Feminist, as in I am a Feminist. Feminist. Fem. i. Nist. (And I Blog at Patheos.)

There.

I did it.

I said feminist.

Before I came to Patheos, I had a brief flirtation with that other biggie in the religious blogosphere. I actually debated with my silly self as to which was the best way to go.

Then today, I learned that, if I had decided to go to that other place, a large number of the posts I’ve written here at Patheos might very well have been round filed. Of course, I don’t know that they would have been round-filed. I’m just guessing, based on this article.

The reason for this possible round-filing of my deathless prose would, if I am making the right connections here, be that I use the word “feminist.”

I not only use it in connection with a socio/political movement that goes by that name, I use it in connection with myself.

As in, I am a feminist.

I am you know.

A feminist, that is.

The way that women are battered, beaten, raped, tortured, bought, sold and murdered around the globe outrages me. I am a feminist, and I will remain a feminist until our casual acceptance of this mass brutality ends. In fact, my question to every Christian reading this is Why aren’t you a feminist, too?

Do you really think that this sickening degradation and brutality directed toward the life-bearers, the mothers, of humanity comes for anywhere besides the deepest pit of hell?

Every time I say I am a feminist I am saying it for those women whose bodies lie in the dump, the lake, the woods and the shallow grave. I am saying it for the baby girls who are aborted for no reason other than that they are baby girls. I say it for the battered wives and the raped girls who feel shame when it’s the rapist who should be ashamed.

I am a feminist; a pro life, catechism following, Jesus loving unreconstructed feminist who will not give one inch on issues of human rights for my half of the human race.

There.

I said it.

In print.

On Patheos.

Where I can say anything I want.

  • Terry

    Oh thank you, thank you, thank you!!! It seems to me that a true Christian woman is a feminist because being a feminist should embody everything that is good and sacred in a woman. I’m right there with you, Rebecca! Let’s not forget all the women who were ever told or believed that they had to give up their aspirations of education and career because they couldn’t possibly have a family at the same time.

    • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

      I know I’m stepping in it now, but I have to disagree with the idea of “career women”, or at the very least, with the idea of both parents working at the same time (i.e. no parent there to watch the kids, so they get shuffled off to day care)

      My rationale for this is that the more I find out about early child development, the more I find that the consistent presence of the mother (who the child is extremely attached to, after being attached to her in every way for 9 months) in the early years is crucial to proper child development.

      • Joan of Arc

        What about the need for the presence of a father for proper child development?

        The family model of a husband working all the time, and wife staying at home (going crazy from never having away-time from children / time for manifesting her adult skills and talents to the world) doesn’t work best either. In our society, it may seem the only feasible option if you don’t want to have children in day care, but I think that’s a result of our Protestant 40-60 hour/week work ethic.

        I think both parents, and children, would be best off emotionally and otherwise if each was working part-time in the world, and part-time with their labors in the home and with their children. Like I said, perhaps difficult in our society, where only full-time work secures needed benefits, but it could be the ideal.

        (I resent the idea that “career women” in quotes may presume – that a woman is selfish for seeking to give her talents to the world in a way that is independent from her work as a mother. Not that a woman has desire working in the world, but if she does desire it, judging her motives as selfish is being presumptuous.)

        • Dave

          I don’t disagree with anything you said. I would say that child development experts and my experience would indicate that a mother is more important in the early years, and a father gaining more importance as time goes along, but both are obviously extremely important. I think a lot of the reason women “go crazy” is that most other women have gone to the workplace, which isolates the ones who don’t. I do agree with you that it is not ideal for EITHER parent to be away. I have been blessed enough to work at home for the last 5 years and it has been a great blessing for all of us.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Terry — for your wonderful family, your great blog and the good you do as a nurse.

  • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

    It all depends on what you mean by the word “feminist”, Rebecca. In the sense you mean it, I don’t think you’ll find much disagreement.

    The way that women are battered, beaten, raped, tortured, bought, sold and murdered around the globe outrages me too, and it should outrage every real man beyond belief!! The treatment of women and abortion both show that we live in a world where “might makes right.” This isn’t a situation that will last for long. We will bring a societal collapse upon ourselves, as Fr. Longenecker pointed out yesterday.

  • Bill S

    Way back, when I somehow came across your article about the referendum questions on gay marriage and Massachusetts Question 3, I looked at your bio and was impressed at all you have done for women. Still, a real feminist fights for a woman’s right to not carry and give birth to a child if she doesn’t want to. There is no getting around that most important criterion.

    Before anyone else valued me, my mother did. Had she not, she should have had every right to terminate me at any time but preferably the earlier the better. That would have been my life. I would have been way less developed than say a mouse which can be killed by a trap. I would have come from and returned to nothing never having enjoyed or suffered through a worldly existence. That’s the beginning and the end. What happens in between happens by mere chance. Some of it painful. Some of it pleasurable. To end it early really doesn’t hurt anyone. A woman’s right to choose clearly take precedence.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      So … abortion = feminism & only pro aborts can be feminists? Is that your contention? You’re not alone in this, btw. It’s the thinking that has deformed the feminist movement into the abortion movement that it is today.

      I am not going to get into this here except to say that I reject this line of reasoning categorically and absolutely.

      “Still, a real feminist fights for a woman’s right to not carry and give birth to a child if she doesn’t want to. There is no getting around that most important criterion.”

      • Bill S

        If the word hadn’t been hijacked (for lack of a better word) you could be considered a feminist. But feminism is an ism and you know the way isms can be. You shouldn’t feel bad about not being a feminist in the strictest sense. They can be fanatical for the things that you are fanatically against. I consider you as more of a woman’s advocate than a feminist.

    • Mary B.

      It is sickening/disturbing that in the pro-abortion camp, being a “real” feminist it defined solely by whether or not you support a woman killing her unborn child. Apparently the plights of sex slaves, victims of domestic abuse, and abused girls pale in comparison to an inconvenient pregnancy. Because, you know, abortion-on-demand is the KEY feminist issue and everything else is just icing on the cake. *eye roll*

      The irony, of course, is that so often pro-lifers are accused of caring only for the unborn and not the women facing crisis pregnancies. Prove that myth wrong by spending a career tirelessly advocating for women, as Rebecca has done, and suddenly the pro-choice side themselves become curiously focused on the abortion issue to the exclusion of all other relevant social issues. You just can’t win.

      But here’s the thing: instituting “real” feminism and giving every woman in the world legal access to abortion won’t protect us from sexual slavery, abusive partners, or an oppressive society.

      I think I will take my chances with the Church’s definition of feminism. It seems a bit more comprehensive.

      • Bill S

        From an artical in NCR:

        “But feminism is not all about complaining and protesting. What I would like most of all is for women to ask themselves honestly, without worrying about history or politics, “What is it that I, as a woman, can do especially well? How can I help other women do what they do well?””

        I think people would look at a Catholic feminist as a woman who is pushing for women priests. As I said, the word has been hijacked. You are better off choosing another word or phrase.

        “But here’s the thing: instituting “real” feminism and giving every woman in the world legal access to abortion won’t protect us from sexual slavery, abusive partners, or an oppressive society.”

        Actually, in some cases it does just that.

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          I am a feminist, Bill. That’s the word I chose. Period.

          The people who try to say that feminism = abortion have done terrible damage to the cause of women’s human rights. They are one-issue fanatics who, by putting abortion above women themselves, have, in many cases have become enablers and active supporters of the abuse of women. Abortion itself is an abuse of women. It enables rapists, batterers and discriminators to ply their trade.

          Women are more than their reproductive organs Bill, which is essentially what you are arguing. The idea that all women need is an abortion is itself misogynist.

          • Bill S

            That’s fine. If the title means so much to you, then say that they are the ones who are not feminists. I was just trying to make the distinction between you and them.

            • Alix

              “Actually, in some cases it does just that.”

              In cases where a woman is being abused, aborting a child doesn’t protect her from the abuse. It makes her available to the abuser for continued abuse. It covers up the abuse, the molestation, it gets rid of the ‘unwanted’ result of sexual trafficking. I seems to me, Bill S., that you consider yourself a friend to women who are abused; in reality, it is your disordered line of thinking, your support, that helps their abusers.

    • Kristen inDallas

      Dear Bill,
      Sorry that you are getting the brunt of this. But I am sick to my eyeballs of hearing men (or even some women for that matter) telling women that they aren’t *real* feminists (TM) unless they get in line on a particular issue, generally the pet-issue of the person making the comment. Being a feminist is a state of mind and heart. Its a state that relies heavily on valuing women, real-life actual women that you actually encounter in the physical or electronic world. You cannot pretend to do this. You have to actually do it, by listening, engaging and helping the actual woman. Pretending to value women, on the other hand, happens when you champion some cause and cite a hypothetical cause-friendly “woman” (TM). this “woman” may as well be a cardboard cut-out or blow up doll, for her “personality” is wholly constructed in the mind. “She” is a flat, one-dimensional charicature that exists for the sole purpose of propping up pet-issue X. “She” is not human. Guess what. Rebecca IS human. The women she engages ARE human,. The female commenters here ARE human. There are certainly other actual human women who disagree. We can disagree respectfully, listen to each others points and perspectives, change our minds, or go on disagreeing with a fuller more understanding heart. OR we can shout each other down with rants of “Your voice doesn’t count because you aren’t a Real Feminist (TM).” Which sounds more misogonistic to you?
      To be honest, you’re wrong here, Bill. You are Flat. Out. Wrong. Go find a woman you care about. Any *actual* woman will do. It doesn’t matter if she is pro-life or pro-choice, a sister, mother, SO, neighbor or a friend. Ask her if she is struggling at all and if so, with what. Then shut up for a few minutes and listen. Don’t just hear, LISTEN. Then do something REALLY DRASTIC. Don’t offer any advice. Don’t tell her what you think about topic X or what you may think of any decisions she may have made previously. (Even condoning actions is a way of reinforcing “you need a man’s approval”) Just ask one simple question, “Is there any thing that you need from me?” Most often, a woman will reply that no, what she really needed was for someone to listen and take her seriously, and thanks. (If this is what she says, THINK about that for a second and what it means in terms of our discussion here.) Sometimes this woman may actually need something tangible, be it time, help completing a task, resources, a hug. If it’s something you have the capacity to give and it doesn’t violate your consience, by all means…. But I have never in my life had a woman turn to me and say, “well gee Kristen, what I really need is for you to get behind political cause X. Don’t worry about me specifically, just worry about women-like-me (TM). In fact, I really hope you can take my painful story and relay it in whatever circles you find yourself in in order to help advance said cause.”
      Anyway if you want to call yourself a feminist, whatever. That’s just as much your right as it is Rebecca’s. But if you really WANT to BE a feminist. I’d recommend starting there. And yes, I would recommend it as advice to pro-lifers and pro-choicers alike.

      • Bill S

        I was just trying to distinguish between Rebecca and the women who call themselves feminists who are diametrically opposed to her stand against abortion. I wasn’t looking at the word feminist in a complementary sense but in the sense that most people think when they hear the word. It would be like an atheist insisting that he is a real Christian and the Catholics are not real Christians. I suppose I am getting in deeper. Just forget what I said, it was taken wrong.

        • Kristen inDallas

          It’s okay Bill. It’s not just you. I run into this everywhere and it just drives me nutty. Perhaps it’s my Catholicism rubbing off, but I don’t put much stock in either/or’s and I really hate being forced into them. I’m a both/and girl. So maybe rather than implying that we need to ditch the feminist label as pro-lifers, or counter-effectively argue that pro-choicers aren’t “real” feminists. It would be better to just ask for clarification of what type of feminist. A pro-life feminist, or a pro-abortion-rights feminist, or a goddess-feminist, or a equal-pay feminist, or an empowerment-feminist, etc, etc. It may get to be a mouthful, but I believe we’d all be benefitted if we start recognizing that people of all different stripes may have women’s best interest at heart, even if they disagree about what is “best.”
          I wish we could start using the word feminist more collaboratively, in recognition of the thing we can all agree on (That there IS a problem and we want to fix it). And save the divisive rhetoric for the actual disagreements. Arguing with someone for being pro-life communicates that you disagree with the solution, while insinuating that a person (of either group) “isn’t really a feminist” is a way of attacking a persons motives and is not respectful of that person as a person. I don’t want that done to me, and I certainly don’t see the only solution as me denying some other group the use of the word.

  • http://theramblingsofacrazyface.wordpress.com/ Leticia Adams

    LOVE IT!!!!!!

    We need this on T-shirts and bumper stickers!! “I am a feminist; a pro life, catechism following, Jesus loving unreconstructed feminist who will not give one inch on issues of human rights for my half of the human race.”

    • Bill S

      You actually helped me understand what they (above) are trying to say. I get it now.

  • Bill S

    “In cases where a woman is being abused, aborting a child doesn’t protect her from the abuse.”

    Abuse is a problem that won’t be solved by making abortion illegal. Many women look at legalized abortion as an increase of their rights and I fail to see how it can be seen as a decrease. It’s a moot point anyway because it is legal and always will be.

    • Joan of Arc

      Making abortion illegal won’t make abuse of women go away, but it would remove a way of “hiding” and “covering up” abuse that perpetuates it in certain cases.

      How is it a “decrease” in the rights of women? Is abortion, in and of itself a good thing to do? Is it desirable? Is it “neutral” even?

      My response is that the act of abortion is a crime against women themselves. It violates them and is an offense against their dignity. In fact, it violates women in an intimate way men could never conceive of. It is nothing good and loving for women. It is cruelty that they endure. Giving women that “choice” is mean. Kindness, though harder and more complex, would be helping women not feel desperate, and not bullying them by their difficult circumstances into something torturous. I see that “choice” to obtain an abortion as manipulating someone with an “easy out” amidst their oppression and lack of support.

      Abortion is a cruel choice to “give” any woman.

      It puts a false “responsibility” on her. Women themselves, then, are judged guilty for having given birth to a child as “irresponsible” or even “selfish” if she’s poor or young or weakened/ vulnerable in some other way. Giving birth is never a crime.

      Decriminializing abortion has had the unintended effect of making it sometimes as a social and cultural “crime” to accept the natural consequence of pregnancy and give birth – blame is shifted onto the woman for giving birth in-less-than-desirable circumstances. But I digress…

      Abortion is a cruel choice to “give” any woman.

      • Kristen inDallas

        Abortion is a cruel choice to “give” any woman.

        Best point on the internet. :-))
        The whole thing is akin to going to a psychologist to talk through some horrible trauma, and have the psycholigist offer you a gun and tell you “it’s your choice.” Everything is a choice. We can choose whether or not to break the law every day. The “choice” is always there. But having it offered up as if it were somehow a good one, as if it were somehow the only one… yes, cruel indeed.

  • http://fpb.livejournal.com/ Fabio P.Barbieri

    I have been a feminist in your sense since I was old enough to know the difference. However, my problem with the use of the word is that without stating quite clearly what I mean by it, modern usage would get me stuck with the notion of an abortion-supporting, careerist, quota-obsessed hypocrite; so I reluctantly gave up the word, though MOST CERTAINLY NOT THE CONTENT.

  • Bill S

    “Making abortion illegal won’t make abuse of women go away, but it would remove a way of “hiding” and “covering up” abuse that perpetuates it in certain cases.”

    And how does forcing a woman to mother her abuser’s child in any way help her situation? Wouldn’t it make her more dependent on the abuser and make it harder for her to get away from him?

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Bill, you are ignoring the fact that the elective abortion means killing a living child. You even call the baby a child in your comment.

      The problem with abortion is that it is murder. It is misogyny because it is a misogynist dodge for dealing with injustices to women instead of dealing with those injustices. It is misogyny because it places the hideous “choice” of murdering her own child as a way of dealing with those injustices on the shoulders of the woman.

      How can anything be more cold-blooded that what we do to both women and children in abortion?

    • Joan of Arc

      “dependent on the abuser”?

      No, I would call pregnancy, public evidence, proof of the crime that took place. Pregnancy can provide biological, genetic evidence of a crime. The perpetrator then cannot claim that “nothing ever happened” and “the victim is lying.” The facts show otherwise. Pregnancy can bring abuse into the light. And when abuse is revealed, it is more likely that public action will be taken to protect the victim.

      “forcing a woman to mother her abuser’s child”

      Rejecting the abortion of a child doesn’t “do that,” the abuser “did that.” Again, see how twisted the “logic of choice” gets. Somehow, responsibility for pregnancy gets shifted from the abuser to those who would protect a woman from the second trauma of abortion.

      What does a woman who has been raped/assaulted/abused need? Healing.

      Does an abortion heal? No. It just wounds more deeply.

      “dependent on the abuser”?

      No, I would call pregnancy, public evidence, proof of the crime that took place. Pregnancy can provide biological, genetic evidence of a crime. The perpetrator then cannot claim that “nothing ever happened” and “the victim is lying.” The facts show otherwise. Pregnancy can bring abuse into the light. And when abuse is revealed, it is more likely that public action will be taken to protect the victim.

      “forcing a woman to mother her abuser’s child”

      Rejecting the abortion of a child doesn’t “do that,” the abuser “did that.” Again, see how twisted the “logic of choice” gets. Somehow, responsibility for pregnancy gets shifted from the abuser to those who would protect a woman from the second trauma of abortion.

      What does a woman who has been raped/assaulted/abused need? Healing.

      Does an abortion heal? No. It just wounds more deeply.

      Pregnancy, for some women, may be the only good that they can see come out of an act of violence against them. “Good,” not because it was “desired,” but because her child is “good” and it is “her” child, more than it is “her abuser’s” child! Some have found their meaning in that, a way to make sense of the tragedy inflicted upon them.

      • Joan of Arc

        sorry, that post got double-pasted!

  • http://www.jimfields.wordpress.com jim Fields

    A good word Rebecca!
    We seem to have been taught that the word “feminist” is ugly and depicts women who would be happiest if all men fell off the face of the earth. Self thinking, individual, intelligent, people with the gumption to use their mind not to be influenced or intimidated by the status quo know differently.

    People, men included, should be offended when women are exploited through media or words as well as trafficking, pornography, or any other social abuse.

    You are standing on a sturdy soapbox.
    Peace to you…
    Jim

  • Bill S

    I can only look at it in terms of the nothingness from whence we came and the nothingness to which we return. I no longer look at it from a Catholic perspective. An aborted baby starts out from nothing exists for a short time and returns to nothing. It happens all the time in nature. It literally is nothing to get worked up about.

    The whole idea of a soul entering a fertilized egg and then going to limbo because it was never born and baptized is repugnant to me. But that is the rationale that the Catholic Church uses to justify its stand.

    Other than that, I leave it to all women of both sides to come to an agreement on the impact that legalized abortion has had or might have on them. My girlfriend had an abortion in New York before Roe v Wade made it legal here. She went on to marry and as far as I know resumed a normal life.

    • Joan of Arc

      “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust” is very Catholic. It describes our current journey in this wounded world, and how very delicate and limited in time our journey is. By the way, Ash Wednesday is this Wednesday… think about it.

      Limbo was theological speculation, not doctrine of any sort. Feel free to disregard it completely.

      Every person has an eternal human soul, from the first moment of their conception, formed by God Himself. And we believe in a resurrection of the dead. We will meet all these children one day, face-to-face. And then, no one will be able to deny their humanity.

      I am so sorry to hear about your girlfriend’s experience of an abortion, which is part of your experience as well. The Lord is saddened by the ways in which that has wounded your former girlfriend and you. He never wanted either of you to be hurt. He looks on you now with great love and desire, desiring very deeply, your friendship. He desires deeply to love you and to heal you in this, and in all other experiences. He thinks only of your best interest, and what would bring you true, deep peace. He desires you to come to Him, to talk to Him, to tell Him everything, to yell at Him if you want, but more than anything, He just wants you to come to Him. He longs for your presence, for you to speak with him. He knows everything that has ever hurt you, and is Himself, deeply saddened by those events. He desires to hold you in His own Wounded Arms, and heal you – by His Wounds we are healed.

      Rest in His Loving, Wounded Arms. Let Him cover you in His Love.

  • Bill S

    “I am so sorry to hear about your girlfriend’s experience of an abortion, which is part of your experience as well.”

    I said I would listen more and talk less. But I want to thank you for not judging me and saying “how convenient for you “. It happened without my prior knowledge or consent.

    • Joan of Arc

      I love to listen & don’t presume anything. I only err on the side of offering the Lord’s love.

      Without knowledge or consent, I see no culpability. But, I still recognize a loss.

      The rest is true regardless, for any hurtful experience, it can be applied to anything. Each person has been hurt somehow.

      And in writing it, I’m offering how I have found consolation in the Lord for past and present hurts.

      Anyone who said “how convenient for you” was acting like an insensitive jerk, and doesn’t deserve the time of day from you. I believe in God’s judgment, they will have to answer to Him for that. He’ll be like “I’m the Judge. And who are you again? Were you trying to take my place? Explain that to me.” Truly, I fear for such people.

  • Bill S

    I ran into that attitude on a National Catholic Register blog but many pro-lifers came to my defense and were very sympathetic. I ended up having really good conversations with all of them, even the one who first berated me.

    Thank you for your understanding. I thought I might be in for more abuse when I started reading your original post.

  • Bill S

    “Abortion is a cruel choice to “give” any woman.”

    Well, that can’t be true. Any woman? There are not any women who would want an abortion and whose lives might be ruined or adversely impacted by an unwanted child? Shouldn’t they have a choice? Isn’t it cruel to force them to carry and give birth to a children that they don’t want?

    Am I missing something?

  • Bill S

    “The way that women are battered, beaten, raped, tortured, bought, sold and murdered around the globe outrages me.”

    One doesn’t need to be a feminist to feel the same way you feel about such atrocities. I remember a parochial school nun teaching us that isms are always bad. This was mostly due to isms like Communism, Marxism, etc. I think she would include feminism in with the others. Who knows? Maybe she became a feminist by her own definition.

  • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

    Yes, you are. And you know perfectly well what you are missing, so you are being disingenuous too.

  • CathyLouise

    Well, Rebecca, I’m glad you chose to post here at Patheos, ’cause I never would have found you at that other blog. I work at a university and am surrounded by uber-politically correct feminists (both male and female), and strident man-hating feminists. Ugh!

  • tedseeber

    I’d second that remark- as a stay at home father for the first six months of my son’s life, and I worry about the fact that he seems WAY more attached to me than to his mother. But 10 years in, there’s nothing we can do about it.

  • tedseeber

    Given that definition of a feminist (a feminist is only a feminist who is against motherhood and promotes the idea of pregnancy as a deadly illness that must be avoided at all costs), then I’m an anti-feminist: I’d rather be a humanist.

  • tedseeber

    “Wouldn’t it make her more dependent on the abuser and make it harder for her to get away from him?”

    It isn’t the woman who has the need to get away, if we do it right. It is the abuser who fears becoming a slave to the abused.

  • tedseeber

    Ok, something’s real strange here. I just noticed all of the comments are from 4 months ago!

  • hotboogers

    There are 3 waves of feminism floating around out there. Hence the controversy over the term. First Wave Feminism, aka Susan B. Anthony feminism — that’s you and me, Ms. Hamilton. Second Wave Feminism, Betty Friedan etc. And Third Wave, Lena Dunham et al. I refer to myself as a “Susan B. Anthony Feminist” to keep things clear. Most people don’t know what that means. Some people recall vaguely who SBA was and find it quaint. It gives an opportunity for catechesis, so to speak. Thank you for your blog, for sharing your wide-ranging thinking, and for engaging in conversation with so many and various people here.


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