I am a feminist, there, I said it; that dreadful word that everyone seems to willfully discern incorrect definitions from. To clarify for any haters on feminism that may chance upon this blog. Feminism: the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities (Merriam Webster online dictionary) Feminism is not misandry, nor is it the belief that women should rule over men. It is quite simply the movement to promote equality based upon gender.
So, as a feminist, and specifically hailing from a -mainly- christian theistic worldview, it pains me greatly to see articles such as the ones listed here:
Now, I discovered the first article whilst browsing through my Facebook feed, you know, bored on a Sunday, avoiding schoolwork kind of browse. As I read I am fairly certain my eyes widened considerably, my pulse increased, and my curly hair sprouted new levels of frizz due to stress… ok so the last one is metaphorical, but I seriously could not fathom the ignorance that led Dr. Stephen Kim to lace what could have been a perfectly innocent faith based article with misogynistic ideas that send shudders through me even in recollection. Of course, after reading the first listed article I felt compelled to investigate Dr. Kim’s conclusions on the opposing spectrum. Though demeaning towards men in its own right, the second article seemed to me more common sense based especially when laid out in bullet point format.
Listed below are the things Dr. Kim states that Christian men and women should avoid in their respective spouses
10 Women that Christian Men should not marry:
1. The Unbeliever
2. The Divorcee
3. The Older Woman
4. The Feminist
5. The Sexy-Dresser
6. The Loud-Mouth
7. The Child-Hater
8. The Wander-Luster
9. The Career Woman
10. The Devotion-less Woman
10 Men that Christian Women should not marry:
1. The Unbeliever
2. The Younger Man
3. The Spiritually Younger Man
4. The Divorced Man
5. The Angry Man
6. The Narcissist
7. The Liar
8. The Addict
9. The Idle
10. The Un-Evangelist
What I see here are two things; firstly, a specifically delineated list of innately hurtful ideas (particularly 4-9) that a patriarchal society tends to harbor towards women in contrast to the more generalized list against men, and secondly, a complete lack of sentience that these lists are simultaneously insulting to both genders but extremely insulting towards women, portraying the author as a misogynist. Whether or not misogyny was his intent is negligible.
What I really see in the second list is a list that (from 5-9) is really applicable to both genders even in non-faith based relationships. It is not a particularly good idea to commit yourself to another who is irrationally angry, obsessed solely with themselves, a liar, addicted to something that draws them away from you, or cannot support his/herself independently. These, to me, seem perfectly logical things for both men and women to avoid in their chosen spouse. Please correct me if I am wrong on that account. What I find incredibly difficult to swallow is the injustice aimed at women in general but also the men in the 3 overlapping categories which I shall discuss lastly.
In the category of women that Christian men should avoid, however there is a deep seated notion that there has been and will always be one place for a woman, the home. A woman should be a loyal, devoted, kind, nurturing housewife who gives up all her dreams and wishes to serve her husband and raise a family. And it is on that idea that I put my foot down and refuse to be silent, the Patriarchy and its ideals be damned, I accept the consequences of my opinion.
A good Christian man should not marry a feminist.
How can I word this delicately… To insinuate that feminism is against God’s will “demonstrates a level of ineptitude that borders on the imbecilic! And I mean that in a very caring way.” (Thank you Captain Amelia for your excellently quotable words) What one must take into account is that the bible, and all its contents therein, are filtered through a patriarchal worldview that contains multiple other aspects that society does not accept today (slavery for example). Therefore, and again I quote Captain Amelia, “Let me make this as… monosyllabic as possible. I… don’t much care for this..” opinion you hold good sir. I believe it to be quite flawed and incongruent with the ideas of Christianity. Christianity is a worldview that should be seeking to equip and promote all people, not segregate and belittle based on sex, race, age, or social-economic standing; yet consistently I see the exact opposite from the people of my worldview.
A good Christian man should not marry a sexy-dresser
Might I just pose a query? What exactly does being a “sexy-dresser” entail? A woman can be sexy in many different outfits. sexy-dressing does not equal a stripper’s wardrobe, and even if it did, the beautiful thing is a woman may dress however she pleases. Perhaps a “sexy-dresser” is not correct for a christian man, but just because she dresses “sexy” does not automatically eliminate her. There are many more things to consider than someone’s dress.
A good Christian man should not marry a loud-mouth
Well, that eliminates a lot of women I know who simply have an opinion. I believe Dr. Kim should instead call this section “The Gossiper” which seems more closely related to his point. A big mouth does not equal a gossiper. It implies that someone speaks before thinking or is overbearing in their vocalized opinions, but this is not the same as gossiping, nor does it create a problem within a relationship if the other party understands and accepts it.
A good Christian man should not marry a child-hater
I’m sorry, but when did not wanting to have children mean that someone is a child hater? Did I miss the memo? was there a mass email/Facebook post/twitter update that I should have read? Not only Dr. Kim are you equivocating child-hating with the desire to be married without children, but you are actually stating that it is unbiblical to be married as a Christian and not have children. No. No! I cannot overlook that erroneous statement. The ability to have children is not a reason to have children. Are children a blessing? Yes! However, there are many MANY reasons for a couple to decide against having children, genetic disease, insufficient income, dedication to careers that would put undue stress on a child. Aside from all of these perfectly logical reasons, there is one that matters most: some people do not want to be parents. That’s it, they simply don’t want to be parents, and I challenge someone to convince me that it is actually beneficial for a child to be born to parents that don’t want a child. Just because one possesses the biological tools to be a parent does not mean that someone SHOULD be a parent.
A good Christian man should not marry a Wander-Luster
So then, who will be our missionaries to the world? Because obviously the desire to travel, see new places, seek new experiences, those desires are clearly not proper. Again we see Dr. Kim circling back to a woman’s proper place in the home. (why I think he’s a misogynist I have no idea because he is clearly not discriminating against women in any way…) All I can say to this complete lack of understanding–and the implications this though has toward the missionary–is shame. There are people who risk their lives everyday to spread the gospel that they heartily believe in to the people they have come to love and care for through their travels and yet Dr. Kim has the audacity to condemn their wanderlust, their desire to understand other cultures, other humans, other lands than that of their birth. The spirit of wanderlust is a beautiful tool in the spread of the gospel; without people who possess this desire, the mission field would die at the hands of the contented.
A good Christian man should not marry a career woman
If being a good christian man entails being intimidated by a woman’s career and her desire to continue in that career even when she has a family, then I pray that God sends me an atheist who respects my worldview and encourages my career. I apologize if I seem abrupt but I am not going tens of thousands of dollars in debt to finish college and build myself a career just to give it all up because my husband wants me to stay at home and play house. That being said, I definitely do not condemn those women who want to be stay at home mothers, Ladies, you do your thing! Everyone is different and there should be no set mold of a “good little Christian wife”… no sorry, wife implies that there is some sort of equality, I believe homemaker would be more applicable to Dr. Kim’s ideal.
The remaining sections of Dr. Kim’s articles that I wish to analyze are applicable to both men and women in his opinion. And though I know I have already written much, I humbly request my dear readers that you continue with me just a bit longer in this journey.
A good Christian man or woman should not marry an unbeliever
If I could make an amendment to the statement it would read as follows “Any man or woman should not choose a spouse that cannot accept and support them in their worldview.” For some couples, being of opposing worldviews is not feasible. It can create tension and hurt when mutual respect is not present. However, when two people can respect each other’s worldview and encourage them in it despite their own beliefs to the contrary, that exhibits a healthy, growing relationship that promotes mutual respect. Being a believer does not mean you cannot be with an unbeliever but that you must choose your partner wisely-as they should with you-and in doing so choose a partner who respects both you and your belief system.
A good Christian man or woman should not marry a divorcee
Well according to Dr. Kim’s article (specifically the second listed), my father and mother should be immediately getting a divorce. Sorry Mum and Dad, looks like your loving relationship that has lasted 25 years with two kids is over…. We live in a different time from that of the bible, divorce has sadly become a part of our society. Still, to insist that marrying a divorcee unless the marriage ended due to their spouse’s infidelity death, or faith conversion is wrong… it is incorrect. Divorce happens for many reasons, domestic abuse, infidelity, the money runs out, mental illness, the list can continue for ages. To mark another human being for past actions instead of discerning their intensions from the present creates a level of bigotry and hatred that serves to drive the wounded from the church doors instead of welcoming them in. May I please remind any Christian who condemns others for divorce of the atrocities committed by King David, a man whom the bible says was after God’s own heart. He was not only an adulterer, but a liar, and a murderer. Consider that in your calculations.
A good Christian man should not marry an older woman/A good christian woman should not marry a younger man
Regardless of the quoted study that says “If you’re a woman two or more years older than your husband, your marriage is 53 percent more likely to end in divorce than if he was one year younger to three years older.” (Source: Rebecca Kippen, Bruce Chapman and Peng Yu, “What’s Love Got to Do With It? Homogamy and Dyadic Approaches to Understanding Marital Instability,” Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, 2009.) Age is not the only factor to base a decision of a life partner on. We can just as easily throw around the statistic that “If you’re a married American, your marriage is between 40 and 50 percent likely to end in divorce.” (Source: David Popenoe, “The Future of Marriage in America,” University of Virginia/National Marriage Project/The State of Our Unions, 2007). Does it then follow, Dr. Kim, that no one should marry if they are American? I am quite sure your opinion on procreation as children are the survival of the church would contend with that. Also the assertion that a man should be older because he is the ‘head of the household’ is in my opinion bollocks. Just because a women is older than her husband does not mean she would not respect him, the argumentation for an elder male simply propagates the idea of male dominion over a woman. This along with the idea that the man must be spiritually older than the woman is weak in argumentation and relies heavily on the traditional patriarchy that fuels WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) feelings of Entitlement and authority.
In summation. I encourage everyone to read the two articles I included. I hope that by reading my thoughts on the subject you, dear reader, will understand the plight of the feminist, in a world dripping with male chauvinism. Above all else, I truly hope you do not misconstrue my words as misandry or hatred towards my brothers, but that you will read them as they are intended, a plea for a better tomorrow where we do not have to teach our daughters to fear men but a tomorrow where we teach our sons to respect women and each value the other as human entities deserving of respect.