Hello dear readers! I’m back with part 2 of the Evangelical anti-feminist book you voted for me to review. For those of you who are just joining us, here is the previous installment in the series. For the rest of you, thank you so much for all your feedback and suggestions as I forge onward.
In the first few chapters, Carolyn McCulley really gets into what I’d call the carbohydrates of her book. She wants to inspire a certain emotion in her readers, who, contrary to my original suppositions, are more diverse than church-going women aged 25 to 45. These are her main demographic for sure, and she wants them to feel threatened at first by these feminist types. Threatened and wary of the unknown. However, she also puts out feelers for women who may be doubting their independence. Maybe they long to finally settle down and get married or they have a very intimate relationship with guilt, but regardless, she has them pegged. It’s an effective strategy for the most part, because the rhetorical sugar and starch in these first chapters help build momentum once she eventually gets to the “meat” of her book.
Women like me are kryptonite because the things she says to make feminism seem threatening or volatile only feed my enthusiasm. I think she plays to the ignorance of her target women a lot. As in, “Have you heard of these famous feminist women? Didn’t think so. Let me enlighten you about their lives and why everything they stood for was so far from God’s Grace. I’ve been there, I know.”
My reaction is, from what precipice of experience does she claim to speak from? Her “expertise” on feminism, as she herself tells us, comes from taking a few college courses on the subject. Either she omits important details from her own secular past, or she is telling us what feminism looks like based on her own speculation about information you could read in 5 minutes on wikipedia. As my friend Rachel pointed on in the comments of the last post, people do write from the assumption they are knowledgeable and somewhat right in their conjectures, but it seems a far-fetched credential to say one is a “former feminist” when she has a very limited pool of information to draw from.
Another thing she does which fascinates me, is the small “admissions of merit” she offers feminism. As if, even in the most stolid of evils, there are tiny nuggets of truth or the best of intentions gone awry.
For example, she cites a letter from Abigail Adams to her husband, President John Adams, imploring him to consider giving the same equal rights to women as he was pioneering for men. John’s response was “As for your silly ideas, I cannot but laugh.”
Abigail relented, because she respected her husband more than her controversial ideas.
Quite a guy, that John. Carolyn goes on to explain that early feminists had some good ideas (equality, mutual respect, voting rights, property ownership) but that ultimately “proud women spar with men they deem to be weaker and not worthy of respect, but offer no credible solution to the tension between the sexes.”
However, she allows that “Men do sin. They can diminish women’s accomplishments and limit women’s freedoms for self centered reasons. Feminism didn’t originally rise up because of fabricated offenses.”
She makes it seem so easy: men have undermined women in the past, but women take their grievances too far! Can’t we all get along??!!
Carolyn believes that the real problem here is sin, not men nor women. It is Satan who is driving wedges between the hearts of spouses. All we have to do is turn to the Bible to see that God created us equally in His image! She really emphasizes this point. The two sexes are of equal worth in God’s eyes, and this should completely mollify the offenses that militant feminists have brought to the table. While we are equal in God’s eyes, He knows best, and assigned the men and women different roles in order to accomplish His purposes in His kingdom.
She goes on to assert that “The first wave of the feminist movement reveals that the ongoing target was actually Scriptures Authority, yet ironically, when the Bible is actually properly taught, history shows that women’s status improves…”
Her example? In the Protestant Reformation, 42 year old Martin Luther married a 25 year old former nun, thus breaking free of the strict religions constraints against religious persons marrying because it was non-Biblical. That’s it.
So, I guess she forgot about the raping and pillaging, the stoning of unfaithful wives, or the second class status of pretty much every woman in the Bible?
Maybe these frequent Biblical examples of incest, homicide and general degradation weren’t really what God intended? Men just misunderstood Him because they’re sinful. Yep, likely. I can’t help but wonder why the Bible is the pillar of Truth that women like Carolyn lean on so heavily to give credence to their identities and roles as women, when clearly women in the Bible are an afterthought at best. Are there strong women like Ruth and Rahab? Sure. But what was the ultimate purpose in their lives? Helping men kill other men or giving birth to men. They had no value in of themselves. Even the Proverbs 31 woman she cites so fondly is only as useful as her husband who sits prominently among the Elders of the town allows her to be. Its a very co-dependent kind of notion.
Feminism, in my mind, has nothing to do with being angry at men. I know so many awesome men who I’m proud to have around, and seek counsel from often. Yet, using the Bible as a a pro-woman text is just a layered rhetorical parfait of contradictions.
According to Carolyn, feminists “were not just trying to reform an institution [of marriage]; they were looking to alter it beyond recognition.”
She goes on to describe how the 3rd wave of feminism is ruining what God ordained marriage to be, and gives numerous example of feminists who did just that. Next post I’ll tell you about these women, what I thought of them, and ask why gender roles have to be predefined for us in a modern society.
Thanks for reading!