On pages 265-266 of Gaia and God, Rosemary Ruether states the following:
“The ‘liberation of women’ cannot be seen simply as the incorporation of women into alienated male styles of life, although with far fewer benefits, for this simply adds women to the patterns of alienated life created by and for men…Rather, what is necessary is a double transformation of both men and women in their relation to each other and to ‘nature.’ Women certainly need to gain some of the individuality that has been traditionally purchased by men at their expense. But this individuation should not be based on exploitative domination (of other women or subjugated men), but needs to remain in sustaining relation to primary communities of life. They ways of being a person for others and of being a person for oneself need to come together as reciprocal, rather than being split between male and female styles of life…Males need to overcome the illusion of autonomous individualism, with its extension into egocentric power over others, starting with the women with whom they relate. Men need to integrate themselves into life-sustaining relations with women as lovers, parents, and co-workers. They need to do regularly what they have hardly ever done, even in preagricultural societies: feed, clothe, wash, and hug children from infancy, cook food, and clean up wastes.”
I’ve heard conservative critics of feminism who inquire why feminists want to enter the rat-race of the male world. They wonder why feminist women can’t simply enjoy the domestic sphere. A Bible study leader I knew once said that being a mother is valuable, so why do feminists want what he has? What’s so great about what he has? Feminism has been portrayed as a quest for selfish desires—as a group of women who want the power, prestige, wealth, and opportunities that men have.
I think that everyone should have the opportunity to pursue his or her heart’s desires—to follow his or her dreams and quests for fulfillment. But I also appreciate Ruether’s quote because she’s saying that feminism should be about so much more than women getting the same things that men have. Rather, the whole lifestyle of egotism and exploiting and subordinating others should be questioned. What exactly has been gained by equality of rights and opportunity if it means that women just pick up the same destructive patterns that are in male culture? There should be equality of opportunity, but there should be other things as well—love, sharing of power, etc.
This is my last post on Ruether’s Gaia and God. But there are two more days of Women’s History Month left, so expect two more posts!
I like this a lot:)