The Oppression of Women

Posted By on June 26, 2010

When I attended a chapel during my Christian university’s week of gender reconciliation chapels, I found that many of the women on the panel had begun to consider the question of whether or not they experience oppression as women in their daily lives. One woman’s comment was particularly intriguing. She said, “Before coming to this university, I’d never really even thought about the fact that I was a woman or that women were oppressed in the church.”

I was interested in what this woman had to say because of all the women on the panel, she was surprisingly the least “feminist,” while having the most reasons to hate men, after suffering through an abusive early marriage, a gang-rape, and an abduction to be a sex-slave.

She continued on to say, “Before I learned about how women are oppressed in the church, I was just happy to be saved and to serve in all sorts of ministries in the church. I didn’t think about women not being able to preach.” In other words, before coming to work at our university, and meeting the hardened feminist professors, she was rejoicing in her salvation and content to pursue serving the church in the variety of ways that were legitimately open to her as a woman.

In addition to this woman (who was only a clerk at the university), there were several female professors who sat on the panel as well. These women spoke of oppression and discrimination, but failed to give any concrete examples that I could buy into. For all their use of these words, I had to wonder if most of the female oppression that they spoke about came simply from the books they’d read.

When the women spoke of oppression, they gave examples such as their male coworkers asking if they would be staying home after they gave birth to their babies. Then they expressed their indignation at being asked the same thing by multitudes of people at church.

I’m sorry, but this is not oppression, folks! It’s an honest question, and probably something that most people would ask just to make conversation! However, the women on the panel seemed to feel that by merely asking such questions, people were making judgments about what they should be doing with their lives once they had children. I don’t think this is the case (especially in today’s world, where most mothers don’t stay home with their children), and honestly, I have to wonder if they women are just letting the guilt that they feel in leaving their children seep into the conversations they have with others.

This same goes for the way that they interact with their male co-workers. Because feminism is so popular in modern America, women seem to actually be on the lookout for oppression, and I have to wonder if a lot of the things they take as insulting or “anti-women” are caused merely by their insecurity or sensitivity to such issues. In a lot of cases—not all, of course—discrimination is found when you go looking for it.

I, personally, have never felt oppressed as a woman, and perhaps that’s why I react with surprise when other women express these kinds of feelings. I’ve never felt that being a woman was something to apologize or fight against. I’ve never envied men for the supposed “privileges” they have as males in America. I love the realm of women and femininity, and frankly, I’m glad I’m not a man. Feminists confuse me for pushing for special rights and privileges that will “liberate” them from the things that make them distinctly female. Logically, I’d think that those who promoted the cause of women would not push to make women more like men, but would whole-heartedly embrace their uniquely-female abilities, like childbearing and mothering, instead of finding ways to extricate themselves from the “burden” by promoting abortion and the like.

As I listened to the women on the panel speak, I couldn’t help but feel that they were just complaining about small, insignificant issues. As they sat discussing a joke that their male coworkers had made, my mind began to wander, and I thought of the women in China who were having abortions forced upon them, women being beaten in Iraq, and the little girls being forced into prostitution in Thailand. You know, those real kinds of female oppression and subjugation.

Yes, female oppression really does exist. It exists across the globe–as well as in America, in select cases–and it probably always will as long as we have naturally weaker bodies than men. But, I don’t think feminism (aka: pushing for our rights—which isn’t a very Christian thing to do in the first place) is the answer to the ills and grievances of women—neither physically nor emotionally. Christ is the only answer, both for the sin that causes men to hurt and oppress women, and for the emotional insecurity that women feel about their roles in society. I think Christian feminists have forgotten what Christ said about taking a supportive, background, or serving role:

“The greatest among you will be your servant.” ~Matthew 23:11

Amen.

As long as we can be servants, there is no need to become angry with God, bend Scriptures to fit the sentiments of the time, or shake our fists at the universe because we can’t be pastors or preach. Our quest to be like Christ by being a servant should be more than enough to fulfill us, and if it isn’t, we probably should be examining our hearts and minds to figure out just who we’re really working for when we push for the ability to gain recognition and more prominent roles.

This article originally appeared on Tiffany’s blog True Femininity

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About The Author

Tiffany is the oldest of two children, a 2007 homeschool graduate, and now a twenty-two-year-old college graduate. She majored in English literature and has a passion for reading, writing, and discovering God's plan for beautiful womanhood. For over a year she has been blogging at True Femininity, which chronicles all the little things in her life as she journeys towards true femininity, such as her favorite interests: homemaking, cooking, fashion, frugal living, homeschooling, and theology.

Comments

14 Responses to “The Oppression of Women”

  1. Vanessa says:

    I encountered this kind of thinking often in my college textbooks. I didn’t find it so much in the classroom, probably because there are so few men in the nursing field that no one complains about them. However, if you look at it objectively, American women really have no restrictions worth speaking of and are some of the most privileged women in the world. Modern feministic complaints are mostly bogus.

  2. The problem with arguments like this – that women don’t realize the extent of their oppression until it’s pointed out to them – is that they are the logical equivalent of sticking one’s head in the sand and pretending that, if one cannot see it, it’s not really happening.

    This is intellectually lazy and dishonest.

  3. Excellent post Tiffany and I totally agree with you. For example, a great point is when you said, “Feminists confuse me for pushing for special rights and privileges that will “liberate” them from the things that make them distinctly female. Logically, I’d think that those who promoted the cause of women would not push to make women more like men, but would whole-heartedly embrace their uniquely-female abilities, like childbearing and mothering, instead of finding ways to extricate themselves from the “burden” by promoting abortion and the like.” You’re absolutely right. There’s actually a lot of wanting it both ways. When I was a feminist (before becoming a Christian) I wanted to be soft, alluring, and feminine in order to attract a man, but at the same time I didn’t want to be tied down to any man who would tell me what to do. I wanted to be like a man – autonomous and free to do as I pleased. As a result, instead of seeing the beauty in a submitted life, where a man can care for and provide for me, I went from relationship to relationship always feeling burned when they didn’t last. I thought I was some sort of victim when, in reality, I was pushing these men away in an effort to “protect myself” from them. In other words – I perpetuated the problem and it became a self-fulfilling prophecy!

    Additionally, I appreciate that you mentioned abortion as well. I have just started a blog and my second and third posts are my abortion story. I have worked in ministry for 12 years now, leading Bible studies for post-abortive women, and if you read my story, or know of others’ stories, the lie of feminism is tighly woven into the fabric of that. My blog is at http://oilofhisgrace.blogspot.com/.

  4. zoestercoaster says:

    I have felt the hard bump of the glass ceiling that women experience in the workplace.

    Yes, women all over the world are treated much worse than here in the states, and I am not here to either refute or diminish these facts, but to assume American women are equal to men in this day and age is asinine. I’m not asking to be put ahead, or given a better chance than men; all I’m asking for is the ability to climb the ladder without hitting the ceiling if I so choose.

    And “pushing for our rights – which isn’t a very Christian thing to do in the first place” is what? Could you explain? I’m sorry, I legitimately do not understand this. Christian leaders have been at the forefront of just about every rights movement in American history.

  5. corli says:

    Thank you so much for this perspective. I live in the Third World, where oppression of women is very concrete indeed. I feel frustrated when the average North American feminist quotes the oppression of women as a motivator for their stance, because their personal stance has no relevance for the daily struggle of oppressed women here. No, I think the real motivator for them is a sense of entitlement. I wish they would wake up, stop complaining, and realize how privileged they are, and regain a sense of perspective on what oppression is.

  6. Jenn says:

    Hi ladies,

    I am a Christian, and I also consider myself a feminist. No, this does not mean I “hate men”, nor does it mean that I want to “fight against” being a woman. However, it makes me sad that so many of you think that being weak and submissive is what makes us female, and are the trademarks of a “good” woman.

    Yes, of course there is far worse oppression of women in other parts of the world, and I pray for women who are truly oppressed. It’s also true that hardcore feminists sometimes see oppression and discrimination where there is none. However, that does not mean we should just fall back and accept the discrimination that does undeniably take place right here in the United States. Women in the workforce experience REAL discrimination and sexual harassment every day, I have witnessed it and been subject to it first hand.

    Also, it makes me sad that so many of you think that being weak, frail and submissive is what makes us female, and that the role of a woman in a family is to be a “servant”. I don’t see why God would grant me all the gifts he has if my sole purpose in life was to be a servant to a man. Although I am only 19 right now, I want more than anything to someday be a wife and a mother, but I would never marry a man who thinks that it is my job to be his submissive servant. Nor am I interested in having a man “provide for me”, as I am perfectly capable of providing for myself. When I get married, my husband and I will provide for eachother.

    I respect all of your opinions, but I will never accept the idea that I am any less capable of a man to be strong and independent and to make my own decisions.

    God Bless

  7. Jenn, please read through our theme articles and FAQs before making gross generalizations and assumptions. Submission is something every human being does every day of the week. If you stop at a traffic light, that is submission. If you obey a police officer, that is submission. It has absolutely nothing to do with weakness. Servanthood also does not equal debasement. Christ came as a servant; the Holy Spirit is called the “Helper.” That woman was created for man, equally the image of God and designed to complement masculinity with God-given femininity, is a privilege–not an insult. God gifts women with talents they are to use for His glory through their own unique calling. God clearly calls men to provide for their families, shepherd their children, and lead their wives. If both are to lead all the time, you end up in a frustrated stalemate–not in equality. Egalitarianism is a myth that has been vainly pursued for centuries with sad results. I was of the same mind as you when I graduated college. I followed the siren song of religious feminism, too. It’s a dead end. Christianity is a call to submit ourselves to God’s perfect Word–not to redefine it. If we do not like this, we are free to choose another religion or no religion at all. But I urge you to reconsider and joyfully embrace the pure Word without hesitation. It is life, health, and peace.

  8. Jenn says:

    I submit to the law for the safety of myself and others. I don’t need to submit to a man to be safe and happy. As I am right now, independent and free, I am doing perfectly well. What makes a man more fit to lead than a woman? Is a man more intelligent than I am? More moral? Why do I need to be led by a man?

    I know plenty of couples, my own parents included, who see eachother as equal partners in every way and have perfectly loving, peaceful and happy marriages. The original author mentions the treatment of women in western society compared to other areas of the world, and this is because women are, more and more, being viewed as equals. This was not so in the 50′s and earlier when women were viewed as domestic servants. We were unable to make were own choices or have our own lives outside of our homes, and domestic abuse was common practice.

  9. Wow–that’s a boatload of myths you’ve got there, Jenn! Please do scoot on over to the FAQs, and I would also recommend reading Christina Hoff-Sommers and F. Carolyn Graglia to help dispel a lot of those old chestnuts about how women were only viewed as domestic servants prior to our oh-so-”enlightened” times. It just isn’t so. I’d also heartily recommend the article, “The Truth About Women That Feminists Don’t Want You to Know” at http://www.ladiesagainstfeminism.com/theme-articles/power-womanhood.

    You remind me so much of myself 16 years ago. I had the same views and thought myself very advanced. I came to see that I was really going through life with my eyes shut to history. Oppression has existed since the Fall. It has been addressed through the centuries as well–not just by feminists in our day. In fact, Christians led the way in raising the status of women as pagan cultures came under the Lordship of Christ. And oppression is not restricted to women, either. Men are also oppressed, sidelined, and marginalized. Feminism would have us wrap ourselves in a mantle of victimhood in the name of “freedom,” but it really doesn’t work. Human rights? We’re all for them. So is Christ, because all are made in His image and have inherent worth and dignity.

    Please do read our other articles about submission and headship. It has nothing to do with one person being “inferior” to or less intelligent than the other. God created woman to be the perfect complement to the man–the two making up the whole of humanity as male and female. Man is not complete without woman. God said it was “not good” when Adam stood before Him alone. Only when Eve was brought into the world was everything declared “very good.” In our complementary roles, as we build on each other’s strengths and help each other in our weaknesses, we find wholeness and unity. What delivers woman from oppression is this truth–that woman is created in the image of God and is the glory of mankind (Paul’s words). It isn’t some enlightenment philosophy that delivers woman. Paganism always puts women down and oppresses them. What we see in other countries is spiritual bondage and its outworkings. The answer isn’t some egalitarian pipe dream. The answer is Christ and His perfect Word. Grace enables us to grasp it and find wholeness again.

    Grab How Christianity Changed the World by Alvin Schmidt for a thorough discussion of how Christian teaching has elevated the status of women wherever it has gone. Pick up a copy of Christine Pohl’s Making Room for a beautiful description of women’s roles in the Church throughout history to see the power we have in Christ to significantly impact culture for generations…or to destroy it.

    There’s so much to learn when we get our heads out of our own cultural sand and study history without the blinders of “women’s studies” or “gender-neutral” tags stuck all over everything. Femininity is a gift. It is different from masculinity. That is a good thing; not something we should seek to escape. Keep reading! :)

  10. Liedeke_B says:

    You’ve managed to describe the most harmful characteristics of any cultural movement. The first is complaint as a way of distinguishing yourself, the creation of a common enemy, perhaps to detract attention from the absence of a legitimate purpose. The second is the notion that equality means uniformity, and that since we are all of equal ‘worth’ we should all be the same. Ludicrous, really. I thank you for your patience in countering this notion.

    Although I do not believe in a god and I have some distincly feminist tendencies, I’m charmed by this post and the responses. Mrs. McLeod, I’d love to get my eyes on those studies you mention, since the studies I read (admittedly, ten years ago…) indicated that abuse is more likely to occur in (semi) closed or guarded communities, including those with a Christian religion.

    ~Liedeke_B

  11. honestthinker says:

    I understand what you’re saying, really I do. But I think you’re sort of missing the point of feminism. Feminists aren’t trying to escape feminity. They’re just trying to make the world an equal place – so that women aren’t forced (economically, politically, socially) to get married, stay home, and have children. They can if they want to – but feminists want to ensure that women are empowered to have the choice not to. It’s all about giving women freedom.

    Also, you say that you’ve never felt oppressed in American society – okay, that’s fine. How you feel is how you feel. But I really don’t think it’s fair to assume that women in America – across race and class borders – generally aren’t victims of a patriarchal culture. I mean, think about something as prevelant as the ad industry and the impact it has on women’s body image. It’s an entire industy dependent upon making people (especially women) feel like they’re not good enough just the way they are. You’re skin doesn’t look like this model’s – buy this makeup. You aren’t as skinny as this model – buy these diet pills. You have cellulite – buy this firming lotion. I mean, it’s an entire culture predicated on making women feel crappy. And guess who overwhelmingly are the CEO’s of these companies? Men. Feminism wants women to realize that they don’t have to wear makeup, or loose weight, or use firming lotion – they can if they want to, but they shouldn’t feel yucky or ugly or unwanted because they don’t. Those are real problems that are impacting millions of American women (75% of women are unhappy with their bodies) – not to mention the millions of others suffering from disordered eating patterns and eating disorders. I don’t think American female oppression is as select as you make it out to be. And by ignoring cases of opression – or as you say not going out to look for it – we’re just enabling an unequal society to continue to exist.

  12. Mrs. Eva H. says:

    Honestthinker,

    I really appreciate the courteousness of your reply. Not everyone who disagrees with this article is as polite. I do however think that you overstate the oppression of women, for two reasons.
    First of all, I agree with you that it is absolutely lamentable that women are stereotyped and objectified in the commercial world. But is that worse than the objectification and stereotyping of men in say.. popular sitcoms? Think of Brock in Reba. Think of Jim in According to Jim.
    Or if you wish to think of commercials. Do we take offense on the general stupidity that is portrayed by so many men in commercials? While women might be portrayed as self indulgent and overly pretty, men are generally portrayed as .. well… stupid. Consider the streak free Windex commercial and many others. I challenge you to try and find commercials in which men outsmart women.
    I can think of only one current sitcom with smarter men then women and that would be the Big Bang. And even there, while our ‘nerds’ might be the intelectual ones, they are socially ackward and frequently put in their place by the slightly dimb but at least life smart woman.

    Would I prefer it that they didn’t try to market items to us by creating a false strife between men and women which makes us gniffle over the failings of the other? Men indulgently nodding at shopaholic, gossiping vain women and women over dumb men, certainly. But advertisement agencies just try to use our weaknesses against us, men just as much as women.

    Another argument you bring up is that fewer women than men are CEO’s. I do not disagree with your numbers. I believe that there definitely are less women than men in what is called the higher eschelon’s of bussiness. My mother having been an area manager for Easter Europe of a large global firm, I have some insight though in what is required to achieve that type of job, and the majority of women just does not wish to give up that much of their lives to a job.
    Quite often people say that there are less women in those higher paid functions because women want to have children and there are not enough accomodations for women with children in the workplace, like longer payed maternity leave for example, or more flexibility to stay home when the children are sick. But would it be fair to have two different standards of performance for CEO’s? One for women and one for men, just because we want equal numbers?
    There is a difference between equal opportunity, which we have, and equal outcome.
    I have seen it often in Europe where they did everything to get more girls in previously male oriented directions in school, including these directions in schools that had more girls, quota’s and everything. Thirty years later, they have to accept that it is just not going to happen because… girls are not interested. Of course there are a few that are, and it is great that they have the opportunity, but there is no need to pretend that they are not exceptions. And there is no need to take offense to the fact that they are exceptions.

  13. “thinker,” please read our Theme Articles and the FAQs, as the things you bring up here are already addressed there. You do not need feminism to encourage women to accept their bodies, reject materialism, or overcome eating disorders. You need basic human rights, as both men and women are created in the image of God and therefore have intrinsic worth and value. Putting women over men isn’t the answer. Men are oppressed in this world, too. The answer isn’t “masculinism.” Please do take the time to read the FAQs! Warmly, Jennie Chancey

  14. honestthinker says:

    Okay, so I read your Theme Article on “You Don’t Know Feminism,” and I do think you make some good arguements. The feminist movement historically has advocated for a lot of radical things. And like you said, it’s not fair to lump all feminists together, just like it’s not fair to treat all women as a cohesive unit. I suppose the issue that I have, then, is that I don’t think it’s really accurate of you to say that you are “against feminism.” You nor I can even truly define what feminism is. And the dictionary definiton solely talks about the achievement of social, economic, and political equality. Perhaps you are against “radical marxist feminism,” or the errosion of the nuclear family, or sexual promescuity, or the demonization of the housewife, or one of a number of the things mentioned by the authors you quoted in that post. But I think to say you are “against feminism” is a bit of a slap in the face to all those women who consider themselves feminist, but also don’t think we should live in a Marxist society or belittle every housewife out there (which I would wager is the majority of people who today consider themselves feminist).

    I also think that in terms of understanding why the phrase “Ladies Against Feminism” upsets so many people, it is important to note that the intuitive modern definition of feminism is a belief in the equality of the genders. That is pretty much the base-line requirement to be a feminist. Just as the basic requirement to be a Christian is to believe in Jesus Christ. If you say you’re not a Christian, the immediate assumption is that you don’t believe in Christ. If you say you’re not a feminist, the immediate assumption is that you don’t believe in equality. And I suppose it is hard for most people to understand why someone wouldn’t believe in equality – especially when one considers how hard women have worked to achieve the equality that we have.

    Also, in regards to your last post, generally accepted third wave feminist theory does not advocate for “putting women over men.” It’s truly all about equality – but I feel that point has already been made. To me it seems that believing in equal human rights for all (men and women) does not contradict feminism, but rather compliments it.

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