I wrote much of the body of this post almost a year ago. I just haven’t gotten brave enough to post it. But since it is seeming like more and more of the stories I want to tell are hinging on this one – the unravelling of my unswerving acceptance of gender roles and gender essentialism – it is time to begin the telling here, perhaps just a few pieces at a time.
I think I fell into that class for a purpose.
It felt like a bad trick at the time.
But there I was.
Latin American Women’s Studies. Huh. How?
That class during my semester in Chile (spring 2011) started this process of thinking, and rethinking, and questioning the place women have been given in the church and the culture and the world.
It wasn’t what I had planned, but class schedules and class options fit meekly together into my schedule and I had to choose between some I wasn’t necessarily thrilled with. I had an empty slot for either women’s studies or cinema.
I tried cinema first it seemed like a harmless option. A class called anything “women’s studies” didn’t sound that great for me. I had presuppositions about feminists and women (and anyone who disagreed with me, actually) that would probably not coincide with anything discussed there.
The first day of cinema class seemed mostly normal until we were watching a clip from an Argentinian film. Something about a couple doing things on a screen that should only happen behind locked doors didn’t seem like appropriate class materiel. I almost walked out. I should have. But I didn’t. I immediately dropped the class and signed up for Women’s Studies. Feminists or not. It turned out to be a lesson for my life that has kept me thinking and challenges me even now.
When I was taking it, I didn’t know that. I wrote very conservative papers and argued in an unsupported manner against the whole point of the class (basically). I found evidence to support my thesis and that was that. I’m sure I was hard to deal with in that class.
The other two students in the class questioned why I even bothered to take the class. I agreed and explained “I had no choice!”. I was vehemently opposed to being there. Because studying feminism seemed to go against my beliefs then. I was pretty sure loving Jesus and having to do with anything labeled “feminism” couldn’t coexist, even though on the bus home one day, one of my classmates told me she loved Jesus AND agreed with and saw the point in that class. I had assumed it wasn’t even a possibility. I was confused. And challenged. And I still remember it three years later.
Changing minds takes time.
There was another a reason for that class and God knew it. New thoughts were planted, but the ideas germinating in my head (and heart) took years to pop above the soil. They came and here I am.
I am thankful for the grace the professor and my classmates (all two of them) gave me as I argued their thoughts. I wish I could go back and learn what they were saying a little better instead of desperately trying to defend something I knew little about. It would have been better to learn to interact with their ideas and form my own instead of madly spitting back the things I’d absorbed over time.
But in spite of myself, that class did me good.
It forced me to see a bit even though I had my eyes held fiercely shut.
The gradual opening had begun.
I was on my way to a fuller understanding of who I am. And who God is. And how He made me to fill a place in this world, in spite of the rules and completely because of Him.
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Do you have a story about God turning your worldview around? What do you think about feminism in general? Is christian feminism any different?