Me: How would you define abuse?
Brita: Whenever possible, I prefer to use terms and definitions from sources more legitimate than myself. “Abuse” is a broad term, and thus one I don’t really use when discussing the facts of feminism.
“Intimate partner violence” is my go-to term to discuss the broad issues of sexual assault and rape, domestic violence, and more. This is a term from the CDC. While they break down the definition into parts, their summary is, “The term “intimate partner violence” describes physical violence, sexual violence, stalking and psychological aggression (including coercive acts) by a current or former intimate partner.”
Me: How long would it take to have a world of equality?
Brita: American women have had the vote for less than 100 years. During that time, we’ve certainly progressed to become a more egalitarian society. However, we still have so much more work to do. Considering how much greater inequality is in other countries, I don’t think we’ll see a world of equality in our lifetime, or even in our grandchildren’s lifetime.
Me: You do seem to have an interesting take on retaining your maiden name after marriage.
Brita: Actually, I didn’t retain my maiden name after marriage. No one called my last name my “maiden name” before I got married. The name is exactly the same. It’s just my last name.
Me: How do you view Jesus as a feminist? It is quite true that his society was and still is a heavily patriarchal one. Would you think He would have experienced greater opposition if He were born female?
Brita: I hold very few strong beliefs when it comes to Christianity. One, that God is the Ultimate Being and Creator, and that She is greater than gender. (Thus male, female, or plural pronouns are all appropriate for Her). Two, Jesus is the Son of God, and He had to be male because of when He came to Earth. There is no way that the Daughter of God would have successfully been the Messiah during that time period.
Jesus was incredibly progressive for His time. His treatment of women was unparalleled. He healed the woman with the issue of blood, who was “unclean” in Jewish society. After His resurrection, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, and told her directly to spread the word of his resurrection.
Me: How do you blend Christianity and Feminism considering that St Paul is a staunch advocate of women being silent in church councils?
Brita: I interpret the Bible within historical context, which means I take note of two primary points when reading Paul’s letters. The first is that Paul’s letters were addressed to specific churches, with specific problems, and were not necessarily intended to be strict rules for all Christians of all time. The second is that the early Christian Church did its best to conform with Roman laws and traditions. Those included household codes and distinctive private/public spheres. The very early Christian Church was in the private sphere, in home churches, where many women were actually heads of their household, like Lydia. As the Church entered the public sphere, Christians followed the social norms of the time not allowing women to speak in public.
Me: What can we as ordinary women do to fight patriarchy at every level?
Brita: One of my most popular blog posts on feminism is about everyday sexism. I think this is because many women can relate to how I experience sexism on a regular basis, even if the sexist incidents are minor in and of themselves. Each time I experience sexism, I make a choice in the moment how to proceed.
A complete stranger, who I’ll never see again, calling me by my husband’s name? I’ll ignore it. A complete stranger I’m meeting for the first time, who I’ll probably see again, will be corrected with a smile, “Actually, my last name is Long.”
I usually resort to humor when pointing out gendered slurs, although I have sometimes just cut people out of my life for repeatedly using offensive language in my presence when I’ve asked them to stop.
It’s not easy for ordinary women to fight the patriarchy, especially if we have health problems, or family constraints, or financial concerns. But every step towards equality counts. Even if all we do is challenge our own prejudicial assumptions about other people, we can make a difference.
Me: How do we feminists affirm that we are not anti-male?
Brita: I’ve actually stopped caring about trying to affirm that I’m not anti-male. If people want me to jump through hoops before they’ll take me seriously, then I don’t need their approval in my life.
I’m very careful in my writing of feminist issues to take note of any limitations in my writing or in my perspective. When I write about a problem perpetuated by men, my statements make it clear that I’m not referring to all men. Thus it would take a great deal of distrust of women and a severe limitation of logic to look at my writing and conclude I’m anti-male. I’m not interested in catering to that sort of audience.
A big thanks to Brita on volunteering to be interviewed! Do visit bellebrita.com to have a deeper insight into Brita’s thoughts on Feminism. This interview is presented with the honest aim the feminists are perfectly human and must not be ostracised for their views and beliefs.