not. But, in doing so, I also define myself by where I stand.

I do not believe that defeating oppression, tearing down systemic misogyny, racism, sexism can happen apart from Christ, but I believe that with Christ it can and should happen. I like satire, but I don’t believe it is funny or satirical to make jokes which reinforce the stereotypes or which demean women  (Oscars and Seth McFarlane I’m looking at you). I also don’t believe that you are anything less because you are a women who wasn’t offended. And before someone suggests that I lighten up a little, let me say that I don’t want to be desensitised to that which says it is okay to demean, to degrade, or to make fun of women, or people of faiths different to my own, or someone’s sexual orientation.

I believe that all people should have the right to education, and that women should never be prevented from accessing education because of their gender. While ever there are places in the world where this occurs I will continue to speak and act in anyway I can to bring awareness to this systemic oppression.

I don’t believe I need to refer to myself as a feminist. I believe I can do so as a Christian and hold my head high. I don’t think this means the word or label doesn’t have value, just that I am free not to take it for my own and I would prefer if others didn’t give it to me.

But it is hard – when I see women being treated with a lack of respect because they are women (or at least not men), I understand why the label of feminism is attractive. There is a solace in being able to describe a desire for equality with a single word. Yet, I desire that equality too, seeing it as given by God. In one sense, I want the equality to exist that the label – feminist – might not be necessary to describe so basic a civil, moral, and social set of values. I would hope that those who do describe themselves as feminists would acknowledge my right not to take on the label.

I value my friends who do assume the label for themselves. I respect their opinion and right to do so. And, I do that not because I secretly want it too, but because I believe that it is God who has made me woman and ordained that “there is neither slave nor free, male nor female, all are equal in the sight of the Lord.” I believe that oppressive power structures should be broken down, that we should stand up to abuse and mistreatment. I believe that Jesus Christ demonstrated, both in his treatment of women and in his teachings, that the marginalisation of women is not something to perpetuate.

We should share when we are offended by someone else. But, let’s be genuine in our expression of that offence – the greatest danger cultural and community equality faces is that we are not authentic about when we are hurt or offended.   Let us not dismiss another’s hurt as being ‘too sensitive’ and let us defend each other when we think differently.

Today is international women’s day – and there is still much to be done. There are extraordinary women around the world doing extraordinary works in homes, businesses, communities, governments, war zones, laundry rooms, kitchens, boardrooms, construction sites and studios. Let us encourage each other and spur one another on to love and good deeds.

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