Mary Kassian will be leading workshops on the history of feminism at True Woman ’08. Let’s pick her brain a little bit:
Over the past decade, how have you seen feminism being integrated into our culture?
Feminism has been thoroughly integrated into mainstream thought from the newspaper to the books our children read. Today’s women are the aggressors. They are beautiful, sexual, uninhibited, independent, powerful, and above all—in control. Today’s woman pursues, seduces, uses, and discards men according to her own personal whims. She is entitled to have it all: what she wants, when she wants, and how she wants it.
What do you think is the greatest issue facing the church today in relation to the role of women?
The greatest issue is that we tend to absorb our beliefs by “osmosis” rather than by thoughtful, intentional study of Scripture. In our culture, that means the majority of young women in the pews will have a feminist perspective on how male and female ought to relate. Feminism has become the default setting. It is a huge challenge to get our young women to think biblically instead of culturally about the issue.
When you wrote The Feminist Mistake, what did you hope to accomplish?
I believe the time is ripe for a new movement—a seismic holy quake of countercultural men and women who dare to take God at his word—men and women whose hearts are broken over the gender confusion and spiritual/emotional/relational carnage of our day, and who have the courage to believe and delight in God’s plan for male and female. In short, I hoped this book would help trigger a revolution.
Mary, what do you wish you’d done differently as a younger woman?
I wish I would have chosen my “career” based on my higher calling as a wife and mom. I graduated from the faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine. A therapist is unable to stop working in her field for more than five years without losing her license. So, because I wanted to stay at home with my children, I was forced to give up the chance to ever work in my chosen profession.
My advice to young women going to college is to select a profession that will give them a great deal of flexibility in the future—one that does not pressure or force them to remain in the workplace. Keep in mind that there will likely come a time when your time and attention will be directed toward a family. Make educational choices based on that fact.
We’d love to hear from you. Do you find yourself striving to become the woman Mary described (“beautiful, sexual, uninhibited, independent, powerful, and in control”)? How has the culture influenced your view of what it means to be a woman?
(Mary and her husband, Brent, are celebrating their twenty-fifth year of marriage and have three young adult sons. Mary is a distinguished professor of Women’s Studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and is the author of several books including The Feminist Mistake and In My Father’s House.)