I wasn’t expecting to have homework before class started, so I’ve been working on that most of the week. Settling into the new town has been easy. I really needed to get out of the city that I was in, and now that I have, I feel like I’m perpetually taking internal deep breaths of air. Also, I was surprised to find that I get a spring break, and even more happy to hear that my family will take the long trek to visit me over the break. I have no plans of going back anytime soon, and I don’t even have to miss out on seeing the people I love.

In the midst of settling in and doing all this reading, I’ve had ideas for posts flicker through my mind, the most obvious one being about the “Jesus is my Savior, not my religion” video, the rebuttal, and the response to the rebuttal. Since the entire Reformed community decided to jump on that one quicker than I could write a post about it, I’ll leave it alone except to say that I think that the man’s response was humble and that there isn’t enough of that in the Christian community. What I thought was just going to be proselytizing turned out to be a reflection of grace, to my shock and delight.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about how I identify myself. When I decided to finally embrace the Reformed label, with all of its historical and current connotations, I simultaneously decided to embrace the Feminist label. There will always be a loud fringe crowd in every group, like those with YCS (young Calvinist syndrome) and bra-burners/man-haters (second-wave feminists). They are the exceptions, not the rules. The Reformed label was easier for me to accept, the Feminist label, not as much. I’ve been thinking about it and processing it a lot lately. Mary Wollstonecraft said,

I do not wish [women] to have power over men, but over themselves.

One aspect about Feminism in the West, particularly the United States, is that women unconsciously conform to society’s expectations and even oppress each other. For real change to happen, I think we have to stand up a little straighter, respect ourselves, and treat other women the way we want to be treated. Problems can’t be fixed externally until they’re addressed internally.

Think about the income disparity, which has its roots in an unfair system. Women don’t negotiate as often as they should. Women accept. Things have to turn around individually before they can turn around culturally. I don’t think that means we need to be men; rather, I think that means we need to stop undervaluing ourselves. There’s no reason to compromise femininity while striving for more.

I think we all understand how the party culture, which allows women to “let loose”, really just contributes to objectification and low self-esteem. It strips women of the very freedom that they are seeking. A woman who doesn’t go to a party or goes and isn’t wild is considered a prude, Bible-thumper, or nerd…by other women.

Manipulation is an effective but disgraceful way to accomplish a goal. Instead of taking the high road and being gracious, but firm and assertive, we whine, beg, or guilt to get our way. Men participate, too, but society considers it a “feminine” trait. Women can gaslight just as much as men. Manipulation leads to a short-term victory but undermines over the long-term.

I gain nothing by turning myself into a martyr. I will either be pitied or abused, never respected. One of my favorite Terry Goodkind quotes is:

Deserve victory. Be justified in your convictions. Be completely committed. Earn what you want and need rather than waiting for others to give you what you desire.

As a product of the post-9/11 generation and a woman, I can’t do it all. I won’t accomplish all of the things that I could have accomplished 20 years ago. Instead, I will gain a perseverance that I would have never gotten 20 years ago. I will have a drive that will either cause me to burn out or push harder. I think that I would take that over any easy entry to nursing school. Character is 100 times more important and valuable than material things and accomplishments, though they are not bad.

I think about the line in The Way We Were, where Hubbell’s story begins with “In a way, he was like the country he lived in; everything came too easily to him.” Certainly, we’ll still have the privileged with us, but the upper-middle class, the middle class, and the lower class will have a significantly more difficult time trying to reach adulthood. As women, we’ll be tempted to settle for what we can get and accept society’s stereotypes.

Security is just an illusion, and we do not have to lower our standard of behavior because of what others think. I have a favorite Sojourner Truth quote.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back and get it right side up again!

How have your views about Feminism changed over time? What types of oppression have you observed?