Wendy McElroy, in her latest FoxNews column, is worried that mainstream feminism is going to reject Christian feminism.
At this point, synapses may be colliding at the attempt to integrate the words “Christian” and “feminist” because the combination deviates from expected norms. Remember, however, that those norms were established over past decades by politically correct feminists, whose critiques of historic Christianity were specifically designed to discredit the church as anti-woman.
Contrast that to what Bean – who would surely qualify as a “politically correct feminist,” in McElroy’s view – wrote on this blog only last month.
McElroy writes as if Christian feminism is something new. But in fact, Christian feminism – like Jewish feminism – has been around for decades. There have been hundreds (thousands?) of books written by Christian and Jewish feminists about combining their religious traditions with feminist beliefs (44 such books are listed in my local library catalog); there are academic journals such as The Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion; religious magazines like CrossCurrents frequently carry articles about feminism and by feminists; there’s even a regularly published magazine of Jewish feminism, Lilith, which has run for over a quarter-century.
Of course, there are some feminists who question if Judeo-Christianity and feminism are really compatable – just as there are some feminists who question if the Democratic party and feminism are really compatable. But just as Democratic feminists are broadly accepted, Chirstian feminism and Jewish feminism are broadly accepted withing the feminist mainstream today.
How do I know that? Because I do. Because as someone who regularly writes about feminism, I’ve read enough actual feminists and speak to enough feminists to have an idea of what’s out there. Just as, I assume, people who write about baseball have an idea of who is on which team and what the rules of the game are.
What staggers me is, how could Wendy McElroy – who writes a column a week about feminism for Fox – not have known about Christian feminism? She’s not a run-of-the-mill writer; she is, I think it’s fair to say, one of the conservative movement’s leading experts on feminism. Writing about feminism is what she does for a living. It’s like a baseball writer not being aware that there’s this team down in Florida called the “Marlins.” Maybe you don’t have to be able to know the names of the pitching staff or even who their clean-up batter is – but if you don’t even know that the Marlins exist, and have existed for years, isn’t that a problem?
How on earth could an expert on feminism not know that Christian feminism exists, and is broadly accepted?
The answer, I suspect, is that McElroy rarely reads feminists, beyond skimming NOW press releases looking for attack lines. She probably has few if any feminist friends outside of the echo-chamber of ifeminism, and she’s unwilling to respect feminists who don’t subscribe to a right-wing or at least libertarian ideology. McElroy even refers to schools of feminist thought she disagrees with by made-up names – “PC feminists” – so she can avoid the basic courtesy of referring to schools of feminist thought by their proper names, such as “radical feminism” or “liberal feminism.”
Furthermore, because McElroy mainly writes for the choir, no one ever calls her on it. I’ve seen at least two intelligent conservative bloggers – Sara and Susanna – link to McElroy’s essay. But it wouldn’t occur to either Sara or Susanna to criticize McElroy for not even knowing the most basic, obvious facts about feminism, because (and I’m sorry to say this, since I respect them both) they’re as ignorant as McElroy herself. So they take McElroy’s word for it, and propagate McElroy’s ignorance in their blogs, and the ignorance spreads wider and wider in conservative circles. (This is certainly not the first time McElroy’s column has spread misinformation)
UPDATE: And while I’m on the subject… Judith at Kesher Talk has a justly angry post ripping apart the conservative lie that American feminists haven’t objected to outrages against women abroad. Christine at Ms Musings makes a similar point, and like Judith includes plenty of documentary links. This isn’t a new issue, alas – I’ve written about this sort of counterfactual attack on feminism before, and so has Body and Soul. Sigh.
- Clueless anti-feminists in review
- Feminism and liberalism (and why Feminists should support Kucinich)
- Anti-feminist discussion forums down
- How many anti-feminists does it take?
- Fact-Checking the Anti-Feminists; like following around an elephant with a bucket, no matter how much crap you clean up they keep producing more.