This year, the International Women’s Day campaign is calling on us to ‘Be Bold for Change’, a challenge for everyone to take groundbreaking action that truly drives the greatest change for women. This message is apt for the season we are in at the moment, for the fight against gender inequality. Moreso, it’s perfect for the rise of Jesus feminism. Sarah Bessey describes Jesus feminism as ‘God’s radical notion that women are people, too, precisely because they love and follow Jesus’. This simple argument shocks people, especially my mother. I don’t blame her, a lot of black women don’t see themselves in feminism, it doesn’t represent them and historically it never fought for them.
Alien to my mother: My mother has been doing feminist acts without a label for a very long time, I’m sure this is the same for her mother and many other women. After all, women predate feminist ideology. However, labelling my mother as feminist is almost an insult, or as she puts it, ‘it isn’t in my dictionary’. Ironically, I’ve learnt all my Jesus feminism from her, she has shown me why black women are one of the most religious demographic in the world. Growing up, seeing her love and kindness to others inspired me, her ability to be warm-hearted and firm is a skill I aim to perfect. Some fundamentalist will argue that women shouldn’t be working, some feminists will argue that women have to work. My mother doesn’t care about either, in many homes, mothers like mine didn’t have a choice, they had to work and rush home to be there for their children. Now that her daughters have a choice, my mother makes sure we know that it is a choice. Without knowing it, my mother has been one of the most important feminist figures in my life, second only to Jesus.
Home to me: The question is are we living in the age of intersectional feminism, where the experiences of black women are included in the movement? Probably not. The church aspires to be a place where everyone can come together and heal, where everyone’s experience is valued. Paul orders us to be ‘perfectly united in mind and thought’ (1Corinthians 1:10). Paul didn’t order us to be uniformed, he knew that we are different, but we are to use our unison in Christ to show the world that inequality is not welcomed here. Jesus feminism is home, a place where I can be my authentic self and attempt to tackle the world through Jesus lenses. As a black Jesus feminist, I make a large amount of people uncomfortable and I am okay with that. I exist in the middle of a triple Venn diagram, a place where my Christianity, blackness and womanhood meet. I have grown up seeing beautiful black women lead congregations, I have seen black women raise up beautiful children in the way of the Lord. I have seen black women fight the good fight. This is why Jesus feminism is home to me.
I wrote this for my mother and I hope it resonates with you and yours. Today, I urge us not to fall into the trap of trying to change our mother’s worldview into our more westernised one. They too were bold for change once, maybe they don’t need to be at the forefront of this fight. Maybe we need to lead the way and show them that even though it is alien to them, it still deserves a chance to exist. On International Women’s Day, we need to remember that our mothers are also trying to make sense of this world, they too are only going through life for the first time.