Feminists: “A strange sub-strata of women with a peculiar inferiority complex”
That isn’t a quote from some ignorant, aging Fox News commentator. It’s from one of the rising young stars of the conservative movement, writer Daisy Cousens.
In this week’s edition of the Spectator, she refers to feminists as being “obsessed with picking at the scab of women’s lib, trying to draw fresh blood, often being seen prowling (or lumbering) around, attempting to sniff out sexism in every nook and cranny.”
According to Cousens, women who complain about sexism are whiny and pathetic. And they lumber (whatever that’s supposed to mean!?!). She concludes,
“The idea women that in our society are still somehow under the thumb of men is a fallacy; every opportunity available to men is also available to us.”
The same day I read Daisy Cousen’s diatribe against feminism, I discovered that Canadian Christian blogger and author Sarah Bessey had just launched the Twitter hashtag #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear and it was trending. Big time.
Woman after woman (including many personal friends of mine) tweeted the passive aggressive put-downs and out-and-out sexist statements they’ve heard in churches over the years.
It seemed cathartic. Like lancing a boil. Years of snubs, sneers and rebuffs flowed like puss.
For me, reading it was like passing a car wreck on the freeway. I was repulsed, but I couldn’t look away. I kept reading all the well-meaning digs and full-scale humiliations perpetrated against women in ministry. And feeling sick.
Rachel Elizabeth Asproth from Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) has collated 55 of the best/worst tweets in the thread. Warning: it’s horrifying.
So here I am in an airport gate lounge reading Daisy Cousens telling me the time for feminist rage is over, while all my sisters in ministry are tweeting a volcanic flow of disparagements and put-downs.
For Daisy Cousens and many other women on the right, asserting that they’re oppressed is patently absurd. Imagine if they ever walked into a church!
Is the church that far behind the times?
Even if I believe Cousens is correct and the playing field has never been more level for women in society, isn’t it utterly embarrassing that Christian women are still living in a sub-culture where they’re not permitted to teach men, or be pastors, or not be at home raising kids and getting the Sunday dinner cooked (one of the reasons proffered for why they shouldn’t be preachers).
This goes far beyond debates about complementarianism and how to read Paul. I know many complementarians who are certainly not sexist in their attitudes to women. But read those tweets, people. They’re not expressing some caring, compassionate desire to read Paul’s words about women teaching men. They’re sexist and demeaning and insulting. And it only takes the suggestion of a hashtag to get them flowing. All those barbs and affronts are right on the tip of the typing fingers of all women in ministry. And that’s shameful.
I’m getting sick of men using hermeneutics as a cover for sexism. I’m getting tired of us making allowances for people who claim they’re just trying to be true to Scripture while making statements about the place of women that were considered sexist in the 1950s.
#ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear is important. It’s not feminists picking the scab of women’s lib. It’s women holding together an open wound. It’s hurting Christian women, trying to be faithful to their calling to serve God’s church, but laboring under continual discrimination, humiliation and criticism.
And please don’t think this is just a problem for the conservative denominations. Even in movements that allow the ordination of women there are so many examples of everyday sexism hobbling their women leaders.
For the record, I don’t agree with Daisy Cousens’ analysis at all. But the fact is that there’s now young, conservative commentators like her telling women to “take off the pussy-hat, put on a bra and check your proverbial privilege.” For them the feminist movement is over. The battle has been won.
Meanwhile in churchland, intelligent, educated, dynamic, gifted, godly women are still being called “female pastors” (I’ve never needed to refer to myself as a “male pastor”). They’re being asked “who are you working under?” or “what does you husband think?” They’re being threatened with walk outs if they preach. They’re paid less and offered fewer opportunities.
And they’re getting tired of having to justify their call and position, and having their motives and integrity questioned. Heck, I’m tired of writing about it. I can’t imagine how much worse it is living with it.