Feminism & Religion (Pt. 1)

There are so many conotations of the term "feminism" that its rare to find people on the same page. Because of that, we're going to dive into the definition and history of feminism a little before we actually start talking about how it relates to religion.
11However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12For as the woman originated from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God. 1 Corinthians 11:11-12 NASB

I've actually heard a lot of Christian men (and women!) bashing feminism, and generally if they open up about what they're complaining about it's usually a subset of feminism or their perception of what feminism is. So before we start talking about how religion views women, I thought we should spend some time talking about feminism. In this episode we'll briefly touch on the history of women and some ideas that sprang up in the various feminist movements. This is by no means an exhaustive coverage of feminism or the nuances within feminism. This is simply a pre-conversation to get us on the same page for the next.

Official Definition

Feminism [2]
    : belief in and advocacy of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes expressed especially through organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests

First Wave

  • Generally known as "Women's Suffrage"
  • The first women's rights conference was held in 1848
  • The conference was mostly organized by Quakers, in fact one woman was a Quaker preacher
  • Focused on the right to vote, equality in education
  • In England, the Matrimonial Causes Act (passed in 1878), is what gave women the right to leave abusive husbands[6]
  • It wasn't until 1920 that all US states considered it illegal for a husband to beat his wife[4]
  • Rape within a marriage didn't become illegal until 1993 (even though I talked about it mostly during the beginning)[5]

Second Wave

  • Equality in employment opportunities
  • Stronger emergence of pushback against "white feminism" (though there were women from other races fighting early own, their voices were often supressed)
  • Considered the begining of Global Feminism
  • Begining of the sexual revolution

Third Wave

  • Focus on body positivity, media portrayals of women, double standards
  • Beginning to recognize intersectionality; attempts to be more inclusive
  • Popularization of reclaiming symbols/words previously seen as sexist
  • Continuation of sexual liberation
  • Tackling harassment (particularly at work) and the #MeToo movement (possible 4th Wave)


  1. Elinor Burkett and Laura Burell. "Feminism". Encyclopedia Britannica. March 24, 2021
  2. "Feminism". Merriam Webster; visited July 2021
  3. "Women in Computer Science: Getting Involved in STEM". ComputerScience.org. May 5, 2021
  4. Cheryl Hanna. "Domestic Violence". Encyclopedia. May 29, 2018
  5. "This Woman Fought To End Minnesota's 'Marital Rape' Exception, And Won". NPR. May 4, 2019
  6. Matrimonial Causes Act of 1878, via Irish Statute Book
  7. "Women in Computer Science: Getting Involved in STEM". ComputerScience.org. May 5, 2021

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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