what does a feminist look like?

apparently, at college, some people think i'm a bit of a feminist.

strangely i was a little surprised. 'why?' you may well ask. after all i'm not exactly 'lost for words' on the matter, i don't mind saying, for example, that our words in worship should represent all humanity. and lots of other things that strike me as essentially gospel practice, rather than distinctively feminist.

and i suppose that is something that i will continue to reflect on. i guess i've been on this journey for a long time. i've had space to make the connections, which, for me now, makes the thoughts that i think, the practices which i endeavour to do and promote, inherently gospel.

my point is that i never 'try to be a feminist', well, actually, that's not entirely true, there are moments when i think that the right thing to do/say/point out, will cost me and it is an active choice, but mostly the way that i am and the things that i say are just second nature. however when i am aware of the cost, it's a cost which, to me, is about gospel values, a cost which, as a disciple of jesus, i am bound to pay.

in the end words can be a bit slippery, they conjure up images, they represent symbols which mean things to us, different things to different people - the word feminist can mean ballbreaker, it can mean a call to arms, it can mean someone who recognises the history, it can mean someone who has hope for the future.

whoever you are and wherever you come from this word can mean all manner of things.

so....does it mean you?


Dave W said...

Interestingly one thing several people have asked me to be clear about when writing my dissertation is that they want as egalitarians to be distinguished from feminists

jody said...

i wonder what they mean by the word feminist, and, for that matter, egalitarian.

what's your dissertation?

Dave W said...


Well it is a question I'm going to push with a couple of relevant people.

My dissertation is

"What does Ephesians 5:21ff have to say to contemporary marriage contexts where first appearances suggest that the wife is best placed to fulfil leadership/headship role? (For example, but not limited to, where the wife is the primary or equal earner with the husband)”

"But not limited to.." means thinking of (again not exhaustively"

-if my wife is more spiritually mature
-if my wife has a better understanding of Scripture
-is more intellectually capable
-is better constituted emotionally to handle tough decisions (I hope that description makes sense).

Would love to hear your views/musings!

jody said...

hi dave

been musing on your dissertation title - it makes an assumption in itself which is interesting: namely a particular view of marriage in which one person is the 'head', i personally don't subscribe to that interpretation of scripture, and it might be worth having a section of your dissertation which speaks of the idea of mutuality in relationship.

in ephesians particularly i think the mutuality thing is most evident. the path that paul takes through the text is one of 'surprise' - it is totally expected to hear 'children obey your fathers', but the sting in the tail is 'fathers don't exasperate your children'. i think that paul is teaching mutuality in relationships that are treated more hierarchically in that society.

but that's just my tuppence worth.

blessings, Jody

Dave w said...

Hi Jody,

Thanks. Yes you're right -I'm sure you will appreciate that it is so hard to get a title that doesn't itself carry some assumptions!

I was kind of hoping that the "first appearances..." bit allowed for the possibility that there were other optinos including "not headship."

But also I have to start somewhere -an open statement of my assumptions with the willingness to be wrong!

Mutuality will certainly get a considerable amount of attention!

Dave W said...

So I spent the last two weeks specifically on v21 and it has been interesting. O'Brien's argument that "one another" can't be reciprocal here is interesting but doesn't seem to quite work.

Now here's the interesting thing. O'Brien's argument is a bit on the novel side. When you go to Calvin, for example, he's very clear that there is mutual submission.

However, he doesn't think that mutuality is something that excludes a particular pattern of authority/leadership. He sees it as showing that the leader's authority is for a purpose -the benefit of those whom he is responsible for, not his own benefit.

Is "mutual submission" a red herring?