I’ve just read an article in the Washington Post by Suzanna Danuta Walters, professor of sociology and director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Northeastern University. The article was entitled, “Why can’t we hate men?” In it, Walters justifies hatred of men because of the many centuries of abuse that women have suffered at their hands. Her solution to the problem? "So men, if you really are #WithUs and would like us to not hate you for all the millennia of woe you have produced and benefited from, start with this: lean out so we can actually stand up without being beaten down. Pledge to vote for feminist women only. Don't run for office. Don't be in charge of anything. Step away from the power. We got this." The final payoff of the article: “We have every right to hate you. You have done us wrong.”
This is not the sort of thing I usually read to relax, but I truly appreciated the article for its honesty. I found that this feminist author is undeniably right in a couple of particulars. However, she is tragically wrong about other things. While Walters is considered by many to be a militant feminist, where she’s right and where she’s wrong is true of mainstream feminism, as well. So where is the feminist right and where is the feminist wrong?
The feminist is right…about men hurting women. It is not only perceived inequality that motivates the feminist. Women have been harmed by males abusing their authority. Women have been wronged by men. Who can deny this? Read the news. Read the Bible. Woman, in her natural state, is miserable and it is largely due to how she is treated by man.
The feminist is right…that something needs to be done. A problem as old as recorded history calls loudly for a solution. The feminist is right to recognize this and to expect one.
The feminist is wrong…about the fundamental problem. She’s wrong on at least two points. First, the fundamental problem has nothing to do with the existence of authority structures between the genders. God created different roles for the genders, including differences in authority, and those differences were part of His pre-Fall, good creation (Gen 1:31; 2:18-25, cf 1 Tim 2:12-14; 1 Cor 11: 8-9). Male leadership, as God created it, is what is best for men and women. Gender roles are created to be an inherently good thing.
Second, the foundational problem is not exclusively male brokenness. As a result of the Fall, man does have a sinful propensity to abuse his authority, either through passivity or domination, but the Fall had corresponding consequences for the woman (Gen 3:16, cf 4:6-7). One consequence is that propensity of males to abuse their authority. The other consequence is that her heart is wired to desire to dominate him, a desire that is not elicited by his abuse of authority. In other words, she would rage against his authority even if he didn’t abuse it. The foundational problem then is sin in the hearts of both man and woman. The human race is tainted by sinful wills that are bent against the opposite gender, man against woman and woman against man.
The feminist is wrong…about the solution to the problem. Because the feminist misses the underlying issue of sin, she prescribes a solution that will never address the true source of her misery, but will only exacerbate it. The solution is not for women to become more dominant and men to become more passive—that’s the original cause of this mess. In fact, when you read Genesis 3 carefully, you find that the feminist solution is exactly what led to the Fall in the first place - a woman leading a man while he sat passively by and watched her.
Further, her solution could be characterized as a generous helping of more of the curse. That is, the feminist prescription to the woman is, “give in to your desire to dominate men,” an impulse that God levied as a punishment for the original woman’s sin. This simply means that the more a woman follows the feminist’s prescription the more miserable she’ll become, diving further into the curse itself. You see, feminism doesn’t help women. It hurts them by misdiagnosing their problem and then providing a solution that is itself a curse.
The true solution is for men and women to be transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ so that they rightly live out God’s good design for gender roles. Sin’s curse twisted the hearts of men and women against each other. This is what we’re seeing in men abusing their authority and women raging against them. They both need to be changed from the heart out.
In Ephesians 2:1-10, Paul shows that God gave His Son to be killed, raised, and exalted to free us from our slavery to sin’s curse. Through repentance and faith, the grace of God works in us so that we are no longer dead in sin, but alive in Christ, created in Him for good works. Among those good works (we find just three chapters later) is the right functioning of men and women toward one another.
It should be striking to us that the gospel’s answer to the gender wars looks nothing like the feminist’s. In Ephesians 5:22-33, we do not read that the gospel calls women to function just like men and calls men to let them. Of course, it doesn’t. Again, Genesis 3 shows that’s precisely how the Fall occurred in the first place. No, because of the gospel, men and women are enabled by God’s grace to function according to God’s original design - wives respectfully, joyfully submitting to their husbands, and husbands lovingly, selflessly using their authority for the ultimate good of their wives.
The feminist is right - she has a problem begging for a solution. But where she is wrong will only perpetuate her misery. Only a man can fix her problem. His name is Jesus.