Amy Schumer’s Feminism: And Then What?

I am not one to eschew the feminist label. I am a feminist, plain and simple.

But I reject the notion that there is one standard definition of “feminist.” I remember how rejected and misunderstood I once felt in the women’s studies department of my undergraduate institution — so much so, in fact, that I dropped my women’s studies minor a mere one class short of completion. My particular Christian ethics did not jibe with the feminist norm being taught, and many thought me a traitor to the cause.

That was about 15 years ago. In the interim years I’ve learned a lot about popular conceptions of what it means to be a feminist. I’ve realized ideals I once thought immutable are actually cyclical and subject to both minor and major revisions, made by different thought leaders over time. And one current, popular semi-wave of feminism is being led by comedian and actress Amy Schumer.

You can read the rest of today’s post on the “new” (problematic) face of feminism at Sojourners(Definitely worth a visit, if for no other reason than to check out their beautiful new website!)

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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.

Manic Monday Crossover Post: The Difference with Daughters

Also found here, but with pictures.

My daughter is beautiful. Actually, let me rewrite that: my daughter is BEAUTIFUL.

Sometimes I feel an almost physical shock at how adorably precious Rachel is. And while she is far (far!) from all grown up, she is no longer a “baby,” no matter how often I tell her that she is. Everything we do and say to Rachel now will influence who she becomes in the future, and how she perceives herself and her role in this world. Our words and our attitudes will give her the foundation upon which to base all of her worldviews and will create the lens through which she sees herself and others.

I find that I tell Rachel, over and over again, just how beautiful I think she is. I can’t help it—it just spills out before I can stop it. I say, “you’ve got such a pretty smile!” Or, “you are the cutest daughter I have!” (She has yet to think about the fact that she’s the only daughter I have, but we’ll leave that for another day.) I want her to be confident in her appearance (just think Dove commercial, which is a whole other can of worms), but I also am worried about how frequently we comment on how she looks. Lately I’ve tried to follow every involuntary blurt of “your curls are so gorgeous!” with, “Are you going to be an engineer or an architect when you grow up?” (because I want her to recognize and value her intelligence), or, “Do you know how much we love you just for being you?” (because I want her to know that neither beauty nor brains are what make her special).

We don’t use negative adjectives such as  “fat,” or “ugly,” or even say overly positive things about other people in front of Rachel, in part because we don’t want her to fixate on looks or think that other people will be critiquing her in the same way. In my house growing up, intelligence, kindness, and independence were revered, but so too was a person’s appearance. And when that is combined with society’s emphasis on beauty, bad things can happen.

So I’m worried. Collin is almost grown, so you might think I’ve had to address this issue before and have come to am enlightened viewpoint. Nope! I think Collin is as handsome as Rachel is beautiful, but I don’t worry about him in the same way. Why? Because society isn’t fixated with how men look or dress in the same way it is with women. It’s also understood that even if a man is outrageously handsome, his worth is in his personhood. His job. His intelligence. Good looks are just the icing on the cake. With women, the opposite is true… Beautiful AND smart? Intelligence becomes the icing. And of course, both of those cakes neglect to note that a person’s true worth is found in neither brawn nor brains.

How do we teach Rachel otherwise? She is beautiful. She is smart. She can create intricate machines out of Legos, a stroller, and random bits of paper and tape. She can organize three-hundred and thirty-seven toys into a symmetrical repeating pattern that spans the entirety of our main floor. She also makes my bed, feeds the baby, begs me to use the iron (don’t worry, I don’t let her). And after she does all these things we smile at her in her princess dress and tiara and tell her how lovely she is. How precious she is in piggy-tails. And she parrots back when she feels especially needy, “Look how cute I am!” And darn it, it both scares me and angers me. We should be able to enjoy all of who Rachel is without fear of repercussion. Without fear that she will not only be objectified in the future, but will objectify herself because she thinks that’s where her value is.

How many times in a row should I compliment Rachel about things other than her appearance so she will get the point that there is so much more to life? So much more to who she is?

As a woman, I know all too well the internal struggles Rachel will face in junior high. In high school. In college. And even into adulthood, when just as she is sure she is finally where and who she wants to be, something will happen to make her question herself all over again. And when that happens, I don’t want her to demand, “Look how cute I am!” but rather to say, “I am loved and special.” Period. No justification or explanation needed.