The Accidental Feminist by Courtney Reissig (Crossway, 2015), is an easy read that I highly recommend. The title first piqued my interest, making me intrigued as to what Reissig would contribute to the biblical womanhood verse feminism debate. On reading, I would say a lot.
I thoroughly enjoyed Reissig’s ease of mixing sound theology with practical application. Afterall, theology (our knowledge of God) is measured by how it is lived out in our day-to-day lives. Reissig’s 7 chapters cover lots of ground, including chapters such as “What it Means to Be a Woman (and Not a Man),” “Do We Have to Talk About Submission?” and “Restoration is Possible”.
Like Reissig, I grew up in a post-feminist culture: the burning of bras happened before I was born and all my life I knew I could pursue work in any field alongside my male counterparts. Voting was a chore, rather than a beautiful privilege once only given to men and I could feel confident in family planning methods available to my husband and me. So, how does feminism apply to me? I am not a feminist. Neither is Reissig:
“Feminist ideology is not relegated to the brash Gloria Steinem types, or even the female executive with the corner office. Rather, feminism rises up in ordinary women in our congregations, homes, and in the least obvious place, the mirror. Feminism is in the core of our hearts apart from the saving work of the shed blood of Christ, and not simply because we are militant against male authority, but primarily because we are opposed to the greatest authority of all- our Creator. The feminist is not some abstract woman “out there.” She is staring at us every morning when we put on our makeup. We are all feminists in need of recovery. We have all shaken our fists at God and wanted something different from his good design for us.”
-Courtney Reissig, The Accidental Feminist, pp.21-22
Through Reissig’s book, what I came to see is that as a product of the culture I grew up in, I am in fact an accidental feminist. In realising this, I came to understand afresh the importance of actively pursuing Biblical womanhood- not simply accepting my opinions and ways of doing things.
Reissig allows us to pause and consider afresh the delight of God’s good design in creating male and female. She urges us to teach ourselves, our daughters (products of Third Wave Feminism; think Miley Cyrus) and other ladies in our lives God’s design for womanhood and the only way of doing this is to become women of the Word:
“The only way we are going to turn from feminism is if we know the God of the Bible. The only way we will understand what it means to live fully as his image-bearer is if we know the One whose image we bear.”
Courtney Reissig, The Accidental Feminist, p. 160
A book for all women, regardless of their age, status or season of life.
ADDED NOTE: Reissig does speak of women as a ‘helper’ (Hebrew: ‘Ezer’) to men, encouraging single women to seek to help men where they can. I would disagree with this interpretation of Genesis 2 and believe that Eve was created as a helper for Adam, her husband. I believe this is specific to the marriage relationship, and therefore would say married women are in submission to the authority of their husband. Like any Christian, I believe that women are called to help others for the sake of the Gospel and are to be in submission alongside men to the male eldership and general leadership within their Church body. Read more of my response here.
Image courtesy of Crossway.