Why Am I a "Recovering Feminist"?

This week, I had a reader write and ask me why I use the words "recovering feminist" to describe myself. I started writing a reply e-mail to her and then realized that it's something that needs to be posted for everyone to hear.

Thanks for writing and asking about that- it’s encouraging (and challenging) to know that people are reading up and making sure I am writing my actual thoughts & beliefs rather than just a bunch of words that tickle the ears but don’t touch the heart.

[I noticed that your e-mail address is in the UK … is that where you live? If so, is it possible that there are different understandings of what feminism is on each side of the ocean, based on how it plays out in each place?]

For me, though, and I think for a lot of people my age and younger (I’m 27), feminism was a movement that was good for a time (for instance, to have the right to vote, and work for equal pay) and has now run its course. The feminist movement in America is now focused on abortions, lesbian rights, and sexual freedom… things that don’t resonate with me, and in fact offend me and my moral sensibilities. Now, instead of trying to get women the ability to vote, or encouraging women to participate in the vote, feminists tell women
who they should vote for.

The feminist movement has tried (and succeeded in many ways) to convince women of these things:
  • that it is a waste to stay home and demeaning to serve your family as a wife and mother
  • that a day care can do as good a job as me at raising my children
  • that any women with half a brain ought to limit her reproductive capacity and that it's not wrong to murder your own child (whether just conceived, or about to be born...some would even commend infanticide, although it's not widely reported)
  • that any woman with half a brain ought to be working, because work is how you can best contribute to society
  • that any woman with half a brain ought to pursue the highest degree she can attain, because education is where our salvation lies
  • that women ought to keep fighting against "the glass ceiling", even though it really no longer exists
  • that the Bible (if read literally) is sexist, and therefore, if read at all, ought to be put into "cultural context" (which basically means stripping sections like Ephesians 5:22-33 of their relevance and meaning)

The truth is, women can be educated and advance themselves in any field they desire, even in the military or the ministry (two jobs that have been held primarily by men longer than most any others). Women can get any job they want, all the way up to being a college president (as the new Harvard president could tell you), or the CEO of a company (ask Oprah Winfrey about that). And if they for some reason encounter situational sexism, there are myriad other companies and options they can consider to advance their careers if they choose to do so. But most women eventually have children, at which point they are taking a self-imposed break which indeed may slow down their career, but this should not be surprising. In most any field, taking a break of 1-5 years would set a person (male or female) back... decreasing their contacts/network, and decreasing the relevance of the information they had about how to do that particular job.

The truth is, the Bible is not sexist, and even a cursory glance at the ministry of Jesus makes that evident. He had many women involved in His earthly ministry, and many women who were his disciples and ambassadors after His ascension.

The truth is, the most important job I can do right now is to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus, a wife to the incredible man God has blessed me with, and a mother to these delightful children that make me laugh, reveal my own selfishness, and teach me to love unconditionally. Though God has indeed blessed me with a brain, I am not convinced that the best way to "spend" it is in the marketplace, but rather, to invest myself, to pour myself, even to wring myself out, into the lives of these four precious people I call family. And if God should bless us with any more family members, I hope to do the same for them as well.

These are some of the primary reasons why I consider myself a recovering feminist. The reason I use the word
recovering is that I had to (and must still) systematically remove the lies that feminism has snuck into my worldview, just by virtue of growing up in America in the 1980's and 90's. And actually, my very first post on this blog was an outline of some of the ways that feminism has lied to my generation. "Feminism" is such a catch-all; a wide variety of views are encompassed within that one word. I appreciate how it started out- making sure that women could vote and wouldn't be abused, things like that. But I don't like what it has become in modern America. And I don't think I'm alone.

I hope that explains why I label myself a recovering feminist, and yet, even as I read back through, I can sense the chip on my shoulder about it. But I don't think that's necessarily bad, as it is directed at the feminist agenda and the liberalization most feminists emit. I'm glad you asked me this question, because it made me ponder and solidify even more why I hold the views that I do. Thanks so much!

I'd love to hear what you think of the ideas of feminism- past and present, and how you think of yourself in relation to feminism. I hope we can dialogue about this idea of feminism...


CappuccinoLife said...

Amen. This was such a great counterbalance to a really sad, depressing blog I've been reading from someone who is a "recovering anti-feminist". sigh.

My mom is still recovering, but fortunately I wasn't raised by a rabid feminist. I did somehow get the men-are-bad brainwashing in spite of my conservative upbringing and had to wrestle with that in the early years of my marriage.

I've been reading a lot about "womens issues" past and present, and it seems to me that one of the greatest falsehoods of modern feminism is the thought that modern women invented the idea that women should be loved, cherished, well-treated, etc. Funny thing is, feminists didn't even invent "free love", or contraception or abortion. There is nothing new under the sun, and feminism clearly hasn't been a cure for the world's evils, particularly the ones affecting women. Women are hardly loved, honored, and cherished these days. One either has to be just like a man in an aggressive, obnoxious way, or a piece of meat available for the sexual pleasure of others. Being an unambitious housewife and caring for one's own family is the only modern evil. :(

I personally think the Biblical model is the idea. Unfortunately, though, men don't always love their wives as they should, and women don't always respect their husbands as they should, so there has been (and will continue to be) this tension. The only cure is Christ, not another social system.

magda said...

i'm tired of political labels. i think that they allow people to dismiss each other without listening. the word feminism to me means believing that women should have choices. that HAS to include the choice to have babies, stay home, serve your husband. but more and more, it doesn't. i'm deeply disturbed by the notion that women have some kind of duty to pursue a career. i'm deeply disturbed by the male-bashing (how are t-shirts that say 'throw rocks at boys' okay?) i'm deeply disturbed by the birth-control-pushing, the abortion-pushing, the idea that having a baby will ruin my life, the idea that sexual promuscuity is sexual freedom. my doctor actually told me, "no form of birth control is as dangerous as getting pregnant." when i asked him about side effects of the pill. i used my educated thinking skills (thanks, feminism!) to get a new doctor.
look, we get to vote- that's super.
we have equal rights (in western countries, at least.) thank you, feminism! there are now more women than men in law school and med school. i feel like we've arrived, but the ladies driving the NOW bus just keep on trucking. the differences that remain exist because men and women are fundamentally different. and you know, complementary. you can't legislate or educate that away. maybe now we should concentrate on uplifting the whole human species, instead of just half of it.

Keziah said...

I think there is a definitely a change in society now. It is not just a church or a Christian thing, but women are more and more realising that "having it all" means that something will slip. I'm a doctor and am not alone amongst my friends (both believers and non-believers) in wanting to have a family and wanting to bring them up myself.

Anonymous said...

I'm a feminist, and I would NEVER EVER have an abortion, under any circumstances. Please don't say that all feminists beleive in abortion because that is simply not true. As for your claim that feminists would commit infanticide, that is positively disgusting; what a horrible, horrible thing to say. I hope you feel ashamed at yourself for writing that scandalous, libellous piece of filth.

Jess said...

While it is encouraging to hear that you would not have an abortion, the overwhelming majority of feminists not only believe in abortion, but many have had one or more. There is nothing scandalous in stating the truth.

Furthermore, plenty of feminists have written about infanticide in a positive light. It is neither libelous nor shameful to call a spade a spade. If you go back and read again, you will note that I didn't say ALL feminists belive in infanticide, but I did say that some do, which is true. Additionally, plenty of feminists have supported, performed, and/or chosen to have a partial-birth abortion, which is simply infanticide by a only slightly more palatable name.

I do not write carelessly, Ms. anonymous. I chose my words carefully when I wrote this piece, and I believe they bear up under the weight of your criticism. I still stand by every word I wrote, whether or not it is easy to read for one who calls herself a feminist.

Anonymous said...

I'm anonymous because I don't have an account. My email is heavierthanheaven89@hotmail.co.uk and my name's Alix Peach, from the UK.
Feminism has nothing to do with promoting abortion. SOME feminists beleive women have the right to choose an abortion, but just as many feminsits believe that abortions are morally abhorent.
True feminism is about being allowed to be equal to men (because we are physically and mentally their equals). It's about equal wages, the destruction of stereoptypes that label women as useless housewives and more women in positions of power.
Having children, or not, is a personal choice and nothing to do with politics.
You're describing the ultimate radical steroptype of a feminist,which is unfair & inacurate.

Anonymous said...

I shall probably also show up as anonymous, though I am not Ms but Mrs.

Feminism is also about a refusal to subscribe to an androcentrist construct as the human model. It is only recently that medicine has begun to look at the diseases of women as more than an afterthought to curing the diseases of men. Since the discovery of stem cells, women have lost ground in that science seems intent on saving the world through women's bodies. This attitude is reprehensible. I find it difficult to believe that you would have women today put themselves, their lives, and their bodies under the dominion of men--when the only true difference is biological, not essential.

Worth The Sacrifice said...

As a recovering feminist myself...I find it encouraging to read your post and know that you are out there too.