Feministing As a Christian
A clip of a presenter on a Ugandan TV station has been making the rounds on social media, and a lot of people with sense all agreed that the content was outrageous at the very least and that such content shouldn’t be given airtime.
A lot of what was shared in the two clips (one shorter than the other) was basically a summary of Proverbs 31. A woman’s place is by her husband, and she should submit to her husband, and how women emancipation is satanic.
As a Christian, I don’t know if I have ever had a problem with Christianity being questioned, though for the longest time I pretended that I did. It seemed like blasphemy, and I won’t lie, it still kinda does. These days though, I am one of the people asking the difficult questions so I think that shows how far I have come.
While people were in shock about the nonsense in that clip, a few others rightly pointed out that this is no different from what is taught in churches.
So, is it the person who was talking about it that people disagree with more than anything? I ask this because we have seen male preachers talk about this, and the backlash has never been anywhere near this. Think I am kidding? Try to remember any wedding church service that you have attended. Did anyone flinch? Well, bet money I don’t have that the sermon had something to do with how the bride should be a Proverbs 31 woman. I digress!
In case it isn’t clear, Christianity is rooted in patriarchy – the man is the head, wives submit to your husbands, and be sure to chew their food before they eat it, and don’t forget to swallow for them, while feminism is the direct opposite seeing as it was birthed to fight the oppression that women face under patriarchy, one of its channels being religion.
As you can tell, being a feminist Christian can be a mess. Here is what helps me toe the line, without largely compromising either parts of my person. Hopefully, it will help someone in a similar situation.
I don’t have to prove anything: A lot of religion is performative, and I have been there and done that. Feminism also does have its performative moments, depending on which circles you roll in. Ironically, working on my salvation as a personal journey is what prepared me to be a non-performative feminist. This is not to say that you shouldn’t have people who hold you accountable in both areas, quite the opposite. What you shouldn’t do is let yourself fall into the trap of a random stranger on social media baiting you, and have you falling over yourself ‘defending’ yourself in a ‘fight’ you won’t win because you have different agendas. Also, as a feminist Christian, on average, you are angry 22 hours out of the 24 in a day so you really need to rest yourself, and stay your course, in as much peace as you can find.
While the above point is valid, the only way you can constantly be as sure in your path as possible, is through learning until you drop.
So, read, watch, and listen. Sometimes articles, books and journals, other times series and IGTVs, and other times listen to podcasts and audiobooks. Learn as much as you can, whenever you can. Bookmark things that you think you might be interested in – I know it can be discouraging to bookmark things yet you never get around to consuming them, but they don’t actively hurt you so do it any way. Ask people on similar journeys to share resources, have a group where you can regularly discuss these things, stay engaged and learn.
Now that you are not wasting your good time having useless fights with strangers on the internet and have some ka information on your hands, ask questions. If there is one thing I learnt in my Criminal Minds career of Cultology, it is that asking questions will save you from so much. If you are accustomed to asking questions, you will not sermon God when someone genuinely wants to engage about your religion. You will also most likely have the answers to the questions, which is always nice, but in the event that you don’t, you will probably learn something new. Feminism is a journey of asking questions so I won’t even get into that any further.
So, now that people have semi established that they can ask you questions, and can engage with you on these topics ‘positively’, you’d assume that you won’t feel a ‘ki mango’ whenever someone asks you a question that doesn’t sit well with you.
Which takes us to the next point; accountability is a must. When someone asks you a question in good faith, that is negative leaning, for example, what is your church doing to support full time volunteers, who would previously have got a lunch and transport allowance?; it’s not an attack on your individual person. In fact, you should be interested in knowing what your church is doing about the situation for people who dedicated their time and skills to help it run, so it should be treated as an opportunity. If as a feminist, you preach x and do y, someone asking you a question about this contradiction should be great. At the very minimum, it means that you have established yourself as one thing, and that is also an opportunity to examine what led to the question. Hopefully, you have an answer that will let you sleep well at night. Without accountability, none of these matters, so we must embrace it, even when it is not a particularly smooth road.
I could go on and on, but I paid attention during Ms. Nanyunja’s summary writing classes.
How do you navigate your feminism and religion journey?