Feminism

Christian women: feminism IS your friend, actually

pumpkin exploding
[this is what the patriarchy will look like, when we’re through with it]

I usually do whatever I can to avoid reading anything Matt Walsh says, because reasons. He’s the blog version of Rush Limbaugh and an un-educated John Piper rolled into one Godzilla-sized disaster. Seeing someone in any of my social media feeds link to him has been enough to cause this reaction:

luke NO

And that person usually ends up blocked or hidden. However, he’s been showing up more and more often in my Facebook feed, and from people that I respect and value my relationship with them. So, here goes.

If you want to read Matt Walsh’s article, “Christian women: feminism is not your friend,” here’s a Do Not Link version.

~~~~~~~~~~

Before we get started, there’s something that Walsh is doing in this post that seems to be a consistent pattern with him: he re-defines words to whatever he wants them to mean in order to make his “argument.” In this post, “feminist” is re-defined to mean– an only mean– a woman who thinks there’s nothing wrong with murdering babies and “equal” means sameness, both of which are preposterous definitions.

Everyday I hear from people who tell me they are ‘pro-life feminist’ or ‘Christian feminist.’ Yet millions of modern feminists would respond that such a thing is not possible. Feminism, they say, exists largely to combat the patriarchal evils of pro-life Christianity. They claim that calling yourself a pro-life feminist is like calling yourself a carnivorous vegan, or an environmentalist Humvee enthusiast. The concepts are contradictory, they argue, and I agree — though I’d say the term ‘pro-life feminist’ could be more aptly compared to ‘abolitionist slave trader’ or ‘free market communist.’

Ok, first off, since there’s apparently “millions of modern feminists” who would argue this, I’m surprised he was unable to find a quote of anyone actually saying this– especially when I know they’re out there. I think it’s a completely accurate statement to say that Matt Walsh is lazy. In the posts I’ve seen, I’ve never seen him link to research, studies, even people who agree with him. He just spews bullshit for 2,945 words and then eventually runs out of steam.

But more importantly: yes, there are feminists who are primarily focused on maintaining reproductive rights; however, that is not the sum total of feminism, and, in fact, a lot of feminists critique these “single-issue” feminists for a variety of reasons. Intersectional feminists have a problem with reproductive rights being a “woman’s issue” when trans men and intersex persons need to have access to abortion and hormonal contraception, too. A lot of other feminists feel that trying to make it seem like feminism is singularly focused on reproductive rights to the exclusion of anything else is damaging.

In fact, in all of the feminist literature I’ve read, it’s actually unusual for them to spend time talking about reproductive rights; which Walsh would know if he’d bother to read any, which he openly admits that he hasn’t. The only two significant organizations I know of that seem preoccupied with reproductive rights is NARAL and Emily’s List. NOW does what they can to protect those rights, but it’s far from their only platform.

It is also completely possible to be a feminist and to be pro-life– and to be a Christian feminist and to be pro-choice, like me. I’m a Christian, and I feel that is consistent with being pro-choice as a civil issue. Being a Christian is not synonymous with being pro-life. In fact, many Christians (50-60%) are politically pro-choice while having ethical and moral reservations. Feminism is an extremely large tent, and people only have time to maintain their own education and activism in certain areas. For me, I focus on sex education for teenagers and raising awareness about abuse and rape– others focus on violence against women in an international context, like sex trafficking. These are a tiny sliver of what feminists can talk about and fight for.

Also, most of Walsh’s argument in this post centers on the idea that feminism is the only thing responsible for the “slaughter of countless innocent babies,” since it was primarily the feminist movement that got it legalized in America. The problem with this argument is that the number of pregnancies that were terminated before and after Roe vs. Wade is exactly the same. Legalizing abortion didn’t increase the number of abortions– it just made them safer.

And, feminists are constantly working to lower the abortion rate, because the feminist goal is for abortion to be extremely rare. How do we make it rare? By pursuing paid parental leave– for both mothers and fathers. By subsidizing daycare. By making contraception available to all the people who need it. These things could dramatically reduce the abortion rate to something like what it is in other developed nations, where the rate is half of what it is in America. There have been studies conducted in Michigan and St. Louis– when these things become available to the people most likely to consider an abortion, the abortion rate drops immediately and drastically.

Who opposes these things? Oh, right. Conservatives. Like Walsh. People aren’t having abortions because it’s legal– they’ll have them whether or not it’s legal. They are having them because the world we live in is hard.

What truth did feminism reveal at all, actually?

That women are equal to men in human dignity and intrinsic value? No, feminism did not reveal this. Christianity revealed it. Christ revealed it. Christian thinkers throughout the ages have affirmed it and taught it; notably Thomas Aquinas, who said that women are meant to rule alongside men. That was 800 years ago, or 600 years before the term ‘feminist’ existed.

Ok, yes and no. As a Christian feminist, I believe that Christ exalted women at pretty much every opportunity and treated them as equals– or even as his superior, on one occasion. I believe that his followers did the same– Paul frequently praises women in leadership positions, and he describes at least one woman as a leader over him. So yes, there are roots of feminism in the Christian tradition.

However.

There is also a long, horrific history of flagrant misogyny in the Church. There are archbishops removing a woman’s name from Scripture. Clement said “every woman should be filled with shame by the thought that she is a woman.” Tertullian described women as “being built over a sewer.” St. Augustine asserted that women were not created in the image of God and that we have “no use” (except, he grudgingly acknowledges, possibly pregnancy). Even Thomas Aquinas, who Walsh quoted here, said that women are “defective and misbegotten.” John Wesley told women to be “content with insignificance” and Martin Luther… well, he said a bunch of shit, because by even Christian-theologian-patriarch standards, Luther was a misogynistic son of a bitch.

This is why the church needs feminism– because the last two thousand years of church teachings have been riddled by misogyny and sexism. Many of St. Augustine’s writings form the basis for long-held Christian orthodoxy, and he declared that half of the people on this earth do not bear the imago dei. Martin Luther, whose teachings formed the basis for Protestantism and evangelicalism, said that it’s better for women to die in childbirth than to live a long life. Christian feminism seeks to overcome these failings in our theological systems, to breathe fresh life into these doctrines so that they more truly represent what Christ did and taught.

 Similarly, equal legal protections are good, and feminism, at one point many years ago, helped ensure those legal protections. Times have changes, and feminism no longer serves that purpose.

Yes, technically, women have the right to vote, own property, and divorce their abusive husbands now– so yes, feminism is no longer pursuing those goals. However, sexism still exists, as does the reality that 1 in 4 little girls will be sexually abused, that 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted, that 1 in 7 married women will be raped by their husbands.

Walsh doesn’t even mention this. He accuses feminists of painting some horrible picture of reality that doesn’t exist– that feminists are literally making shit up in order to convince women that they’re oppressed with some horrible, fake, woe-is-me sob story. Except, most women– with the exception of women like Mary Pride, Mary Kassian, Phyllis Schlafly, and Elisabeth Elliot, who somehow ignore this– experience oppression every single damn day of their lives. We are catcalled and harassed virtually everywhere we go. I had a male friend look me in the face and say that it just makes sense for a man to dismiss a woman’s arguments because we’re “too hormonal.” Women, for a variety of factors, earn less than men, with Hispanic and black women being horribly affected by the wage gap.

Feminism is necessary because of these things. Feminism doesn’t just exist to protect reproductive rights. It exists to fight for the marginalized and oppressed, no matter what shape that person might take.

We’re not fighting to be “the same” as men, as Walsh argues when he accuses feminists of being gnostic (which, wow, does that ever expose his complete ignorance on this subject). We’re still fighting because men like Walsh can write an entire post about how “feminism is not your friend,” never even once mention the rampant violence against women, and hardly anyone will even notice.

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  • Thanx Samantha! I can only hope that voices like yours will actually be heard by the disciples of Walsh and those who think like them.

  • froginparis

    Well said.

  • Reblogged this on Damage Control Party and commented:
    Sam takes Walsh to task for…well…for being Walsh

  • Waaait. Why doesn’t testosterone count as a hormone? I’m pretty sure I’ve seen men who were too hormonal to make an argument…

    • Irene

      That’s what I was thinking! There are some men who are too hormonal to control their sexual urges. Why should we take their arguments seriously when they are in that state?

  • Mistake #1: clicked on the link to the Walsh post (because I wondered what you meant by a “do not link version” – still not sure).
    Mistake #2: read the first comment. Now I need one of those “This will restore your faith in humanity” posts from Buzzfeed or somewhere.

    Seriously. Thanks for writing this. I read some posts of Walsh’s about parenting and they made sense so I followed him on fb. Then I realized that most of what he writes is… …soul crushing. So I unfollowed. Useful occasionally, though as an example of what people think feminism is if they haven’t examined it. I’ve used one of his posts that way.

    • A do not link version means that you can see a site without it contributing to their stats/traffic.

      • Good to know! How do you do that?

        • I Google do not link, and it’s the first option

          • Right. Sorry. Not thinking things through very well right now. Need more sleep. Really useful to know that’s an option though.

          • Thanks for that information, Samantha. I never knew one could do that.

      • Stephanie

        That’s nifty and good to know. Thanks. And thanks for this post and for your blog. It has been very affirming to come here and read your posts and tjat of many of the commentors.

  • Excellent post, thanks. It drives me nuts that someone simply speaking as though they have authority on the subject is enough to convince many people, in spite of bogus facts and ignorant assertions.

    One question: you linked to a particular article for a statistic on pre- and post-Roe abortion rates, and I didn’t see the stat in that article. Did I just miss it? I would love to have the source for that info. Thanks!

    • Hmm. I’m mobile, so I’ll have to check later what I liked to. Possible I grabbed the wrong link.

      As best as we can estimate, the rate was around 20% before and after 1973. Other first world countries, it’s 7-11%.

      • Anonymous

        Yeah I couldn’t find it either. I would love to have a reference point for that stat. (I also go to PCC and deal with ultra-conservatives daily who claim Roe v Wade ruined America and nobody dared have an abortion before that)

      • This is the only resource I’ve found online with pre-1973 stats. I believe the stats are compiled from Center for Disease Control data.

        http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/policy/abortion/graphusabrate.html

        According to the stats, prior to 1965 (when contraception was legalized) there were under a thousand recorded abortions each year. Once contraception was legalized in 1965, the abortion rate shot up to half a million in the space of eight years, in 1972. Then, once Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973, it doubled to over a million in the space of four years – finally peaking at 1.6 million per year in 1990.

        So, while the statement “abortion rates were the same immediately before and after Roe v. Wade” is technically true, it falls woefully short of painting the full picture.

        • Courtney

          This comment doesn’t paint the whole picture either, which is to be expected with the prolife agenda (I would be happy to elaborate on that if you wish). Abortion in America has been in decline since 1980, hitting an all time low in 2009. But it would be very ethnocentric to only include the u.s. in our abortion statistics. Western Europe has the lowest abortion rate in the world and abortion is legal there. Africa has the highest rate even though abortion is illegal in most countries in Africa and abortion is the second highest cause of death among women in the countries in Africa where abortion is illegal.

          • yters

            Can you cite the countries with the highest abortion rates, and what those rates are? I’ve never seen any stat showing Africa has the highest rate. Mostly it is former and current communist states that have astronomical abortion rates, with the US ranking #30 in the world, according to this site:

            http://fellowshipoftheminds.com/2011/11/01/abortion-rates-for-101-countries/

            1. Greenland 2007 51.1
            2. Russia 2008 44.7
            3. Guadeloupe 2007 39.8
            4. Nagorno-Karabakh 2007 38.1
            5. Cuba 2007 37.0
            6. Romania 2008 36.6
            7. Estonia 2008 34.4
            8. Bulgaria 2008 32.0
            9. Martinique 2007 31.6
            10. China (PRC) 2007 31.1

  • jen

    THANK YOU. I can’t even click on his links because I might explode in rage. I wish I could like this multiple times.

  • It’s amazing how even reading a paragraph or two of what Walsh writes is enough to actively ruin my day.

  • Tamara Rice

    This is my favorite part of a sentence ever, Samantha: “… and Martin Luther… well, he said a bunch of shit.”

    This was amazing. Thank you. And, yes, I had a guy pull “surely you don’t think women and men are the same” on me on my blog … and I was so dumbfounded. Like, WHO puts that idea in these people’s heads that people who believe in gender equality believe in gender SAMENESS? Well, I have my answer. At least one source of that ridiculousness is Matt Walsh. Honestly, the spread of misinformation–propaganda, actually–has been fundamentalism and patriarchy’s best friend. The internet might spread myths faster than in the old days, but it can also dispel myths faster too, for those who are seeking the truth.

    Well done, Samantha.

    • Irene

      Haha I liked that sentence too. I never knew that Martin Luther was a misogynist. I consider myself a Lutheran and never experienced that kind of gender/sex discrimination in Lutheranism, specifically in the ELCA Lutheran church I attended as a child. They seemed so liberal and welcoming compared to other more fundamentalist branches of Christianity (for example, women and homosexuals are allowed to be ordained as pastors, deacons, etc., and abortion is considered acceptable in various circumstances and I heard that some churches will even pay for a woman to have an abortion). I’m glad that the Lutherans I have come across do not subscribe to the misogynistic views of Martin Luther.

  • E

    Somebody just needs to get that man a flipping dictionary. Sometimes I wonder if he speaks the same language as the rest of us.

  • *cheers*

    I have read ONE of Matt Walsh’s posts that didn’t make me want to through myself into a fire just so I could forget about what horrible things he said. He is very much like Rush Limbaugh–good comparison–and I cringe every time I see one of my friends or family members link to one of his posts.

    Thank you SO MUCH for writing this rebuttal!

  • Excellent! Thank you for this. I had to stop reading Matt Walsh too…

  • Meg

    Thank you. So much. I needed this today! I was wondering if you would be willing to post or otherwise share your resources for the church quotes? When I bring this stuff most of the dudes I am talking to don’t believe me… 🙁 thanks again for the post!

  • Samantha,
    Thanks for a fascinating post. I did manage to read through Walsh’s diatribe and also noticed that there were no links to support any of his claims. Very sloppy of him.

    Being new to conservative, American, evangelical thought, I was dumbfounded this week to find that men in the church can be dishonoring of and toward women even as they claim to be pleading for honor for women. I wrote a blog post about Heath Lambert’s pornography sermon during the ERLC summit: http://ellenmandeville.com/pornography-your-name-is-woman/ When Lambert finally responded to me on Twitter, it was a complete “speak to the hand, shut-you-up” response. He quoted 1 Tim 6:4 at me. So… He’s either accusing me of being apostate or he’s taking the verse completely out of context. I begin to see why so many have problems with the SBC with such a response as I received. Bleh.

    Halee Gray Scott also wrote a great article about Lambert’s personification of pornography as female and the damage such objectifying language causes: When Porn is Female http://www.hgscott.com/when-porn-is-female/

    Anyway, thanks for this interesting post that shows that feminism is multifaceted.

    • Don’t know if it’s clear in my comment: I get what you’re saying about the centuries of abuse women have suffered at the hands of the church. It stinks and it needs to be combated.

  • I didn’t know who Matt Walsh was before this blog. I wish that was still true. He’s unbelievably depressing….sigh.

  • Too bad I don’t have a time machine. I’d send him back to make the ride from a little Oregon logging town to the nearest hospital. The passenger was a great aunt I never got to meet. It was the depression. The family was dirt poor and she already had three children under six. She tried to end the pregnancy herself and died on the way to the hospital. I’d love to give that SOB a real reality check.

  • Walsh’s cyber scribble makes the oft-repeated mistake of assuming that people can speak from nowhere, a God’s eye view, if you will, but if feminism, feminist philosophy, more specifically, has taught us anything over the years it is that this is just a false universalism. Theories, arguments, modes of thought, etc are all socially located, historically speaking, they have tended to answer to the interests, concerns, and experiences of men rather than women. And even if women are allowed to speak in their voice and assume the position of subjects, this still leaves women’s issues or gender issues as a special interest of sorts, still outside the mainstream.

    Which leads me to believe that, much like Le Douff, whereas it is commonly assumed that our philosophical or political or social discourse is itself universal and feminist enquiry is merely a partial aspect, a form of special interest, so to speak, of this universal framework, it would be more appropriate to say that the framework itself has been partial in the sense that it has excluded women, in general, from both the possibility of producing theories and ideas within that framework and from being able to represent legitimate ideals to which the framework has been orientated.

    What Walsh, in his naivety, misses is that feminism has never, not its essence at least, been about marginal or invisible questions being constantly posed as some sort of perpetual special interest group bent on destroying the system. It is about changing and informing the mainstream thought within society to such an extent that the questions which are now marginal and invisible become a normal, visible part of the repertoire of mainstream thought.

    It is not an orthodoxy committed to a narrow or blinkered set of preconceptions about what should be seen as “women’s issues”. The tension that feminism tries to address is one where the framework should allow women to speak and think and as women, which it largely does not at the moment , but also is one of changing and informing the mainstream modes of thought so that women’s perspectives are no longer marked as both marginal and doctrinaire, which is where Walsh wants to keep it. And the resolution of this tension is probably the greatest task facing feminist thought at the moment.

  • I’m with you on the Matt Walsh thing. If only friends and family would just STOP. I try not to start fights, but when a certain person linked his post arguing for the abolition of the Civil Rights Act, so that businesses could discriminate against anyone they wanted, I finally had to step in and call that one out.

    Count me in too as a feminist (I assume you allow men to claim to be feminists). I never thought that I would own that label, but here I am.

    Also, just my opinion, in addition to stereotyping all feminists as pro-abortion (I use that deliberately – it’s what guys like Walsh say), I have noted that they seem to think that feminism is a weird mashup of Helen Gurley Brown (pro-promiscuity in their eyes) and Andrea Dworkin (man hating lesbian in their eyes.) Somehow, I doubt those two are particularly representative of feminists as a whole. They certainly do not represent the opinions of the vast majority of feminists I know.

    • Of course men can be feminists 🙂

      And yes, most of the feminists I’ve read extensively see Brown and Dworkin as almost fringe-occasionally making good points, and sometimes the rhetoric is necessary to truly call attention to a problem, but… still not representative.

    • Of course men can be feminists. My husband is a feminist. It’s wonderful to see feminist men who are genuine allies. (Love your blog, btw; it isn’t letting me comment, but I really like how you present complex ideas and where you’re going with institutionalized racism with regard to fundagelical Christianity is absolutely riveting to read.)

      Samantha, I’ve noticed a lot of that lately as well–this idea that if feminists themselves can be demonized and dehumanized enough, that their arguments can be dismissed out of hand. Pat Robertson only crested the wave; he did not create it nor form the last word of it. Isn’t it nice to hear sexists tell us that sexism must be over because reasons, just like racism must be over because our President is half-black?

  • Stephanie

    I am not a feminist. I detest the term because it has come to not mean equal rights but female supremacy and privalage. I am a rape survivor and former IFB cult member. I am a proponet for HUMAN rights. Rape is made a woman’s issue, we talk about slut shaming and rape apologia, yet men and boys are culturally subject to it. So men are less likely to report rape, Feminists perpetuate this view by putting men and women into an us vs them category. You want to talk about reproductive rights? A woman can abort if she does not want to become a parent, but a man is stuck without recourse in the law to abdicate his rights and responsibilties to a child he may not want to parent. He is told tough shyte, you should have worn a condom etc etc. If one believes in true equality, they would support this paper abortion for men. The family court system favours women hands down, it does not matter if dad has a stable job and a good home.. she will get custody in most cases. Doesnt matter if she is a drug addict and has a deadbeat live in boyfriend.. dad will just be ordered to pay more support to support them. Too many times the children do not see the benefits of the money dad is ordered to pay. If he is late on child support, he is locked up. If she denies visitation, she is not held in contempt of court. Dad usually has to shell out money for a lawyer and get the case resolved in court. Women want equality in employment, than demand time off to have children, tend to their sick children or take extra breaks to pump their breasts….and still demand the same rate of pay for less time worked. Women in this country have equality to employment, education, property and to determine the course of their own lives. If women are raped or abused, they have the power of the law behind them. Women in this country are not oppressed in the sense of real oppression. We dont have to worry about being shot for wanting to go to school. Locked up for running away from our husbands, subject to genital mutilation. We are not banned from driving or require a males permission to conduct business, get an education, open a bank account or get medical care. We have it pretty damn good here although a few things could be improved upon.

    • First, there are many legitimate reasons not to want to adopt the label “feminist.” I know a lot of people who prefer “egalitarian” or “womanist” for a variety of reasons, and I won’t quibble with someone whether or not they choose to identify as a feminist. I’ve learned not to put that much stock by labels 🙂

      However, I do feel that there is a conversation here worth having about the points you’ve brought up.

      First, I don’t think it’s fair to say “femininsts don’t ____” when I’m a feminist and I’ve brought up a lot of the things you’ve mentioned– here, on my blog, and on twitter, and on facebook, and in my personal life. I– and every single feminist I read and respect– spend a lot of time talking about how gender roles and patriarchy do just as much to screw men over as they harm women.

      It’s important to examine they why going on behind some of these things. Yes, men are extremely unlikely to report being raped– even less likely than women. Why is that? Simply, because of patriarchy. When a man is raped, it a shameful thing because he has been effemanized– he has been “made someone’s bitch”. Admitting to being raped is admitting to weakness, which patriarchy viciously punishes in men. In patriarchy, men are in control because men are dominant, aggressive, powerful, and strong. Patriarchy can only be perpetuated if men must be dominant, powerful, aggressive, and strong. So, anything perceived as weak/feminine (like being raped) is extremely shameful.

      As for why it would be a bad idea to give men the ability to decide if a woman could have an abortion, or if he could force her to carry a baby to term against her will– this is multi-faceted. First, what if the pregnancy is because of rape? In 31 states, a rapist can sue for custody. And if the victim has to *prove* in court that she was raped in order for the man not to have a say in her abortion? That means delaying the pregnancy, and in the American court system she’d have the baby before her rapist was convicted– if he ever is convicted, which in American is EXTREMELY UNLIKELY. Also, abusers frequently use pregnancy as a method to control their victims.

      I could go on, but those reasons are enough for me to fight granting men the ability to decide if their partner can have an abortion with every breath in my body.

      Yes, the family court system frequently gives the women the children. Why is that? One of the reasons is that the precedents were set up in order to favor the bread-winner and their job. Usually, that meant giving the man the opportunity to have a career and make money while giving the care-giving responsibility to the woman.

      The wage gap is a complicated issue, but the fact that women are the only way to continue to human race and feed it for the first few months should at least be allowed to be a part of the conversation. It’s not that cis men could have babies but choose not to. It is literally only possible for someone with a uterus to have a baby, and that’s just a physical reality. There’s a difference between “equality” and “justice.”

      justice

      As for whether or not women who are raped “have the power of the law behind them”– technically, yes, that’s true. So do men who are raped. Whether or not the law is enforced and women and men aren’t completely re-traumatized and re-victimized by the system is a matter for discussion.

      Also, just because the oppressions can be worse in other countries doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight the ones that exist here. Yes, there are starving children in Africa. There are also starving children here.

      • Gary Eddy

        Very good points about how men who have been raped can be worse off. I was molested (raped) as a child by two airmen and was yelled at by my mom when I got home and tried to explain the mess that I was physically and emotionally to her and she just had me remove my dirty clothes in the garage and sent me to my room. I felt even more shamed.

      • Larissa

        I think one thing Stephanie was trying to point out is that if a woman doesn’t want to have a baby she can have an abortion, but if a man doesn’t want to have that baby and the woman does he has no choice. He is forced to pay child support and has no option to refuse. So a woman can be irresponsible and end up pregnant and then go have an abortion. But if a man is irresponsible and gets a woman pregnant he is, even against his personal choice of jot wanting a child, forced to provide for that child anyway. I don’t think men should be able to force or decide whether a woman should haven abortion but they should have the equal choice/option to “abort” their paternal rights and responsibilities.

        • You’re that that this is a thorny issue, and for what it’s worth, as an explicit and outspoken womanist, I’d be comfortable with a system that required men to explicitly opt in to both parental rights and responsibilities with consent from the mother.

        • What you are describing is a social issue, not a human rights issue. Currently, the reason that most states are like rabid dogs going after birth fathers is because the states themselves do not have enough of a social safety net for those babies to get the resources they need. The problem is not that men do not get to opt in and out of fatherhood; it is that the state needs them to help support the babies they generate because the state itself cannot or will not.

          What happens if the father is abusive in some way or is using financial care to manipulate or coerce the mother of his child? What if he dangles opting-out in front of her? How long will he have to decide if he’s going to opt in or opt out? What if he changes his mind at some point? What if she thought he was totally on board with parenthood when the pregnancy began, but he decided for whatever reason that he didn’t like the idea anymore–what is the woman to do then? And in all cases, the person who gets it in the shorts is the infant, who is now deprived of resources. See what I mean here? The issues with allowing someone to opt in and out of the financial obligations of parenthood are just too awful to contemplate and it all hinges on fathers not being total raging dickbags–which is by no means an absolute assurance any more than it would be for women.

          I think what we need is a social net that allows women to raise children without needing anybody’s unwilling assistance, so that parents can be free to decide what they want to do. And we need parents who communicate very honestly and openly when they can well before crunch time (which, again, is by no means a given, but most people don’t think about that).

          But we must not make the huge mistake of thinking that a financial obligation is equal to the overriding of a human being’s sovereignty over his or her own body.

          PS: It’s not irresponsible to have an abortion when you know you can’t care for a baby or don’t want one. One could easily argue that getting an abortion is the most responsible thing one can do in such situations. Please don’t police other people’s personal decisions like that.

          • Larissa

            I do not believe in abortion. I think it is absolutely horrifying. But I was not discussing or “policing” anyone’s decision about abortion or even touching that issue. I apologize if it came across that way. But no matter what I personally believe about abortion, I did not say that it is irresponsible to have an abortion. I was talking about sexual irresponsibility, as in not taking birth control, not using a condom/diaphragm, one night stands, etc. Having an abortion because you accidentally and/or irresponsibly got pregnant is just plain stupid. It is very easy to prevent pregnancy.

          • If you didn’t mean it, then do yourself a favor and stop using it. I pointed out that you were using the word in that way, and your response is to drill down on it by saying that certain types of sex that you don’t personally approve of are “irresponsible.” It is not actually always easy to stop pregnancy. Birth control availability is not always there, sometimes its cost is out of reach for poor women, and sometimes a partner will try to stop its use–the majority of abusive relationships feature contraception sabotage–did you even know that such a thing existed? I’ve experienced it personally. I’d absolutely *love* it if easy to access, inexpensive contraception was within women’s reach–and you know what happens when it becomes so? Women use it. We’re not stupid. We want it and we take advantage of it when we can find it. You know who is fighting the hardest against making contraception easy to get and inexpensive? You guess it: forced-birthers. So please, stop judging other people’s sex lives and intimate decisions. It is not okay.

            And thankfully, it is not up to you what exists and what does not. Abortion exists whether you believe in it or not as an option for yourself. One in three women has had one. They’re not really a big deal. If you ever need one, then get one and that’s your choice. If you get pregnant and decide it’s not an option for you, then be assured your pro-choice sisters will support you then too.

          • Larissa

            Also, what about the overriding of the baby’s sovereignty over his or her own body? A baby isn’t a piece of the mother’s body, (s)he is a completely separate and independent person. Who speaks for their bodily sovereignty when they can’t speak themselves?

          • You’ve bought into a very tired talking point of the anti-choice crowd. Nobody has an expectation of care that implies they have the right to override another human being’s self-sovereignty. If you needed my kidney or you would die, and nobody but me could give it to you, then you would still not have the legal right to force me to go through the risks and trials required to give it to you. You’re getting caught up in the “babies are very cute and small” thing there and forgetting that a very real human being must go through literally pages’ worth of risks, up to and including death and psychosis, as well as a laundry list of life-altering complications afterward, to bring that fetus to delivery. You do not have the right to tell someone what they will and will not endure; what risks they will and will not undergo; what they can and cannot do; what violations they will or will not allow. And neither does a fetus. Your body, YOUR choice. My body, MY choice. Nobody gets to override that.

          • Larissa

            You made your point saying that if a woman doesn’t want to have a baby then it isn’t irresponsible to have an abortion. That has nothing to do with the mother’s health.
            And I don’t believe that because babies are “cute and small”. It is because they are human beings who have just as much a right to life and health and their own body as a woman does.
            Apparently it’s women, women, women, women, women, all about the women. And the baby is just a piece of shit to throw away. You are so pro-choice and believe in the rights, and autonomy, and sanctity of a woman’s life but a baby’s life means absolutely nothing. It’s an oxymoron to say a woman has a right to her own body but an unborn child does not have the right to his/her own body.
            Whether you like it or not, a woman bears children. It’s the way we were created and the way it is. And only a woman can do it. So yes another human being (the baby) does have the right to your (the women’s) body because that human is growing inside you, and depends on your body for life, and is the only way that any of us even exist. You wouldn’t be here to discuss your opinions if your mother had an abortion.

          • Hey- so no one here is violating the comment policy, but I just wanted to say that this is getting tense and I try not to let it get to the point where people are attacking each other personally 🙂

            Feel free to keep discussing- I very much appreciate having a diversity of views.

            I want to take a moment, tho, to point out that this doesn’t have to be either/or.
            Pregnancy, to me, is a sacred mystery. I don’t understand everything about it, and that’s ok. I just have become honest enough with myself to admit that there is a question about what it means for a fetus to be a “life,” and this question had existed… well, a long time. Even St. Augustine admitted he didn’t know what the answer was.

            All I can know for sure is that someone capable of being pregnant is alive, while a zygote, blastocyst, conceptus, embryo, and fetus have that potential, but it is not yet completed.not everyone has to agree in this point, but I think it’s important to acknowledge that the question of what the difference between “potential life” and “alive” is.

          • Larissa

            Thanks, Sam for being such a great, calm, clear-headed moderator. I certainly do not claim to have any kind of expert knowledge on conception or the point at which a person’s soul comes into existence. And I am quite sure that there is much more I need to learn about it.
            I have just personally seen many, many women lose their child/children in the first few months of pregnancy and have witnessed their devastation. I can’t believe that someone could be devastated over the loss of a clump of cells or fetus, etc. I have also witnessed my own mother faking a pregnancy and then faking a miscarriage. It is extremely horrifying to me that she would use that kind of manipulation.

            I believe in a lot of feminist ideas but I do find difficulty in calling myself a feminist. My mother was a controlling, manipulative person who ruled the home and yet still had her fantasy ideas about the perfect little Christian family with a submissive wife/mother who stays home with the kids and homeschools. I am quite sure she is disappointed in me and the fact that I am an educated, career-minded woman who didn’t get married at 20 years old and stay home and have babies. I love my life.

            I really enjoy reading all of your posts and the discussions that follow. I was isolated my entire childhood and even college years at PCC and am now finally living on my own beginning to see that there is a whole huge world out there besides the cult that is IFB and it is vitally important to know both sides of all arguments and opinions. I have already learned so much in less than a year than I ever did growing up. And it is also much more interesting and intellectually stimulating to hear and learn of different opinions and ideas 🙂

          • The point is, it’s a choice. You are free to decide exactly how much you value a fetus, and I am free to decide exactly how much I value it, and so is Larissa. Every single one of us, if we get pregnant, must put that whole question of value into a complex algorithm and come up with an answer that suits the situation we are in right then. And nobody gets to decide what that answer is for anybody else.

            If the body in question is your body, then you own that body and can decide every single time when something goes into it or out of it, for how long, why, and when that activity needs to stop. The whole personhood thing is nothing but a red herring anyway; it really doesn’t matter if the imposing and violating being in question is a potential life, a life life, or a 20-year-old college student. Nobody owns you but you and nobody can decide what uses your body except you. This is at heart a consent issue, not a personhood issue. It’s a question of who owns women’s bodies: do they own them, or does the general public? It’s a question of who gets to decide how much violation can be imposed upon an unwilling person: a lot, if it’s all for a good cause? Or none?

          • Yes, it is in fact “all about the women.” A fetus–not a baby, please note the correct terminology, and take up complaints with established medicine if you have issues with it, because if you can’t define words correctly that we’re not going to have a really productive conversation here–does not trump a woman’s right to bodily sovereignty. A woman may choose to bear children if she wishes. She is not obligated to do it, any more than she is obligated to be straight just because she might be born with a vagina that receives a penis, any more than she is obligated to even identify as female just because she was born with that sort of physical body. I’m really sorry you are so emotionally whipped that you can’t understand that you own your body and nobody else does, and that you get to withdraw your consent to your body’s use at any time, for any reason or no reason at all and nobody–not you especially–get to police someone else’s reasons for choosing to do so. Is that what is bothering you here, that your input or policing is not required or requested by anybody else?

            My mother was staunchly pro-choice, actually, and you’re peeing on your own shoes here if you are going to tell me that you hated your mother so much that you’d have chosen–willingly chosen–to put her through nine months of bodily violation and torturous pain just so that you could be born. For starters, you would never know if you had not been born, because fetuses don’t think or feel any kind of pain till after birth. For a second point, you’re showing how much you genuinely hate women by saying such a horrifying thing. You see, I loved my mother very much, so much that if I had known in advance that she did not want to go through that torture on my behalf, I would not have accepted life on such grotesque and barbaric terms. I would not accept an organ from an unwilling donor either, nor would I accept any concession that required me to violate or enslave another human being even for a temporary amount of time, because I value human freedom and bodily sovereignty and would never, EVER violate someone else. But you’re totally fine with that, it seems. That’s kind of narcissistic and psychopathic, isn’t it? Wow. Okay, well, then just stay out of my body and I’ll stay out of yours.

          • Larissa

            You just said some extremely and personally directed at me harsh, cutting, nasty, hateful things to someone you do not know. That was not necessary at all. I am sorry you feel such disgust for me.

          • Thank you for recognizing what an incredibly bad idea it was to try to emotionally manipulate me in that manner. My mother was pro-choice–like most women who have children. Do the math: only 20% of women do not have children by their 40s, yet most women oppose the criminalization of abortion (even if, like you, they wouldn’t choose it for themselves). It seems to me that by the numbers, most women who oppose restricted access have children. My mother was one of those women. She recognized that parenthood is a tough job, and she rejoiced in the advent of effective contraception and Roe v. Wade. She didn’t want parenthood forced on anybody who wasn’t ready for it or didn’t want it. See, we’ve had that conversation. She was happy I’d given the matter some thought and that I knew my mind from a very early age, which many young women didn’t seem to think about in her day. In her day, women were chained to their biologies. They did not have a choice. If they got pregnant, that was it. But now we have a choice. We are not chained to our biologies. We can decide if we are ready for parenthood or not. And if we are not, we do not have to do it.

            You were trying very hard to imply that parenthood should be forced on people who get pregnant, and that I should be very thankful indeed that my own mother might have been forced in that way, and I turned it around on you utterly by saying that no, I would flatly reject life if it came at the expense of a human being who had been utterly enslaved and forced to undergo medical risks and excruciating painful procedures against her consent. Are you saying you would have happily accepted life on such terms? Because I could not do it. I want every single baby born to be a baby born to a mother who is happy about her choice. I want every single child alive to be a wanted child. I want every single woman who is pregnant to be so willingly and of her own free will and consent. You’re free to choose otherwise for yourself, but I will always give you the choice–just as my mother gave me that choice, and just as she made the choice herself to give me a life, and I will never refuse you that choice, just as my mother would never have refused me that choice for myself.

          • Larissa

            I am sorry you feel the need to continue to spew hatred at me, someone you do not know, and label my opinion as psychopathic because I don’t agree with you. It’s very hurtful and very rude. I hope you don’t talk to everyone like that. I have given my opinion (as everyone else here has) and I have asked questions. I have not personally attacked you as you have me. I don’t see why it is necessary to be so nasty. I’ve enjoyed hearing your opinions on this but I do not agree. And that is fine. I am allowed to not agree with you.

          • You are absolutely allowed to disagree with me and I am allowed to disagree with you. You are right. And I am truly sorry for calling you what I did. On reflection I realized you probably just hadn’t thought those catchphrases through very well. My words caused you to become defensive instead of receptive, and that’s not constructive. I’m sorry. Please let me amend by sharing this with you:

            I know your mother and you had a complicated relationship, but I loved mine very much. I wish you could have known her. She died of uterine cancer at way too young of an age, and even now I barely get through a day without feeling a gut-punch at realizing she’s gone. I would have gladly have taken her place if I could have. Having me at 19 led to not only crushing poverty for her and an end to all her personal hopes and dreams, but also a shotgun wedding to my bio-dad, a philanderer who gave her the HPV that caused her eventual cancer and death. But through it all, I knew that she loved and wanted me. That’s all that made her life of suffering and her death easier to bear. I have known a good number of people who have grown up knowing they were not wanted and loved, and I cannot imagine a worse thing to do to a child beyond outright abuse. Even so, I grew up with the burden of knowing that I was the cause of the suffering of the person I loved most in the world, though she tried to protect me from that truth as best she could. Had someone come to me before birth and told me that I could have life but only at the expense of putting another human being through unimaginable pain and 9 months of torture and medical risks against her consent, and subjecting that human being to unanswerable poverty and crushing toil for the rest of her life, I would have said “no thank you” and just not existed; the cost would have been too high, too dreadful, to inflict on someone I loved. Heck, it would have been too much to inflict on someone I hated! But especially not her, not her, not her.

            My mother chose to have me. I am grateful for her sacrifice, and all the more grateful knowing that she wanted to do it. Abortion was jusssst barely legal when I was born; she could have aborted me (I hope you know that Roe didn’t actually change the numbers of abortions much; it just made them safer–women have always utilized abortion care, even at great risk), but instead she deliberately chose to have me. But she also supported every woman’s right to choose for herself. She knew parenthood and pregnancy were very tough jobs and she recoiled at the idea of forcing either one on anybody. She, like me, knew that “life” isn’t worth having at some costs. I’m sure you could think of one or two other things that are worth more than being alive–like if you’re Christian, and someone threatened to kill you if you didn’t deny Jesus, you’d probably happily die rather than do such a terrible thing. Well, honoring someone’s bodily ownership is more important to me than being alive at the cost of denying someone else their own autonomy. Hopefully now you understand why trotting out that bumper-sticker catchphrase backfired on you so spectacularly. Live and learn, huh? I truly hope that explained a bit about why I felt manipulated and attacked by you when you dragged my mother into it. Not okay. At all. You can have an opinion without grossly misrepresenting people’s mothers. Mine would have supported your right to choose, just as I do.

          • Larissa

            I am very sorry that your mother had to go through that and I understand why you would feel that way. You don’t understand that my mother and I had a complicated relationship. There was no relationship. She chose to have 5 children and then didn’t give a shit about a single one of them. I have no memories before the age of 10 because my mother was never there. I was forced to raise myself and my siblings.

          • Thank you so much for reading it and hearing what I was saying. I genuinely mean that. I wanted you to see her through my eyes, just for a minute, and maybe understand a little. And I feel like you did.. you’ve really brought tears to my eyes, so thank you. And I didn’t want to say something amiss about your own mother because I didn’t know much beyond your brief statement to Samantha and I was trying to err on the side of generosity. But wow.. that’s so far past anything I might have imagined. How awful! That’s just flabbergasting to me that anybody could experience something so simply brutal and come out of such an environment sounding even halfway sane! That is so reprehensible. You really stepped up to the plate there and I hope your siblings are okay now too. I can’t even say with words how much I admire someone who has raised not only herself but so many others. You deserved a childhood and you did not get one at all. I hope you’ve been able to find some peace and recover some of that childhood.

            Something I’d written earlier but removed for brevity was that my mother didn’t just love me but everybody I knew who needed someone to love them. The first of my friends she “adopted” astonished me, but after a while it just became a running theme in her life that she’d send my friends cards, care packages, and birthday presents, make calls and write letters and keep up with them, even make sure to visit them if she was in the area. She wasn’t a 100% perfect parent, but she had a lot of love and tried her damndest. When she died, it wasn’t just her two children who mourned her but many dozens of these little lost lambs she’d adopted and loved up. I am suddenly wishing with all my heart that she had run across you. No matter what else, I can tell you that all she’d have needed to hear was that paragraph you wrote here, and she’d have immediately enfolded your little family right up. I truly think all children deserve a mother who wants and loves them. I understand a little better in turn where you’re coming from knowing you didn’t have that. I wish I could have helped somehow but all I have to offer is a dead woman’s memory, my heartfelt sympathy, and my best wishes that you’re doing better now. <3 What a surprising turn this conversation has taken.. and what a lot of emotion is suddenly welling up in me at knowing your story, at remembering hers. Thanks again for letting me talk about her and for sharing what you have.

          • Cassidy, I appreciate your willingness to engage here very much, but please stay away from implying that someone might be a psychopath for disagreeing with you about bodily autonomy.

          • The idea she expressed was actually quite psychopathic. I don’t think that Larissa herself had thought it through that far, so you are right, I don’t know if she herself is like that. I used the terms inaccurately and you can modify the post however you wish. She used a very standard talking-point for the Religious Right and anti-choice brigade–“you should be thankful YOUR mother was pro-life!” when not realizing that being pro-choice isn’t about insisting on abortions for all pregnant women, but about having a choice about having babies–which does not preclude a pro-choice woman from having children. I seriously don’t think most people who are against abortion access really think through most of the stuff they say; it sounds good on bumper stickers and gets approval from their bubble-friends, and encourages even someone who concedes she knows next to nothing about a matter to try to make categorical statements about it or take stands against it. I’m actually glad she’s trotting out those tired lines here; it’s a fairly safe space with a kind moderator, and she might learn some stuff, who knows.

  • I goggle at his willful misunderstanding of history generally and this post was no exception. He excels at arguing for the theory of application rather than it’s real-world use. Sure, Christianity is egalitarian ‘in theory’ but in practice, not really. And if the USA was such a Christian and, by extension, egalitarian nation from its inception then why did it take over 100 years for us to grant women the right to vote?

    As an added bonus, this post about feminism is sandwiched between a screed about how affirmative action is racist and a post comparing the incineration of medical waste to sacrificing babies to Moloch in the Bible.

    Also, I demand some sort of intellectual property settlement here because I thought of Walsh as some sort of internet Rush Limbaugh a few days ago so Samantha obviously stole it from me.

    I think he could save time with his posts if he just made his outlandish assertions and then wrote “because I said so.” It would save valuable space on the internets.

  • WD

    Appreciate the passion, but a little concerned about the John Wesley statement. That’s not at all consistent with what I know biographically about Wesley.

    In 1761, John Wesley granted the first “License to Preach” to a woman – Sarah Crosby. In 1786, one of his sermons attacked the submissiveness requirement of women in marriage – describing the concept that women should be seen and not heard as “Turkish barbarity.”. In 1784, he removed the word “obey” from the North American marriage vows.

    To read what John Wesley actually said about women, check out the sermon I referenced here (specifically Section 3, Point 7): http://new.gbgm-umc.org/umhistory/wesley/sermons/98/

    Many thanks for the viewpoints. Just had to weigh in as a Methodist/Moravian who deeply appreciates what John Wesley actually did for the Christian faith (for women and men).

    • http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-letters-of-john-wesley/wesleys-letters-1774/

      It was in a letter to his wife, in which before they got married he assumed she was “well-bred” and of “middling intelligence.” He then comes home one day and he realizes that she can be quite passionate and fiery, which he doesn’t think is appropriate for women. She also didn’t apparently like it that he made it clear he didn’t like her being “all thunder and lightning” and spent a lot of time hanging out with women who were more “gentle” and “quiet.” She finds a bunch of letters from these women that he didn’t think were any of her business, she gets mad because he was hiding them for her (which he was), and then this quote comes at the end of the letter:

      “Do not any longer contend for mastery, for power, money, or praise. Be content to be a private, insignificant person, known and loved by God and me. Attempt no more to abridge me of the liberty which I claim by the laws of God and man. Leave me to be governed by God and my own conscience. Then shall I govern you with gentle sway, and show that I do indeed love you, even as Christ the Church.

      He’s straight-up telling her that she doesn’t have any right to ask him not to hang out with women who make her uncomfortable. So, yeah– I really appreciate Wesley, but the man was not perfect, and like everyone else was a product of his time. It’s not that I want to throw out everything any of these men said and taught, we just have to engage with them with awareness.

      • WDinGA

        Thanks so much for such a thorough response. Interesting (and disheartening) about the communications with his wife, for sure.

        Admittedly, I still find it a stretch to equate Wesley with Walsh, Piper, Tertullian and Augustine (and may I add Driscoll to the list?), given his track record of otherwise advancing the position of women. He did much for women (and men), for which I am thankful as a Christian woman. He had a poor relationship with his wife, and no doubt – he wasn’t perfect. But to position him among their ilk is a bit extreme, in my opinion. Who among us has never said harsh things we regret – that aren’t representative of our actual worldview – in the tough times? I know I am guilty.

        I get the sense in your response you do appreciate Wesley for his good points, which is awesome. He certainly had the courage to be completely counter-cultural in his advancement of women in his time. Which leads me to wonder if there’s not more to the story on the relationship with his wife…

        Sincerely enjoyed reading your blog this evening and look forward to reading more. Thank you for sharing and for welcoming comments.

        • krwordgazer

          My understanding is that John Wesley changed in his view of women over time. He was raised, of course, by an incredible woman, his mother Susanna, and while he was a child she led Bible studies at which 200 or more more men and women would show up. However, he held to the standard views of women anyway, until as his own movement began to grow, he encountered more and more women who seemed to be called and anointed by God for Christian ministry. He started out not knowing what to do with them, but I think the influence of his mother helped him eventually embrace their full participation in ministry.

          Because of this, a quote from John Wesley earlier in his life is going to be much more restrictive and repressive towards women than a quote later in his life.

        • Ben

          Sorry that I’m late to the comment party. I have to agree with WDinGA both in the praise/appreciation for your blog and concern for your grouping of Wesley’s comment with the outright dehumanizing remarks made by the other theologians you mention. That he told his wife (one woman) for reasons possibly relating to what he saw (rightly or wrongly) as jealousy, abusive anger, accusations of infidelity and gossip on her part to “Be content to be a private, insignificant person.” does not equate to “John Wesley told women [as a whole gender] to be ‘content with insignificance’ “. It is possible that Wesley erroneously held women in lower esteem as did many of his contemporaries, but I don’t think the phrase quoted and interpreted in this post proves that point.

          I went and read the whole letter. I can’t really say why except curiosity and the desire to prove someone wrong on the internet (http://xkcd.com/386/). I guess the fact that I did says more about me than it does about you. I hope you don’t see this as a personal attack. I really enjoy your writing and see it as very important to the conversation on Christianity and feminism.

      • Do you have a source for the Clement quote? A quick google search shows it getting repeated a lot, but no one seems to mention the actual source. The Aquinas one I had no problem in finding, though.

  • I once believed basically everything Walsh and his ilk said. Their degree of message/narrative control and programming is amazing. It sure got the job done on me. Walsh and crew, all their b.s., just seems so preposterous now; not even plausible. But clearly it is highly credible to many, many folks. Thanks for this article, Sam. Maybe it will plant the seed of doubt in someone.

  • Thank you! That was too depressing, wish I hadn’t read the Walsh article

  • Ben

    I wholeheartedly affirm the importance of Christian feminism and the stupidity of the Walsh writing you’ve rebutted. But I want to criticize your statements on Augustine and women. Are you talking about his passage in De Trinitate 12.7? (http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/130112.htm) I think it’s way too reductionist to think that Augustine literally believed women were not created in the image of God.

    One encyclopedia on the subject states: “Therefore, the very particularity of women, not just with regard to their incarnate sexuality, but also in the concept of ‘the feminine mind’, means that they participate in the imago dei only in their status as human beings, not as women. Women are spiritually equal to men, then, but only without regard to the particular [physical] characteristics which make them women…” (http://books.google.com/books?id=GcVhAGpvTQ0C&pg=PA888&lpg=PA888&dq=augustine+women+not+created+in+image+of+god&source=bl&ots=j6xwG91B7E&sig=EyL5SY-o-tg_fJnRAC1vPqYXZ9Y&hl=en&sa=X&ei=s9hZU7ayLMGs8AGe2YGYDA&ved=0CDsQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false)

    So he did think that women, as embodied creatures, were inferior to men, but in their spirits, i.e. the essence of their humanity, they were indeed created in God’s image. This Platonic body/spirit divide (which is pretty bread-and-butter philosophy for Augustine’s time) does place women below men, but it’s NOT the same as saying that every women everywhere did not bear the imago dei. Otherwise, if Augustine really believed this, then he wouldn’t have thought so highly of his mother Monica or Mary… but he does, meaning that he was capable of viewing women as more than subhuman.

    I’m on your side: Walsh is wrong; feminism is vital; Augustine was a man of his time; women are equal to men in body and spirit. But to attribute a denial of the imago dei in women to Augustine is not a properly nuanced representation of the man.

  • Gary Eddy

    I enjoy reading your stuff. It really makes me evaluate the different issues you bring up with each of your topics. I have also been reading all your links and non links. It really helps to understand both sides of the story. On personal note I try to look at as many sides of an issue as possible before forming my opinion about an issue. Although I do have beliefs that I hold fast to. Such as my faith & trust in Jesus Christ. That all being said the one point I would like to make is just because a majority of people believe something is right does not make it so as Jesus our Savior has pointed out. God bless you.

    • Well, I’ve never made that argument. 🙂

      If you’re referencing my statement that many Christians are politically pro-choice, that wasn’t an argument for it. It was simply a statement to point out that being pro-life and being Christian aren’t one and the same.

      • Gary Eddy

        Actually I should have been clearer. It was meant to be a gee deal statement. A good example for me was when the US had slavery. At one time the majority felt this was ok. But in reality slavery of any kind is immoral. As I tried to say before just because the majority says something is just, ok, even moral doesn’t make so.

        There are many other examples throughout history. Thanks for your reply. God Bless

        • You make a wonderful point here and one I am glad to see made. Human rights are not up for a vote and should never be so. It drives me crazy to see people voting against equal marriage and the like, because marriage has long been understood by our judicial system to be a right. It’s not up to the voters whether or not equal marriage happens, and it’s so sad to see them thinking that it is. They ought to be thrilled that it’s not up to them and their votes, because the right to religious choice of worship is, well, a right as well, and one day that might end up on the ballot if their method of governing has its way. We’re all in this thing together. An attack on one group’s rights is an attack on all of us.

  • Thanks for writing this, excellent response to that article. I saw it pop up on my feed as well but couldn’t be bothered to give it the time of day, but I’m glad someone did! 🙂

  • Reblogged this on Peak City Life.

  • krwordgazer

    This part of Walsh’s post just makes me both sad and furious: “In this outlandish hypothetical, would you obliterate feminism to end abortion, if it meant obliterating whatever else feminism has achieved?I hope that you would. I would if I was you. If all the works of feminism had to be turned back just to undo what it’s done in the last 40 years, I’d do it.”

    Women have died in great numbers because of patriarchy. Because of medical practices that devalued their humanity and thus failed to adequately address their risks in childbirth. Because of laws that gave murdering husbands and fathers the benefit of the doubt over their wives and daughters. Because of the mental institutions where they were committed without cause by families who wanted to get them out of the way, and where they died of neglect and cruelty. Because of the attitudes that caused them to be disowned and left to freeze on doorsteps because they had been raped.

    All of this he would utterly disregard for the sake of another set of lives that he apparently believes are of more value than those of the women who bear them. It’s horrible.

  • Pretty much everyone I know who links Mr. Walsh’s posts tend to be people that have never had a real problem in their lives. People who don’t know what it means to rebuild your life after abuse. As such, they have NO appreciation for how instrumental feminism has been in allowing women to get a fair shake at life alongside men.

    The one comment I made a couple of times (and no one really addressed this), is that Christianity may have held the PRINCIPLE of equality, but feminism brought the APPLICATION of equality. Mr. Walsh seems to think that women would have magically been granted equal rights without feminism because Christianity. But if that’s true, then a culturally Christian place (like, say, the U.S. for example) wouldn’t have needed feminism to get women the right to vote, equal pay for equal work, etc.

  • claire

    It’s pretty unsettling how willing he’d be to repeal spousal rape laws- because that was legal in Murica little more than 20 years ago. If I was his wife, I’d sleep with a butcher knife under my pillow.

    The other thing that struck me about his blather (and most conservative blather in general) was his insistence that women’s dependence on men is some kind of awesome ideal. Funny, when people of color receive food stamps or other subsidies, conservatives squawk that its tantamount to slavery (ala conservative hero/blatant racist cliven bundy). But when women do it, it’s not? That’s some state of the art cognitive dissonance.

    But of course, when their championing dependence for women, they’re really only talking about white women. Because when white women are SAHMs, they’re doing the hardest job in the world. When women of color do it, they lazy, welfare queens.

  • Good to know about the “Do Not List” option. I have been trying to keep up with what some of my friends and family have been posting, but hated giving the website any views. I have wanted to scream every time I have seen “Matt Walsh” show up in my feed recently.

    Someone even posted this one recently, and I remember it made my blood boil.

    But I finally figured out why – it’s the privilege of it all. He writes from the perspective of a white privileged middle class male. A prince of American society. He has never suffered discrimination due to race or gender and is blind to it. So he writes from the perspective that the whiners of society must deserve their problems. After all, he sees no problems whatsoever. He has a dutiful wife who stays home with their children while he is out blogging his uneducated (he only went to high school) opinions away to the Internet.

    This is perfectly reasonable to someone who has never known oppression. And neither have most of his followers. The system works well for them – if they could just get those peasants to stop with the complaining, life would be perfect.

  • “Intersectional feminists have a problem with reproductive rights being a “woman’s issue” when trans men and intersex persons need to have access to abortion and hormonal contraception, too.”

    Perhaps you didn’t mean that the way it came across to me, but one can be intersex and a woman as well–at least in the eyes of God, if not to feminism.

    • Yes, an intersex person can be a woman-or a man, or neither. The point was, it’s not just people who choose identify as “women” who need access to abortion. 🙂

      • “it’s not just people who choose [to] identify as “women””

        Doesn’t it make more sense to draw the “need access to abortion” line based on fertility-as-a-female rather than on identity? Plenty of infertile intersex women identify as women, as do most post-menopausal women. Even trans* women. I’m not being critical, mind you (although I’m pro pregnancy center). I just find the lines of inclusion for feminist groups drawn in unexpected places at times.

        And, yes, I’m intersex. And, as far as I know, was never fertile. My genetics is a mix of male and female, as was the rest of my body.

        • Except trans men aren’t female. They’re male. They might have a uterus, but that isn’t what makes someone a specific gender.

          I’m attempting to be as gender inclusive and identity-affirming as I possibly can- as an intersectional feminist, I don’t want to “draw lines” on anything concerning gender identity.

          • “but that isn’t what makes someone a specific gender.”

            Agreed. I wasn’t addressing gender, nor commenting at all on trans men. Perhaps I should have said “having-a-functional-uterus” rather than “fertility-as-a-female.” My point being that it has to do with biology rather than identity.

            On another note… while I may agree with some of the aims of feminism, and take issue with patriarchy, I’m not sure that feminism in general is as accepting of intersex or trans* as you seem to be.

            Regardless, I think it’s good to have a discussion of these issues within the Church. Thanks for the post. And your patience.

          • Self-proclaimed “Radical” feminists- who people like me refer to as TERFS- are not welcoming at all. I’m an intersectional feminist, sometimes referred to as third-wave feminism. We’re dedicated to fighting kyriarchy as well as the patriarchy, and recognizing privilege in all its forms.

            For example, I’m white, middle class, educated, and cisgender. That makes me pretty privileged. But I’m also a woman, bisexual, and disabled- areas where I can be oppressed. Intersectional feminists emphasize that it’s important to be aware.

            Many of the people that I work with prefer “womanist” in order to distance themselves from the damaging positions of White Feminism.

          • FWIW, I’ve got some friends who identify as “egalitarians” who recognize intersectionality and want equal rights for all people, but don’t want to take on a feminist label for whatever reason. I’m an older person so I go for “feminist” myself as a shorthand, but I recognize that there are some very murky aspects to the movement and that it has not always been inclusive of LGBTQA* people or POC or very understanding of their needs, just as movement atheism tends to alienate those groups plus women besides. It’s important to me to know the labels my friends want to wear and use those labels out of respect, so I appreciated your tip here.

  • Someone told him something about feminism, and then he just makes up a lot of crap as he goes along. Your brilliant and have done a lot of research about women in history. Nevertheless, it does not take any amount of research to know that women get harrassed every day, and that the church still is not friendly towards women. The fact that he does not get that means not that he’s lazy; it means he’s sexist.

  • “Feminism, they say, exists largely to combat the patriarchal evils of pro-life Christianity.”

    This is an astonishing sentence. As Fred Clark keeps reminding us, pro-life Christianity, in the modern sense, dates from the 1980s. Feminism is far older. Even if one is going to claim Roman Catholicism as pro-life Christianity, which is one amazingly large retcon, one cannot reasonably say that feminism was invented as a response to Roman Catholicism.

    Where is the loving devotion to truth which one hopes for from any wise and devout person?

  • Stephanie

    Birth control is available to poor women for FREE. Planned Parenthood is not the sole provider for birth control to low income women. Any health dept provides family planning services courtesy of Title 10 funding. Some may have a wait to get an appt for certain methods, but most offer free or low cost condoms ( 2.00 a box usually) to anyone who asks for them. Condoms are not that expensive OTC either. But too many women and men are too lazy and irresponsible to go and obtain this service. I get my birth control through the health dept. Many states also now have a limited Medicaid program that covers only family planning services where they will cover your exam and costs of your method including BCP prescriptions. This would reduce abortions, welfare roles and child abuse if women especially would take some degree of personal responsibility for their health and welfare. These services are available in every red Southern state to my knowledge. The services are there, but you have to go obtain them.

    • As someone who works at a Title X clinic, allow me to point out why it isn’t always about laziness (real nice opinion you have of poor people, BTW).
      1. Women do not know about these options–because they are not educated about them, because seeking birth control is “shameful” or “slutty,” etc.
      2. Getting to a Title X clinic isn’t an option. She might not have a car, have the gas money to drive for 2-4 hours, have the time to spent an entire day waiting (because her work will fire her if she dares ask for a day off, because she has no reliable child care, etc)
      3. She doesn’t have photo ID, can’t prove her identity/status/income level to the clinic’s satisfaction.
      4. She’s terrified of her abusive partner finding out she’s seeking birth control.
      5. She can’t speak English and doesn’t have a trusted person to act as an interpreter.
      6. The only Title X clinic happens to be a Planned Parenthood and she doesn’t want to have to push past protestors who’re calling her a murderer and a slut.

      Any of these things can and DO prevent low income women from receiving birth control.

      Also, if a woman can barely afford rent + food, there isn’t going to be money for condoms. And shockingly, many men refuse to wear them. So no, condoms aren’t a cure-all.

  • Stephanie

    Funny being that I am low income myself that you accuse me of having a low opinion of poor people. I dont know where you live, but where I live every county or city health dept offers family planning. Women do not have to drive outrageous amounts of time to get to them.. Many of these women if they already have children go to the same health dept for their children s immunizations or WIC. I did the same thing myself for my own child when he was young. Although the “laziness ” thing is subject to interpretation and many of these clinics serve women of all income brackets for free or on a sliding scale fee. Some just cannot be bothered no matter how much hand holding they may be offered. And if a man refuses to wear condoms, than a woman needs to be responsible and not have sex with him. Especially if that male is someone she is not in a committed relationship with, so I have 0 sympathy there. I do love the signs they have posted through out my local health dept that says ” If you choose to have sex without a method of birth control, than you have made a decision to become pregnant.” Personal responsibility is a apart of freedom, especially reproductive freedom. Women need to quit thinking of ourselves as helpless victims and take responsibility for our health, fertility and the course of determination for our lives. If that makes me a bitch so be it. Just a decade of living in a low income neighborhood among people who refuse to do anything to help themselves wears thin after awhile. Domestic violence is way too common, but often it is mutual here.They beat the shit out of each other and their poor children are caught in the middle with no voice. Not the stereotypical man beating up women. I have offered to take some of my neighbours on my dime to the health dept and even wait with them..when they have said they don’t want no more kids. ” No I dont want do that. I cannot sit there and wait to be seen” Mind you they often have no job..by choice. Then there are the ones who complain that they cannot get a job because of a high school diploma, but REFUSE to take the FREE GED classes that DSS will pay for. Need I also mention that as apart of that they are also offered FREE daycare and transportation? But they will ask you for a ride to get to the WIC, welfare and food stamp appointments. The smart ones will take advantage of what services they can to help themselves, even if they must wait for an afternoon. They will take advantage of the free GED or job training classes offered especially if they are offered help for childcare and transportation. Usually these are also the same people who after their second child realise that they cannot afford anymore and will get their tubes tied or get LT BC like an IUD inserted on their 6 week postpartum visit. God helps those who helps themselves. So yes I have a low opinion of “poor” people who are unwilling to work or seek work. Poor not meaning socio economic but poor work ethic that they even refuse to try. I know plenty of good hardworking poor people who just do not make enough and cannot afford to live in a better neighbourhood..cash poor but not morally poor. Then there are those like myself because of lupus and cancer that are unable to work, but rather than unwilling. Yet I am going to college to get a degree to get a job I can physically do, Because I am wanting to work and improve my lot in life. You can offer some people all the FREE help and resources to improve themselves, some are just going to refuse because they do not want too. Once it again it boils down to taking some degree of personal responsibility. I gladly would love to see more funding for Title 10 and more family planning clinics established. What I dont want is taxpayers to be compelled to pay for people to keep being irresponsible and refusing to improve themselves. I ended up poor because of bad choices that I made before I became ill. I married a total lazy asshole who likes to keep his hand out for govt assistance. I left and then got sick and lost my job, but how I got here is my own fault, nobody elses. All I can do is take responsibility for that bad choice and do everything I can to dig myself out of it. Nobody is going to pull me up out of the rut of poverty, I have to do it myself by taking advantage of what opportunities I can. Like getting on govt funded birth control and going to school to get a degree to get a better job. But I digress from the original point of my post.

    • BiSian

      I hesistated to respond because I don’t want to get into a fight in the comments section.
      You do a pretty bad job of proving that you don’t have bad opinion of poor people. And you ignored most of my post in favor of your rant. Which is fine; I made the points I did for everyone who reads here, to encourage understanding and compassion for women no matter their situation.

  • Reblogged this on temporary and commented:
    Succinctly argued.

  • Kayla_Sue

    So very well said. I can’t believe folks can still take folks like this so seriously.

  • paulspassingthoughts

    Reblogged this on Paul's Passing Thoughts and commented:
    To say that Field and I would not agree on some things would be a vast understatement. But on the hand, Evangelicals must come to grips with our contradictions; among many, this is under the category of womanhood. WARNING: don’t read if you prefer arguments of a tamer sort.

  • I am so very encouraged by this post! I sit quietly with rage while people I love and respect spread the unloving content of Matt Walsh, and it is so good to hear a reasonable argument against him. So much of his work is uninformed and unresearched, and it pains me that he is is any way prolific among Christians. You are clearly well-versed on the larger picture of feminism and how it can greatly benefit the Church. We as followers of Christ need to champion a movement on the behalf of oppressed people in this world, and at its core, that’s what feminism is designed to do.

    We also need to create a better system of gender equality within our own Church body. I am sure that if the world truly knew all of the backwards discussions that were happening inside western Christianity (Should women be on leadership? Can women be pastors?), they would be truly shocked by our lack of progressivism.

    Beautiful work here!

  • sivandra

    Just want to say that I was really encouraged by the exchange between Captain Cassidy and Larissa. What seemed destined to end in bitter diatribe and refusal to try to understand the other’s viewpoint resolved beautifully when each began to see the other as a PERSON with a HISTORY and began to RELATE. Suddenly the enmity dissolved into civil disagreement. It was just, a really encouraging thing to read. So rarely does this take place in ANY comment thread.
    Could there be clearer evidence of God’s Spirit in a comments thread? 🙂

  • Avery

    I don’t know if you finished reading St. Thomas Aquinas’ Reply to Objection 1: “On the other hand, as regards human nature in general, woman is not misbegotten, but is included in nature’s intention as directed to the work of generation. Now the general intention of nature depends on God, Who is the universal Author of nature. Therefore, in producing nature, God formed not only the male but also the female.”
    And then here is what St. Augustine *actually* meant:
    http://www.its.caltech.edu/~nmcenter/women-cp/augustin.html
    “To sum up: Augustine sees the distinction of sex as something secondary, comparatively unimportant. It is as human beings with rational minds, capable of contemplating eternal truth (i.e. God), that all of us, male and female alike, are made to the image of God.”

  • I just wanted to say I love this article. I had a lot of the same opinions, though I’m not able to articulate them nearly as well.

    After I was called a Nazi un ironically on Matt Walsh’s blog for asserting that it was possible to be feminist, pro-choice, and a Christian.

    Between the original post and this article, I was inspired to start my own feminist blog. Even if I never get any followers writing in itself is rewarding.

    I also wanted to say you’ve made a real fan of your work. You have a niche in Christian feminism – it’s almost like you’re a Jessica Valenti raised in the Evangelical culture.

    I love Jesus (though I’d be lying if I didnt describe myself as a lapsed Christian) but staying active in the church and in my faith as a feminist can be challenging sometimes.

    Anyway, I’ll stop gushing. I appreciate your intelligence and your voice.

  • One more thing – this has become one of my favorite recent feminism posts. Matt Walsh recently wrote how feminists have hijacked the Elliot Rodger case for their own benefit, I would be interested on your thoughts on the matter.

    • I don’t know if I have the emotional strength to wade into that post, at least not yet.

    • I’m sure that Samantha can explain this better when/if she wants to, but I thought I’d take a stab at a really quick comment on it. I’ve been following some of the discussion on Twitter and the response their from feminists is basically that their “agenda” is to keep tragedies like this from happening by helping people figure out how to see others as human beings and treat them that way. So talking about what went wrong here and using it as a stepping stone to talk about what goes on in general makes sense. It’s not about demonizing (or glorifying, I hope) this one individual. It’s about figuring out how society gets to this point and how to move it in a different direction.

      • Unfortunately: http://www.infowars.com/in-death-girls-and-boys-swoon-over-santa-barbara-mass-murderer/

        Perhaps our trivialization of human life comes from the fact we legally end 1.2 million lives every year.

        • Maybe it’s a chicken/egg problem. If people were treated better they might (a) get pregnant less often (b) be able to care for offspring so be willing to carry the baby to term. I believe that feminism, in the spirit of much of what I’ve seen in the past couple of days can improve the lives of women and their children. The fact that some are saying the suspect is attractive is unfortunate but doesn’t negate the importance and possible positive impact of the discussion.

          We should never let the bad behavior of others be an excuse for not doing what we can right now. We can’t wait for the abortion problem to be “fixed” before we start making the world safer for women.

          • Gender is set at conception. So, more than 500,000 of the babies aborted every year are women. Perhaps ending abortion would be the best way of making the world safer for women?

          • How exactly do you propose we do that?

          • That’s a great question, one that not enough feminists ask 🙂 First and foremost, we have to stop all the misinformation and propaganda, and make it clear that even though abortion is a legal (though horribly immoral) option, it is the absolute worst option there is. We have to be very truthful about the fact it definitely kills a human being, the baby undergoes excruciating pain, the abortion inflicts horrible trauma on the mother, abortion is the key enabler for rape, incest, sex trafficking, domestic abuse, child abuse, etc.

            Secondly, and this is one even many Christians won’t touch, we have to clearly address the role that contraception plays in abortion. For example, over 50% of women having abortions were using contraception when they got pregnant. When contraception was legalized, it shot the abortion rates from 1000 a year to 500,000 a year in 8 years, before Roe v Wade.

            Contraception and sex ed are not a solution to unwanted pregnancy. The only solution is self control. As you’re probably aware, the only contraceptive that is 100% effective is abstinence. So, even with a very small failure rate, high levels of sex (as promoted by contraceptive use) translates to high probability of pregnancy. And even with the use of artificial contraceptives, the users have to have self control to use it effectively. So again, do not teach people that they can have sex and not expect to get pregnant. Teach people that having sex gets them pregnant, period.

          • Courtney

            The vast majority of abortions are performed before the fetus’ brain develops. No brain activity- no excruciating pain.

          • yters

            A person’s brain is not fully developed until they are adult. However, did you know the baby’s brain develops at 5 weeks?

            http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002398.htm

            Did you know that 2/3 of abortions are performed at 7 weeks and later?

            http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html

            It’d be interesting if you provided evidence for your claims.

          • yters

            Wikipedia has a good article on fetal development:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fetal_movement

            At 12 weeks the baby can feel touch on its skin. Over 10% of abortions happen at 13 weeks and later, which means over 100,000 babies every year are undergoing excruciating pain as they are aborted.

            But, of course, a lack of pain doesn’t mean killing a baby is ok. The bottom line is abortion ends a human life for good, which otherwise would have grown into a healthy, happy child. You can never reverse that decision. Any choice is better than that terribly sad and tragic choice.

            Which makes it odd that there is such a concerted effort to deceive women about abortion. It looks like pro-choicers wants women to have more abortions. Given what pro-choicers know about abortion and its effect, they cannot have good intentions.

          • Please read my comment policy before you continue commenting. You are veering close to violating it.

          • You seem to be saying that we can either focus on better treatment for women who have already been born or protect unborn people. Seems to me that we HAVE to do both at the same time. Also, constantly trying to shift the conversation to the abortion issue makes it seem like you are trying to avoid getting involved in an effort where you could have a great positive effect.

            Here’s a blog post that says it better than I can: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/formerlyfundie/pro-life-or-pro-birth/

          • Yep, but where are the feminists highlighting how anti-women abortion is? *crickets* All I’m saying is we’ve got to keep things in perspective here. Yes, 3 women murdered is truly tragic. But, millions (MILLIONS!!!) of baby women killed every year with nary a peep from feminists??!?! Is abuse of women ok if they aren’t old enough, and if it is by other women?

            I’ve got to say that’s enormously hypocritical. How can feminists seriously say they are pro-women if by “women” they only mean an extremely small privileged group of females, and that this “pro-women” ideology comes at the expense of the lives of the most vulnerable females there are?

          • Sorry to post links and run. Samantha’s right – this is too exhausting. Especially bc my 10 mo is fussy today. Please read this post. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2012/10/how-i-lost-faith-in-the-pro-life-movement.html

          • Yeah, I’ve read that article before. Somewhat good points, but she seems really keen to accept the claims of known pro-abortion groups. As a counter, here is a graph showing the actual relation between abortion rates, contraception and legalization in our country, not from some hypothetical statistical study:

            http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/policy/abortion/graphusabrate.html

            Her point about the body naturally rejecting zygotes seemed to me to be the strongest, but that issue is also more complex than she makes out to be. The body rejects zygotes that would not develop anyways, so they can’t really be saved. On the other hand, there are pro-life groups out there trying to save all the fertilized eggs used for artificial insemination.

            Finally, she glosses over the fact that the zygote point is a red herring. Even if she doesn’t believe an unborn child is a person from conception, 2/3 of abortions happen at 8 weeks and later, where the child has brainwaves, can feel pain, has developed organs, can move, suck its thumb, etc. It is really hard to deny such a child qualifies as a person, even though it may be extremely small.

            So, while it seems like a convincing article and that women are being tricked by pro-lifers, when you dig into the actual evidence and arguments it just comes across as another abortion propaganda piece. Which, again is perpetuating the murder of millions of children, and just leaves me flabbergasted that feminists argue for this stuff!

          • Courtney

            I’m shocked you think that is the strongest point in the article and not the part where she talks about practical ways to reduce the abortion rate.

  • yters

    She thinks contraception and sex ed are effective ways to reduce the abortion rate. However, according to the Guttmacher Institute, 51% of women who have an abortion were using contraception when they got pregnant. No form of contraception is 100% effective. For example, if a form of contraception is 99% effective, it only takes having sex 100 times a year to get pregnant.

    Unfortunately, contraception serves to increase the rate of abortion. It is what led to our abortion rates climbing from just under a thousand per year to over 500,000 per year once it was legalized.

    If we really want to decrease abortion rates, we’d have to outlaw contraception along with abortion.