Friday, April 2, 2010

well, since you brought it up... let's talk about this word "choice", shall we?

i wasn't planning on having multiple posts concerning the issue of abortion, but seeing as that seems to be all certain feminist blogs want to talk about... why not?

in all of the reading i've done in a handful of popular feminist blogs in the past few months, there are a few points that really irk me tremendously... many of them having to do with abortion. first, i suppose i should define where i stand with this argument. as discussed in my last post, i believe that abortion is simply a symptom of a greater problem: our society doesn't properly care for it's women. this is a stance that was held by first wave feminists and i must say i agree with them. i don't think the answer to abortion is making it illegal OR fighting tooth and nail to keep it legal without addressing the actual problems. firstly, men and women alike have a right to know how their bodies work, how pregnancy happens, and how to prevent pregnancy. i am not one of those Christians who is so foolish to believe that someone who does not have the same moral convictions i do, is going to act and make the same life choices that i do. people are going to have sex. period. and if you don't want them to have abortions, teach them COMPLETE sex education. while i believe abstinence is the best choice and is the choice i have made for myself, i do not expect everyone to make that choice, even if it is the only choice presented to them. people who think that abstinence-only education leads to abstinence-only teens, are excessively naive. therefore, people need to know how to protect themselves from disease and unwanted pregnancies. in addition, if a woman were truly supported by society, motherhood would be a much easier choice. now, i'm not saying that motherhood is easy by any means, particularly single-motherhood... however, many women make the choice of having an abortion because having a child would mean dropping out of school because their school doesn't provide family housing or day care options (which is also a burden for non-single mothers). One in four abortions is performed on a university student. I wonder how many of those women would have made a different choice, had more support been offered to them. plus the high cost of pre-natal care, making life a difficult choice for poorer women. not to mention all of the stigma attached to being a single mother, or even a mother with partner who is not a spouse. many attached to the pro-life movement make it a bit of a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" scenario. either you're a murderer or you're a whore. talk about choices! those are great ones, huh?
i believe abortion is wrong because i believe life does being at conception and that all life is sacred. (and before any pro-choicers who may read this try to go all crazy on me and assume me a hypocrite--i am also anti-death penalty, anti-torture and anti-war). but i am not here to condemn anyone else. even Christ didn't come to do that (John 3:16-17). i can't make anyone else's choices for them. we are creatures of free will.
now, all that said and laid out on the table, here's my issue: on these blogs, i have read attacks on women who have chosen abstinence, attacks on women who chose to put a baby up for adoption and attacks on pretty much any woman who made a choice involving her sexuality or pregnancy that didn't involve having an abortion. there are MULTIPLE articles to be found criticizing the movie Juno. one claiming that adoption is a horrible choice and many women regret it (and no one regrets having an abortion?) and one that even flat out said of the movie, "why not just have an abortion and be done with it?" these blogs and articles all call themselves pro-choice while calling pro-lifers "anti-choice" constantly. it seems to me, ladies, that the majority of "anti-choicers" are only anti one choice. you seem to be anti a lot more choices. now i read this little gem of an article, criticizing Lilith Fair for including Crisis Pregnancy Centers in their "Choose Your Charity" campaign. there was much outrage to be had concerning this, and now all of the CPCs have been pulled from the list. just because there have been CPCs who have been guilty of preventing women from obtaining contraceptive and using scare tactics to keep them from having abortions doesn't mean that every CPC does these things. Believe it or not, some women in a crisis pregnancy situation WANT to keep their baby and CPCs provide them the support they need to do that. How is that anti-woman? please, tell me. And it's not like abortion providers are totally free from controversy or scandal. isn't generalizing an entire group because of a few exactly the kind of behavior feminism seeks to eradicate? my favorite part of the article is in one of the first comments, "I wasn't aware we were using the term "abortion mill" now, but thanks for comparing babies to puppies, pro-life America!" oh wait, now it's a baby? i thought it was a non-viable, non-living fetus. isn't puppy a step up? funny how you feel free to refer to it as a baby when it's convenient for you and your argument, but deny it's inherent life value the rest of the time.
i don't have a big issue with a woman being pro-choice. i have no problem agreeing to disagree, but i expect the same kind of respect and rationale in return. don't paint all pro-lifers as anti-woman clinic bombers who sit in their bunkers waiting for Christ to return. ok? thanks. and i would also appreciate it if pro-choice sites, blogs and articles would stop trying to shame women who have made a choice different from their own. don't call me a foolish prude because i have made the (educated) decision not to have sex. don't claim that a woman giving her child to a loving family is done only because a woman feels societal pressure or was somehow blocked from an abortion and that the woman will inevitably feel deep grief over her choice. with EVERY particular choice there is SOMEONE who regrets it. people regret having sex, people regret not having sex. people regret giving their child up for adoption, but people also deeply regret their abortions (i've MET them). disagree with me all you like, but no matter the issue i do not tolerate people only telling part of the facts, outright lying or trying to scare or pressure people into a certain belief. some pro-lifers are guilty of these things but so are some pro-choicers. there are two sides to every coin.

Monday, February 8, 2010

i still don't see the big deal. sorry, ladies.

so, there has been much controversy and anger surrounding the now infamous pam and tim tebow ad that aired during the super bowl last night. i watched it, waiting for the offensive part... but after the 30 seconds were over all i could think was THAT'S IT? THAT'S WHAT PEOPLE ARE SO MAD ABOUT?

so, a few points you should know:

1. CBS lifted a policy that banned such ads and decided to air this one, even though in the past they have refused to air ads by other organizations. people are angry because they feel like CBS is supporting one issue over others.

Newsflash. we live in America. we have free speech and television networks get to choose what they do and do not air. CBS has every right, as a company who's objective is PROFIT, to air an ad they want to air or refuse to air an ad that they feel would be offensive to their particular demographic. No network is going to commit ratings suicide over the issue of "fairness." you can not like it until you're blue in the face, but forcing CBS to air an ad they don't want to, or keeping them from airing an ad that they do want to air is taking away their liberties.

2. In case you didn't see it (you can watch it on Hulu) the ad was very vague and, in fact, said nothing of abortion or Pam Tebow's choice to keep her child. It simply talked about how she worried about him during her pregnancy and even worries about him now. Many feminists are now saying that they feel like Focus on the Family "played them" to get more media attention.

Well, yes, you did kind of shoot yourselves in the foot here, didn't you? Maybe that was the plan... but I doubt it. Rather, I think they decided to purchase an ad, announced it, and then CBS required them to be vague... and you got all upset about basically nothing.

3. Planned Parenthood filmed an ad countering the Tebow ad, featuring two football players talking about how they "respect their daughters" and would "respect their choices." Many feminists constantly harp on the fact that they are not "pro-abortion" but rather "pro-choice" and do not want any of a woman's options taken from her and think that people should respect a woman's choice no matter what it is... and yet i have seen some incredibly disrespectful comments coming out of feminist columns and blogs in regards to Mrs. Tebow's choice. Saying things like they want to "punch her in the face" and "sure it was easy for you to choose to have your baby, you middle classed white lady!"

First of all, violence? really? wow. that's classy of you. Secondly, didn't the doctors tell her that her health was also at stake? so... does class really come into that? Oh hey, i've got money and i'm white, so it's ok for me to risk my life. i'm less likely to die because of all my money and whiteness, so really it's easy for me to carry this risky pregnancy to term.

All i want to say is: there are much bigger fish to fry where feminism is concerned. shut up about it already. as Mattie Brinkerhoff so eloquently put it way back in 1869, "When a man steals to satisfy hunger, we may safely conclude that there is something wrong in society - so when a woman destroys the life of her unborn child, it is an evidence that either by education or circumstances she has been greatly wronged." Abortion is a symptom of a bigger problem: women are not equals in society, society is not educating us about sex and our bodies. So, how about both sides agree to quit bickering about the legality of abortion, etc, etc and instead start talking about preventing unwanted pregnancies and making life easier for single mothers? Pro-lifers: admit that people are going to have sex and there really isn't a thing you can do about it. So, at least agree that people should be taught how to properly prevent pregnancies and diseases. You also need to realize that law or no law, women are going to have abortions. If you are thoroughly pro-life, you would also want to protect the life of a woman who may die of an illegal, botched abortion. Furthermore, if you want a single and/or young woman to keep her child, how about not calling her a whore when she does choose to do so? Pro-choicers: how about you start really respecting every choice a woman makes? I have read many pro-choice stance blogs that have looked down upon women who choose to raise their child or give it up for adoption. They speak as if the women only make this choice because they feel "pressured to." No, believe it or not, some women have serious moral issues with having an abortion. And you can talk all you want about how you had your abortion(s) and you're darn proud, but you need to admit that many women regret their abortions as well. Everybody: let's work on things like affordable health care for pregnant women, affordable child care for women who are in school or work. Let's not make it harder to say no to life, let's make it easier to say yes to it. THAT is the real issue at hand. Can we stop covering it up with all our bickering? And can we stop wasting time complaining about overly vague 30 second ads that will likely do absolutely NOTHING to change ANYONE'S mind?

Monday, January 25, 2010

why it matters: part 2; not everybody loves raymond

ok. i admit it. i don't love raymond. i have a bit of trouble appreciating a show that tells us that women are unreasonable nags and men are horny doofuses.

but you see, it's not just raymond. it's everywhere. every show, movie and advertisement telling us "the way things are" and who we all are as people according to our gender, race and economic standing.

little girls watch movies like cinderella and we dream of a handsome man coming to rescue us and we instantly fall in love (because how COULDN'T we? he's a prince!) and then we get married and live happily ever after. and then little girls grow up and we watch romantic comedies and we dream of a handsome (rich!) man coming to rescue us from our ho-hum life and he's probably totally wrong for us, but daggumit, he's cute and we want him and he makes things exciting and we want him and we want to spend the rest of our life with him! oh, and you deserve that perfect, expensive wedding! you deserve the plaza, the roses, the fondant cake and you have the right to say, "if anyone gets in my way, i will cut you! cus it's MY DAY!"

and little boys are told that if they want to be a man they have to eat big hamburgers and hunt things and play violent video games and contact sports and go sow those wild oats, boys! and some day when some crazy women with visions of wedding gowns dancing in her head finally wears you down, well, then it's best to succumb to that ball and chain and just settle down and make some kids.

well, gosh... why isn't that working out?

women see marriage as an object, a thing to be obtained because it will equal fulfillment, purpose and happiness. men see it as an obligation and burden that they must some day face. and then women have kids and get older and wonder where the wide-eyed dreamer went. and men give it all they got, because being a husband is about providing things and so they work those long hours and in the process rob their families of the things they really need.

i'm sure this all sounds like stereotype to you. and it is. but it is stereotype vehemently reinforced by the media around us. and yes, i do believe life imitates art. we watch the sitcoms on TV and we are made to think these unbalanced, unfair family dynamics are funny. and we laugh and say, "oh gosh! that's so true! women are so crazy like that! men are so stupid like that!" and we never stop to question the gravity---the danger of that situation, played out in our actual lives. we merely accept it as fate, both biological and social, and move on.

Now, I go back to marriage as a symbol, and again I ask you, is this how you want Our Christ portrayed? is this how you want your children raised? is this the life you want for yourself?

Can't we start portraying men as people of integrity? Men who protect their family, love and devote themselves to them? to spending TIME with them not just money ON them? Can't we think of and portray women as the respected, industrious, level-headed and virtuous people that scriptures like Proverbs 31 tell us they should be?

How much of our society would change if we started portraying everyone fairly? What if every child were able to grow up and watch a person on television that looks like them and talks like them but isn't simply some sort of caricature? Wouldn't we start seeing ourselves differently? I have read of and seen documentaries about the studies that show communities that didn't have television being introduced to American television suddenly have huge jumps in instances of eating disorders. This isn't just some theory, this is empirical data. What we watch effects us. It shows us a work of fiction and causes us to believe it is the standard and the norm. It isn't... and it is destroying us.

Now, I'm not saying throw out your TVs and stop watching movies. Just watch with your eyes truly open. Be aware of the subtle messages that are being sent to you. Identify them, reject them and embrace truth.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

why it matters: part 1

God is my Father. Christ is my Brother. Christ is the Groom. The Church is the Bride.

How often do we say or hear these things in our churches? We all know it to be true, but what does this really mean to us? The longer I live, the more strongly I believe that God uses the relationships we have on this earth to reveal truths about Himself. Particularly our families.

The Evangelical Church is quick to champion the cause of the family, of marriage. It's on a quest (typically through the vehicle of the Republican party--but that's a whole other blog) to preserve what is held dear and is viewed as godly. I so often hear people harping on the family, family is so important, marriage is sacred, etc. But I never hear any reasons why other than, "God wants it that way/established it that way."

Now, don't get me wrong. I think family is extremely important. I think the sanctity of marriage is extremely important. But I think we've all forgotten why. How can Christians have an impact on the world if even we don't know the reasons behind what we do and what we believe?

In the Old Testament, God established the sacrificial system and gave the Israelites very specific instructions as to which sacrifices were acceptable and how these sacrifices were to be carried out. Now, as someone who lives post Christ's birth, death and resurrection, I understand that this system was set into place to point towards the coming of Christ and the sacrifice that He would make to make a way for me to have my sins forgiven. I think most Christians would be on board with this. However, I can't help but think that those who lived before Christ must have questioned some of the instructions God gave regarding sacrifices, but I can see how God didn't make these instructions just for the heck of it---it all pointed to Christ. A male lamb, without blemish-Christ without sin. Even John points out for us that much like the lamb was not to have his bones broken, Christ's legs were not broken during His crucifixion (a common practice to bring about death sooner):

32 So the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who was crucified with Him; 33 but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. (John 19:32-33)

36 For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, "NOT A BONE OF HIM SHALL BE BROKEN." (John 19:36)

So, all along these seemingly strange instructions would all prove to be prophecies of their own, telling us, proving to us that Jesus was who He said.

Ok, so where am I going with this?

In the New Testament, over and over again, parallels and parables are made based around the likening of Christ's relationship to the Church to a husband's relationship to his wife. We are also given instruction as to what a marriage should be and what it should look like and the role each partner should play. I don't think this should be taken lightly. I think a godly marriage not only teaches us about our relationship to Christ, but also makes us look forward to Christ's return. Again, I say that I strongly believe that God uses the relationships we have on this earth to teach us things about His character. Furthermore, it comes as no surprise to me that the two ways God chooses to describe Himself (Father, Groom) are the two most broken down relationships in our society today (fatherhood, marriage). This is no mistake. This is a cleverly devised attack. It makes us unable to understand God the way we should, and keeps us from demonstrating to ourselves and other's what Christ's love really looks like.

So, what does this have to do with Christian Feminism? Good question. As a child, I grew up in a Conservative Southern Baptist environment and went on to a Conservative Southern Baptist University. In this upbringing and education, I was taught things like women must submit to men, men are the head of the church and the household, women can't be ministers or have any sort of spiritual authority over a man. In college I was even pressured again and again to get married as soon as possible and one of the speakers brought to our University even told us that good Christians should homeschool their children. The next day a friend of mine dropped out of the pre-med program she was in because a "good Christian mother" can't be a doctor AND homeschool her children. Give me a break.

The church has worked hard and has perhaps played the biggest part in establishing our society's rigid gender roles. Is this what scripture really intended? Is this how we want to portray Our Christ? A man who rules with an iron fist, has no consideration for the gifts His bride possesses or the desires she has in her heart? True, the scripture instructs women to "submit" to their husbands... but only after it gives the same instruction to all Christians to all submit to one another, putting other's needs ahead of their own, and before it calls men to love their wives so much that they would sacrifice anything (including their lives) for her. Now, I can recall hearing an awful lot about wives submitting to and obeying their husbands growing up... but I remember very little about husbands being instructed from the pulpit to serve their wives, even if it means their earthly demise. This is also not what I saw in many of the marriages around me. Rather, I saw a man who married a woman who bore him children and then dedicated her life to raising them, keeping his home and making it possible for him to pursue his dreams while totally abandoning her own, and often feeling like she had no way or no right to pursue them. And we wonder why more than 50% of Christian marriages end in divorce. We have added so many things onto the instruction for marriage that never actually exist in scripture. That's dangerous. Thank God among all of these examples, I had the example of my father, who left his job as a pastor and moved to a new state and worked as a waiter to allow my mother to pursue her dreams in publishing. My mom had put in her time as a stay-at-home mom and had worked years to support him and his dreams. She had an opportunity to pursue hers and my dad simply said, "you've sacrificed so much for me, now I will sacrifice for you." As an adult, looking back, I consider this to be the greatest thing my dad ever did. His pride took a major hit going from well-respected pastor to waiter. But he loved my mother. Of all the mistakes he made both as father and husband... he showed me that a man can put his wife first, even if it's hard for a little while. By the way, they've been married over 30 years and they have their problems, but their love is quite evident as well.

The challenge I would like to offer to the reader (whomever you are) would be to stop thinking of marriage in terms of who's in charge, who makes more money, who raises the kids, who washes the dishes, this is my job, that's your job and start thinking of it in terms of how each partner loves the other and what they are willing to do to remain true to that love and make life better for the other person.

A marriage must be a union of equals. If one partner is always striving to assert his (or her) power and authority over the other, someone is always going to be unhappy. Christ may be my leader, I am devoted to Him and I follow Him, but He would never ask me to be something other than what He created me to be, He would never want to see me live my life in a way that does not put the gifts HE GAVE ME into full use, nor would He ever call me to do something that would be harmful to my psyche or spirit. A man can lead his family while still respecting the wishes, dreams, giftings, opinions and well-being of his wife. And a wife can follow a Christ-following man only when he understands that being a leader does not make him greater or more important than those who follow him, but ultimately makes him a servant to them. The notion that one role is greater than the other, or is an excuse for one to become power hungry has led to the destruction of many a marriage, many a church and many other institutions both religious and secular.

I am 25 years old. I am not married, nor have I ever been. Recently, while talking to a married friend of mine about relationships she asked me the question, "Of all the male friends that you have, are their any of them that see you as an equal, as a true peer?" I had never thought about this question before and I stopped to think and realized that of all of the men I know... there were few, maybe even only one or two that I could say really saw me this way, without question or doubt. To be honest, as a woman who works with all men and who is friends dominantly with males... even among colleagues and friends I often feel that my opinion about something is worth less or less reliable because of my gender. I often feel that sort of "pat-on-the-head-isn't-that-cute-she-has-an-opinion" attitude. It's quite subtle, but it's there and I feel it. I have a great desire to be married, but I have no desire to join my life with a man who sees me this way. It's unfortunate that in a group of people who believe we are all made in God's image and we are all fearfully and wonderfully made to further a purpose God has chosen for us that there would still be this sentiment floating in the air like a poison. No wonder marriages are falling apart all over the place.

This matters. Equality matters. If we want to love each other as brothers and sisters in Christ and as husbands and wives in such a way that demonstrates to the world the crazy, amazing, life-changing love that Christ has for us we have to stop thinking of ourselves in terms of labels, stereotypes, assumptions and rigid roles and start thinking of ourselves as equals, selfless partners and mutual servants.

to be continued...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

the F word:please don't call it "crap"

I am a Christian. I am a feminist.

I realize this is a bit too shocking or confusing for some of you out there to wrap your head around. People often wonder, "how can that be? you can't be both. How can you be a feminist? How is that possbile?" In fact, I have even been told by a certain female in my life that I should quit talking about "all that feminist crap" because it scares off boys. It's amazing how wrapped up in that statement is precisely the reason why I am a feminist. "oh dear, don't be who God made you to be... be who men WANT you to be."

no, thanks.

so, what is feminism exactly? so glad you asked.

fem⋅i⋅nism-the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.

Interesting. i don't see any of the following words: man-hating, lesbianism,

abortion, bitter old maid and no, not even the word crap.

So, either the dictionary has been misinformed about what feminism actually is or

we have come to have a gross misunderstanding of what the movement is and

why the movement was started. And we certainly have no understanding of why the

movement is still entirely relevant and necessary today.

A feminist, no matter who she is or what she may believe, starts with the concept of equality.

You know, that crazy notion that men and women are actually equal beings who deserve

equal treatment, equal pay, equal rights, equal opportunities and that one is not actually

dominant or subordinate to the other. Where the feminist chooses to go with that and what

assumptions she chooses to make or causes she chooses to champion based on that are

entirely her own prerogative and should not be seen, necessarily, as crucial to the feminist

doctrine. There are many kinds of feminists out there and we all believe many different

things. That doesn't make any of us more or less of a feminist.

In that way, it's kind of similar to Christianity. I am a Christian. I follow Christ. I believe in

baptism by full water submersion. Another Christian may believe in sprinkling. Here we are,

both Christians, believing different things. Both believing it is our Christianity that brings us

our own understanding of baptism and yet we do not agree. Is one of us less Christian than

the other? No. (Although, I'm sure there are plenty who would argue yes... which I suppose,

in a way, further proves the point I am making).

Many people have told me that I should stop referring to myself as a feminist because of

what that makes people assume about me. To these people I say, "ok, then, stop calling

yourself a Christian, because people will assume you are a right-wing Republican, hell-bent

on the destruction of anyone who does not assimilate to your culture and beliefs. you really

should call yourself something else." In other words, I am not interested in inventing a term

to call myself that people have absolutely no reference for, for the sake of people feeling a

little more comfortable around me. Instead, I would like for people (mostly those in the

Christian church) to come to have a better understanding of feminism and how it relates

to our culture, our world and our church today.

Some of my friends say, "what are you talking about? women can i have jobs and stuff.

we're totally equals in our society. hello?" well, to you I say, "women still make less money

for the same job. politics, economics and religion are still entirely male-dominated. the media

still force-feeds us rigid gender-roles and stereotypes every day. thousands of women around

the world are forced into prostitution. women are forced to undergo painful female

circumcision and are threatened with death if they refuse. women are stoned for going out

without a male escort, etc, etc, etc. Hello? HELLO? what world do YOU live in?"

As a Christian, Christ has called me to defend those who cannot defend themselves, to seek

justice for those who have done wrong or have had wrong done to them. This is pretty clear

in the gospel. It also seems pretty clear to me that women in America and around the world

fit the description of those needing justice and needing someone to speak for them, to say

that women were also made in God's image and have a role in His perfect plan. So to you

feminist-hating Christians out there I say to you, "how can you

NOT be a feminist? How is THAT possible?"

Saturday, January 2, 2010

here we go...

so, i have finally decided to start a blog. there are so many things that i think about all the time and i don't see the point in keeping them to myself. i saw a quote today by Audre Lorde that says simply, "Your silence will not protect you," and this definitely struck me. Apparently, Lorde believed very firmly that keeping silent about issues she believed in was not helping anyone... and i have to say, I agree. i'm definitely not expecting to change the world with a blog, but mostly hoping to somehow connect with like-minded individuals and find other ways to use my voice. we will see how this goes... full entry coming.