My Life as a So Called Feminist

Girl power. I believe in it.

Believe it or not I’ve spent most of my life feeling a little guilty and a little rebellious because I do. I was raised by a single mom, so I never bought into the idea that a woman had to have a man to be worth something. I don’t think anyone ever actually said to me that a woman had to have a man to be worth something, but I still managed to feel the pressure that it was true….and it made me mad.

I was stuck between knowing better, and feeling shame for knowing better.

I grew up in an ultra conservative religious environment. I went to a small church school from kindergarten to 12th, and I graduated with 9 other souls. There were 6 boys and 4 girls when they played “Pomp and Circumstance” that May of 1992. Most of us had been together since kindergarten.

On the one hand I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I felt loved and protected at the church school where I went. On the other hand I do now disagree with some philosophies I was taught,  and I know that I struggled to overcome what I believe to be some unnecessarily oppressive beliefs that just weren’t true.  I don’t doubt the love and protection they were taught with, but the fear of stepping over lines that were drawn by others for me, whether they were intentionally drawn or not, has followed me all of my life.

feminism-and-jesus

I’ve always been a feminist, I’ve just been afraid to admit it until recently.

Feminism. It’s a word that conjurs up images of every thing from suffragettes, to man-hating women in power suits, to breast feeding moms, to all girl bands. The word seems to mean something different to everyone.

The impression I got as a kid was that feminists were bad. Very bad. They were man-hating egomaniacs that threatened the natural order of things. They didn’t respect the masculine, and all they cared about were abortions and power positions in corporations. Feminists wanted me to live up to my full potential and that meant I had to be better than a man at everything.

At the same time, I somehow got the impression that in order to please God, women should never be in leadership over a man (in any circumstance), that the wrong outfit would get me what I deserved, and that no matter how good I was, God would always favor a man over me, because they were the ones that did the real work. I was a little mad at God for this.

Now, obviously neither of these theologies are true. They were childlike over exaggerations of what I was picking up from the village that was raising me. As a youth I wholeheartedly fell for those exaggerations (of my own) because my faith at that time, in my mind, was about following the rules, and my rule following faith was as passionate and as immature as I was. (ain’t that always the way?)

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:11-12 

As my relationship with God has become more about relationship and less about rules, I know he values me, as a woman, equally as much as he does my husband, brothers, father, and sons. He values us the same, but equal does not mean identical. He has wired me in a way that pleases Him, just as he has the men in my life.

I know that He values my body, because His design for it is amazing and nothing to be ashamed of. It does have power, but my mind and heart have power too through Him. Body, soul, and mind, I’m capable of the same grace that is given to me, because of Him. How I use my body can be an extension of that grace whether I use it in intimacy with my husband, or use it to feed a child (with my breast or my hands), or use it to serve those around me in need in a hundred other ways.

When it comes to leadership, I can discern how and when to take hold of it by using those gifts to distinguish between the calling of His Spirit and my own pride. My gifts are not lesser than those of a man, but different. God can and does use women in positions of authority often, and furthermore, the bible offers us many examples of such.

As I have put away those childish misunderstandings, I’m ready to say that I am a feminist. Maybe not the kind the world expects, but I know my God is for me as a woman, no less than He is for every man he created. He is the giver of the original “girl power”, and it’s okay to shamelessly embrace it and all the grace that comes with it.

Sasha Johns
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Sasha Johns

Sasha Johns is the wife to one amazing chiropractor and mom and teacher to 3 little well adjusted kids. She runs her own little cottage business True Vine Gifts where she repurposes wine corks into beautiful jewelry and home decor. It reminds her daily that Jesus redeems her too.
Sasha Johns
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About Sasha Johns

Sasha Johns is the wife to one amazing chiropractor and mom and teacher to 3 little well adjusted kids. She runs her own little cottage business True Vine Gifts where she repurposes wine corks into beautiful jewelry and home decor. It reminds her daily that Jesus redeems her too.

  • Heather

    Very happy to say it with you!! We are female, uniquely able to carry life in our bodies, push through great pain, and deliver a baby that we live so much that we are willing to do it all again. We are female, dealing with body issues, insecurities, and all things in life; all while coordinating our outfits, lipstick and shoes. Girl power is a unique and wonderful thing!!

  • Heather

    After all Ginger Rogers said it best, “I did everything he did, just backwards and in heels!”

  • Wonderfully written post; I can relate to this very much. I didn’t grow up going to a church-based school, but I did grow up being taught and believing many of the things you did. I was terrified of the word feminism, because to me, it was akin to the KKK – man-hating, Amazonian women wanting to enslave men and enforce power over them.

    In the last ten years, I’ve become far more educated and realized that I do in fact align myself with what true feminism stands for. I’ve written a lot of posts on the issue, particularly about this idea that seems to perpetuate through the church that Christian women cannot be feminists because it opposes the Bible, and how that is a false belief. Christianity and feminism go hand-in-hand, and is an important part, in my mind, of being a God-serving woman.

  • I couldn’t agree more. You’ve put into words exactly the position I’ve come to in recent years, after also growing up in a church-school. Thank you for writing this.

  • “Feminist” somehow took on such a bad connotation through its evolution that I somehow feel as though we need a new word to express the empowerment we feel as we become more comfortable with ourselves and our abilities.

    • we actually had a word before we had “feminist”. Suffragette. They warped that one too. I say we just reclaim “feminist”.

  • Hi, Sasha! Nice to meet you from a fellow peony! I love your closing paragraph here. Good words!

  • An interesting perspective right there! I must admit, I have always thought feminism is all those bad things you’ve said. Perhaps because those who claim the title feminist behave that way (except you).
    But that’s a nice perspective. I think feminism can be changed to be in tune with God’s will and not the ideologies we pick up from the world!

    • I don’t believe everyone who claims the title does behave that way these days. Take a harder look. The women that are the leaders in the Christian faith are changing it’s meaning these days.

  • Wonderful post! Thank you so much for your honesty. I have been a feminist and a Christian for over a decade but often felt that these two parts of myself were at odds with one another. It hasn’t been until recently that I’ve begun to reconcile the two.

    • Ah! Javacia! I’m fan girl-ing just a wee bit that you commented. 🙂 Thank you!

      Also, I have to tell you that your piece in last month’s b metro receives partial credit for the inspiration for this post. The fact that you took a southern slant on the word made me take a hard look at the faith slant on the word. Thank you!

      I appreciate your kind words!

  • This post is brave and good. I am older than you are but also went to a little school – 6 in my graduating class (of 1976!). Recently, a Christian friend called me a feminist – she meant it in the best of ways. I’m still trying to wrap head and heart around that one. Thanks for the encouragement and for sharing the journey.

    • I think we should reclaim the word. Just as “suffragette” had a bad connotation during it’s own movement, I think feminism had suffered the same. Let’s take it back!

  • as long as we can be the “feminists” that God wants us and calls us in His Word to be 😀

  • how comforting, another feminist. Jesus I do believe would agree. Thanks for your openness! It makes me feel more welcomed and not like an outcast as I usually feel!

  • Hear Hear!

  • And we both know my journey is so similar to yours. Love the way you shared this. And I too want to reclaim this word for good. Because I truly think Jesus was a feminist, too.

  • This is awesome, way to stand up for what you believe in.

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