What’s life like as a Christian feminist? One word:
It’s hard to feel completely at home with either group. The feminists that I know rarely agree with my Pro-Life stance on abortion. And the Christians that I know rarely agree with me on anything besides abortion.
I hope I’ve managed to bridge a few gaps between the worlds.
But wow, is there ever tension.
I’ve had to sit through church sermons mocking feminists and I’ve had to sit through feminist meetings mocking Christians (even though I don’t relate at all with the Christians they laugh at, like Sarah Palin and Pat Robertson, it still feels a bit isolating).
But I’d never seen the two worlds collide until this Wednesday night.
Every Wednesday night I go to the feminist group here on campus– Organization for Women’s Issues, or OWI. I always have a great time, learn a lot, feel empowered, and get to know a little bit more about the awesome women (and one man!) who are part of the group.
This week, the discussion topic was birth control.
Well, one of the Christian groups on campus got word of this.
Then rumor got back to us at OWI that the Christian group was planning on sending a priest to interrupt our discussion. We got a little nervous about this, but figured, hey, we’re strong, independent women! Nothing we can’t handle!
No priests showed up. But three ladies wearing obvious Christian t-shirts and suspicious smirks did.
Two of the three ladies grabbed one of our brochures about condoms and started snickering at it. From across the room, I heard snippets of, “That’s so not true…I can’t believe these people believe this stuff…How stupid…They think sex doesn’t have consequences.”
Our president passed the attendance sheet around. When it got to the ladies from the Christian group, they didn’t bother to sign it. The two who had found our brochures so amusing picked the sheet up as they passed it along and held it away from them at arm’s length like it was a dead animal.
We OWI women awkwardly passed worried glances around the room, not knowing how to react.
Finally, our president got up to start the meeting and awesomely, maturely, and respectfully diffused the tension.
“Welcome to OWI!” she said. “I see we’ve got some new faces in here! We’re really glad to have you, and we hope you’ll participate in our discussion because we like to discuss things here. Your voice might be saying something different than ours, but the point of feminism is that all women HAVE a voice.”
Cue cheers and “woot-woots!” from the OWI ladies.
After that, the snickering stopped and so did most of the dirty looks (though I saw a couple of the Christian women’s jaws drop when a few OWI women started to talk, in detail, about how to insert Nuva-rings and put on female condoms, which was slightly amusing).
Discussion time came, and the Christian group said what they had come to say, which was mostly scare tactics– claims that they had not bothered to research or extreme cases of allergic reactions to the Pill. Our leaders responded gracefully and always managed to turn the conversation into, “Great points! See, there are some risks. Even if they are rare, we need to have groups like OWI, so that we can be informed!”
I walked out of there feeling very proud of the way my fellow OWI members had handled a tough situation.
But I also walked out of there feeling very ashamed of the way my fellow Christians had acted.
Here I am in the middle.
On one side, my feminist sisters, speaking their minds, and letting others speak theirs.
On the other side, my sisters in Christ, intentionally crashing a well-meaning group, not to love or to learn from the the people in the group, but to shoot them down and snicker at them.
I shouldn’t have to choose between sets of sisters.
I should be able to be proud of both.
But that wasn’t the case this Wednesday. That wasn’t the case at all.