Things I have learnt from #femfest

I’ve loved taking part in feminisms fest this week, and have really appreciated thinking this issue through with others. There have been some great posts all linked up in the sites below, so do check them out:


These are the things I have learnt:

  • There are still so many negative associations out there with feminism.

    “We think women only want the power because they don’t outwardly have it. The assumption is that feminists don’t want equality, they want power. You also think that if a man lays down his power, a woman will take it. That’s reinforced in the media. Look at Everybody Loves Raymond and that line in My Big Fat Greek Wedding about the man being the head and the woman being the neck. It’s already assumed and portrayed that women really have the power.”

    This post from Caris Adel’s husband was really helpful in identifying the preconceptions that people (men and women) have when it comes to feminism.


  • Feminists don’t want to replace patriarchy with matriarchy, we want something different. I suspect the above suspicions of feminism arise because people misunderstand what the goal is – not to win the war by having women on top and men subjugated, indeed not to war at all. This post by Suzannah Paul was probably my favourite of the week – ‘I want to burn the whole thing down and start anew.’ All oppression shall cease: a theology of power and feminism. This is utterly where I’m coming from.




  • This stuff matters. There are so many women who are bruised by their experiences when men in the church try to stop them from doing ministry or say unthinking and hurtful things, believing they are doing theology well. I am friends with a number of thoughtful conservative evangelicals, and I think they would be shocked to hear of how Kay was treated as a Children’s Worker. I read this and it just made me feel so sad. Conservative men who are reading my blog- would you please take the time to read this?


  • Men can be feminists too. (If you go by my definition, that is!) Who’s in? And I loved this post by Abby Norman about how patriarchy short-changes the guys as well as the girls. Feminism: not just for girls.


  • Angry feminists are still fun. (And often have significant cause to be angry…) Hannah and Esther are two of my favourites.


  • I am left with some questions, too. ‘How will we achieve change?’ is the main question I’ve been asked – and it’s my question too. I don’t like warring and I don’t want to battle – and yet how else do you change systems? This piece by Emily made me ponder these questions, just through her story of her teenage self kicking a boy in the shins. It made me wonder, is that the only way that sexist men will change their minds? Do you have to do it by force? I am fearful that might be so.


I am not sure what my role in all this is. I don’t think it is to fight in quite the same frontline way as others of my feminist friends are doing. I think that is important, but it is not my role.

I suspect my role is to do what I do boldly and without apology, expecting to be respected for it. Sometimes just being a positive example can be enough to start to shift prejudices. And I will keep whispering to the many women who are not respected as equals, who are told they are disqualified from something by virtue of their gender, who have been so bruised by the untruths spoken over them that their wearied hearts begin to believe those lies. The shouting will hopefully bring about change and we need the feminists who shout, but I think my role in this sphere is to whisper.

Over to you:

  • How has this week changed the way you see feminism?
  • In this particular debate, are you called to shout or whisper?


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14 Responses to Things I have learnt from #femfest

  1. suzannah | the smitten word 3rd March, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

    this conversation has been deeply encouraging. thanks so much for the kind words and link to my post, tanya:)

    • Tanya 4th March, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

      I agree! And it’s a pleasure. 🙂

  2. Ashley @ Draw Near 2nd March, 2013 at 3:56 pm #

    How I appreciate the ways you grapple, question, turn things on their sides to see them differently. What a great exploration here, Tanya — it’s helped me figure out what I think. Bless you, friend.

    • Tanya 4th March, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

      Thanks so much, Ashley – and I’m so pleased it helped you to crystallise your thoughts – that’s the best outcome of something like this week, for sure.

  3. Lana 28th February, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

    I love this! Right, feminism is not anti-Biblical. Its purely Biblical.

    • Tanya 2nd March, 2013 at 10:12 am #

      Preach it! 🙂

  4. Esther Emery 28th February, 2013 at 8:01 pm #

    Proud to be an angry (fun) feminist today! Thanks for this lovely round up, Tanya.

  5. Shona 28th February, 2013 at 6:11 pm #

    I have found myself re-claiming my ‘feminist’ identity over the past months. I’m glad you are claiming yours too. To my mind a feminist is a person who believes that all are equal and that we still have some way to go to achieve that. I was a whisperer but I’m definitely becoming a bit more shouty!
    There remains an extraordinary suspicion around the use of the word so thank you for raising its positive profile . It’s all about bringing life and bringing it to the full to everyone regardless of gender.

    • Tanya 2nd March, 2013 at 10:11 am #

      So cool that we’ve been in a similar journey! I’m so glad this connected with you.

  6. Abby NOrman 28th February, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

    Thank you so much for linking to my post. The vast majority of all the Feminism Fest links have been golden. Truly, so many amazing and beautiful things have been said in these two days. Did you see wha Preston said today, we need the whisperers too. Sometimes, that is the only way people will hear. Also, I replied to your comment on my ungrateful lepers post. I basically declared my undying love for you. Sometimes the internet gives you a sister in Christ that really feels like a sister.

    • Tanya 2nd March, 2013 at 10:07 am #

      I’m smiling as I read this – thanks. 🙂

  7. Liz Eph 28th February, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

    I don’t know if anyone tried to stop me as such, more overlooked. But I’m grateful that in a lot of the churches and organisations I’ve been in I’ve been able to do a lot of things though I’m aware that often I was all that was available and as a woman got taken for granted. I have no problems with headship, patriarchy, leadership IF the head, leader, patriarch is capable of teamwork, delegating, trusting, not discriminatory etc

    • Tanya 2nd March, 2013 at 10:07 am #

      Thanks for sharing more of your experience, Liz!

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