Recently Denny Burk, a professor at Boyce College of Southern Seminary, wrote an article that essentially blamed feminism for Elizabeth Wurtzel’s fall from glory and arrival at a low spot in life.
I do not believe feminism is to blame for all women who find themselves single. Nor do I think that feminism alone accounts for all the moral pathologies on display in Wurtzel’s article. But I do believe that feminism has provided the social context for women to be congratulated by the culture for sad choices that they make. Third wave feminism in particular–and especially its tendency to ape male promiscuity–has left many women desolate and alone. As one feminist put it, these women have become the shocked victims of their own sex lives.
He did not make us unisex. He did not make us genderless humanoids with no direction for our intimate lives. He made us male and female. And for those to whom it has been given, He made us to give ourselves away to years of finding stale Cheerios in every hidden crevice of the minivan, to seasons of graduations and of anniversaries and of empty nests, to gray years with the love of your life who is your best friend, to lifetimes of covenant love.
Feminism is the killer of that dream, even though precious few seem to notice.
Burk, among other popular conservative evangelicals such as John Piper, is a complementarian. This term is defined in Christian-dome as someone who believes that the Bible requires women to submit to male leadership in the household, marriage, church, and possibly beyond. The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is a complementarian group dedicated to promoting the idea that men and women are equal in God’s eyes, but have separate and complementary roles in the home and church. Men are to lovingly lead and women are to intelligently submit in the home AND there are some governing and teaching roles in the church which are solely restricted to men. There are many, including myself, who would classify this line of thought as patriarchy.
Burk’s post is not surprising coming from an outspoken proponent of complentmentarianism and anti-feminism, but it is quite troubling. It’s troubling that leaders in conservative evangelicalism have such disdain for feminism. Granted, the term “feminism” has encompassed many different faces through the years, yet at the very core of the definition, is female equality, not superiority. Burk seems to blame feminism for Wurtzel’s woes. It’s feminism’s fault that she doesn’t have a family, money, investments, real estate, etc. It’s feminism which congratulated and encouraged her to live such a life and it’s feminism which has left her alone and desolate in 2012. He then calls feminism the “killer of a dream”… the dream of seeing children graduate, searching for your kid’s lost cheerios in between the minivan seats, and going gray with the love of your life.
There is something very alarming in Burk’s logic and his words. Granted, in the blogging world you seek to create articles that will ruffle feathers, so I understand that aspect, but what alarms me is that he really believes this about feminism. And he is not alone. Patriarchy is a popular idea in evangelicalism and has spent many unfortunate years lingering in the moral framework of American households, businesses, and churches. It is a vile thing that continues to create imbalance in the places it pervades. The truth of patriarchy is that it doesn’t help men either. One person being the head of another based on fixed gender is equally as damaging and awful for the head as it is the foot. An imbalance is created when women give life through birth and men take it over. I strongly believe that gender equality is a prerequisite for peace. So to suggest that feminism (the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men) is to blame for this woman’s life choices and subsequent disenfranchisement is completely unfounded and actually, quite illogical. Her choices were her own and I cannot speculate on her life choices as I have very little knowledge of them. It is very possible for a woman to promote women’s equality AND have a loving, stable, egalitarian marriage with a man. AND have children in that marriage. Children who require her to clean cheerios out of the minivan and children who will eventually graduate from college and leave an empty nest.
Remember that it is possible for both a man and a woman to be feminists, to promote women’s equality. It seems like one Jewish man did it a few thousand years ago and he changed the world.
Does complementarianism/ patriarchy have a place in marriage, the church, or society? Do you agree that gender equality is a prerequisite for peace?