The Feminist Mistake
PDF EBook by Mary A. Kassian
EBook DescriptionOriginally called The Feminist Gospel when published in the early 1990s, I think the author changed it to The Feminist Mistake after 2000, so that people might not purchase the book thinking it was actually pro- PDFfeminism. The Feminist Mistake PDF EBook
It's mostly a survey of the history of secular and Christian feminism. But it's really a straw man that she is building up to strike down later in the book. The author wants to make it look like this history is somewhat objective, but her history of feminism is obviously colored by the presuppositions of her faith. For example, in her discussion of "The Second Sex" by Simone deBeauvoir, she continually used language like, "according to deBeuvoir" in describing women's role as second-class citizen. She does the same thing with Betty Freidan and "The Feminist Mystique" which posits that there is a discrepancy between what a woman wants and the image society is forcing them to confirm to. I would think that's a reasonable thought, but obviously Ms. Kassian doesn't.
I have issues with a lot of what she says. One of the things she consistently does is try to show that feminists want to be just like men. This is blatantly false. Feminism is the fight against sexism. The fight for equal rights - equal opportunities. Not a way to turn women into men. That's blatantly mysoginist.
Also, sprinkling in words that are obviously considered "bad", like liberal and leftist also contribute to understanding what the author's presuppositions are. To further bolster heronslaught, she ties feminism to socialism and highlights negative points in the history of feminism under the guise of objective history. She goes on to try to intimate that feminists tried to force other women to become feminists against their will. Feminists lie to women to get them involved. In women's studies programs, "Teachers presented selective statistics and case studies to establish the presence of patriarchy as the prevailing world religion." Do you really need "selective" information to show the impact of the patriarchy?
She also tries to imply that feminists encourage magic over medicine and try to force all women (or at least all feminists) to be lesbians. Of course, by the time we get to Chapter 13, "Changing of the Gods", feminism is about lesbian witches dancing naked in church sanctuaries worshipping the Goddess. (I'm not kidding!)
It's interesting in all this that it's not presented with the incredulousness of a modern conservative pundit, but it's laid out almost objectively, as if this gives more credence to "scholarship". Instead there's a consistent disapproval of all the choices women have made about scripture when they oppose what Ms. Kassian believes. Of course, many of the things she describes seem outlandish to me, but it's hard to tell when she is being hyperbolic to get the reader to agree with her and where she is picking and choosing a specific feminist history that she will be able to more easily rebut.
Straw Man. Of course, this is the popular straw man fallacy so many people love. Instead of arguing against something that's hard to argue against, they create something a different - that's easier to argue against, and strike that down. That's what this whole book is about.
Slippery Slope. The author also commits the logical fallacy of the slippery slope - going as far as titling one of her chapters "Slippery Slope". (At least she's honest about her problems with logic.) (With the slippery slope fallacy, instead of arguing against the specific issue, you paint a picture of where that issue could take you - realistic or not - and argue against that.)
"Feminism is a slippery slope that leads toward a total alteration or rejection of the Bible."
But this also shows how fundamentalists raise their interpretation of what the Bible says above their belief in God. Total agreement with all of their doctrine is more important than any attempt to follow God or Jesus (in fact, they would suggest you cannot follow Godwithout completely agreeing with everything they say the Bible says).
False Dichotomy. She follows that with the false dichotomy that either you can be a feminist, or you can be a Christian, but not both. "No man can serve two masters."
She notes, "Feminism is but one of Satan's many lies…"
Faulty Premise. And finished the book with the ultimate fundamentalist fallacy - the faulty premise that she is presenting TRUTH™. She thinks that "This is what I think the Bible says" is exactly the same as "This is exactly what God wants". This is their problem - thinking that they are upholding the authority of scripture by forcing everyone to their own interpretation of it.
Of course, when she gets into theology, she spends multiple chapters accusing feminists of picking and choosing from the Bible only those things that agree with their agenda. Which is ironic, because that's the hallmark of fundamentalists like Kassian. Each group believes they have scripture understood perfectly, but no two fundamentalist groups agree on which parts of the Bible are important to follow. (Well, they each would say all of the Bible, but seeing as some disagree so much as to almost be polar opposite, they are all guilty of picking, choosing, and modifying to their heart's content.)
As a fundamentalist, what Kassian does not understand is that many Christian belief systems encourage the use of tradition and reason along with scripture. Fundamentalists would like to suggest that their only authority of Scripture, all the while still using their own traditions and reason to determine how to interpret scripture.
What this book ends up doing is redefining feminism (from the simple idea of anti-sexism and equality) in favor of some agenda-filled, anti-Christian rhetoric that seeks to raise women up to be gods. Supposedly, Christian feminists (or feminist Christians) use apocryphal writings to replace current canonical books and merge traditional Christian practices with pagan practices. That's because the whole point of this book is to discredit Christian feminists as wanting to do away with Christianity and replace it with something that they've made up.
She even says that much of what she had presented is on the radical edge of feminism, but that even non-radical feminism is bad. She states boldly, "Traditionally, Christians have believed that the Bible presents an absolute standard of right and wrong." Here's part of her problem - the idea of taking all of the Bible as literal and being able to break it down into a system of rules isn't as "traditional" as she would have you believe. But fundamentalists like to bandy that idea around - that the way they believe has been around for 2,000 years. It hasn't. She suggests that her own fundamentalist hermeneutic (her approach to interpreting the Bible) is the one that has been used since Jesus came, and that everyone who uses something different goes against thousands of years of tradition. In fact, though, her evangelical point of view is a fairly new one. She denies that there are inconsistencies in scripture and that there are unclear passages. I don't know how someone can read the Bible and not see this as obvious. (The same way, I guess, I don't know how someone can take the basic idea of feminism and think that being against sexism is bad.)
In the end she suggests that any form of feminism is incompatible with following Jesus and the Bible.
Even after reading this book, though, I still hold to the idea that, not only is feminism in keeping with the Bible, but that the teachings of Jesus demand it. I'm sure Ms. Kassian would accuse me of picking and choosing (and may suggest that I am a lesbian that likes to dance naked in the church sanctuary). Like this book? Read online this: Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, MISTAKE.
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