I am a feminist. I believe that men and women are created equally. I resent that I have to follow that up with “equal but different” since clear and careful thought would lead everyone to realise that “equal” doesn’t need to equate with “same” in that sentence. Failing that, they could look at some pictures of a man followed by a woman (I hear there are some of those on the internet somewhere) and see that I couldn’t possibly mean “same”.

Some people might say I can’t be a feminist since I am a man. Those people would have told Wilberforce he couldn’t be an abolitionist since he wasn’t a slave, told Bonhoeffer he couldn’t fight in the resistance since he wasn’t a Jew or a Pole and Martin Luther King couldn’t fight for civil rights because he wasn’t black (little known fact, MLK was a white man with a very very good make-up artist).

I am a better feminist than most, because I am a feminist because I am a Christian. That’s a bold statement, isn’t it? Calm down. Calm down. I’m about to back it up. Women are categorically not equal to men. Around the world, women do about 80% of the work and own about 20% of the wealth. Women typically lack the same rights as men. Where they have equal rights, societal values hold them down, so in places like Ireland they still hit a glass ceiling. For secular feminists, they can argue that the hard economic reality supports the equality of women- if you let women into your workplaces that has historically always meant economic growth. Or they might argue some soft values like the “betterment of society”. I’m a feminist because women have the same value and potential as men because women and men are both made equally in the image of God. If it cost a fortune and if it caused huge ruptures in society, I would still lobby as a feminist because it is right. It is true. It is not merely convenient or hip.

Feminism is out of fashion. In the average mind it seems to have transformed into meaning feminazi. Privately, I suspect the hijacking of the movement by abortion-rights advocates has seriously contributed to this development. Maturing girls seem as willing to embrace pre-feminist ideas of what being a woman is as they are to actually realise and stand up for their equality. The sexualisation trend best captured by the Girls Gone Wild phenomenon is just the extreme of a general apathy towards the cause.

Every woman should be a feminist.

Every man should be a feminist.

Every Christian is called to be a feminist.

Gender equality is a victory far from being won. I sometimes feel like so many issues of justice, Christians aren’t really passionate about it. Especially Christian women, who are more eager to buy the latest well packaged heresy from the presses of American printing houses than actually exerting themselves, informing themselves and standing up for themselves. My friends and I toyed with the idea of a blog once called Babes Rule, jokingly taking a verse from the King James translation of Isaiah out of context. We never got around to it, distracted by final year theses and marriage and PhDs and other junk.

But over the last week, some Norn Irish Christian women have been blogging about it, and I have had some more depressing conversations about gender roles and I think maybe this is more of a big deal than I’ve realised. I used to work with Meinmysmallcorner and her post made me very sad. Then LilyTodd threw her articulate lot in the ring and her post made me feel very crinkled in the forehead department. Then esnor introduced herself into the discussion with her very pretty site (would expect as much from a girl!). She put it best:

… Ironically, our hope of salvation lies with the men. Come on, you know who you are. In the privacy of your own home you may expound on equality. But get your ass off the sofa and into the pulpit and start acting a bit more like Jesus. Quit tolerating that which enslaves and wounds. Start protecting and empowering your sisters so we are free to live freely.

I’m taking those words to heart.

Your Correspondent, Feminists have a tumor on their funny bone