Today is International Women’s Day, an annual celebration falling on 8th March and dating back to the early 1900s when women campaigned for the right to vote and receive equal pay. Equality continues to be a hot topic today, especially for those who are aware of how far the pendulum still needs to swing, to enable many women to gain equal rights.
The terrible truth is that many consider this almost done and dusted. But a simple examination of statistics show that we are a long way from considering it accomplished. A video was created for last year’s International Women’s Day, featuring a famous face and a powerful message:
Equality for women and the topic of Feminism within Christianity is something I have written on a lot. One of my most commented posts was on this top and can be read here: “Christian Feminism Is Not An Oxymoron”
The definition of feminism that I embrace is that post is as follows: “Feminism: a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing and defending equal political, economic, social rights and equal opportunities for women.”
Personally I find that 100% compatible with my Christian faith and my reading of Jesus’ behaviour in the Gospels. In fact, based on that definition (and only that definition) I feel comfortable saying ‘Jesus was a feminist’.
Some have taken the term ‘feminism’ and created angry and bitter versions of it. Clearly that is not compatible with an orthodox understanding of Christianity. But in it’s truest form, feminism is simply a quest for equality – something very much on the heart of God, when He created us in His image, as equals.
Using this kind of definition, feminism is not something limited to women only. Men can be feminists if they believe in and seek the equal value and treatment of women. So it’s not exclusive.
Some would say the term has too much baggage to be used and understood in a Christian context. They argue that it simply creates too much division and misunderstanding. But what about all the other terms we use that have become laden with baggage and negative overtones for some people? Should we throw out the word ‘Christian’ just because some people have given it a bad name? Or what about terms like Evangelical; should everyone reject those definitions because some have given them a host of negative associations?
I don’t think so. I believe that language always becomes tired, over-used and in need of resurrection. Perhaps feminism is a term that Christians could dust down, re-examine and embrace. In it’s purest sense it is a quest for women to be treated equally. The more angry, shrill associations it carries are only expressions of this goal. We can use a term without needing to replicate all the behaviours of others who have walked under its banner. We can redefine what it looks like to express feminism as a position and a passion.