Friday, January 14, 2011

Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World, by Carolyn McCulley


I really, really liked this book. I know next to nothing about the history of feminism, so I really appreciated the opportunity to learn about how feminism has affected the way we in the church view femininity. I grew up in a generation that took a lot of feminist ideas for granted. We've always had the vote, always been able to own property. But we've also always had it drilled into us that "anything [they] can do, [we] can do better"--that any gender distinction is sexist. And while bible-believing churches sometimes try to adhere to biblical gender roles, they often fail to explain the reasons for them (so they come across as mysogynistic). And the culture beats this stuff into our brains so much, we (I) sometimes don't even realize how much it's affected us (me). So I appreciated the reality check.

Also, I hadn't really thought much about what gender roles looked like before the industrial revolution--that until fairly recently, no one worked outside the home. Both parents worked. And both parents worked in the home. It should have been obvious, but somehow it just hadn't occurred to me that the concept of a stay-at-home-mom was a more modern construction--that the idea of the woman doing economic and domestic work, far from being contrary to Scripture, was in fact the biblical norm. Of course, finding work that can be done at home is a little more challenging these days, and typically the father works outside the home full time (rather than also working at home and thus sharing in more of the parenting/domestic duties). But it's still interesting to think about.

All in all, I think this is an excellent book, and I highly recommend it to men and women who want to understand and thus more effectively engage with secular ideas about femininity and gender.

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