christian living · Current Issues · Pop Culture

Women at War

Denouncing the Suppression of Powerful Women

There is an article zipping around my social media faster than wildfire in a dry hedge. Called, “Behold Your Queen: The Real Conflict in Captain Marvel,” the author starts the article with the following:

” The most recent Marvel thriller, Captain Marvel, cannot be accused of hiding its uniform. In the lead actress’s own words, “It’s mythology, it’s story, and it’s the human experience on this large scale. And on top of it, they said they [directors and the powers that be at Disney] wanted to make, like, the biggest feminist movie of all time.” Written by women and led by a woman, Captain Marvel hoped to be for women what Black Panther was for the black community. “

Let’s first dissect this opening paragraph. It seems to me the author has an issue with the current state of the feminist movement, and if that is the case, so do I. There are too many instances of women using their influence to belittle men in the name of the feminist movement. But with those faults aside, feminism simply seeks to achieve what only God’s truth can: the treatment of men and women to be done with a sense of equal value of self and humanity. Depending on my audience, I will both say “I am a feminist” and “I am not a feminist,” but I’m not simply playing sides: I’m setting boundaries to what that person defines as “feminism” if it does not align with my idea of “feminism.” If someone says, “The future is female. Men just need to step aside and get used to it. I’m a feminist,” I would reply, “Then I am not a feminist.” Because I do not agree with their philosophy.

Christians and Feminism

Let’s put down some basic groundwork. In any culture, you can easily see how close they align to the truth of the Bible in relation to how the women flourish or wither. The God of the Bible elevates women to a position of worth. If women are suppressed, degraded, or abused as a matter of culture, that culture does not have the love of God. This is not something that is limited to third world countries or the monster of the economic jungle. In “churches,” I have seen women degraded, their God-given gifts suppressed at best and at worst, punished, all in the name of “righteousness.” “Women were made to serve and obey men, therefore . . .” has been the start to many oppressive examples of spiritual abuse.

When we denigrate a woman, we are in fact diminishing part of the image of God. When we exclude women, we exclude part of God. When we put women down, we tarnish the image of God.

Christine Caine

What a disgrace to the truth of God and to the pinnacle act of His very good Creation!

Feminism ≠ Misandry

I have established my belief of feminism to not be abusive to men, and that the Bible supports the uplifting treatment of women. Let’s look at some definitions so we can all be on the same page.

noun: feminism

  1. the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.

noun: misandry

  1. dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against men (i.e. the male sex).

Since the author is writing for a Christian website, and the Bible supports equal, eternal worth of men and women as very good creations made in the image of God, the author can only infer that Brie Larson’s quote about the movie refers to misandry, which could be read as “the biggest man-hating movie of all time.”

Except . . . it wasn’t?

The author further writes,

I do not blame Marvel for inserting the trending feminist agenda into its universe. Where else can this lucrative ideology — which contrasts so unapologetically with reality — go to be sustained, if not to an alternative universe? Verse after verse, story after story, fact after fact, study after study, example after example dispels the myth of sameness between the sexes. The alternative universe where an accident infuses the heroine with superhuman powers, however, seems to stand as a reasonable apologetic for the feminist agenda. “

The author seems to be falling into the exact same trap that too many modern-day misled feminists do; that equality or feminism means to cut everyone down to the same level. Imagine if there were a height standard in the NBA to keep those who were at a natural advantage not be permitted to play. It would also mean that anyone not born to that exact height would be eliminated out of something outside of their control instead of being measured by what they can accomplish. That would be absurd!

Equality ≠ Sameness

No one can be exactly the same. What a boring world that would be. No one is going to grow up with the same affluence, the same opportunities, talents, advantages, or abilities. But nowhere in the movie was that the message. The author simultaneously accuses the film of perpetuating the false ideology of sameness but at the same time, calls it a failure in that attempt.

“So, did the movie live up to the hype? Did it come close to being “the biggest feminist movie ever,” the Uncle Tom’s Cabin of the movement? Squint as I might, I can’t imagine how it did.”

So was it the biggest man-hating movie that he sets it up to be, or wasn’t it???

I’m honestly not sure whether I agree with this man or not. But I can tell you one thing for certain, no where in the film were men belittled or prejudiced against because of their gender.

In fact, it is quite the opposite: throughout the film, it was misogyny that was the norm, with Carol Danvers being punished and berated for being or doing things commonly associated with masculinity. She was too competitive. Too daring. Too confident.

Too much.

The idea of a woman as anything less than a man completely devalues her. How do you measure, “less confidence than a man,” “less courageous than a man,” “less competitive than a man?” The idea is absurd. Women are not less than. And it was for those qualities that the character Carol Danvers was mistreated as a child and berated and belittled as an adult, because it were those qualities that drove her to take bold actions.

But is jumping bikes over ramps, or hiking over a mountain, or flying jets, or any of these activities actually something women should not do? Since the author is a Christian as I am, I look through the lens of the Bible and come up short: nowhere does it forbid females to do . . . any of those things.

Not once.

What is Femininity?

The author makes a claim against the movie shifting society’s values of femininity to something “new” and apparently dangerous.

“As I consider Disney’s new depiction of femininity in Captain Marvel, I cannot help but mourn. How far we’ve come since the days when we sought to protect and cherish our women . . . Along with Disney, we abandon the traditional princess vibe, and seek to empower little girls everywhere to be strong like men.”

This begs the question: what does it mean to be “strong like men?” What is that standard for that? How does my friend, inspiring athlete, and First Female Titan Emily Andzulis fit into the equation? Is she strong like a man? Or is she strong like a woman? I know plenty of men who aren’t able to do half of what this incredibly dedicated woman can do. So . . . if she exceeds the ability of some men, does that mean she should tone it down? And if the value of a man is what we seek as the standard, which man? Because I happen to be quite an accomplished woman with talent, training, and intelligence that exceeds the standard – and yes, that standard includes men.

So which man or men is it Disney is asking little girls to be like?

It would be a far better thing to say, “[Disney encourages us to] abandon the traditional princess vibe (which was set up during a European rule in a society that often forced women to look and dress a certain way that killed them slowly), and seek to empower little girls everywhere to be strong.

Women can be strong. Women can be smart. Women can be cruel and abusive. Women can accomplish as much as any man can because we, too, are made in the image of God with volition and, whether those choices be to use our God-ordained abilities for good and eternity or for self and the temporal, determine the effect we have on our communities. God made men and women distinct for the sole purpose of His honor and glory and a relationship with Him.

Is a woman strong and bold? Then she is inherently strong and bold as a woman. Is a man kind and full of hospitality? Then he is kind and hospitable as a man. There is no other possibility.

The only comparison we should make with regards to gender is, “Am I acting with the Spirit of Christ?”

Seeing What You Want

I think the author finally gets around to his real gripe with the movie in the latter half of his article. He states,

“The ideology that sends Brie Larson soaring fictionally around outer space has sent our real daughters, mothers, and sisters — devoid of such superpowers — to war to serve and die in place of men.”

Maybe? I mean, does he have evidence that this empowering attitude and appreciation of the potential of womankind is what has propelled women to take rank among the enlisted force of our nation’s military? How is he sure that isn’t the misogyny that has pushed them into that corner? Isn’t it more likely that the constant depreciation of women and their capabilities that tried to compress them into a quiet corner were the catalyst that instead shot them to the front lines where they can finally say, “I told you so?” Why bother to cast blame when it can be found everywhere instead of celebrating the immense amount of good such an “ideology” can bring?

I celebrate a movie whose ideology says “girls can fly planes,” “girls can be kind,” “girls can run fast,” or “girls can be strong.” I cheer on the team of women who created a film whose message rings clear with, “girls don’t have to prove their worth.” Carol Danvers’ story resonates with me in ways that Wonder Woman cannot. I know what it is like to have men (and sometimes women) tell you “you can’t do that” or “maybe you’re not right for this” only to then turn right around and learn how to do it anyway, not out of spite, but because I knew somewhere in my soul identity, that I was created to do so, so much, and I wasn’t going to let their disbelief or misogynistic ideals limit what God had intended for me.

Queens Don’t Intimidate Kings

I love my husband, and for those that know us, there is no doubt that my husband is the spiritual authority in our home. Ultimately, we both know he is responsible to God for what our family does. In some homes, that responsibility creates fear, and that fear drives a need for power which results in a domination over the spirit of women in a way that does not align with Scriptures. Women are not God’s appointed servants to men.

In as short as I can in this post so as not to derail from the original topic, let’s go over what the word behind the translation “help meet” is.

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

Genesis 2:18

The Hebrew word behind the translation, “help meet,” is “ezer kenegdo.” It is also in other translations termed, “helper” or “suitable companion.” But neither of these spark any true excitement in my soul – neither do they bring to life the beauty behind the words God said when speaking of the Woman He was to shape.

John Eldredge of Ransomed Heart Ministries says, “‘It means something far more powerful than just “helper”; it means “lifesaver.” The phrase is only used elsewhere of God, when you need him to come through for you desperately. “There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help you” (Deut. 33:26). Eve is a life giver; she is Adam’s ally. It is to both of them that the charter for adventure is given. It will take both of them to sustain life. And they will both need to fight together.'”

That is certainly a more thrilling and lofty calling than simply being someone’s subservient. To be fair, the word is very difficult to translate. A good way to get a richer understanding of the words are to see how else they are used throughout the Scriptures. As it happens, the word “ezer” is used 21 times in the Old Testament.

Jimena of EzerKenegdo.org has summarized the context of usage into three categories: 1, used for the woman, 2, used for nations that came to military aid to Israel in a time of need, and 3, used to describe God as Israel’s helper. She further explains,

What these Bible verses have in common is that Ezer is used consistently in military context. The Ezer is a warrior. You are a warrior.

The Hebrew word Kenegdo means opposite as to him or corresponding as to him. A woman is no better or less than the man. Man and woman are equally and uniquely created, a perfect fit.

Wow. That is infinitely more exciting, rewarding, and dare I say, dangerous, than the simple thought of being a servant.

You see, from the very beginning, battle lines were drawn between our Enemy and womanhood. Satan has a special interest in bringing down women because of his hatred for her as the bearer of the Savior.

I will make you and the woman hate each other; her offspring and yours will always be enemies. Her offspring will crush your head, and you will bite her offspring’s heel.” 

Genesis 3:15, GNT

To deny that there is a special target on the back of a woman is to deny Scripture. When people say women aren’t supposed to go to war, they ignore the obvious: we already are. Satan has been gunning us down, trying to take us out, and use any means to get there, even perverting the use of Man, our protectors, to be the very thing that kills us.

If men are afraid or threatened by powerful women, then they don’t appreciate the special calling we have next to their aside as allies and “warriors at their side,” or they do not have their identity and significance seated in the completed work of Christ.

Kings aren’t threatened by Queens.

A Hero(ine) of Our Own

Have you ever gone to the gym and felt intimidated the others already in there, breaking a sweat, with their bulging muscles already pumped and primed? It is really hard to see yourself being able to lift what they lift because the difference in the chasm of comparison is too great.

But if they showed you a picture of themselves before they started their routine? What if they ended up just being your average Joe? (sorry to all the Joe’s and Joseph’s and Josephine’s out there – you are all valid and worthwhile.) Suddenly, you see something of you in the person they used to be. That chasm has shrunk, and now, you start thinking of ways to cross it. It now all seems possible.

That is representation in a nutshell.

For years, half of the human spectrum has had no other option but to look at male heroes and make connections and draw lessons of character from men. And now that a female heroine has arisen, men seem to squawk and quack and clamor that it’s a vile detriment to society. But for women and girls? We see a part of ourselves in Carol Danvers. We see the little girl who was mistreated, bullied, and laughed at simply because of her birthright as woman.

To me, it seems the author missed the point of the movie entirely and looked for a way to jump on board a popular topic to harp about a personal gripe to a larger audience. I’m not here to debate the “place” of a woman on the frontlines – I’m too busy fighting the war right here. But you know what the message of the movie really was? “You can’t always choose what is given to you, but you can choose what you do with it.”

And that is a message that anyone can use.

3 thoughts on “Women at War

  1. I have always struggled with a knee jerk reaction against the word “feminist”. Thank you for a Bible based, thought provoking perspective that I can use. I love all things Marvel and can’t wait to see this movie now I have a new way of seeing aspects of it that I look forward to discussing!

    1. It’s understandable depening on how you have experienced those who wear that label. I know some people who balk at the label “Baptist” because how they abused the term for their own benefit. I really hope you love the movie as much as I did! I can’t wait to see it a secone time!

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