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.
I’ve also had many, both feminists and non, balk at me when I confirmed that indeed, I believe in the Biblical structure of marriage, and that I am more than happy to follow that in my own marriage.
“How can you claim to be a feminist and be okay with submitting to your husband?” they ask.
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 support it not because I’m told by anyone that I have to be, but because I *choose* to. I think all too often, this Biblical ideal gets a bad rap because people don’t look at the issue in depth. 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 fact that I choose to submit to Scott’s decisions on major issues does not somehow impede my capability to be a feminist – it’s a choice I make because I believe it’s right for me, and because I believe it’s right in God’s eyes.
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.