Beware of people who want to “make room” for things

For yet more illiberal bullying from theists and friends-of-theists, you could do worse than to read the comments on this post at the feminist site The F-Word. The post is about C of E priest Miranda Threllfall-Jones saying gosh darn it Jesus was a big ol’ feminist and anyone who says he wasn’t is just a big poopy-head. Our friend Amy Clare, who has written for the F-Word, wrote the first comment to say 1. there is no evidence that Jesus was a feminist and 2. what does it matter anyway? There was some agreement and some disagreement, and then there was a temper tantrum by an outraged entitled Christian.

I am so fed up of people, mostly atheist thinking that it is their right to make horrible comments about Christianity. I am actually surprised these comments ended up on this site. calling the bible a book of fairytales does not show respect to the many Christian feminists (myself included). If the same comments were made about the Koran I doubt they would be included. i have just turned 18 and i have never in my whole life took the piss out of any kind of religion because it is so disrespectful.

The first sentence is especially choice – imagine, we think it is our right to make “horrible comments” about Christianity! But people say silly things all over the internet; nothing to see here. What is worth noticing though is the near-torrent of supportive bullying that followed, and especially the really nasty bullying that came from the people who run the F-Word.

We can’t get into a situation where any feminist who has religious/spiritual beliefs is constantly challenged to prove her religion is true every time she writes/reports on/ wants to publicise feminist activism in religious/spiritual groups.

In other words, we can’t get into a situation where women are actually challenged about their religious beliefs. Er…why not? What is it about feminism that makes that such a shocking prospect? Is feminism a word for “fragile flower” now? Is it a word for “woman who can’t bear to have to justify her beliefs”?

The F Word has always had (or tried to have) a broad interpretation of feminism and that includes religious/spiritual feminists as well as agnostic/atheist feminists. There is plenty of opportunity elsewhere to debate and argue the existence of God/Jesus etc. for the rest of eternity if you want to. I’m just don’t think that this is the right time and place for it.

In other words, stfu.

This was made even clearer in the final comment.

Amy Clare – The issue raised in this post was gender stereotyping in the Church of English; NOT the truth about whether Jesus actually existed. By bringing this up in the first comment, the opportunity for Christian feminists to potentially discuss this issue has been closed down. Atheists are more than welcome to contribute blog posts and features to TFW that analyse and critique religion as it relates to women’s rights, but we would also like to have some space where religious women can discuss feminism as it relates to their religion, without constantly having to justify their beliefs.

Disputing a claim is closing down an opportunity for believers in that claim to speak. If you disagree (according to this logic) you are shutting down anyone who disagrees with you. Disagreement becomes a form of silencing, and the remedy is to silence the person who disagreed. So that’s what “the collective” at the F-Word is going to be doing.

I was merely trying to explain why I think we need to make room for religious/spiritual beliefs within feminism, no matter whether you or I or anyone else views them as being sufficiently rooted in evidence.I will not be publishing any further comments on this thread, unless they relate to the post itself i.e. the issue of gender stereotyping in the Church and whether Jesus can be viewed as a feminist within the teachings of Christianity.

The collective will be amending our charter and/or comments policy in the near future to take the issues raised in this thread (and previously) into account.

If that’s feminism, what am I?

But, fortunately, that’s not feminism. It’s clearly a variant of it, but it’s not the thing itself. Feminism doesn’t think women need to be infantilized; on the contrary, feminism thinks women need to be treated like adults, and that they also need to act like adults. They don’t need to be coddled, and they don’t need to be encouraged to act like frangible fractious babies.

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