I have struggled these past few years with deciding whether or not to classify myself as a “feminist.” This term comes with a lot of necessary good and bad stigma, and I have found it tough to identify with all of that while claiming also to be a Christian. There are parts of feminism that I struggle to stand behind: abortion is awful, and LGBTQ rights are confusing.
From my experience in the church, affiliating with feminism is looked down upon, and being a woman in the church is disappointing and even sometimes degrading. Some of this stems from just being a part of a conservative denomination, and some of this is unintentional. Nevertheless, I find it extremely important for Christian Women to have a voice and to feel free to participate in events such as the Women's March last week.
Christians have the difficult task of upholding scripture and some stance of moral value as well as participating in the cultural norms of our everyday lives. Women have a similarly difficult task of being heard, respected, and understood in this same culture. The pairing of the two, a Christian woman, has an even harder task: to apply both cultural citizenship and Christian values to her life. Political values are differing, and grey areas are different for every individual, but the importance of a Christian woman having the freedom to stand up for something cannot be understated. It looks different today for a Christian woman to speak up, especially when dodging some of the bad stigmas associated with feminism and certain aspects therein that most Christians cannot stand behind.
Basically, I think that it is OK that I and a lot of my friends either participated in, or stood behind the Women’s March last week, because I think that it is OK that we are excited about women standing up for each other. I think it is OK to not believe in the totality of feminism, while also realizing the realities of sexism that we have experienced in society and even sometimes in the church. And I think that it is OK and important to have a voice and to dissent.
One thing that I find especially important for women to be able to speak up about is sexual violence. Several of my friends, and unfortunately myself included, have experienced sexual violence or harassment to some degree in our lives. This is part of a statistic that is very real, and that Christian women are not protected from by any means.
In mine, and several other of my friends’ cases, we were either not believed, blamed, or made to feel like it should be something kept silent and private. I care about women being able to speak up because I care about my friends being able to get the help they need. I care about girls I see walking down the street getting whistled at. I care about girls who don't feel like they can get out of a bad relationship, and I care about 15 year old me that no one believed.
It is exciting to see something like the Women's March having such a widespread public grip on this week, and I hope that people will think about it every time they think about the hurtful words our new president has said about women.
It is important for Americans to be able to verbally dissent and peacefully protest things that are happening in their country that they don't agree with. It is important for women to be able to stand equally next to men in respect, pay, and voice. It is important for Christians to stand with non-Christians in moments such as the Women's March in order to also be heard. And it is ok for me, a Christian woman, to be excited about a march that will hopefully allow my friends, and I, too, have a voice in America and in the church.