Posted By Tiffany 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
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