Feminism Remains Controversial At Wheaton College, but These Women Are Trying to Change That August 3, 2014

Feminism Remains Controversial At Wheaton College, but These Women Are Trying to Change That

A group at Wheaton College, that conservative Christian bastion that has produced so very many missionaries (including the famous Jim and Elisabeth Elliot), is giving feminism a voice on campus, according to MSNBC:

“I wanted to bring my different background, experience, and opinions, and blend them with the larger Christian community,” said [Krista] Pedersen, 20, who is studying political science and history.

“I came into Wheaton very much a feminist, and also knowing that my surroundings weren’t going to be exactly in line with my beliefs,” said [Jordan-Ashley] Barney, who is studying communications and pursuing a newly-created certificate in gender studies. “It’s been rough in some ways.”

But she and Pedersen aren’t entirely alone: About thirty people, out of 2,400 undergraduates, show up to the Christian Feminist Cabinet’s bi-weekly meetings. Last spring, they were among a handful of students who peacefully demonstrated in response to an “ex-gay” speaker on campus.

Barney opposes the university’s contraception lawsuit, but worries that galvanizing broader pushback on campus will be tougher than it was for the “ex-gay” speaker.

So, pushing for women’s rights on campus at Wheaton is officially more controversial than pushing for gay rights at Wheaton. It’s coming to this: the Christian community is going to accept LGBTQ marriage before they are comfortable fully integrating equality for woman into their theology. Why is that?

I think the Christian community will be more open to talking about consent without the issue of reproduction than they will be comfortable making strides on giving women agency over their reproductive systems. The Christian patriarchy isn’t threatened by non-reproductive sexual relationships. It’s only truly threatened when the ability to control the narrative of women in their relationships to men is approached with a red pen by Christian feminists. If LGBTQ couples don’t have kids and are socially palatable and kind and generous members of a church community, the leadership will eventually get used to looking the other way.

The Christian Feminist Cabinet has yet to tackle so controversial a topic [as the Affordable Care Act as a means to prevent abortion]. “We end up talking about women in ministry most of the time,” Barney said. She also wants to have a conversation about transgender women, and about sex and consent. “I don’t know how they’d censor me,” she said of Wheaton, “but they’d find a way.”

There is a sexual education seminar at Wheaton, Barney said, but admission is limited to students who are engaged to be married.

They will spin their wheels out on theology, because that’s a big area where men in the church can keep women stuck in a corner with centuries of conversation from which they’ve been excluded. It will be in the best interest of the patriarchy to keep distracting the feminists with theological grey area issues and away from the hard-hitting immediacy of birth control use on campus.

I laud their efforts, and I hope that Wheaton does not find a way to shut them down, even if they find themselves censored.

(Image via Shutterstock)


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