Monday, April 25, 2011

Like nothing so much as a children's play group

They had invented a class; now they had only to make that class conscious

Nearly three decades ago, Joan Didion wrote an essay titled, The Women's Movement in which she recalls the Marxist roots of that movement less than a decade after Betty Friedan began convincing women their materially comfortable suburban lives should be compared to concentration camps.  The label, "Second Wave Feminism" comes from  the truly radical feminist writer, Shulamith Firestone whom Didion quotes.  This feminism of the 1960s and beyond was not merely the revival of a political movement, "It is the second wave of the most important revolution in history."  Didion's exposition of this second wave of the revolution is excellent, still timely and I recommend you read the entire piece at the link above.

What I want to focus on here today is this from Didion's essay, "And then, at that exact moment when there seemed no one at all willing to play the proletariat, along came the women's movement, and the invention of women as a "class".  One could not help admiring the radical simplicity of this instant transfiguration."  Included with the acceptance of Betty Friedan's recasting suburbia as the land of concentration camps, what may well be the single most  effective tool for recruitment, reinforcement of ideology and retention of "oppressed" adherents was the concept of the "consciousness raising" group (I've written about CR here).  With such an effective tool, feminism is here to stay and is still dragging along its Marxist roots.

Oh, it may have smoothed off some of the more obviously radical edges and become acceptable to the "nicer" classes of women with its embrace of a certain kind of middle class life "style" adorned with the appropriate baubles and its "Oprahfication" (have you ever noticed how every episode of her show becomes, at some point, her own personal therapy session with you invited to participate as well?), but it is still a revolutionary movement and it is still with us.  In fact, it is so very present with us, we no longer notice it as something different.  It is so familiar now that the revolution has gone mainstream and we accept it as part of the culture and think the church should probably just go along to get along.

Feminism has scrubbed up so nicely that it has managed already to capture a rather embarrassing number of supposedly Evangelical churches, seminaries and publishing houses.  This captivity, however, has not been a help to women.  It has not fulfilled its promise of liberation and a life more valued and valuable. In fact, much as Eve fell to the serpent's deception, women have fallen under the spell of a feminism that keeps them in need. 

I came across a vivid example of this recently (you can read about the Denver Seminary connection here and here).  In the video promoting her women's center, one feminist has this to say, "you know, women in the United States are among the wealthiest, most well-educated, most powerful women who have ever walked the face of the earth.  We have tremendous assets to offer the rest of the world that the world needs.  And so we want to give women the opportunity to really use those gifts . . . to make a difference in our world."

Sounds great, right?  Makes you want to sign up for the next trip to Mali helping women set up a little home business with a micro-loan, doesn't it?  Makes you want to hop on the next plane to China protesting their one-child policy, doesn't it?  But wait, this is feminism we're talking about, not Christianity.  Never mind that Swanson has a DMin and earned an MA in Christian studies from an evangelical seminary, as it must, the feminism trumps the Christianity.  And feminism is all about the self, perceived needs and keeping women in this state of need through rehearsal of the shared narrative. 

So what does this women's center offer?  It offers therapists steeped in occult tools like the enneagram and Jungian depth psychology.  They can massage your uterus and help you create a sacred container.  You can take an art therapy class, you can learn how to share your story, journal your way to an Authentic Self and how to create a Rite of Passage for your life transitions.  You can even learn about dream work and transformative breath. 

I had not intended to write anything more specifically on this local example, but it's hard to look around for something else when a textbook example of the problem is right down the street.  I have just scanned a three month period on their published calendar (April, May, June of this year) and one thing becomes clear - it's all about ME.  All of the classes and events are self-focused.  Not one single event title or keyword indicating there might be something for the wider world these wealthy and well-educated women are engaged in.  They are not going to Nepal to help build a school or teach a summer bible camp to children - they are sticking right here and learning about Nepalese home cooking in their comfy women's center.

This local women's center presents us with a microcosm of the problem of feminism, especially religious feminism.  Lip service is paid to serving a hurting world, but the nature of the beast turns in on itself, keeping women needy and in need in order to perpetuate the revolution.  Only by taking women's eyes off a life lived in service to others, a life in which we only truly find ourselves by giving ourselves away - feminism tells us we must turn inward and serve ourselves or we cannot serve others.  The problem is, as the class offerings show, that even the wealthiest and most well-educated women on the face of the planet are so very needy and oppressed we need constant counseling, guidance and spiritual direction to find ourselves!

It's the perpetual infantilization of women, making them out to be nothing so much as a needy toddler who stomps her little foot when she doesn't get her way.  No, you can not be a priest.  STOMP.  I WILL be a priest!  And you can't stop me or I'll tell on you!!

It makes feminism look like a kindergarten and all those classes as nothing more than play groups.  Is this what feminism has brought us to?  Is this what we bought when we were told we would be lifted up to social and legal equality with men?  Is this the holy life Christ calls us to?  Yes, this is the end product of embracing life as a "class", a special interest group.  This is what happens when we forget our identity in Christ and look to the world to define our "Authentic Self".  This is the natural end when we look to the world to tell us who we are.  This is what happens when we succumb to the lie.  It's Eve all over again. The promise of the precious fruit and its enlightenment results in death and endarkment.

It all leaves me shaking my head and wondering why anyone with three working brain cells can believe the lie that it is the "mean old" patriarchalists that keep women child-like.


Gina M. Danaher said...

My thoughts exactly Kamilla.

"And feminism is all about the self, perceived needs and keeping women in this state of need through rehearsal of the shared narrative."
This quote hits the nail on the head. The irony is exactly that in their quest to find their "authentic self" they really do remain in a state of perpetual infantilization.

Sarah J. Flashing said...

Excellent piece Kamilla! Feminists are blinded by their motivation: self-interest.