Why I’m Glad I’m Not a Christian Feminist

As I follow the blogs of women like Rachel Held Evans, Sarah Moon,  Dianna Anderson, and Danielle Vermeer, I can’t help but admire their desire to fight for gender equality within the church. I didn’t stay to fight that fight. I left. But because I see religion as something that will always be with us, or at least for the foreseeable future, I applaud efforts to make religion less patriarchal and more egalitarian.

And really, what I find especially impressive is their ability to take a deep breath and explain, for the millionth time, the problem with complementarian ideas. And they do this over and over and over again. Do you have any idea how hard it is to explain, again, something you think should be completely obvious – and something that is extremely important to you – to someone who just doesn’t get it no matter how many times you explain it? Hard. VERY HARD.

At some point I think I just got too angry to do it. Maybe I was just burned that badly, but when I hear someone arguing for complementarianism, I feel like I’m going to explode.

Men and women are equal, they just have different roles in life, and especially in the marital relationship.

Complementarianism is actually a sweet deal for women – they’re protected and provided for.

It’s not hierarchy - it’s loving, Christ-like, servant leadership. Who wouldn’t want that?

No. Just, no. Because I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it. I know what it means. I feel like I want to bubble over in rage because it’s all just code language. It’s an attempt to paper over the inequality of women by pretending it doesn’t exist while simultaneously endorsing it.

I grew up in a family that practiced complementarianism. The language makes it sound all pretty, but the language doesn’t mention the tears, the tension, the anger. The language doesn’t mention that complementarianism means forcing yourself into a one-size-fits-all role, and then hobbling along like you’re walking in shoes two sizes too small when it doesn’t fit. For, you know, the rest of your life.

As I watched my parents I saw complementarianism turn something that could have been an incredibly strong and perfectly equal partnership into something fraught with strife and pain, tension and tears. And then I saw that turned on me. The moment I was asked to submit completely because my male authority spoke with the voice of God, I fled. I ran, ran through the tears and the pain, and I didn’t look back.

At some point I just got too mad. I can’t do it anymore. I can’t listen to someone spout off those lines and then answer calmly, I just can’t. Instead, my gut rises inside me and I want to scream, and at the last moment I stop myself and turn away.

I’m tired of feeling like gender equality is something I need to prove. It shouldn’t be.

And as Rachel and Sarah and Dianna and Danielle lift the Bible and Christian theology and turn to refute the arguments of complementarians, I’m glad that’s something I don’t have to do. After all, I don’t believe the Bible is divinely inspired and I don’t believe there is a God or gods. This means that when someone quotes scripture at me or speaks of God-given gender roles, I don’t have to step onto their terrain to fight that battle. And honestly, that’s a damned good thing, because at the moment I don’t think I could. Instead I simply say no. No, I don’t have to believe your book, no, I don’t have to listen to the dictates of your god, and no, I don’t have to put up with your attempts to control my choices! Just, no.

I probably look like the exact stereotype of the “angry feminist,” but you know what? I am angry. And I think I have a right to be.

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.


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