Formerly Feminist Wife: A Guest Blog from Nicole Cottrell

October 19, 2012

We’re back to the blog series, continuing today with Nicole Cottrell at Modern Reject.  She writes one of my all time favorite blogs, she’s got some fantastic words to share with us and I’m really glad to be featuring her today.

If you had told me back when I was 16, just stretching my feminist wings for the first time, that soon I was to become a Christian and fall in bio-piclove with a Man I had never before met, I would have called you a liar.

No one could have predicted that what I once held as law – women rule and are generally better, nicer, and plain cooler than men – would be radically challenged and uprooted in light of Christ. I couldn’t have seen it coming and yet, here I am, less of a free agent and more of a slave to a new law and under a new covenant.

What’s more, I could have never predicted that I would be willingly joining a group of people who are often quoted as saying all kinds of absurd things like “Wives have a responsibility to always look hot for their husbands,” or “Women are required to give their husbands sex whenever they want it.”

No. This couldn’t possibly be. No one who loves Jesus could actually make such claims with a straight face. It wasn’t possible. And yet…these ideas are prevalent within the church.

The Sheep and the Cattle

Slowly, however, as God does what it is that He does so well – pull us from where we’ve been and where comfort resides only to drop us smack in the middle of the opposite. And one day, I looked up and realized that I was no longer the young, naive, “grrrllll power” person I used to be.

No longer was I so certain that while the Bible doesn’t tell us that we owe our husbands sex, there is still something sacred and sweet, honorable and humble in saying “yes” to our husbands even when we might rather say “no.” No longer was I certain that while beauty is fleeting, as scripture tells us, putting on lipstick before my husband comes home is neither a sin nor a virtue, but rather, the way that I have chosen to bless and to to serve him.

And if following after Christ for the last 15 years has taught me anything, it is that despite our quickness to box Him in, tag him, label Him, and package Him, He never, ever does the same with us. Jesus is not interested in cattle, but His sheep. He is not trying to pin us down and define us, nor is He wanting to make us all look like one another.

No. He is interested in us looking more like Him. “Little Christs,” as C.S. Lewis call us.

Cake, Lip Gloss and High Heels

So when I see one woman up in arms because the church has offended her by saying that women shouldn’t gain 20 pounds after marriage, while I sympathize, I also think to myself  “Well, I don’t want to gain 20 pounds. Is that wrong?” I don’t want to be made to feel like a traitor to my gender if I desire to lose weight. I don’t want to fight the battle of feminism versus Christianity or feel forced to label myself a “feminist Christian” just because I don women’s anatomy.

Because really, Jesus never would. He would never condemn me for slapping on lip gloss, or buying high heels because they make my husband smile, or for waving my hand in opposition to the really delicious looking piece of chocolate cake because God knows it goes right to my hips.

I will not be made a villain for maintaining my waistline or for hungrily saying yes to sex with my husband.

After it’s all said and done, I serve an intimate and personal God, who thankfully deals with us intimately and personally. What constitutes serving in my household may not in another. Where the Spirit has led me in regards to ideas on sex, beauty, and womanhood may not be the exact same as another’s. For that, I rejoice. My womanhood stands as my own and I think Jesus is okay with that.

Is there a struggle between Christianity and feminism that is actually a double edged sword?  Tell us what you think, and then go read Modern Reject.

43 responses to Formerly Feminist Wife: A Guest Blog from Nicole Cottrell

  1. Nicole–

    I’ve read your blog before and it still sounds to me like you missed the point of the criticism you were getting.

    You see, I don’t care what the heck you want to do for your husband. I don’t think a lot of the negative commenters you got before really cared–if you want to loose 20 pounds or throw away your scrunchies or walk around in cling wrap and high heels for him, well, go on and do it. That’s your choice and no one really cares. I personally could care less.

    The criticism is aimed at promoting this notion that there is ONE certain set of rules that God said that ALL WIVES have to obey, and that there are guys (never women, mind you!) proclaiming this ONE SET OF RULES from the pulpit as if it’s gospel. And it’s not.

    I’m by no means any kind of biblical scholar, but I’m pretty sure there’s nothing in there about me having to remain the same dress size I was when I got married, or that I have to wear makeup and cover up my grey hair lest my husband think I’ve “let myself go.” Yet there are actual *pastors* (well, maybe it’s just one, I don’t know) telling ALL WOMEN that they must do this. The woman you mention likely wasn’t “getting up in arms” about being told *from the pulpit* to lose weight about that because it offended her “grrrrrrrl power” sensibilities–she was probably pissed off about it because 1) it’s an untrue twisting of the gospel and 2) were the men told the same thing? My guess would be no.

    On top of that, I think you’ve got kind of a flawed view of feminism. “Feminism” includes a pretty broad range of views, and evangelical Christians over the years have latched on to the hairy-legged, godless, man-hating, “grrrrl power” stereotype to keep it from having any legitimacy in the church.

    Well, I consider myself a feminist because I’d like to have the same pay scale and respect for the work I do that a man gets. And I also think that I am equal to a man before God, and therefore able to do all the same “church stuff”–even preaching, if I were cut out for that sort of thing–that a man does.

    It’s not a dirty word. It’s just that certain Christians have decided to make it one.

    • Abby,
      I’m not exactly sure how to respond because almost everything you just criticized me for, I actually address in this post.

      You said: “The criticism is aimed at promoting this notion that there is ONE certain set of rules that God said that ALL WIVES have to obey, and that there are guys (never women, mind you!) proclaiming this ONE SET OF RULES from the pulpit as if it’s gospel. And it’s not.”

      I wrote in THIS post: “After it’s all said and done, I serve an intimate and personal God, who thankfully deals with us intimately and personally. What constitutes serving in my household may not in another. Where the Spirit has led me in regards to ideas on sex, beauty, and womanhood may not be the exact same as another’s.”

      As for my view of feminism, I don’t think it’s flawed. I think it unique. And that Abby, is my point. The point that you missed, I fear. My view of feminism is not that which the world prescribes or that which liberal Christians promote. Nor is it the same as conservative Christians, for that matter.

      The entire point was that God has led me to certain ideas, some popular some not, some “in the Bible” explicitly, some not. But, perhaps that isn’t acceptable either.

      I’m not exactly sure what it is you’re looking for. An view of feminism, or sex, or marriage that mirrors you own? Is that it? Or is our God not big enough, our lives not individual enough, our experiences not true enough for us to land on different things?

      I’ve long grown tired of criticizing people who think differently than me. Trying to understand where they are coming from and why it is important to them seems to work a hell of a lot better.

      • First off–I’m sorry if I came across too harshly there. While not all of it is my cup of tea, you do have a thought-provoking blog and I do enjoy reading it.

        What I was getting at with some of my response was along the lines of what Suzannah, Mina, and Luke have said (much more eloquently than me.)

        Now then–one more thing–

        “I’ve long grown tired of criticizing people who think differently than me. Trying to understand where they are coming from and why it is important to them seems to work a hell of a lot better.”

        That’s a nice thought and I’m sure you have the best of intentions, but *you write a blog*. The very nature of what you do entails either directly or indirectly criticizing people who think differently than you a good bit of the time, and if it generates hits, so much the better. Good idea for daily life, but it won’t fly on the Interwebs :)

        Since you said that, though, I’d really like to ask this–what have *you* done with the criticism you’ve received so far? I read your “staying hot for your husband” post and your “giving your husband sex” post and I know they generated a lot of discussion (don’t get me wrong, I think they had plenty of good points in them, too).

        I wouldn’t have expected any of the negative comments you got for those to make you change your mind, but I wondered if *you* actually tried to understand where any of the negative commenters were coming from. Did you try to understand why ranking on sloppy overweight women in sweatpants might rub someone the wrong way? Did you think about how your statements about sex might sound to, say, a rape victim? Did you take any of the criticism as constructive, or did you just chalk it all up to your “unique” view of feminism and decide that your detractors were just stuck in that old “grrrrrl power” (ugh) mentality that you left behind?

        I’m sorry and maybe I missed something, but I don’t get the impression that you did the former, at least based on the post you did here. (I mean, seriously, “I don’t want to be made to feel like a traitor to my gender if I desire to lose weight”—WTF? Who’s giving you THAT idea?) It just sounds like the same old cliched battle against straw feminists that everybody else does, at least to me. I’d be more than happy to be proven wrong.

        Again, I’m sorry about my tone. I’m not really this snarky in real life.

        • Abby,
          First off, thank you responding and being willing to continue this conversation. As for your first point, while it might sound like a cop out…I try very, very hard to not criticize anyone on my blog.

          I have never written a post attacking a specific person. I did come to the defense of Mark Driscoll though and people hated that one. I write about the things I am contemplating, working through, or landed on but I have never sat down and began to type with the idea in mind “Oh man, I’m really going to criticize or attack this person or this ideology.” Never. Not once. People read and interprut through their own lens and worldview. This post is a great example. Some have responded and understood the point I was trying to make. Others have not.

          But when we talk about the posts I’ve written about sex, the “have sex” post specifically was written almost 2 years ago, which is an eternity in blog land. Have my thoughts shifted some, been challenged or re-examined since then? Yes, of course. I’m not a robot and I’m not a fundamentalist.

          But when you reference specifics, like women who have been raped, it is impossible Abby to address every single “what if” in a 700 word post. I would have to preface every post with “all things being equal,” or “in a perfect world.” Of course I’m not telling women who have suffered from sexual abuse, physical abuse, medical conditions, and the like to have more sex. I am not the tin man and I’m not the scarecrow either.

          As for the being made to feel like a traitor for losing weight–it was inspired from an article I read a while back and that I wrote a post in response too, as well.

          The comments on this post had women going back and forth judging one another’s body types and weight. I found it sickening and it spurred on this. So no, it’s not made up or imaginary.

          And of the hundreds of words I wrote in this post, I wish these were the ones people remembered: “And if following after Christ for the last 15 years has taught me anything, it is that despite our quickness to box Him in, tag him, label Him, and package Him, He never, ever does the same with us.”

          Thanks Abby. Blessings.

    • But Abby, feminism is hairy-legged, anti-male (Jesus should have been named Jessica), anti-penis (unless they decide to go to a club and get one for the evening and allow themselves to be objectified through no-strings attached sexual abuse at the hands of an ogrish *gasp* male), pro-abortion (because nothing says femininity like slaughtering an unborn human baby), and etc, etc.

      I have yet to meet a feminist who wasn’t batsh*t crazy, since it is a truism that Jezebel is still pissed off over being eaten by dogs.

      • Reading Jezebel was your first mistake. That crap over there has no basis in reality.

      • I didn’t realize til later that you probably weren’t referring to the website. Oh well.

        At any rate, you haven’t met me, but guess what? I consider myself a feminist but I’m also *gasp* happily married, love my husband, love kids, remove all unwanted body hair, and generally am known for having a pretty good sense of humor. Hearing you say “all femenists are batshit crazy” makes me think you just need to get out more.

        But if you want to go on thinking about everybody in terms of cartoon stereotypes about everybody, that’s no skin off my nose. I could think of plenty of cartoonish ways to characterize guys who call themselves “prophets” on the internet.

        • “Hearing you say “all femenists (sic) are batshit crazy” makes me think you just need to get out more.”

          Indeed. And where did I say that, exactly? Nice spin. I knew it would only be a matter of time until you returned here to have the last word. Your kind always needs it. And your kind permission for me to think as I wish is so nice of you! Thanks so much! So who’s the cartoon stereotype, now?

      • if you knew anything about feminism, you’d know that feminists work against objectification and sexual exploitation. as for sexual abuse, no one “allows” that, except abusers and any culture that shelters them. feminists actively work to combat abuse (in the Church/christian culture, too), to bring abusers and enablers to accountability and create safe spaces for (male and female) survivors and victims to heal.

        “feminists/women-are-crazy!” is a tired trope as well as a silencing tactic. it’s an unbecoming, unfair, and diminishing way to speak of women–and men–who bear the imago dei.

        • Indeed. And how is it then that Cosmopolitan, er, Cosmo magazine has article after article detailing how a woman should have an affair with a famous person, possibly a politician, so that if he decides to bolt she can burn him on the news? Why is it that Cosmo has article after article detailing how to perform a better act of fellatio, how to dress sexier, and how to attract men?

          Your feminist agenda has more holes in it than a Swiss cheese factory. You demand to be treated like men, but refuse to stop behaving like scared and lonely women with daddy issues. Next.

          • If you are REALLY basing your argument off of what you read in Cosmo, then you sir a noting more than a tool. You are really basing an opinion off of soft porn? Which is all that smut mag is. Really? You sound like a bitter ass who is taking his junk out on a select group of people. There is not one once of the love of Christ in any of your words. I am not sure what kind of “prophet” you think you are but you do not speak for REAL men, and certainly not Jesus Christ.

          • @Jonathan,

            It seems to me you have some issues as well with your natural father. Call it a hunch.

            However, thanks for defending the helpless women. I’m sure they just love your fighting battles for them. I, on the other hand, will not seek to defend women because they can do that all on their own. Good thing there is a REAL man to come to their rescue.

            The problem with love, Jonathan, is that you have taken it and bastardized it into something that it is not. I do not suffer from such flaws. If you want love, go buy a puppy. If you want honesty, come to me.

  2. i’m not really sure what to do with this: “I will not be made a villain for maintaining my waistline or for hungrily saying yes to sex with my husband.”

    stay fit. dress up for your man. neither makes you a villain as far as i can tell. what is warped is when people makes those into prescriptives and chains that bind women to patriarchal beauty ideals conflated with a “gospel” that is anything but good news.

    the second half of your sentence describes enthusiastic consent, which feminists are 100% in support of. it is also the complete opposite of your (troubling) earlier statement: “Women are required to give their husbands sex whenever they want it.”

    there is a struggle between faith and feminism for those who want the battle (and the hierarchy), but in our marriage, my husband and i embrace both and are richer for it.

    • Suzannah,
      That was kind of the point of that sentence. I have been criticized for writing about wanting to look good and appear attractive. I have been criticized for saying that I try to say “yes” to my husband more often.

      Both of which have been skewed and misunderstood.

      My point here was that I do and cannot make choices based on which camp of women may or may not support it. I cannot let feminism nor fundamentalism determine how I view sex or my body. Those ideas and truths can only come from the Spirit.

  3. The thing that keeps coming to mind for me in regard to both what you wrote, Nicole, and what the previous comments said, is that I think the biggest issue with the church telling us to keep ourselves “pretty” for our husbands, is that it creates an idea that women are only useful as a way to keep men happy. Women are told that they have no real role in the church, then told that their role in the home is to look pretty, give our husbands sex on demand, raise the children, clean the house, and we’re also told that those things should be satisfying to us, because it’s what we were “created for”. We end up being valuable only in the ways in which we make men happy. And yet, Jesus told us that in the Kingdom of God, there is no male or female, slave or free – that we are all of equal value. Women were not created solely to be men’s playthings, and yet when we put forward this idea that women should focus their entire energy on making their husband happy because it’s their “duty”, we perpetuate the idea that women have less value or worth than men.

    Do I do things that make my husband happy? Yes – but I do them because I love him, and I genuinely want him to be happy because of that love. I may choose to have sex with him even when I don’t feel like it because I know it pleases him. He may choose to allow me to go out in the evening with friends and watch the children even if he doesn’t feel like it because it makes me happy. It’s the same thing. We make sacrifices for the people we love, not because we HAVE to, but because we WANT to.

  4. “Where the Spirit has led me in regards to ideas on sex, beauty, and womanhood may not be the exact same as another’s. For that, I rejoice. My womanhood stands as my own and I think Jesus is okay with that.”

    Perfectly said.

  5. Hi Nicole! I think you have made a good point about one area of submission that feminists have a hard time swallowing–making sure that we are attractive to our husbands. I like the fact that you ended with the statement that God implements his overarching rules in intimately different way for each person–he calls each person to submit, but in a different way for each person in a way that is still consistent. That is one of the most amazing things about God and why He is worthy of worship, and not anyone else or anything else.

  6. Great post, Nicole. I think there is so much disagreement on the details. I blogged on the Proverbs 31 woman and the Titus 2 woman yesterday over here. I was left to think about a Godly woman in the respect of marriage and family. I think if the details are getting in the way of your commitment to your spouse, that’s a problem. Also, Proverbs says “well groomed” not same size as when you were 18. I adore your blog.

  7. Not much in the way of input. Just think we need to have more conversation like this. Each walk is unique and the clickish junior high thinking of most Chrisitans does not help anything in this regard.

  8. Admittedly, I’m a dude, so there’s that, but I’m just shotgunning a couple of thoughts here: That “women rule and are generally better, nicer, and plain cooler than men” strikes me as caricature (if not a downright misrepresentation) of what feminist thought actually entails.

    “I don’t want to fight the battle of feminism versus Christianity.” I think that’s a false dichotomy. The battle isn’t between feminism and Christianity, it’s between feminism and patriarchy, or more broadly, between fundamental human dignity and systematized oppression and/or marginalization. Yes, often times patriarchy manifests within the structure of the institutionalized church and the relationships of Christians themselves, but that doesn’t mean that we’re fighting against the church or Christians.

    • Thank, you, Luke — this is exactly right. Thank you for drawing bigger circles and helping us see where the battle is. Feminism is about human dignity — for women AND men. And wasn’t that what Jesus was all about, too? Bravo.

      • No, Kim, Jesus was about salvation through grace. He was not a community organizer. He was not a political activist. He was the ultimate sacrifice to provide us a pathway to his Father.

        Was it dignified for Christ to talk to the Samaritan woman by the well? Was it dignified to wash the dirty feet of his disciples? Was it dignified for Him to make a whip from cords and drive moneylenders from the temple court? No, it was not dignified, in that ‘dignified’ means “stately or decorous”. Culturally, Christ’s actions were definitely dignified, or representative of dignity.

    • Luke,
      You are right that the line you quoted sounds much like a caricature. It was supposed to. That was sort of my point. I was young–a college student, as I stated–and assumed to know from popular culture and stereotypes what being a feminist was…or wasn’t.

      However, I don’t think we’re being intellectually honest when we say that feminism=human dignity and patriarchy=systemized oppression. I am never comfortable making such grand and sweeping statements. When in fact, many on both sides of this argument could say the same about the other.

      To further clarify, you used the word “fighting” and I’m not fighting against anyone. Although, it has been my experience, for what it’s worth, that people representing both sides *within* the church really do want to pick a fight.

      Thanks for commenting Luke.

      • This is precisely the problem I have with the feminist movement. While feminism is about equality not misandry, a lot of misandry has crept into the feminist movement. It isn’t so much the stereotypical “I hate men” as it is casual sexism. That you would once think such blatant sexism as “women rule and are generally better, nicer, and plain cooler than men” was feminism shows that the movement has a problem.

        Setting up the world as “patriarchy” evil/”feminism” good is a small step away from saying men evil/women good.

  9. Dear Nicole

    Again; I love the frankness of this article and that you can clearly express yourself. I guess I could say that I am in agreement to a degree but I have been called a feminist. I do think that it is important that wives make an effort for their husbands, I think that is a nice thing. However the husband must make an effort, wear a nice shirt, bathe, have his hair cut the way his wife likes. In terms of the weight issue, sorry I am going to have to be blunt. Of course if you are watching you weight for your husband fine. Not saying this is happening to you but I usually find that over weight, quite ugly men demand that their wife is putting on weight and must lose it. I find this strange, a woman might be more forgiving about weight. Men we can feel if you are getting fat, we can still see you its not visually attractive, please go to the gym, its not as if you can use having kids as an excuse.

    As for the sex issue I think this is an individual thing although denial of sex from the man or woman is BIBLICAL, you can’t keep saying no. However it slightly hacks me off ( not Nicole’s article) how christian women are perceived as not really wanting sex, always on the bottom laying there or just want sex for a baby. I mean really NO ! sorry I may be the only woman but we do want sex, yes OFTEN and yes we want variety. I think God created men and women as sexual beings not just men, we need to leave this archaic non empirically supported tosh back in the dark ages. To the shy women try not to wait for your man to approach you every time, jump his bones he is probably non verbally asking you to do this. If you take charge and give a menu of wants or desires your likely to feel 99% better and he is likely to relax with regularity and focus on the quality of your interactions!! Happy hunting girls ; p

  10. There is so much hurt connected to this issue, so much woundedness. It is a privilege for many women to feel like they have the right to be pretty. It comes by effort, yes; but also by genetic luck, cultural currency (being in the right kind of culture that teaches you how to be pretty) and by being able to afford certain things. For many women, physical beauty is a hard (and, perhaps, impossible) thing to grasp (because of the way they were raised, because they were told things about themselves, because they are simply not genetically gifted). And, oh, it hurts to hear it even hinted that the unattractiveness one wears as a burden might be evidence of a spiritual flaw. It is salt in a deep wound. No, you don’t deserve to be hated because you’re beautiful, but it is important for those of us who are more blessed to understand and have compassion for others, and not put stumbling blocks in front of their paths.

  11. Well, I haven’t read your blog yet, but now I will make a point to–I thoroughly loved this.

    If more women would CHOOSE to want to please their hubbies instead of getting mad that someone told them they should, there would be many more happy marriages. Don’t we want our hubbies to CHOOSE to please us? (Hmmm, sounds like how we should be choosing to please Christ–even when we don’t feel like it–yes?)

    Thanks for sharing!

    • This is the kind of judgment that is offensive to the people who get worked up about this issue. Just because a woman struggles in the beauty area doesn’t mean she isn’t making an effort to please God and her husband. I’d hazard a guess that the number of women who are not trying to be pleasing to their husbands with their bodies is very, very small. The core issue is not bitchy, frigid feminism. It is something else entirely; it is big and complex, it is spiritual, it touches deep soul wounds. It is not something that puts all the blame on women (as so many problems of this world are). No one is arguing that we shouldn’t try to please our husbands with our bodies; the to-do is in protest of the obtuse and shaming reasoning that often props up the argument.

  12. Have you actually read any feminist theory, or are your views of “feminism” based solely on its representation in the popular media? Have you even heard of differentialist feminism? (Not to mention that today academics and philosophers recognize that “feminism” as it is unfortunately termed is really about human difference and alterity in every guise — not just gendered! It was in fact the women’s movement that opened the door to civic rights…). Look, not to be rude, I get that you’re a blogger and not a scholar, but the word “feminism” itself is so loaded to begin with, you have to define what you mean by it first, and I think what you’re referring to is radical militant “second wave” feminist movement, which is easy to lampoon, from our privileged viewpoint. But even in that case I would argue it’s wrong to paint all “feminisms” with the same brush. Feminism is not one single philosophy or one single school of thought. Many feminists theories stand in complete opposition to one another. What they have in common is the concept that women and men deserve equal status and recognition as human beings.

    I am a young woman pursuing an interdisciplinary MA which involves a philosophy component. As an undergraduate I had to take a class in Gender Studies, and I remember making these scathing comments over the phone to my mom about how stupid feminism was, and what a hippie my professor seemed like, and how “antifeminist” I considered myself to be. I am a typical girly-girl and a devout Christian — I’m also white, upper-middle-class, thin, blonde, heterosexual — there is nothing for me to gain from being an angry feminist. And yet I was surprised and humbled when I actually grumbled and rolled my eyes and read the major texts and realized how shallow my understanding was of what exactly “feminism” was supposed to mean.

    Nicole, I can’t believe I’m taking all this time to write a comment that you might blow off as just another liberal feminist comment. But are you open-minded enough to consider that there might be more to this issue than perhaps you realized? (And I’m not saying you haven’t considered the issue, I’m not being snarky, I really just don’t know if you are open to comments or if you’re just going to shoot them down regardless…)

    Josephine Donovan’s “Feminist Philosophy: The Intellectual Traditions”, is a good place to start reading, if you are remotely interested, and no, it’s not a feminist manifesto. Just read it. And post a reaction on your blog, if you want. But as a Christian, first and foremost, I wish we could come to a place where church is, at the very least, not adding to the societal garbage.

    Personally, I feel more like a “traitor” due to my unwed, childless state than anything — I care much more about what my church friends think about me than what “society” might think — and in the church I feel such overwhelming pressure to marry and have children right away… I am pretty, I’m feminine, people in the church ask why I’m not married yet, they say I’d be happier in a relationship, and they question why I would want to gain an advanced degree when God’s ultimate plan for women is motherhood. I’m 23. I’m sorry, but that’s a lot of pressure. I am in recovery for an eating disorder and I have worn makeup every day since I was 14 because I feel uncomfortable and insecure without it. In the light of all these things, I don’t think feminism is really a “threat” to my drummed-in passivity, and even if it was, would that be such a bad thing?

    • A girl,
      Thank you for your comment and concern, for sharing your heart and thoughts.

      There is so much I could write in response, but to be honest, I don’t want to. I’m tired. The comments from this post have spiritually drained me.

      If you read any of the comments above then you would know that of course I am open to dialogue and not going to “shut down” anyone. Not to mention, I was asked to be here. This is not my blog. I trust Matt knows I would not treat his readers that way.

      All that to say, you sound a lot like I did when I was 23. A lot. I attended a severely progressive college in Boston, so when you asked if I’ve ever taken a course or read about feminism, the answer is yes.

      The point that has been lost, it seems, on almost every reader, is that I was describing myself as a teenager and a college student when my thoughts on feminism were skewed and formed very much by popular cultural and stereotypes. I *did* have wrong thinking about feminism, but it doesn’t matter because God changed my heart. That was my point.

      I take issue, however, when people express their faith through the lens of feminism, progressivism, conservatism, or any other “ism.” I take issue when people lump together following Christ with say, feminism and say things like “Jesus was a feminist.” Technically, He was…but He wasn’t walking around saying that. He’s a feminist because He is the Messiah…not the other way around. That is a big difference.

      And I say this with a heart of kindness and please do not misunderstand my words to be patronizing in any way, but so what if people as you if you are going to get married and have children. Would you rather they say nothing? For many it is the natural progression in life. People don’t ask to be rude. They ask to be nosey. They ask to make conversation. They ask because why wouldn’t you…

      You place that pressure on yourself, I suspect. I used to do the same. I fought hard to finish college, begin a career, advance that career. I thought that would separate me from the flock of women who I saw as veritable baby machines. But like so many things in life, God had other plans for me.

      And I don’t regret. I don’t sulk. And I didn’t f*ck up. I know that God brought me to this point and this place–this thinking and this point of surrender.

      My prayer is that you are able to do the same–respond in obedience to wherever God takes you. Because feminism (and ideas like it) is not and cannot be our motivating force. Only Jesus Christ can be.

      Blessings to you.

    • For what it’s worth, a girl, we single males get the “why aren’t you married yet” question too. I’m nearly 36 and an unmarried virgin; that’ll earn you lots of weird looks from Christians and non-Christians alike, moreso the virgin part even than the unmarried part. Most of them probably don’t think as badly of you as you may feel inside; they just don’t know quite how to relate to something outside their usual expectations. We all have things about which we’re not sure what to think or how to relate, I suppose. Sometimes the best way to deal with them is to remember that at least they care enough to notice, even if their way of noticing is wearying at times. God works on different schedules and different paths in each person’s life, and as long as you’re not violating a Biblical command or His leading in your life, you’re not a traitor to anything.

  13. Hey Nicole!

    There’s a lot of great content in this post. I do worry though that the way you used the word “feminist” is causing a lot of people in the thread to talk past each other.

    The way you structured the post, from the title down, comes across to me as “feminist” = Amazon man-haters (admittedly, my words and not yours). As you admitted in a previous comment, that’s an unfair caricature that immediately closes down conversation with those like myself who consider ourselves feminists.

    I think in a lot of ways you’re still feminist – you are against oppression, you believe that men and women possess equal dignity and deserve equal respect. I can’t imagine that if you saw anyone as the victim of injustice you’d keep silent about it.

    • JR,
      Totally agreed and I receive your comment and criticism openly. But, as I read it I can’t help but think that yes, I agree with your assessment of me and that doesn’t make me a “feminist,” it makes me a follower of Christ.

      Maybe that sounds overly simplistic or simple minded, but that is the truth. I purposely pegged feminism in this post as the stereotypical negative fodder because that is what I used to operate under. That was how I saw the world…until Jesus got a hold of me.

      If people reading this post cannot see that (or see past that) well then, the entire post is lost. For that, I’m sorry but also powerless to fix it.

      Thanks for your honest, thoughtful response here. Always appreciate your voice and perspective.

      • In a previous reply to someone else, you said, “The point that has been lost, it seems, on almost every reader, is that…”
        And now, “If people reading this post cannot see that (or see past that) well then, the entire post is lost. For that, I’m sorry but also powerless to fix it.”

        You are not powerless; that is YOUR burden, as the author/writer.
        Here is a great blog post about how your word choice means things:

  14. Nicole,
    It’s unfortunate that so much of this discussion has been about what you didn’t say. For whatever it’s worth, your conclusion about God dealing with us individually came across to me loud and clear. But you’ve done a lot of (very good) “out loud” thinking here, and if someone isn’t following your logic, it might be easy to see a couple of sentences and think it represents your opinion.. That’s my guess as to what’s happened here. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Bridget,
      Thank you for your reasonable and well-stated comment–neither jumping to conclusions or presuming I said something I didn’t. At the end of two days of these comments, it is refreshing and welcomed. Blessings.

  15. One of the problems with the labels of real feminism, caricature, stereotype, etc, etc, in the comments here is that there really is no such thing as one true feminism. I’ll explain. :>

    Christianity has a single authoritative source, God, who has the right to define it. The fact that we have thousands of sub-denominations and cults and so forth proves that human beings are incapable of agreeing on what that single authoritative source has to say, up to and including whether or not the Bible is an accurate and infallible record of God’s definition of Christianity. But there is still one single authoritative source at the root of it who has that right to define Christianity and thus determine who is and is not a Christian, even if not everyone who applies the label of Christian to themselves wants to listen to that source’s view over their own. There are all sorts of human opinions tacked onto Christianity, but we still have a source we can compare them to and discard them.

    Feminism doesn’t have a single source with authority to define it. For every feminist who thinks porn and strip clubs are examples of patriarchal exploitation and the ultimate evil in the universe there’s a feminist who lauds porn stars and strippers as ideal empowered women using their powerful sexuality to dominate the wallets and minds of idiot men. And there really is no one authority with the right to tell the amazonian man-hating dominatrix that she’s not a feminist or to tell the equality and harmony for all philosopher that she’s not a feminist. As a movement formed from a collection of human opinions, the professor with a PhD in Woman’s Studies has no more authority over its definition than the girl down the street.

    I hope my point comes across in all that ramble. There’s no authority to exclude people who have given feminism a bad reputation by saying they’re not practicing real feminism. You can certainly present that you don’t share their opinions, and I’m glad to see people doing so, but it’s not accurate to present them as not being part of the movement. They’re maybe that rude aunt that you’re always having to apologize to others for but she’s still part of the family. 😉

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