Sunday, August 21, 2005

Feminist Mistake?

I just received Mary Kassian's The Feminist Mistake in the mail and though, admittedly, I have not read it yet, I flipped through it and pondered on the title for some time this morning. Has feminism been a mistake? Where would church and culture be without 20th century feminism?

Well, I must say that I call myself a feminist, and did so before I knew what it meant... back when I began college and gave a lecture to any males who dared to open a door for me. Many years and countless conversations and books later, I still call myself a feminist, somewhat more informed of what it means but still a bit confused. The thing about feminism is that everyone defines it differently. The way I define it, feminism means that women have the right to choices. Whether that choice be lifestyle, or employment, or health, or whatever. Now there are a lot of choices I don't agree with, of course, but I do agree with the concepts of rights for women.

The feminist movement has diversified quite a bit since its inception, particularly since the women's liberation phase in the '60s and'70s. Take, for example, Feminists for Life, one of my favorite organizations. They are a pro-life feminist organization encouraging women to carry their babies to term and then equipping them with the knowledge and resources to care for themselves and their child. For instance, the college outreach program fights for more on-campus housing for single mothers so that young women don't have to drop out of university.

Here's my question: would FFL exist if it were not for the feminist movement, or does it exist because of the feminist movement? In other words, do we have an organization initiating the right to choice for pregnant women (meaning beyond abortion) or one responding to feminist clamor for abortion rights?

I am inclined to think that feminism has done both harm and good, but has not entirely been a "mistake." I think women have been struggling for rights for most of history and I think we now have to sort it all out, to wade through all the dialogue and theories and issues to find what really matters.

2 comments:

Sarah said...

Very interesting. I got the pictures and brochure in the mail yesterday and was really impressed by the Feminists for Life organization. I look forward to more of your discussion on this topic so I can continue to learn more.

APN said...

Mistake?

No.

Misunderstood?

Yes.

What great, noteworthy, historically relevant, and ever-developing movement isn't misunderstood and ill-defined. But to me as well, it is about choice -- the choice to do whatever you'd like to do. Feminism is about empowering women to be fully human, just as the civil rights movement was about empowering African-Americans to be fully human.

But it's a good question though, esp in light of the perpetual caricaturization of feminism and feminists. It's sadly rather easy to lampoon and criticize that which you can't and choose NOT to understand.