What is feminism? Was it just a movement of hippies fighting for a woman’s right to work several decades ago? If you’re like me, you’ve never thought much about it. But our month-long conversation about God’s definition of my femininity has led me to revisit the subject. Maybe it wasn’t just a political movement that happened when my mom was a teenager. Maybe it has impacted the way I view myself and function in the world. And maybe, just maybe that impact has been largely negative.
I decided to ask an expert. So I asked Carolyn McCulley for her two cents. Carolyn is the author of Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World. She’s also the gal in the video on the history of feminism that we posted yesterday.
Her insights on the feminist movement are thought-provoking and challenging. Take a look.
Erin: What is feminism?
Carolyn: Feminism is a broad movement with lots of variations in theories and approaches. In the United States, it has occurred in three waves over the past 200 years. At first glance, it seems feminism seeks equality for women with men, a goal that Christians should embrace as it is a theme found on page one of the Bible. But nearly all feminist leaders over the centuries have had an overt anti-Christian stance. They seek independence from God and the authority of the Bible, which at its heart is what we all seek in our sinfulness. Therefore we should never have an "us vs. them" idea of feminism—the seeds of feminism lie in all of our hearts. Rather, those of us who know Jesus should marvel that we are objects of mercy and we should therefore seek to reach out to those who disagree with the Bible.
Erin: What have been the spiritual implications of this movement on young women’s lives?
Carolyn: In all three waves of feminism, there has been an open rejection of the God of the Bible and a clear embrace of atheism or paganism.
Erin: Specifically, how does the feminist ideology contrast with God’s vision for womanhood?
Carolyn: The Bible values the influence of what I call the "private sphere"—the non-commercial place where relationships are nurtured and the community is impacted for Christ. It also values the role and worth of mothers, commending those who are wise to pass on the Gospel, and the influence of a godly wife. Feminists have widely and openly disdained the private sphere (the home, which is much more than a structure) and the roles of wives and mothers.
Erin: As you encounter young women through your ministry, what have been the consequences of buying into the culture’s view of womanhood that you have consistently seen in their lives?
Carolyn: I’m most concerned for young women who are greatly affected by the female raunch culture, immodesty, and sexual aggressiveness of the pro-porn third wave of feminism—and who have no idea that they are boiling away in the proverbial pot of hot water. Third wave feminism does not have the high political profile of the second wave—the women’s liberation time-period—but it has had a pronounced impact on the relationships between men and women and the rise of the porn culture we live in.
What do you think? Is feminism linked to secularism? Is the feminist mindset dangerous to young women? What are some practical ways that we, as Christians, can reach out to others who don’t agree with us on this issue?
Note: Be sure to check back tomorrow for the second half of my interview with Carolyn.