Writer’s Block: There’s a problem here, and it’s not the feminists

I am not a feminist. Or, at least, I don’t think I am. I’ve even been guilty, in the past, of rolling my eyes at the concept.

My reaction was, in part, one I’d learned from the people around me: actually, from many of you. If I had to generalize the reactions of Moody students toward feminism, it would be ridicule, eye rolling, sarcasm, even disgust. Yes, that’s a stereotype, but it’s an overwhelmingly accurate one, as those were the immediate reactions I received upon telling people I was writing on article on the Feminisms blogging event (page 12).

Such reactions may be understandable — if they come from people who know the ins and outs of what they’re reacting to. If that’s you, if you’ve explored and read and researched feminism, and you still believe strongly against it, then ok. I’m not addressing you. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that’s mostly not the case here. If I were to continue to generalize the atmosphere at Moody in regards to feminism, I would add ignorance — and I would include myself in that.

Why wouldn’t I call myself a feminist? It’s not because I don’t believe in the tenets of feminism, think it’s a gross movement or don’t want to be associated with the word. No, it’s because I haven’t spent enough time researching the arguments for and against it to say if I am. Do I believe that women and men are of equal value and worth as human beings? Yes. And do I believe that women should be treated as having value and worth and that our current culture doesn’t always do so? Yes again. The label of feminist, at its simplest, doesn’t seem to require much else.  

But how many of you think of feminism in terms of man-hating, equal-everything-demanding, angrily-protesting women? How often do Moodies laugh scornfully when they overhear a girl say she is a feminist? Or when she says she’s been made to feel subpar here for being a girl? How often is “feminist” used as a derogatory term, an easy insult of a strong-willed female peer?

There’s a problem here, and it’s not the feminists.

The problem is the guys who say men just don’t find feminism attractive. It’s the women who act as if feminists are an insult to their gender. It’s even me, who feels nervous writing this because part of me doesn’t want to be associated with something held in such low regard by my peers.

There are women at Moody who are passionate about feminism. There are men, both current students and alumni, who have no shame in calling themselves feminists. There are girls who don’t call themselves feminists, because they aren’t ready to take on the connotations — but they care deeply about women’s rights and wish the words “women’s rights” didn’t also receive ridicule.

And their peers mock the passion, shame the label, disregard the efforts of learning. Belittling the passions of a brother or sister in Christ is not a small issue. Making a mockery of someone’s deeply held beliefs is not a joke. And scoffing at others’ journeys to decide for themselves what they think about feminism is not our right, no matter how ridiculous one may think feminism is.

How are these actions loving? How are they excellent or praiseworthy? How are they, in any way, being used to encourage? If you want to engage in the conversation, if you still strongly disagree with the philosophy, then by all means, dialogue. But first, approach it with love, not scorn. Second, spend some time learning why these men and women, your peers, believe what they do. Their blogs, especially with Feminisms Fest having just happened, might be a great place to start. Third, talk to them instead of about them.

And if you don’t have the time, the energy or the desire to put that effort in, there’s one easy solution: don’t say anything.


This piece is considered a “standard” column in our print edition.
Writer’s Block: exploring connections between life and communications
by Jenna Pirrie, editor-in-chief 

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    1. Tim

      March 6, 2013

      Well said! Glad you wrote this, gave me a new perspective on the whole thing 🙂

    2. Emily Joy Allison

      March 6, 2013

      Thanks so much for this Jenna. I’m really proud of Moody right now!

    3. Kristen Mathson

      March 6, 2013

      Jenna, great job with both articles! You’ve hit on something important here–the fact that charitable dialogue necessitates gracious listening. It’s a message that we all need to be reminded of, and I’m grateful for your courage in bringing it up, especially in reference to the rather broad, sometimes confusing, always controversial movement of feminism. You’re wonderful : )

    4. Joseph Martin

      March 6, 2013

      Interesting thoughts, and well written. If you want an easy, yet thorough introduction to feminism, I strongly recommend reading this book below. It might help you understand what comes along with claiming to be a feminist, and the multiplicities of the label within Christianity.


      The Moody Library has two copies, by the way.

    5. Debbie Kemper

      March 11, 2013

      Jenna, Your ability to express what I’ve thought for so long delights me. So proud of you and of Moody for allowing this.


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