A Faithful Feminist

Inspired by Merle Hoffman’s new book Intimate Wars, we’re sharing some of our own most memorable pro-choice/social justice personal actions this month. If you’d like to contribute, let us know!

I am a believer. If I had to name my religion, it would be “Judaism-Islam.” As the believers of both religions believe in One God, my heart stays indivisible. It is a paradox. I cannot choose between these two religions, the two principals of my family (in which there are also devout but very tolerant Catholics). In recent months I have attended evangelical churches in France, not to convert myself, but to study the Gospel and Scriptures that I know very little about. I accompany my best friend, who is an evangelist.

Hold a Dialogue With Believers
Thus, in recent months my feminist “action” has taken place with people I meet in evangelical churches. I have learned a lot from them; they are very warm people. I listen and ask them what they think about the low status of women. Women find it normal: “woman is a help for man,” “with gentleness and patience, a woman can get everything from her husband.” But I cannot talk openly about feminism – if I do, my friend may be removed. So I ask questions, I ask them their opinions. And that makes us think together. Once, a woman I had never talked to said, during a meeting whose subject was “How to Avoid Divorce”: “You men you talk about equality, but these are only words. You never do anything at home, we are your equal when it suits you.” The pastor listened, and let this woman speak. An angry man left the room.

Here are some notable phrases I’ve heard in evangelical churches: “the woman is a gift that was created for man”; “women’s emancipation encroaches on the pride of man”; “a man waits for a small intelligence from his wife: that she doesn’t humiliate him, for instance”; “the woman has a natural impatience”; “the woman has the natural temptation to break free of the man, as man has the one to escape its responsibilities, so if everyone stays at one’s place, there will be no trouble.”

A Matter of Interpretation
In spite of the existence of this patriarchal society that has lasted for thousands of years, I continue to hope. Jews, especially Orthodox Jews, wait for the Messiah. Christians wait for the return of Jesus. In fact, feminism or even Communism is like religion: that is to say, it is a utopia. It is an ideal in which we believe and we hope.

I have experienced horrible things, but I know there is always worse. Some situations are unbearable and then only God can carry us: He is like a rock that I can hang on. When I take this into consideration I see feminism as a weapon that God has given me for my self-defense and to allow me to stand up. Therefore, feminism is my fight and my faith is my strength.

One wonders sometimes, “Is God misogynist?” In fact, God is the greatest feminist because, firstly, He is the largest in all good things; and secondly, according to the Scriptures, the first human being exposed to free will as well as the imperative to make a choice, was a woman.

Comments

  1. Manis, I love that you’re willing to go to evangelical church to learn about their beliefs. I think a lot of us are more judgmental and avoid people who have different beliefs than us. You’re much more open-hearted than I am.

    It’s interesting to me that you compare feminism to its own brand of faith. I think you have a really good point. As feminists, we really are hoping for something better than what we have now.

    Although I agree with most of your view, I don’t consider God a man – but chock that up to my feminism and me being a Wiccan. To me, God is a woman, and God exists in everything around us. If God wasn’t a woman, how could the Earth take all the abuse we deliver and still keep on giving? Only a woman has that kind of strength.

  2. “To me, God is a woman, and God exists in everything around us. If God wasn’t a woman, how could the Earth take all the abuse we deliver and still keep on giving? Only a woman has that kind of strength.”
    Amen! I see what you mean. Indeed, I use “He” to talk about God. It is like a convention. And, I think that to talk about God, we need a special personal pronoun. After all, He is neither man nor woman. God is God.

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