To paraphrase Ferris Bueller, “A person should not believe in an -ism, she should believe in herself.” Especially when the -ism is being managed and marketed by a couple of flakes.
Allison Rapson and Kassidy Brown are two behind-the-scenes media personalities looking to re-brand feminism in a marketing campaign with only a few more syllables than something Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone would have fashioned in between hits of vodka and cocaine. The only thing vaguely permanent about their manifesto are the matching tattoos the pair appear to receive on camera. We Are the XX is the latest in a movement that has been floundering for a purpose since women got divorced and entered the work force en masse in the ’70s and ’80s. Life is good, the theory goes, so what exactly are we fighting for again? Feminism doesn’t know and, as a result, a series of disparate voices have arisen, spending more time arguing than accomplishing.
Contradictory leadership and incessant infighting plague any and every movement. I often receive criticism from readers who cannot comprehend the idea of Biblical Feminism. After all, the Bible, as they see it, is just a loaded patriarchal cannon prejudiced against women. That’s what the world has taught them, and quite a few religious officials, both Jewish and Christian, claiming to represent the Bible have lived up to that stereotype causing plenty of discord and disillusionment in the past few decades.
Take, for instance, the ongoing struggle of the Women of the Wall, an egalitarian Jewish women’s group seeking equal rights to pray and read the Torah while wearing tallit and tefillin (prayer shawls and phyllacteries) at the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem. The 25 year old movement gained worldwide attention this past summer after many members were arrested for fulfilling their goals, something the ultra-Orthodox political establishment within Israel deems offensive. After winning their court case, the Women of the Wall faced a series of ultra-Orthodox protesters who turned Judaism’s holiest site into a grudge-match arena, throwing dirty diapers at the praying women while brandishing signs claiming they were shaming Judaism and turning their backs on God to form a new religion. All this because the Women of the Wall did not perform their Judaism to the ultra-Orthodox’s liking.
Ricky Gervais, an avowed atheist, smartly commented on Facebook earlier in the week: “Free will: That thing that God gave us so that we could do what we want and then he could punish us for not doing what we were told.” It is a logical assumption that anyone would agree with if all they ever knew of the Bible was a corrupt official’s interpretation. Women of the Wall leader Anat Hoffman quite rightly reflected: “This is a territorial war by rabbis who don’t want to cede power.”
The difference between feminism and Biblical Feminism is that I’m not chasing someone else’s conversation in a game of telephone. Rather, I’m reading the source for myself, of which feminism has none (unless you count the collected works of Gloria Steinem, but if you don’t follow her stream….). Why depend on a middle man (or woman) when you can do the thinking for yourself? God Himself tells the Israelites: “On the contrary, the word is very close to you – in your mouth, even in your heart; therefore, you can do it!” We’d never know that if we continued to rely solely on a rabbi, a priest, a pastor, a newscaster or a commentator to give us their interpretive Cliff’s Notes of God’s word.
We have just celebrated a holiday entirely devoted to rejoicing in the fact that we chose to possess God’s Word in our hearts: Simchat Torah. Torah, which most misinterpret as “law” more accurately reflects the concept of “hitting the mark.” It is a guidebook for success in daily living. In his reflections on Simchat Torah, Rabbi Benjamin Blech rightly noted that “…it has been our Torah, our teaching of morality and ethics that served to civilize the world.” It is not about following one particular sect’s vision of Torah, it is about dwelling individually – personally – with the Torah along with the rest of the Tanakh itself.
When you do, you’ll find out that God is just as disgusted with the abuses of power by spiritual leaders, the “shepherds” of Israel:
“‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, you abandoned my flock and left them to be attacked by every wild animal. And though you were my shepherds, you didn’t search for my sheep when they were lost. You took care of yourselves and left the sheep to starve. Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I now consider these shepherds my enemies, and I will hold them responsible for what has happened to my flock. I will take away their right to feed the flock, and I will stop them from feeding themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths; the sheep will no longer be their prey.'”
Biblical Feminism isn’t about taking orders. It is about making choices, as individuals, to stand up for what is right in the face of what is wrong. It is the responsibility of every proclaimed Bible-believer who traces their spiritual roots back to Abraham to inform themselves of what they believe. Biblical Feminism is about the 21st century’s ultimate equality: access to information. Scripture is the ultimate litmus test of leadership: If what they preach doesn’t jive, you don’t need them to ensure you’re on God’s good side.
The age of corrupted spiritual leadership is over; we have been given the ultimate tool to hold these leaders accountable and not allow them to interfere in our relationship with God. So, the next time someone tries to tattoo you with their brand, point to Ezekiel and tell them you are their sheep no more.