Written By Ali Cleveland
Within the Christian community, the f-word is dirtier than any swear that could be muttered. Identifying as a feminist often causes shame and disgrace from members of the community and church. Ignorance has caused it to be seen as a sin. Feminism has been categorized to specific political parties, negating the significance of the movement as a whole. Feminists are seen as bra-burning lesbians, and while some are definitely that, the movement is so much more. Feminism is a fluid idea that has been defined by scholars in dozens of separate ways. At its core, feminism is a movement designed to destroy the hold that sexism and oppression have on society. The focus is to understand one another through mutual dialogue with the goal to end gender roles and institutionalized sexism.
There is often discussion about how feminism is no longer needed in society. Women have the ability to vote so it’s believed that women no longer face oppression. The feminist movement has become so much more than just fighting for the right to vote, but the ability to call out specific forms of oppression in our society. We need feminism because every 109 seconds another American is sexually assaulted. We need feminism because women of color make on average 64 cents to every dollar a man makes. We need feminism because we need justice for Palestinian people. We need feminism because we need to know that #BlackLivesMatter. We need feminism because we need equal rights for the entire queer community. We need feminism because we need a radically different justice system. We need feminism because we need to show that non-binary folk, trans folk, genderqueer folk, women, and men have a place in our faith. We need feminism because we need to call out different areas of oppression in our world and where our role in that occurs. We need feminism because we need to challenge our own internal misogyny and recognizing how that can hurt others.
Feminism was designed not just to benefit women, but all people who suffer from the effects of sexism. Men are forced into boxes of what masculinity must look like. Women are forced into boxes of what femininity looks like. Nonbinary, trans, and genderqueer folk are not even given any box or area to live in. The feminist movement was built to be protection against these standards we place on one another. It is a movement designed to foster understanding and love within people.
Every single one of us experiences sexism in our everyday lives. Often, we have just been trained to ignore it or believe that is okay. Jesus came to call out oppression in society with a loud voice and open heart. The morals of our faith recognize that there is no difference between us; regardless of anything. As faithful Christ followers, it’s essential to uphold these values of equality in all aspects of our lives. The ultimate feminist of all time was Jesus Christ himself who consistently stood up for those who were suffering.. It’s easy to believe in human rights, but difficult to call out on specific violations of those rights and to recognize how we are complicit with them. Feminism forces us to look at how specifically our worldviews of gender and sex alter the world.
The feminist movement gave me the ability to vote in elections, the ability to attend a university, and the ability for me to be taught by intelligent, powerful woman. It was through the blood, sweat, and tears of suffrage protestors who dedicated their entire lives into convincing people that were woman were equal to men. The feminist movement is constantly working to provide women equal pay for equal work, the ability to access reproductive healthcare, and the ability to support abuse victims. The inclusive, intersectional feminist movement now works to support queer and trans folk who deal with unique forms of sexist oppression, as well as thousands of other issues that people still face due to sexism. Feminist work is not complete until every person, regardless of gender or sexuality, has the ability to be treated as an equal and complete person in society. As Christians, it’s our responsibility to fight for justice for all of God’s creation. Feminism is essential in our fight for justice.