Is Religion the ‘Biggest Problem’ Facing Feminism Today?

Earlier this week, feminist Gloria Steinem said that religion is the “biggest problem” facing feminism today.

Steinem made this assertion in response to a town-hall style question she was asked during an interview with Jennifer Aniston at the MAKERS Conference. The MAKERS Conference was born of the PBS documentary, “MAKERS: Women Who Make America,” and was held to develop an “action plan to define the agenda for women in the 21st century.”

Steinem was asked, “What do you think the biggest problem with feminism today is?” to which she replied, “What we don’t talk about enough is religion. I think that spirituality is one thing. But religion is just politics in the sky. I think we really have to talk about it. Because it gains power from silence.”

You can read the rest of today’s post by clicking here.

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2013: The Year of the Woman

The year 2013 may well come to be known as the Year of the Woman.

Women of high socio-economic status both applauded and lamented the publication of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, while women of a certain age waxed nostalgic over the 50th anniversary release of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. Those under 30 were surprised that the latter book existed, and those in their middle years realized the reading assignment that somewhat bored them as inapplicable in college was now vitally important, as they struggled with work/life balance and debated whether to stay home with the kids or remain in the paid workforce.

You can read the rest of today’s blog post at Sojourners by clicking here.

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Marginalization of Women Leads to Increased Rate of HIV/AIDS

During the past 30 years, the AIDS pandemic has provided an unfortunate opportunity to follow God’s call to care for the widow and orphan. Husbands succumb to illness, leaving behind wives and children who also carry the disease. Mothers die, leaving behind children without care, and too often is the case that those children — who could have avoided in utero transmission of HIV with proper medical care — also die. Entire families are lost.

This Sunday marks the 25th anniversary of World AIDS Day. This day is not simply about wearing a red ribbon to show solidarity in the fight against AIDS. Instead, it is an opportunity to address the tough issues presented by HIV, such as how those disproportionately affected by the disease mirror society’s most marginalized populations — the poor and women — and how faith-based communities can best serve those populations.

In the book, Women, HIV, and the Church: In Search of Refuge, editors Arthur Ammann and Julie Ponsford-Holland compile expert voices to deconstruct the stigma of HIV within the church, set forth the biblical mandate to care for the sick and suffering, and define what role the church can play in providing education, protection, and refuge for those infected or at risk of infection. While Refuge speaks at length about the fallacy of a sin/sickness connection on an individual level, as well as God’s mandate to serve the widow and orphan, its primary emphasis is one of gender equality: to respond fully and compassionately to HIV, the global church must both verbally affirm gender equality as well as uphold that affirmation in practice.

Read the rest of today’s post at Sojourner’s by clicking here.

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Book Explores “God’s Radical Notion” of Feminism

Blogger extraordinaire and self-described “happy-clappy Jesus lover” Sarah Bessey has just released her first book, Jesus Feminist. In it, she explores “God’s radical notion that women are people, too.”

This is a (mostly) hyperbolic statement. Bessey actually explores the radical notion that women have worth and a calling all their own, both separate from and equal to that of men. As Bessey puts it, “Feminism only means we champion the dignity, rights, responsibilities, and glories of women as equal in importance … to those of men, and we refuse to discriminate against women.”

Despite Bessey’s use of the “f-word” that many (erroneously) associate with anger, bitterness, and man-hating, she has a soft voice that is lyrically feminine, and full of love for men and women alike. Bessey is poetic, prophetic, and, at times, downright folksy. But one should not be fooled by her inviting and easy tone. Her words carry force and conviction, and all the more for their accessibility, as readers find themselves nodding in agreement at well told stories calling for love and justice in a hurting world.

You can read the rest of the book review at Sojourners by clicking here.

Women and Taboos: Leaning In, and Getting Frank About Faith, Sexuality and the Bible

In this age of third-wave feminism, many Americans may not realize that Christian women continue to struggle with what many would deem outdated gendered notions. This includes things such as a woman’s calling being second to her husband’s, women as unwitting temptresses who therefore must hide their bodies, and that women may not lead (or sometimes even speak) in church. Both external and internal pressures and fears have historically kept women silent on these matters.

In the recently released Talking Taboo: American Christian Women Get Frank About Faith, edited by Erin S. Lane and Enuma C. Okoro, 40 women under 40 were provided a much-needed pulpit from which to break the silence. These 40 women addressed head-on many of the taboos remaining at the intersection of faith and gender, and how they are stepping out of historical oppression to make real change within the church.

You can read the rest of the review at Sojourners by clicking here.

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Financial Gain from Infidelity? A Christian Response

AshleyMadison.com is an online dating site that boasts millions of users worldwide. While online dating has become commonplace in today’s wired society, AshleyMadison has added a shocking twist to what has become mundane. Rather than promising to join together singles of similar faiths and interests, AshleyMadison.com is an online site for married people seeking extramarital relations. Its tagline is simple: “Life is Short. Have an Affair.”

The majority of Americans view adultery as wrong, which, by extrapolation, means that most Americans can see the glaring immorality in AshleyMadison’s business model. There are, however, many more reasons beside adultery to be concerned with AshleyMadison’s creation and far-reaching success.

The founder and CEO of AshleyMadison.com, Noel Biderman, has been “happily married” for ten years to his wife, Amanda, and they have two children. Both he and his wife confess they would be “devastated” if the other used the website’s services. When asked how she felt when Biderman first presented his idea for the website to her, Amanda recalled feeling concerned, thinking the idea implied something unhealthy about Biderman. However, once Amanda realized that it was a “sound business, that there was an [underserved] market,” she was “totally behind” the website’s creation.

The Bidermans actually see the website as altruistic: they believe that an affair can save a marriage. Biderman explains himself thus:

You can find Biderman’s explanation and the rest of today’s post at Sojourners.