Monday, July 06, 2015

The Accidental Feminist, by Courtney Reissing : Part I

When I saw the title The Accidental Feminist: Restoring Our Delight in God's Good Design I knew I had to read the book. Now, how to write about it is the question.

Each time I've mentioned that I'm reading this book, eyebrows go up. People tense up. What on earth is the book going to say? The world "feminist" is not a neutral word; it produces internal responses which causes people to visibly react. I would venture to say that it is not a "calm" topic. This is a book that is going to ruffle feathers no matter which way you look at it. Of course, books like these tend to make some of the most interesting reads if you feel like diving on in.

Before I launch into telling you about The Accidental Feminist and what I thought about it though I'm going to tell you why I was interested in reading it in the first place. Because I tend to be long-winded (heh), I'm going to break up my "review" of this book into two parts. First I have to introduce myself on this topic before I can talk about the book.

In the social circles which I was raised, "feminist" was a bad word. It was a label for a woman who was not content to stay at home and who wasn't interested in allowing other women to choose home for themselves. It represented a "rabid female", eager to declare herself better than a man. Truthfully, I've always found the title of "feminist" rather ridiculous. It's a label which I've observed prevents freedom of speech and freedom of expression and quite usually shuts down conversation. I believe that they are striving for the opposite effect but the "bully/badger" approach just tends to shut down conversation instead of open it up. Feminists all seemed to possess a certain attitude of pride which made their message hard for me to hear. Frequently I would also hear strains of bitterness in their message which I found wholly unattractive. While I might agree that some of the things that feminist have striven for over the years is helpful (e.g., equal pay), the manner in which they typically choose to communicate is something I personally find to be distasteful.

I've never had the belief that I couldn't do anything I wanted to do. Even as a child I believed the world to be my oyster. My parents never left me with the impression that I lacked choice. I've always been at liberty to choose for myself the profession I wished. I chose the home front early on and I choose it still. I would rather be at home, nurturing a family (i.e., being a mom) than anything else I can dream up. I'm completely satisfied with this. So, as I say, growing up I just tended to ignore the arguments.

It wasn't until I became a mom that I really paid any attention to the feminist mindset at all. The only reason I began taking note was because when people would ask me what I did for a living, I'd get despairing looks that said to me, "Can't you think of ANYthing more glamorous than that!?" The answer is always, "Yes, I can think of a lot of things more glamorous than being a mom. But none so important."

Here is where you need to know a few specific things about me:

1. I am filled with self-confidence and seldom (if ever) second guess my role in this world. I'm the type that tends to know what I want in life and have no troubles pursuing whatever it is.

2. Typically I don't care much when someone disagrees with me. That's their problem and only sometimes mine. I'm not the type that tends to bow to social pressures.

3. I care more about doing the right thing - whatever that is - than I do about making people happy. I understand that I will sometimes make people angry with me and I accept that. Read carefully: "doing the right thing" is NOT always easy or fun. I would never make such a claim. What I said was that I'm capable of doing right even when it hurts.

A few years have gone by since I became a mother and recently I've noticed that several people in my Christian social circle have begun making a bigger deal about the rights and roles of women. There has been a lot of drum beating going on specifically as relates to the idea that females should not be limited by the expectations of others. "Don't put me in a box" is something that I'm beginning to hear.  That or "I'm a mighty girl!" (Am I the only one who finds it ironic that the words "mighty girl" usually accompany some image of a baby girl smiling into the camera. It's always an adorable baby girl. Mighty? Well...) I find myself looking on with much the same attitude that I had when I was younger.

To me, these modern Christian women's words very much feel like wasted breath. It feels like they are arguing for the sake of argument and not because anything is particularly effecting their ability to pursue that which God has called them to individually. What it boils down to for me is that I believe men and women are each made in the image of God, to showcase His glory here on earth. We each of us have different gifts and talents and we will each of us look different from one another (on purpose). I'm more of a "heads down and let's get this job done" type of person and the idea of arguing that everyone needs to watch me go and do my "mighty woman thing" (whatever that might be) seems a bit ludicrous and, well, silly. I also find it silly to think that my fellow females would make me or a group of men watch them go do their thing, whatever it is. It seems like misplaced energy in a variety of ways. I think we ought to spend more time supporting each other in the work we are called to rather than nitpicking through the differences.

Now I know (because I'm friends with many of you) that some of my friends will be immediately disgruntled with my personal take on the subject of "feminism." I can already hear people arguing about equal pay and fair treatment in the workplace. I'll address some of that (but not much) in Part II. For now I'll simply leave it at the fact that I'm for equal pay and polite treatment of both men and women in the workplace. I'll tell you that of all the arguments I've heard for "feminists" the one I most like is Emma Watson's He for She movement. The reason I liked it is because it's the first time I've ever heard a female explain (in a respectful manner) that men are being hurt by the feminist movement and we need to encourage men to be men. I think she speaks truth when she says so. (I think she also speaks a lot of untruth. Pay close attention to what I said of her speech: I said that it's the speech/argument about what feminism is or isn't that I've liked best.) Men are being beaten down, crushed, despised and rejected with all of the arguments about women being the same or better than. Women aren't better than. And we aren't at all the same as the men. We are equal but neither sex is better than the other.

To reiterate my position, it is now and ever shall be that both men and women were made in the image of God. Both sexes are image bearers. We each have a role to play on this earth and we each of us are made to bring God glory. How we do that looks different from male to male, female to male, and/or female to female. We each of us have gifts and talents which we've been given to use.  I think we should focus more on encouraging each person to actually go out and do that which they are gifted to do. And if you are doing for the glory of God, then there becomes less and less to worry about between the sexesand more and more to delight in. Some will call my opinion naive. They will be the kind ones. Some of you will wish to speak more harshly. I don't know that I can stop you but it would be nice if you'd be polite if you should choose to respond.

Bottom line: I believe that the differences between men and women ought to be rejoiced in as we each go forth and do all that God has called us to. The only thing I really can't tolerate in all of this is lazy, foolish boasting.

Men, be men!

Women, be women!

Do everything you do without complaining, grumbling, and arguing!

Do everything you do for the glory of the Lord!

In all of this, I believe contentment is to be found.


Barbara H. said...

I did catch another review of this- I can't remember where - and was pleasantly surprised. As you say, the word "feminist" stirs up a lot of thoughts and feelings for those on any side of it, so I wasn't sure what to expect of a book with that title and was just waiting to hear about it from you. :-)

I had not heard of the "might woman" push - interesting!

Agree very much that men and women are both made in the image of God, equal in value and importance but with different roles. I toyed with ideas of various professions as I grew up, but above all else I wanted to be a wife and mom, and I've been so thankful That God gave me that as my primary ministry.

FancyHorse said...

Amen, sister! We are all created in God's image, male and female, He created us. He created us to work together for His glory, not in competition with each other.

Sky said...

I like poking the bear saying that I am anti feminist because I am pro woman. 😁
God gave us roles and He gave us individuality.
Be you, do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you, cause He made you!!

Taia said...

Great post. Many/most roles are neither masculine nor feminine. A great frustration for me growing up in the church is the desire to have particular tasks/roles (paying bills, cooking, lawn mowing, laundry, auto maintenance, studying language, studying math) considered masculine or feminine. While people will have different preferences and skills, both men and women need to do what needs to be done. My Dad is taking care of my Mom during her end stage cancer. Caregiving has not historically been his role, but he can and is doing it, to the glory of God.

Shonya said...

I'm emitting a hearty "Amen" to your main points through giggles over your self-description. :D

And I also agree with Sky as I think many feminists are hurting women. But I won't hijack your post. :)

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