I’ve never protested anything. I’ve never been politically active, I’ve never been angry at an establishment, I’ve never felt my rights, or the rights of my friends, were threatened.
Until the 2016 presidential election.
For the majority of my life, I thought I was a Republican. I grew up in a small, conservative Texas town. A town where the majority of the residents were white, upper-middle class, Christian Republicans. A town where, in 2008, President Obama was called the “anti-Christ” on a regular basis. Where I believed, for the longest time, that he was evil, because that’s what I was told. I never questioned it, and I never even considered the fact that we might be wrong. All I knew was that I was a Christian, and that Christians were Republicans, and that for whatever reason, we weren’t feminists, or pro-choice, or evolutionists. My friends’ parents made jokes about “wetbacks” and my classmates posted hateful comments on Facebook about our school’s one openly gay student. I felt my heart quiver at the hate I saw around me, but instead of doing or saying anything about it, I went to church. I went to church and, fortunately, found love there, in Christ.
After my dad died, I found comfort in my faith. I ran to the cross, and my grief became smaller and smaller, day by day. For a while, I didn’t think too much about politics because I didn’t really think they affected me. And whenever I would be confronted with an issue, I just remembered who my family was, what we believed in. Christians were Republicans, that’s all I knew, and I clung to that fact desperately.
Then I started having issues. I started paying attention to the news, and to reports of a student alleging another had raped her. My own heart ached for the girl, the victim. But my family always had the same response: Well, why was she drunk, they would ask. Why was she wearing a skirt, they’d insist. Doesn’t she know that she’s ruining this boy’s life by making these accusations, they’d remind the screen, rolling their eyes, assuming the girl was lying. Brushing it off. It hit me, and I began to think that maybe, I was on the wrong side of things. And then, Donald J. Trump came along.
Immediately, I knew I wanted nothing to do with him or his candidacy. I saw, and I heard, way too many of my Republican and conservative friends say “Well, he’s not my first choice, but…” and I tuned out. Their excuses were meaningless. They still are.
Because for me, the 2016 presidential election had much more to do with discovering my own feminism than it did with “picking the lesser of two evils” (but, please, let’s complain some more about private email servers, Mr. President with the unsecured Android in the White House).
For me, the 2016 presidential election forced me to open my eyes. For a while, I’d been erring on the side of democratic beliefs, because, for the most part, they just made sense to me. I researched, I prayed, and I read my Bible. Immigration and refugees? Exodus 23:9. Love them as ourselves. Helping the poor? Matthew 5:42 (and a million others, I might add). Do not deny them help. Basically, and the Bible again literally says this: Christianity is built upon love. The greatest commandment we are given is to love the Lord our God. But the second greatest? Love others. That’s what it came down to, for me. I voted for love, not hate, not fear, not prejudice. Love.
And I felt confident in my decisions, I felt strong. But then, we lost. A racist, misogynistic pig was elected to the highest office in the land, and my fellow Christians were…happy? Dealing with that loss showed me that so many people I used to look up to, who I thought were prime role models for Christ and His love…weren’t. They erred on the side of hate.
Then, months later, they were complaining. Because hundreds of thousands of women (and men) marched across the world to stand up for what they believed in. My family and friends wrote and shared scathing remarks about the Women’s March, and how it “doesn’t represent all women,” how we were all just a bunch of “whiners,” how we should do something productive. And when I started to think about how they could have reacted like this, said these things, one thing, one idea that kept percolating was this: Are they that afraid of feminism? Of powerful women taking a stand?
They were, and they are. And honestly, I can’t blame them. It took me months, heck, years actually, to come to terms with my own feminism. I used to be so confused by it. I thought it meant not shaving my armpits. I thought it meant hating on housewives. I thought it meant being angry and vile all the time. But when I was raped, and so many people’s first questions were “What were you wearing?” and “Had you been drinking?,” I finally started to grasp onto the basic principal of feminism: equality. Because I knew they wouldn’t be asking a boy alleging he was raped those same questions. No. They’d just believe him.
So I came out of the feminist closet. I embraced it, and with that embrace came so much relief and happiness. It was as if I finally knew who I was, and what I stood for. Of course, I still had my faith. And…
“Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” 1 Timothy 2:11-12.
“An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.” Proverbs 12:4
“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”” Genesis 2:18
My faith, which preaches from a Bible that says these things. That literally tells its readers that women are lesser than men. That we must submit to them.
I know, it doesn’t sound right. And I know plenty of women who cling to these verses, who claim that those are the reasons they aren’t feminists, because the Bible tells them they can’t be. And I can’t really blame them for thinking that, because I used to think it, too. I was submersed in a culture that encouraged me to aspire to be nothing more than a wife–which, don’t get me wrong, is a great thing to aspire to, if you truly want and desire that. But I couldn’t see a way out. That’s what the Bible says, and we always obey the Bible.
But do we, really? Tell me, fellow Christian women, have you ever talked in church? Said hello, asked a question, brought up a talking point? Ever? Well, hate to break it to you, but if you have, you’ve sinned.
“The women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.” 1 Corinthians 14: 34-35.
Yeah, that’s the New Testament, folks. You wanna go back to the old stuff, shit can get really real back there. But I think I’ve made my point.
The Bible is a great source for information, for guidance, for words of wisdom and love. But ya know what? It was also written more than two thousand years ago so forgive me if I don’t wanna chop someone’s hand off for getting into an argument (Deuteronomy 25:11-12).
Unfortunately, though, the Bible has a tendency to be a bit sexist. To be fair, our society is still pretty sexist, so we can’t entirely blame the authors from way back when for all the confusion they’ve caused. Because it is hard. So much of Christianity teaches that sought-after vision of a perfect, loving family, the wife steadily supporting the husband, doing what he says. But for me, my Christianity is based on love. And it’s based on personal convictions. And personally, I’m a badass feminist. I got that from my mom, who, whether she’ll admit to it or not, is a pretty badass feminist herself. Why? Because back when I was just a kid, my mom did the unthinkable. She broke one of the Bible’s rules. She got a divorce.
I remember the shock. My church friends were shocked, they thought it was illegal because of how it was preached at my church. “You stay together, you work and pray through it,” they said. But she did it anyway. She made the decision that was right for her and for our family. And I’m grateful for that, no matter how long I held on to that fantasy of one, big, happy family. Because she took a stand.
So this is me now, taking a stand. I know what the Bible says. I know what many of my friends and family think and believe. But this isn’t about them, it’s about me. I’m happy they haven’t personally felt any injustice or inequality directed towards them just because they’re women. But, ya know what? I have. And even if I haven’t, I would still march, and I would still write this article, because “grab ’em by the pussy” is the kind of “locker room talk” that leads to the kinds of actions that leads to the kinds of questions like “what were you wearing?” that make me, and thousands of other women, feel less than.
So, yes, I’m a Christian. And I’m a feminist. The two are not mutually exclusive, and I maintain that it’s possible to be both. Because Christianity is founded upon the belief in a man who sacrificed himself for us so that we could live better lives and be free from sin. So that we could be free. All of us. Regardless of gender.