Feminism is increasingly infiltrating Christianity to the quiet dismay of a lot of believers I know in my personal life. My Christian friends accept that I am more a student of religious faith than a practitioner of any religion. I should also note that, although I am too skeptical to take the “leap of faith” necessary to be a Christian, I have no animosity to religion itself, but I do oppose certain religious practices for cause – involuntary circumcision, for example.
I should also note that A Voice for Men is a secular site, and my discussion of Christianity is not intended to promote nor detract from that faith. I’ll leave the translation of feminism into other faiths to those who are better versed in those faiths than me.
The feminist infiltration of Christianity has gone on for a long time. My former intellectual sparring buddy, Lutheran pastor, and late Catholic priest Richard John Neuhaus put it this way in 1990:
Elizabeth Achtemeier, professor of Bible at Union Theological Seminary, Virginia, has flatly asserted that radical feminist theology is “another religion.” Some may think that judgment excessive. After all, there are many women who think of themselves as feminists and are also determined to be orthodox Christians. Here the distinction between feminist and radical feminist comes into play. Women (and men) who say they are feminists often mean to say no more than that they think women should be treated more fairly than they have been treated in the past. They want the views, influences, and experiences of women to be taken more fully into account. They want women to have a greater opportunity to participate in all activities where gender differences are not pertinent. No sensible person can argue against feminism so defined. But such feminism has little or nothing to do with feminist theology today.
There is a world of difference between feminism as fairness and feminism as ideology. Feminist theology, almost by definition, reflects the second kind of feminism. Unfortunately, ideological feminism frequently succeeds in infiltrating feminism as fairness. One reason for that is that women who feel frustrated in their quest for fairness are susceptible to the suggestion that unfairness is “systemic,” is built into the very structure of Christianity. That suggestion, indeed that dogma, is the keystone of feminist theology. Feminist theology may be expressed in “moderate” or “radical” forms, but the enterprise itself is inherently radical.
Nothing has changed in the 25 years since Father Neuhaus wrote that: newb “choice” feminists still deny that they are the cannon fodder for the man-hating radfems even though radical feminism would be more disreputable than the Ku Klux Klan without them.
Still in doubt? Imagine how radical feminism would be received without naïve, hot young celebrities like Beyonce and Emma “#HeForShe” Watson in their corner.
For the thesis that feminism is a religion to succeed as a metaphor, one must draw a number of parallels between feminism and religion so that one can become a working model for the other. A successful metaphor between two classes (in this case, feminists and believers) allows us to generalize strategies for dealing with the classes: a factor that helps/hurts one should help/hurt the other, if the metaphor has power. There is no correct nor incorrect metaphor – a metaphor is either useful, or not.
For example, consider the idea that “things expand when they are heated.” This is true of most materials; metals, glass, most gasses, and so on, but it fails for ice (which melts into a smaller volume of water) and room temperature rubber (which contracts under heat, behavior that is the basis for “shrink wrap”).
So, with the warning that metaphors can be imperfect, lets translate feminist jargon into Christianity.
To feminists, “problematic” means “sin” or “sinful”: it is a transgression against women in the same fashion as “sin” is a transgression against God (or the laws of God). This leads us naturally to the next translation:
“Women as a class” –
To feminists, “women as a class” are God – perfect, pure, all-powerful beings whose judgement is not to be questioned. Someone who doubts a woman’s word has its own special term:
This term translates as “atheist,” or “skeptic.” Such a person is inherently untrustworthy and is frozen out of all discussions of faith regardless of the objective, verifiable truth of what he says.
“Radical feminist” or “radfem” –
This term translates as “fundamentalist” – usually a long term, erudite believer who is more concerned with protecting the faith from apostasy than expanding the faith by soft-peddling the harsher requirements of dogma. Tends to be overly concerned with dogma, according to others. The more extreme the radical feminist/fundamentalist, the smaller the admitted class of true believers, which can often shrink down to just one person, the radfem/fundamentalist herself/himself.
“Moderate” feminist –
This is an evangelical who is more concerned with expanding the faith than with a strict adherence to dogma. Radfems and moderates, like fundamentalists and evangelicals, are often confused in the minds and media of the outside world and have the same internal conflicts that the outside world tends to overlook and/or misunderstand. For example, radfems reject an individual woman’s “empowerment” in the same way that a fundamentalist might eschew “good works” as a key to salvation.
“Educate yourself” –
This is the same as “Read the bible” – a dismissive phrase used to redirect a questioner/seeker away from open verbal inquiry into a contentious issue of faith.
“Choice” feminist –
This translates as “convert” – a new believer in feminism who embodies the liberating aspects of the faith without grasping or internalizing the changes in behavior demanded by holy scripture.
“Patriarchy” (“Men as a class”) –
This translates as “evil,” Devils,” or “Hell on Earth”. This is the doctrine that the Earth is fallen from grace and in control of Satan.
“Male Privilege” –
This is the feminist version of “original sin”: all men (men only) are tainted with male privilege:
One of the hardest parts of coming to grips with the depth and breadth of the patriarchy is recognizing that there are no exceptions. Maybe you didn’t, personally, do anything wrong, but you were still born into a power structure that gave you unjust rewards. The system — whether it’s the patriarchy or white supremacy or capitalism — does not offer special exemptions for individuals with good intentions. And that should make you mad: The fact is that even though you know better, and are truly a male feminist, you’re still stuck being the bad guy. You can’t opt out of the privileges you inherited at birth. Or, as my (male) feminist friend once put it, “I’m not one of the good ones and neither are you and neither is anyone, FYI.”
“Smash the Patriarchy” –
The feminist version of “go and sin no more.” In other words, feel bad, do nothing, and enjoy nothing of this world.
This is a weird amalgam of missionary work to foreign lands/inner cities and “the nobility of the savage” – the idea that those who have yet to hear the gospel are less guilty of sin because they don’t know any better Feminists believe that certain classes of people are less sinful (“God’s chosen people”) and more credible than they are (until proven otherwise).
“White feminism” –
These are the High Church Episcopalians of feminism – upper class, and absorbed in upper class problems. Enough said.
“Slut walks” –
These are the feminist version of camp meetings of evangelicals – raw, emotion-laden appeals for converts.
This is like ecumenical efforts designed to bring various sects together for common cause. Such efforts are short-lived and usually dissolve into partisan warfare.
“The male gaze” –
This is the pervasive evil that permeates society and leads to sin. Feminists try to subvert the male gaze by dressing outlandishly to attract the male gaze, and then assailing as horrible those men who gaze at them in horror.
A small affront (venial sin) to the faith. For example, saying “happy holidays” is a microaggression against people who say “Merry Christmas” and saying “Merry Christmas” is a microaggression against atheists and Jews. For a feminist, a man saying “Good morning” to a woman is a microaggression because he did not ask her permission before speaking – indeed, even asking permission, holding open a door, or looking at a woman with the “male gaze” is a microaggression.
“Sexual harasser” –
A man who asks for permission or consent to court (date) a woman.
“Male entitlement” –
The idea that men are allowed to ask for consent to date a woman.
“Sexually empowered woman” –
A woman who asks a man on a date. The idea of asking a man for permission or consent is completely alien to feminism – women are entitled to do whatever they want regardless of consent or the marital status of either the man or woman.
A man who refuses a woman’s request for sexual intercourse. A woman who refuses a man’s request for sexual intercourse is “a victim of verbal domestic violence.”
“Internalized misogyny” –
A disorder of a non-virgin woman; the state of a woman, both mentally and physically, who agrees to sexual intercourse with any man, including her husband. In general it is used for any woman who likes, loves, defends, or appreciates men – for example, a faithful, loving wife and mother is said to suffer from “internalized misogyny.”
“Listen and believe” and “Believe the victim” –
This is the “leap of faith” – the willingness to accept faith in God absent objective proof of God. For feminists, any claim of rape, abuse or harassment made by a woman, no matter how outlandish or objectively false, must be believed without question, sort of like accepting as literally true a story about a talking snake without ears or vocal chords.
“The sisterhood” –
This is the feminist version of the magisterium (teaching authority).
“Male feminists” –
Monks, especially the self-flagellating sort. Male feminist leaders are rarer than female priests and even more strongly discouraged.
“Gender studies” (also, “women’s studies”).
This is an amalgam of catechism classes, Sunday school, worship, and even volunteer work. The closest parallel in Christianity is called “church.”
“Abortion clinic” –
This is similar to a baptismal, except that during the processes performed there, the child’s soul is sent to heaven with no delay, avoiding the pitfalls of being corrupted by further physical contact with women.
This is a term feminists use when they are familiar with the content of a sermon and annoyed that a man is reiterating it instead of fawning over them.
After 27 or so examples, I think I’ve established enough parallels to show that we can treat feminism as a religion. I invite others to submit their own example in the comments, and indeed,
Have a Blessed Day.