By the reaction I got, you'd have thought I said a different F-word.
If I hadn't been so surprised and a little angry that this was her take-away from my testimony, I might have told this woman that feminism is actually crucial to the work that I do. Feminism, as I understand it, is the simple belief that women are of equal value to men, and that they should be treated with the same dignity. It's easy to believe this—most people do—but a lot harder to live it out. As Christians, when we recognize that we've been careless towards another group of people—perhaps another gender, race, or economic group—we are called to make amends. To love our neighbors with humility and grace.
I need feminism because when a classroom debate about women's issues went sour and my husband apologized to his female students, he was probably the first adult male to tell them that they never deserve to hear that they can't succeed. In fact, in a patriarchal society in which young women are at the bottom of the food chain, he was probably the first man to show them any form of humility. I don't know about you, but Jesus was the first to do that for me.
I need feminism because I am often the only woman sitting in our church during the sermon. Every other woman in my church is a mother, and they are usually tending to their children during the service, because our children's program is run by a single woman (also a mother) who cannot possibly take all of the kids. Because of our belief that the women of our church deserve the choice to sit in the service, we are working out a better system.
So today, let's remember the women in our lives, and those across the world. Let's remember how Jesus treated the women around him, how he helped them and healed them. Let's try to do the same.
Love to you all,
Liz (and Sam)