A few months ago, I blogged about a book that had been featured in the “new books” section of my university’s library: The Flipside of Feminism: What Conservative Women Know—and Men Can’t Say. The book had put all kinds of social ills at the feet of feminists, blaming those evil feminists for everything from troubled kids to the downfall of marriages across the land. Since then, as I’ve traveled deeper into the heart of darkness that can be Christian popular culture, I’ve seen this claim repeated in various iterations: feminists have brought chaos to this world, destroying the family, and the economy, and possibly even world harmony. Which is funny, given the feminists I know, and their dedication to their families, to justice, to peace. (Must be a bunch of other feminists I haven’t met yet.)
I stumbled across the latest invective toward feminism in what seems, at first glance, an unlikely place: Uncompromising: A Heart Claimed By Radical Love, written by Hannah Farver. The book is pitched toward high school girls and college women, and Farver was also a college student when she published Uncompromising. Farver argues we all should live a life of purpose, search for the “wildness” in us (an echo of Captivating, to be sure), and find a “cause” that will drive us. Oh, and pursue the Cause—with a capital C—which I presume is a life in Christ.
In the midst of all this vague Christian jargon about purposes and wildness and causes, that old nemesis feminism remerges, the true enemy of “femininity” it seems. Farver opens a chapter on “Finding Femininity” with a scary story about a woman who had listened to feminism’s lies, and who left the church because, one day, she heard a sermon in which the pastor outlined the biblical principles establishing different roles for men and women. The outcome of the sermon? “Jane ditched church and decided that if the Bible contained such restrictive rules for women, it must not be true.”
In this instance, I think we are supposed to pity Jane and her decision, but my inclination is to give her a standing O: Bravo, Jane! Way to think for yourself and to challenge a reading of the Bible that restricts freedom in Christ! But no—apparently that’s not the reaction Farver wants us to have. Instead, Farver writes, Jane leads a sad and sorry life, never marrying, because “marriage involved submission,” and having an abortion, “because she didn’t want to be tied to motherhood.” This story is true, Farver assures us, which makes its warnings even more dire: if you resist the Bible’s prescriptions about women, a lifetime of sorrow and grief awaits you. Even more, Farver says, Jane’s story is emblematic of the feminist movement.
Of course. Those evil feminists strike again.
Farver proceeds to give us all a little history lesson, and by little I do mean little: she distills the entire history of feminism into two sentences: “Feminism began as a group of ideas held by only a handful of women.” (And how many is a handful? And when did this handful meet?) “The ideology spread rapidly, forming the modern feminist movement that touches the lives of women and men in countless ways today.” (I agree; the feminist movement has changed women’s and men’s lives in countless ways, but somehow I don’t think Farver and I agree that the changes have been mostly positive.)
What more does one need to know about a movement that is rich and complex and took place over several centuries? Only this: that this feminist movement has “caused the rapid divorce rate, daily abortions, and widespread acceptance of homosexuality.” Well, actually, Farver says our “sin nature” has caused some of these things, but “surely feminism has had a hand in the process.” And, of course, since Eve—the first willful and independent woman who wanted to be equal to her man—caused our sin nature, aren’t they one and the same?
So what is the feminist-tainted world to do, having been destroyed by feminists who deceive with their feministy wiles and their evil, evil feminist philosophy that has forced women to lose “all sense of who they are”? Well, according to Farver, if we are to seek Truth—that being our Cause, our Purpose, the Wildness within that we Seek—we must “unmask” feminism’s “pretty face.” Only when we peel away feminism’s ugliness, Farver says, will we truly find our selves.
How do we truly find ourselves? By looking to the Bible, and to the clearly prescribed gender roles mentioned in scripture, part of God’s grand plan for men and women. And that great plan is? (Drum roll, please . . . ) That while men and women are equal in God’s eyes, men are biblically more suited to lead, and women are more suited to follow—submissively, patiently, and with the nobility suitable of a Proverbs 31 woman. Because, somehow, in this backward up is down world Farver writes about, only when women follow the prescribed roles of a Proverbs 31 woman—marrying, having children, keeping the home “as a place femininity was created to love”—somehow, only in embracing those roles is a woman truly, truly herself. Is a woman truly “free.”
Thank goodness yet another Christian writer has explained to me the flaws in my thinking and in my identity as a feminist. Clearly, feminists are responsible for what is wrong in society: we are “anti-men,” Farver claims, women who want to bash men so they can feel superior. We are too proud to care for our own children and, as a result, we have weakened the nation. Feminists have corrupted young women, turning them away from their own inherent femininity, making it impossible for young women to claim their own identities apart from what society tells them to be. Good to know that writers like Farver can set wayward women straight, helping them see that only in accepting the roles outlined in one interpretation of the Bible will they ever, ever be really free.