Hi, My name is Edie. That’s pronounce ee-dee. Short for Edith (my grandmothers name). My mother made the unusual decision to put the shortened version on my birth certificate. Hence, I am called Eddie by pretty much everyone who reads my name. But women in my family don’t generally follow the script. I am starting this blog to share some of my political views, ask some questions, generate some discussion and hopefully, have some laughs. I am particularly interested in the way forward for conservative women in regard to the advocacy of women and girls. Like many, I have migrated to the right recently. One of the challenges in moving to the right politically, is that I am expected to abandon the idea that I am a feminist. This is especially true because I am a Christian. As Christianity is fundamentally oppositional to new ‘wave’ feminism. But I was a feminist before many of these tattooed, blue haired crew were born and I’m not about to move aside for them. New Feminists have left the advocacy of women and girls, to fight the great enemy, the straight white male. But we old fashioned feminists have more important fish to fry.
Having said that, I am not going to pretend there hasn’t been a struggle with the church, with my brothers and sisters, and with the scriptures themselves, in keeping my little pet I call feminism. When I first entered the church, at twenty, in my knock off Doc Martins, I was still a paid-up member of Green Peace, and technically a socialist. I went to ‘home group’ with the nicest couple of Baptists you could have found, but feminists they were not. They were very patient with me and I guess they believed that I would eventually get over my subversive political doctrine. One of the things that made me hold on to the subversive political doctrine, is that I knew that ‘feminism’, what use to be called the ‘women’s movement’, started in the church.
A movement of politically organised women, specifically started with the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union in the late nineteenth century. This sounds quite religious, but essentially women were sick of their husbands drinking all the grocery money at the pub, and coming home and beating the crap out of them. And sick of the state telling them that men were paid more because they needed to feed the family. This was a particularly bitter pill for abandoned single mothers. Politically engaged women were looking to address a power imbalance, starting with taking the booze away. This had a measure of success, but the most important thing to come out of it, was that women began to organise for political power, including suffrage.
Women and girls still face a specific range of issues that need political advocacy. For me, the women’s movement is about giving voice to women’s issues and bringing balance to the power structure. This is not incompatible with Christianity, as we believe that the image of God is in Male and Female. This is a creation principle. God’s “preferred pronoun” seems to be He, but His image is only made perfect in male and female. This is why we are so hung up on male female marriage. Marriage is both the image of God as male and female, and a symbol of Christ and the Church as male and female.
When I came into the church in the early nineties, women were given little real authority, and issues that were more particular to women were thus given little place. This wasn’t because a fault with God, or the scriptures, this was pure structural patriarchy, giving no room for the matriarchs I desperately needed at that point in my life. The church I go to now, 25 years later. looks very different. Women make up a large part of the leadership team, and young girls have a variety of options for spiritual leadership and council. matriarchs are celebrated with the patriarchs. There is no competition in unity. So my approach to feminism, is not to dismantle the patriarchy, because we owe a great deal to the patriarchs, and fathers are vital in our faith. I believe our faith to be traditionally patriarchal, but not inherently patriarchal. What has been happening, finally is that matriarchs, mothers of the faith, are being raised up to lead with the patriarchs. There is a critical principle here, of building up without tearing down. Of leadership being in both male and female. I worked with the imperfections of that little church and people there became my family and lifelong friends. I met my husband there, and years later, one woman from that church, who is a great matriarch of the faith, became my mentor and spiritual leader.
There were some scriptures that I struggled with for years, that have been used to exclude women from leadership in the church and deny them positions of authority. Over the years I have made peace with these scriptures and developed a working doctrine, based on widely accepted methods of traditional biblical scholarship. I can go through these if anyone is interested, but it is nothing that is not mainstream evangelical doctrine.
I mention this because all of a sudden, our doctrine has become critical to our politics. I want to make it clear that I am not a ‘progressive’ Christian. ‘Progressives’ seem to almost exclusively interpret the Bible using versions of critical theory, and I would never do this. This is because I have completed a sociology degree, and I know where critical theory comes form. The idea of taking techniques, designed for the analysis of various discourses by European philosophers and sociologists, and using them to interpret essentially Jewish religious text, is incongruent to me. We all see the world through our own cultural eyes. But most biblical scholars (except progressives ironically), try to minimise cultural bias, and take the text for how it was written, and how it was intended. This means that the sexual disciplines of the faith remain conservative without the European re-interpretation. But Christianity is a free will religion. The rule remains now, as always, that if you don’t want to subject yourself to the disciplines of the faith, don’t follow. Being a follower of Christ comes at a cost.
Next on the list I need to say that I am not a Social Justice Warrior (SJW). The social justice movements in the west, have been very important, but you can’t impose the concept of ‘justice’ to every fight. This is an impractical and unworkable model if your objective is the liberation of women and girls and a free society. A little girl in Thailand being sold into sex slavery will not be free just because you demand justice or human rights for her. What is happening to her is injustice, and a violation of human rights, but primarily it is morally wrong, and those who exploit her know this. It is a universal and innate moral principle that is in violation. This is the difference to the Christian approach. The Christian approach is based in the understanding of human nature as fundamentally corrupt, in a world of innate and absolute moral values. Sure, we will go into this corrupted situation and use concepts of ‘justice’ and ‘rights’ if they are helpful, if they will bring Government support and international funding. But we don’t view the fundamental problem as lack of justice and rights, we see it as is poverty and sin. We have in this approach, the tools to help the little girl, because our view is not subject to cultural variation or moral relativism. Where there is poverty there is always sexual exploitation of women and girls. Because human nature is 100% reliable in its propensity to sin in this way. Opportunity is the number one risk factor. If girls are in a position that they can be exploited, they absolutely will be. You can’t fix this issue with shouting, you have to get that child out of there, find her culturally sustainable and ongoing solutions, like employment or education that will keep her safe.
Modern feminism would like to think that men have taken our power, and we need to fight for equal power over everything. For me, and most women, this is not a reason to get up in the morning and put on battle gear. Most women, especially mothers, fight for far more mundane and important things, and most of us don’t really want to fight men. Because we love men. They are our husbands, lovers, sons, brothers, cousins, neighbours and friends. Without the help of men, mostly men with Christian values, women would not have been able to live the way they do in the west. Yes, some of the power was given up reluctantly, might I say, that left-wing unions fought vehemently against wage equality for women. But women have a fight for rights in our society around the education of our children and the definition of our sex, and a continued fight for their sisters overseas. Of course, we will always have the ongoing battle for the protection of our children. So, we can’t just walk away from the organised political advocacy for women, what use to be called the women’s movement and what is now called feminism.
Lastly, I need to say sexism is both a thing and not our biggest problem. I have been in business in a male dominated industry for 25 years, and I am telling you sexism is a thing. In the words of Forest “That’s all I want to say about that”.
So, what are the issues women face today? Well there is the international oppression of women and girls. Mothers are now losing the right to choose the sexuality education of their children. Heterosexual women are sending their daughters to school to be taught about sex by LGBTIQ activists and male politicians. Our sons are at greater risk of suicide than ever before, and they are being told that is because their masculinity is toxic. Our husbands are losing the rights to define their own gender, and bring our sons up in the way of our own culture. Women are having their gender legally re-defined in a way that is allowing men into their safe spaces and sporting teams. Girls continue to be sexualised in the media without objection. Sexual abuse is still rampant in homes. Cultures that advocate for the oppression of women are openly celebrated above this culture, that we have fought tooth and nail to transform. I could go on for a long time, there are a thousand things that feminists won’t touch, that their new wave intersectional ideology makes them powerless to address. Ironically, I now see many men actually fighting for some of these issues, in the absence of a voice for women. All these things I will talk about, as well as culture and socialism and politics and maybe cooking. I do love cooking. I would include housekeeping tips, but I really am a crap housekeeper.