To continue from Part 1:
I’m finding it difficult to separate feminism from any other cause (racism, for example) since all prejudice, fear, and aggression seem to come from the same root, and the remedy for all seems to be the same remedy. I believe that the way to overcoming prejudice, stereotyping, and negative biases is to look beyond the person to the spirit, not only in others, but also in one’s self. I realize that dualism can become a trap – the belief that body and spirit are separate entities; the body is evil and the spirit is pure. I am not implying that we should separate the person and their spirit. What I do mean is that we need to recognize that there is a spirit. When all people can accept that each person is spiritual and beautiful, then everyone’s perspective becomes larger. It’s easier to see the other as a sister or a brother instead of just “other”. As a woman, I want to move beyond the power struggles that result from an “us versus them” perspective and seems to characterize (or has characterized in the past) the feminist movement.
Awhile ago, I watched a CBC documentary recommended to me by Lisa (see her comment on Part 1). It was excellent and kick-started my thinking about the spiritual side of the struggle to be female in our society. I observed that much of the feminist movement’s struggle in the past was against Patriarchy in Society – a large, nebulous, cultural phenomenon. Patriarchy is as difficult to fight as racism is because it requires changing the externals in society through legislation, government, and business practices, but it also requires a change in each individual’s attitude.
Coming from an Anabaptist perspective, I am not comfortable with the struggle for power. Some of the feminists interviewed in the documentary call for more power to women – more women in government, more earning power for women, more top business executives that are women. We need people to fight for empowerment for women and I am thankful for them. Part of changing society’s attitude involves fighting for the externals. But I am not able to participate in that sort of fight. I am not emotionally or intellectually suited for it. I want to be female in my own way.
I think one answer to my dilemma lies in the life of Jesus and an Anabaptist/Mennonite interpretation of him. Jesus‘s main concern was for the underprivileged, the downtrodden, the outsiders in society. He effected change in a small way – what we would call a grassroots movement today. He related to individuals and was concerned about the contents of a person’s soul. His way of countering the culture of his day was so totally different from the sweeping political changes everyone expected that his closest friends could not understand him fully until after his death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven.
What this means for me, the feminist in an unexpected context (being a stay-at-home mom), and for everyone, is that we need to start with an “upside-down kingdom” approach. I may not be able to influence sectors of society in any measurable way, but I can start with being conscious of my own attitude and what I am passing on to my children and portraying to those with whom I come in contact. I want to be the free person I am meant to be, because if my spirit is free, it will communicate itself to everyone. One of the powerful parts of being female is the connection I have to my children and I want to use that for good, to give them freedom to be wholly who they are meant to be. This is a slow way, but perhaps the most effective means I have of contributing something good to society.