Choosing to Be a Counter-Cultural Woman

Voices and Choices of the True Woman Movement (Part 3)

“You’ve come a long way, baby!” Remember that ad campaign? It symbolized the women’s movement of the 1960s, when feminism etched its agenda into women’s hearts and rewrote the rules of womanhood, marriage, parenting, and more.

Mary Kassian, a distinguished professor of Women’s Studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, spoke at True Woman ’08 in Chicago, explaining the foundations of feminism and how it replaced the image of sweet June Clever, happy at home and caring for her family in “Leave It to Beaver.” America watched the evolution of women under the influence of feminism on television. The new mindset changed the choices women made in their personal and public lives.

By the 1970s, Mary Tyler Moore—the perky, independent career woman—proclaimed womanhood’s sufficiency without a man. The 1980s brought us Murphy Brown, a loud-mouthed, brash, driven, self-absorbed divorcée and atheist. Her show focused on Murphy’s “self-actualization.” In the midnighties, America discovered Ellen, a woman who defined her own sexuality and morality as a lesbian. With the sitcom Friends, women were given options—live together, hook up, get divorced, get pregnant, have men as roommates, etc. “Selfhood and sisterhood” were promoted in Sex and the City. Kassian said of the women on that show, “...the height of empowered womanhood is to live a self-serving, self-righteous, neurotic, narcissistic, superficial, and adulterous life.”

How different this all is from the biblical image of a happy, fulfilled woman who values and serves God, her family, and her community.

The system of ideas that feminism encompasses is “a distinct worldview with its own ideologies, values, and ways of thinking,” Kassian said. She described that worldview, discussing the philosophies of Simone de Beauvoir, who proposed a revolution in gender roles; Betty Friedan, who wrote The Feminine Mystique; Kate Miller, who opposed “patriarchy” as a force against women; and other in the movement. “According to feminism,” Kassian said, “the only hope for woman’s happiness and self-fulfillment lay in rejecting a male-defined, Judeo-Christian worldview.”

Kassian’s message is spelled out in Chapter Three of the book Voices of the True Woman Movement by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Her conclusion? “The heart of true womanhood is to understand and agree with the purposes of our Creator ... A woman is a true woman when her heart says yes to God. ... The new generation is disillusioned. They can see that feminism hasn’t brought women the satisfaction it promised.”

What are the choices Kassian suggests that will bring women the answers, fulfillment, and freedom they seek?
(1) Embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ.
(2) Embrace a biblical understanding of manhood, womanhood, and gender relationships.
(3) Join the countercultural movement of women “who dare to take God at His Word, who have the courage to stand against the popular tide, choosing to believe and delight in God’s plan for male and female.”

Note: Mary's message at True Woman '08 was based on material from her book, The Feminist Mistake (Crossway Books, 2005).

Mary is one of the keynote speakers at two True Woman conferences in 2010: In Indianapolis, September 23-25; and Fort Worth, October 14-16. (I'm attending the Indy conference and would love to see you there!)


Marja said...

Thank you Dawn for another great post. I used to be a feminist and NOW Proverbs 31 is one of my favorite an most inspiring scriptures. Go figure!

Dawn Wilson said...

Thanks, Marja.
I love the part of Prov. 31 that says she "laughs" at the future. She can, because she is living out biblical womanhood and has God's perspective ... just like you!

I wish you could go to True Woman ... I'm going to the Indianapolis conference the end of September. There's also one in Texas in October. Lots of great speakers on biblical womanhood!