Much of radical feminism today claims to empower women with autonomy over their bodies, and specifically their sexual choices. But if you simply peel back the mask of these policies, you’ll see that they are based on compensating for male irresponsibility. In short, it’s not about giving power to women; it’s about giving up on men.
Empowering women … or enabling men?
The rationale behind legalizing abortion is not exclusively about women having an alleged right to choose what to do with their bodies. Abortionists also have no hope in any mechanism – cultural, social or even legal – to ensure that the men who impregnate these women are forced to contribute to their children’s welfare (even if it’s just financially). According to abortionist logic, men will always be deadbeat dads who leave women to bear complete responsibility for rearing children anyway, so women might as well have complete autonomy in the decision to give birth.
The same paradigm is applied when it comes to tackling domestic abuse. Women are encouraged to be financially independent so they can leave an abusive relationship and still be able to provide basic needs for themselves and children. There is no focus, far less attempt, to change the toxic mindset that precipitates abuse. Abusive men are assumed to be impossible to change, monitor or restrain.
There are also numerous tips presented to women to reduce the risk of being raped: not drinking alcohol, not dressing provocatively, avoiding isolated, poorly lit areas. But there is hardly any focus on getting men to not rape women by respecting and protecting women instead of objectifying them. Once again, men are written off as sexually ravenous and reprobate, leaving women to desperately fend for themselves.
Same elephant, different room
The injustice of unequal pay, the atrocities of domestic abuse, the trauma of rape and subsequent unplanned pregnancy are all worthwhile moral and social ills to combat. But the philosophy of innate male depravity held by radical feminists is deeply flawed, leading to solutions that are at best, ineffective and at worst, disastrous.
Before criticizing radical feminists, however, the church should take the log out of its own eye. Western church practice (which is sometimes separate and apart from biblical teaching) presumes that men cannot be sexually disciplined instead of teaching men to be self-controlled, as clearly commanded in Titus chapter 2, verse 6.
Instead of encouraging women to dress modestly so as to honour God (as stated in I Timothy chapter 2, verse 9), the church pushes for modesty out of the assumption that men are incapable of resisting the temptation to lust.
Similarly, church courtships have an unwritten rule that it’s the woman’s primary responsibility to maintain sexual purity in romantic relationships. While all persons (male and female) are commanded to be sexually pure, very little if any focus is placed on the command for men to “treat younger women like your sister, in absolute purity” (1 Timothy chapter 5, verse 2). Christian men are presumed to lack self-control when it comes to their sexuality, so women are pressured to bridge in the gap.
Damaging to women
The damage to women is glaring. Not only are women expected to wage their own war between the flesh and the Spirit, but they are expected to bear the additional burden of fighting off their brothers’ temptations as well.
It distorts and corrupts the biblical order of the future of their romantic relationships: husbands are called to be the priests of their household, “to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word” (Ephesians chapter 5, verse 26). When a woman is literally expected to ‘cleanse’ her boyfriend through her commitment to sexual purity, it undermines the foundation for the man’s spiritual leadership in their future marriage, and her sense of spiritual safety and emotional security.
Damaging to men
On the surface, holding men to low standards is not compassionate or helpful; it damages men to their core.
First, it is completely unbiblical. The fruit of the spirit includes self-control (Galatians chapter 5, verses 22-23), so every man with the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of him has a spirit of love, power and self-control (2 Timothy chapter 1, verse 7).
Moreover, preaching from a position of men’s lack of sexual discipline casts aspersions on men’s belief in the power of Christ’s death on the cross over the power of sin. If you are taught that Christ can’t set you free from sexual sin, you can’t truly believe He can set you free from any sin.
Second, it undermines a man’s self-confidence and self-esteem when the mentors he looks up to constantly tell him that he is incompetent. If bad company can corrupt good character (1 Corinthians chapter 15, verse 33), imagine what bad mentorship can do.
Both radical feminism and the church are, futilely, trying to mitigate challenges without ever going to the root of the problem. Beating around the bush by trying to get women to make up for male shortcomings in the name of progress or purity is unfair to women and unhealthy for men. True empowerment can only come from both men and women acknowledging where all power comes from, and humbly submitting to Him and depending on Him to let His righteousness reign in our lives.
Kacy Garvey is a Christian poet, speaker and activist. In 2011, she launched "Rahab", an outreach to prostitutes in Geneva, Switzerland. She is a USAID certified HIV Testing and Counselling Provider and has also successfully completed training in Trafficking in Persons conducted by the International Organisation on Migration (IOM). She performs original pieces of spoken word poetry to various audiences, and in 2014 and 2018, she launched “Undone” and “Water Jar”, the first and only Christian poetry albums published in Jamaica thus far. As a founding member of the Love March Movement (since 2012) and #MarriageMattersJA (since 2018), she is a regular presenter on the science, politics and biblical worldviews on sex and sexuality. In January 2021, Kacy launched Caribbean Christian Response, an online movement that reviews the news from a biblical worldview and gathers millennials across the region to pray together and seek God’s heart on these issues.