Yes, I can be a Feminist, Christian and a housewife

Earlier this month, one of my favourite bloggers posted about feminism and this somewhat popular idea that feminists and housewives must be mutually exclusive of one-another. It’s an issue that I’ve encountered often, both as a woman who loves being a housewife, and as a Christian woman.

At Christmas, the in-laws came to our apartment, and I took care of dinner, getting the tree up, and making sure there was no shortage on food or decorations. My father-in-law told me that he was very proud, and that I was turning into quite the housewife. For me, it was a moment of pride, but when I shared it with a friend, they could not understand how as a feminist, I wasn’t offended.

 

Being a feminist isn’t about fitting into another box, about following a new set of rules that define who you can or can’t be. Feminism is not only about equality, it’s about being able to be the kind of woman you CHOOSE to be.

I am a housewife not because it is expected of me, or because my husband forces me, or because society tells me that women should do the cooking and cleaning. I am a housewife because I’ve discovered that I love it. I enjoy cooking and cleaning, keeping my house in order, hosting parties and having a space that I am proud of. I even enjoy being able to have supper ready shortly after Scott gets home, and serving it to him. It makes me happy, and it helps me to feel accomplished.

I don’t cook for Scott or serve him because I NEED to. I do it because I am proud of the work that I have done, and I enjoy doing it. So when my father-in-law made that comment to me, it made me proud, because it means that I am succeeding.

When I wear pink (as often as possible), wear feminine clothes, and listen to girly songs, it doesn’t automatically forfeit my capability or desire to fight for equality of the sexes, or to take a stand against inequalities for men and women.

When I say I am a feminist, it doesn’t mean that I am stating that I am against the idea that there are things men are better at than women and vice versa. What I am saying is that I stand as a feminist, because I don’t believe there is a box you can put either sex in. Some women are stronger than some men, some men are better cooks/stay-at-home parents than some women.

Being a feminist doesn’t force me to be against the Biblical structure for marriage either. I think all too often, this Biblical ideal confused by people who don’t want to look deper. More people focus on the ‘Wives submit to your husbands’ and forget about the verses around it, which suggest that the marriage is both equal and a partnership.

The word feminism can have ‘scary’ connotations for those who aren’t familiar what it means, especially for Christians in churches that have enforced the idea that the two cannot go hand in hand. But from where I stand, I think feminism not only is compatible with Christianity, but is something that is important to see come into play. Especially when it comes to sexuality and women, and the roles of women in church. Feminism plays a role in everything – from how we act/see our marriages, to the way we raise our children, and even in some ways, praise and follow God.

But whether or not you agree with me, disagree with the ideas of feminism, or think I’m spot on, the idea that one cannot be one thing if they are the other needs to be eliminated. If we are to find common ground in the fight for equality, whether you call yourself a feminist or an equalitarian, we need to start agreeing on one thing – believing that there can be equality does not mean that one cannot fit into the stereotypical gender roles, or that they cannot enjoy it. Equality means that there is no box, there is not set definition. It seems like we’re all fighting for the same thing here, so maybe it’s time we stopped fighting one another and started working together to achieve that common goal, regardless of what we call ourselves.

 

Comments

  1. Nicola

    Perfectly said. If a woman wants to stay at home and raise her kids, this is her choice. I think a lot of people have the wrong idea about feminism. Women should be able to make their own life choices and like you said, the two shouldn’t be mutually exclusive.

    1. Tabitha Wells

      Exactly! As soon as you start to put what you can and can’t be in a box, especially in fights like feminism where you’re standing for equality, respect, etc, the minute you say a feminist must be x, y or z, or can’t be such and such, you’re creating the same issues that feminism was developed to fight against.

  2. Cherie

    I like this a lot. I feel like the negativity about feminism is what so many people think of when they hear the word. Sometimes I’m afraid to say I’m a feminist because I know some people will make a lot of incorrect assumptions about me, but that’s unfortunately just how the world is right now.

    I like how you worded it when you said that being a feminist is being the woman you choose to be. I’d never thought of it in that way before, but I think you’ve said it perfectly.

    1. Tabitha Wells

      I totally get that. For years, especially as a Christian I was terrified to admit I’m a feminist because of the backlash it creates. I see groups like Women Against Feminism who unfortunately perpetuate that negativity and wrong idea. One glance on their Facebook or Tumblr and you see all these ideas that are completely false about it.

  3. Samantha Clarke

    This is wonderful. Feminism is about respect. Every woman will make her own choices in the end–and if you know your friend is safe and happy, then you should let her do what she wants to do, even if you can’t understand it.

    It would be hard for a lot of modern women to wrap their heads around what you’re saying, Tabitha, because 99.9999999% of the people who take Paul seriously when he talks about marriage are doing it because they think they have to–that it’s their role in society to be a wife and to be a submissive one, and you’re right, even a lot of Christians don’t focus on the equality parts of those verses. For example, Paul distinctly says that both husbands AND wives shouldn’t withhold sex from one another. Exactly how far you take that depends on how literal you are, but I always got the impression there that he was saying no spouse should deny the other sex for a power play or whatever, not like…endorsing marital rape. But my point is that it distinctly calls out both sexes, and it’s not the only time, and this is PAUL we’re talking about here, who himself admitted he wasn’t a fan of marriage at all (not something that is true of all the biblical authors). His personality came through quite a bit there, and I think that ought to be taken into account.

    It doesn’t help that the bible has been used for millennia to control…well, everyone, but very notably women. So all those passages that you see have been yanked out of context or else out of historical context to keep women “in their place.” It is commonly thought that a good portion of the choice which books even made it into the bible was based on how it could be used to control–especially considering that the men who decided weren’t even Christians.

    I believe it is absolutely possible to be a Christian and a feminist and a housewife. I believe it is possible to be all kinds of things and also a Christian, because at the end of the day, the bible didn’t come with a manual–it’s a historic document written by men of faith, with considerable historic and political context to be considered in the interpretation. If one follows Jesus and his teachings, and takes the words of his followers as the words of wise but still flawed men who existed in their own cultural bubble, one can easily find themselves with a healthy perspective on life and a solid faith in the rightness of being a kind, wise person who cares for the poor and the sick and the minorities, who respects women, who considers all people equal.

    It is the fundamentalists who try to take every single word in the bible as the timeless, unabridged words of God himself (you know, like the church I grew up with) who cause the most harm. Those people become so caught up that they can’t take a step back and consider that maybe the bible specifically forbade women from shaving their heads not because it was a timeless truth but because the women in that particular city (Corinth, I believe) were doing it in droves to imitate the Greek priestesses, who were also spiritual sex workers–and Christianity was distinctly more sexually restrictive than the religion of the Greeks, so they were embarrassing themselves and their families within their Christian communities. That sort of thing, over and over again, not taking into account the fact that these were human beings writing this, living in their own time frames and their own cultures. People with their own opinions, their own advice.

    I’m so sorry for writing a freaking expository essay in your comments section. It is only 7 a.m. here and I have no idea how I even had the energy for that before more coffee, but I guess I’m pretty passionate on this topic. I’d like to conclude by saying that you are super cool and I respect you SO much and like what you have to say pretty much 100% of the time, which is really saying something because how often do an atheist and a Christian agree so much?

    <3

    1. Tabitha Wells

      I got the notification of your comment as I was getting ready for work, and was so excited to read it that I just stopped. Thank you for bringing up what you did about Paul and that – I didn’t want to make my post lengthy, but that was EXACTLY what I was referring to.

      It’s like the whole ‘women are not permitted to teach in the church’ thing. It was relevant (and still can be) because in that specific church in Corinth, women who were not educated in Scriptures were disrupting ‘sermons’ with their opinions, were trying to teach over the men, and were not providing correct information. At the time, women were not permitted to learn the scriptures, so it was basically a reprimand for don’t teach what you don’t know. It is not about not allowing women to teach period.

      I could write a novel about that too, but I’ll leave it at that.

      And honestly, I don’t mean it as a LOOK AT US thing, but I think a lot of Christians and Atheists could learn quite a bit from us about interacting together hahahahaha.

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