"Does this make you more feminist?"
The question came from a female reporter for a secular magazine, who was interviewing me for an upcoming story on the gender gap in the evangelical church. I had recently published an article expressing my dismay that some evangelical leaders, mostly men, were defending and minimizing Trump's reprehensible comments about women. Given the depth of my frustration, and disillusionment with some leaders in my own movement, she no doubt was hoping for an affirmative response. I gave none.
No, I have no interest in becoming feminist, I told her. If I am concerned about misogyny, why would I join a movement that fails to call men to account for their recreational use of women — and considers "manning up" paying for an abortion, rather than taking responsibility for a child? Why would I want to link arms with those who encourage college co-eds to put career above family, as though motherhood were a second-class calling? And why would I want to follow feminist icon Gloria Steinem's charge to "become the men we wanted to marry"? Though I am fond of men, I actually think womanhood is worth preserving.
None of what I just expressed got printed — and I understand. That really wasn't the angle she was pursuing. Instead, she published my critique of male evangelical leaders, whom I accused of failing to live up to their own billing as providers and protectors.
But, if there's one thing this election has made painfully clear, it's that despite decades of women's advocacy and mainstreaming of feminist values, misogyny is rampant in American society. And sadly, it's flourishing on both sides of the political spectrum, as evidenced by the two flaming misogynists topping both parties' ballots. The only difference between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is method.
Trump manifests his misogyny overtly by objectifying and belittling women, and using them as tools to satisfy his own sexual desires. Clearly, his misogyny is such a part of the culture he inhabits that he doesn't even recognize it when he's doing it. I was stunned that even after the release of his lewd video — something that almost sunk his entire campaign — he continued to demean women verbally.
Responding to those who accused him of sexually molesting them, he insinuated that they were too ugly to warrant his advances: "Believe me, she would not be my first choice," he said of Jessica Leeds, who accused him of groping her on a flight in the 1980s. And, of Natasha Stoynoff, a reporter for People who accused Trump of forcing himself on her during an interview in 2005, he said: "Check out her Facebook page, you'll understand." Sickeningly, the crowd of Trump supporters in Greensboro, North Carolina, actually cheered his disgusting remark, again showing just how pervasive misogyny has become.
Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is more covert in her misogyny, but is equally hateful towards women. I find absolutely chilling the accounts of how she coldly and calculatingly spearheaded smear campaigns against the women who claimed to have had sexual relationships with her husband, both consensual and non-consensual. What emerges is a picture of a woman so driven by ambition that she would throw any woman under the bus, including herself, to achieve her goals. I can only imagine the death to self required to stay in a sham marriage with a sexual predator. Clearly, Hillary's careerism has demanded a very steep price.
Then, there's Hillary's almost fanatical devotion to abortion. As one of her biographers, Paul Kengor, noted: "(Abortion) is Hillary's hill to die on. I believe Hillary Clinton would give her life for Roe v. Wade."
If you doubt this commitment, listen to the last debate where she indignantly defended even late-term and partial-birth abortion.
Truly, abortion is the epitome of misogyny. It violates every God-given impulse for a mother to kill her own progeny. Yet this is a mother who's clearly crucified practically all her maternal and marital impulses. Is it any wonder that she once denigrated motherhood, condescendingly saying, "I guess I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was fulfill my profession . . ."?
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are two sides of the same misogynistic coin. One denigrates womanhood using the traditional means of dominating and demeaning the weaker sex. The other denigrates womanhood by devaluing and denigrating all that is uniquely feminine, and selling out to the perverse male-dominated values of our culture.
In the midst of all this grotesque hatred and devaluation of women, Christian leaders should be speaking with one voice to condemn misogyny. Instead, we're speaking out of both sides of our mouth.
Liberal, feminist Christians dismiss Clinton's misogyny, seemingly willing to overlook almost any offense to elect the first female president. Meanwhile, conservative Christians dismiss Trump's misogyny, saying they'd rather talk about "real issues," as though the well-being of women doesn't count.
As prominent Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore noted recently in a powerful speech: "In the 1990s, Gloria Steinem said that feminists should put up with a little bit of groping of women from Bill Clinton because he would keep abortion legal. Religious conservatives rightly said that such showed the moral hypocrisy of a feminist movement that cared about sexual harassment and office power dynamics only until such rhetoric impeded their political agenda. Now, a conservative commentator says she doesn't mind if the Republican nominee for president performs abortions in the Oval Office, as long as he keeps a hard line against immigrants."
Clearly, an election with two such morally-unfit candidates is trying the conscience of our entire nation. But, my fear is that it is searing the consciences of Christians.
Misogyny is not okay and it is not a minor issue. More than half this nation is comprised of women. And, we are the ones God has called and equipped to be the primary nurturers of the next generation. No doubt, our next president, either Trump or Clinton, will not understand and embrace these values. But we must. And, we must not lose our voice while trying to gain a political victory.