The impact of Jesus’ feminism has yet to be fully realized. Even famous women receive an extraordinary amount of abuse.
Women are attacked with sexual innuendo and threats of sexual violence online. Feminists who ask for basic respect and equality are belittled.
If a woman calls out gender bias, she is likely to hear, “strident bitch with no sense of humor!” In our culture, an admirably strong woman is deemed “not a lady.” Being seen as nurturing is also seen as a political weakness, even by some women.
My wife Genie sometimes runs into women who behave condescendingly to her when they find out she’s “only doing” childcare for our grandchildren these days. If Genie wants respect from a certain kind of woman or man steeped in the values of our capitalist consumer society, she must also point out that she’s a publisher who owns her own company.
In the never-say-never category of complexity trumping prejudice, my experience as a “mom” (I take care of my grandchildren too) has led to my discussing the role of women here. Paradox abounds. Delaying pregnancy is one indicator that a woman will usually have some independence, but Genie and I broke this rule and Genie is a happy, fulfilled woman. We got away with our stupidity because we had enough love and support for Genie to reinvent herself while we figured out how to be parents. We were lucky, but even more important, we were loved.
Paradoxically, that unconditional love happened to us in an evangelical mission context filled with people most atheists would denounce as backward bigots—only they weren’t. And yet, Genie’s and my happy experience aside, two thousand years after Jesus treated women as equals, countless fundamentalist American parents are preparing their daughters to forgo personal goals and accept subservient roles in marriages better suited to first-century Israel. It can seem as if Jesus failed to change anything. Go figure.
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