I grew up in the church, where feminism and Christianity have historically disagreed on a variety of social and political issues. I was raised in an Asian, conservative household where feminism didn’t have a place. Despite the circumstances, I identify as a feminist.
Initially, becoming a feminist was not hard. Of course I wanted equality. Of course I wanted to empower women. After attending a Girl Up seminar at Stanford Splash, I proudly declared myself a feminist at the young age of 12. However, once I became more involved in my religion in eigth grade, conflict and doubt emerged. Was it possible — given that some Christian beliefs contradicted feminist ideals — to be both a Christian and a feminist?
I began researching Christian feminists and reading articles on Christian feminism, many of which seemed to disagree with one another. At that point, I felt uncertain of my own beliefs. I was a feminist with liberal views, that much I was sure of. But I was also a Christian, with conservative values.
Many Christians support equality and empowerment of women, but stand against some of the more controversial views that many feminists support, such as a pro-choice stance on abortion. When faced with issues like these, I found myself stuck. Was I pro-choice or pro-life? Was I more of a Christian or more of a feminist? The decision seemed impossible — I was a little bit of both.
Ironically, my conservative, Christian parents encouraged me to apply to a feminist Girls’ Leadership Worldwide program in New York. My mom pushed me to apply because she knew I was interested in female leadership, and my dad wanted me to use my vacation productively. He was not aware then of the camp’s feminist focus. During that summer after my freshman year, I participated in the nine-day program in which I learned about the wage gap, glass ceiling and gender inequality. After sharing what I had learned with my dad, he believed that I had been brainwashed and subsequently regretted allowing me to participate.
After spending a few days with my dad’s colleagues, I realized my dad wasn’t alone in his more traditional values — much of his generation felt the same way. They hadn’t grown up with gender equality, especially in the job field, and they weren’t eager to adapt or change their perspectives. I could do nothing to change their views except inform them of what they did not know.
In order to further educate people like my dad and his coworkers on the true nature of feminism, I became more active as a feminist. I started a club, Girl Up, and began advocating feminist views. In my quest to promote feminism while simultaneously pursuing my Christian religion, I came to realize that the two are not mutually exclusive.
In the modern era, there are many different variants of feminism, but the one that I stand for is feminism’s original definition: women’s rights and the political, social and economic equality of the sexes. The Christian religion I believe in loves wholeheartedly and does not judge. These two ideologies, one philosophical and the other religious, may disagree on some issues, but my personal interpretations of the two can peacefully and harmoniously coexist. Thus, I have come to the consensus that Christian feminists can exist, and I am proud to be one.