There’s a great post over at her·meneutics written by Sandra Glahn on “The Feminists We Forgot.” In the article, Glahn stresses the importance of knowing our history, and in particular, the importance of the church knowing feminism’s Christian roots.
This “new woman” is not an invention of second-wave feminism either. Betty Friedan did not start the “woman movement;” Christians did. Motivated by the belief that men and women were made in God’s image to “rule the earth” together, these pro-woman, pro-justice believers sought to right wrongs for those who had less social power.
I’ve stressed this before in my post on Cruciform Feminism, and it serves as a good reminder to me that I need to keep digging and learning more about the history of feminism within the church. The more we understand the historical role of the church in the work towards equality between men and women, the better we can dispel misconceptions about feminism and the church. This is one reason I plan to start including women from church history in my weekly Frauen Friday series. Women have had a far more influential role in the church throughout history than we are usually given credit for… again, a lot of this comes from an unfamiliarity with our own Christian history (I am obviously speaking from my own experience here with roots UMC, SBC, and A29 traditions). I want to do my small part to help change that… starting with the woman in the mirror (cue awesome MJ song)!
As Glahn concludes:
The teaching that women’s involvement is a new phenomenon in church history has been used to silence those whom the Spirit has gifted for leadership. And advances made on behalf of women have been attributed entirely to secular feminism. We ourselves have been complicit, because we haven’t known our own history.
Be sure to read the full article here. I also highly recommend Julie Clawson’s five part series on Discovering Christian Feminism. Feel free to list any other references in the comments below!