“Let’s face it. We’re undone by each other. And if we’re not, we’re missing something. If this seems so clearly the case with grief, it is only because it was already the case with desire. One does not always stay intact. It may be that one wants to, or does, but it may also be that despite one’s best efforts, one is undone, in the face of the other, by the touch, by the scent, by the feel, by the prospect of the touch, by the memory of the feel.
And so when we speak about my sexuality or my gender, as we do (and as we must), we mean something complicated by it. Neither of these is precisely a possession, but both are to be understood as modes of being dispossessed, ways of being for another, or, indeed, by virtue of another.”
― Judith Butler, Undoing Gender
Growing up, many of us were taught that the f-word was a dirty word.
In some Christian communities, feminism is analogous to communism, hippie “make-love-not-war” movements, or Mother Earth theologies. It may be seen as dangerous and incompatible with the Bible’s teachings: a threat to the social order and community life of the church. Even in those communities that are deeply rooted in justice and Scripture both, we still bear witness to inequalities and hierarchies related to gender, sexuality, race, ability, class, and more. Sadly, differences within the Body of Christ are often more apt to be viewed with suspicion and even derision than celebration, even by Christians desiring to be inclusive and affirming of all gifts and callings.
Gender equality is far more than an issue of income, “right” theology, or even representation. Glaring disparities remain between the numbers of women and men in ordained ministry and positions of influence everywhere. Anecdotally and statistically, women experience violence, exploitation, belittling, silencing, and de-legitimizing because of gender at church, work, home, in the media, in public, private, and online. We recognize that we don’t bear these wounds equally: women of color, queer women, abuse survivors, and others experience marginalization on multiple axes beyond gender. Realizing this, we cannot work for gender equality without also fighting white supremacy. The so-called “mommy wars” are meaningless to women who work for the survival of their families (and those who are not parents at all). Any serious work to end violence against women must include transgender women, who are particularly vulnerable to abuse. Our feminisms must actively combat insularity and privilege in order to truly bear the fruits of justice, wholeness, and peace.
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