I take the title of this post from the little e-book I wrote, Junia is Not Alone. Here is the kind of evidence that needs to be repeated and expanded more and more. Thanks to Sandra Glahn for this fine sketch:
Often evangelicals teach that women were content with their lot in life until Betty Friedan came along and started the feminist movement. Yet this version of history is inaccurate. And if we believe Jesus is the Truth, we need to tell the story as it actually happened….
Because Protestants do not celebrate saints’ days, we miss out on learning about many great women in Christian history.
Take for example the one whose “day” falls on November 17.Hilda, Abbess of Whitby (born AD 614), led a large community of men and women studying for God’s service, five of whom went on to become bishops. She brought the gospel to ordinary people, but kings and scholars also sought her counsel. She was a missionary, teacher and educator, and her abbey became one of the great religious centers of North Eastern England. Hilda is one of many such women in history.
Few writings by and about women have survived from centuries prior to the printing press. Yet some do remain, including The City of Ladies by fourteenth-century author Christine de Pizan (c. 1365–1430). Later came defenses of women from Quakerism’s founder, Margaret Fell Fox (1614–1702); Tory pamphleteer, Mary Astell (1668–1731); abolitionist Hannah Moore (1745–1833); and the author of Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–1797). Most of these writers acted out of a religious impulse with the relatively unified objective of elevating women.
In the eighteenth century the first Great Awakening with its revivals in the 1730s brought a rise in lay power. Women’s involvement in missions sometimes included preaching, and on the frontier Christian women experienced increased levels of autonomy.
By the nineteenth century the pro-woman consciousness had a label: “the woman movement.” Today we identify these efforts as first-wave feminism. Red-letter dates marking the start of first-wave feminism are July 19 and 20, 1848. The place was Seneca Falls, New York, and the event was the Seneca Falls Convention. Those organizing and in attendance were mostly male and female Bible-believers. A group organized the meeting to feature Lucretia Mott, an eloquent Quaker who favored full sex and race equalization. Together the group drafted a Declaration of Sentiments addressing the role of women in society along with an accompanying list of resolutions….
The “new woman” was not an invention of second-wave feminism either. Betty did not start the “woman movement”; Christians did. Motivated by the belief that men and women were made in God’s image to “rule the earth” together, these pro-woman, pro-justice believers sought to right wrongs for those who had less social power.
Isn’t it time we reclaimed our own story?