I think the story of Mary and Martha is a good place to begin. Sisters Mary and Martha open their home to Jesus and his disciples during their travelling. Martha stays busy in the kitchen, preparing food and hosting the group where as Mary chooses to sit at the feet of Jesus with the rest of the disciples. Taking time to soak in every word and every bit of wisdom she can. Martha is then quoted saying to Jesus, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" Jesus replies to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Jesus was a feminist. wHat DiD sHE jUsT saY?! Yes, by proper definition Jesus was indeed a feminist. Feminism is defined as: the advocacy of women's rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. The key word there being equality. Equal opportunity, equal rights, equal access. When Jesus was walking the earth women were not to be educated. A women's 'job' was to host and care for the home, produce heirs to the family and stay quiet. Yet our rebellious Mary chose differently. She knew that dishes and sweeping weren't as important as what Jesus was telling the others. She knew that even though she was supposed to be in the kitchen, sitting there at Jesus feet was the right choice.
The consistent theme through Jesus' life was that he didn't discriminate against who heard his message or who he helped along the way. John 4:27 says Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked "What do you want?" or "Why are you talking with her?". This verse may seem inconsequential but back then religious teachers rarely spoke to women in public, yet Jesus took the time. John 4:7 says "When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her "Will you give me a drink?" Again, what's the big deal? It's just water. Historically Jews did not associate with Samaritans, yet Jesus didn't only speak to this woman but asked her for a favour. He didn't follow the ways of the other Jews but instead sought out the neglected, shamed and "bottom feeders" of the earth. Jesus was friend to the tax collectors and sinners, knowing that every person deserves an opportunity for change, regardless of what society thinks about them, and sadly that included women.
Women were also prominent servants of the Lord and house church leaders within the early church. Romans 16 makes special mention of Phoebe, and mentions many other women by name in recognition for their contributions. In Philippians 4:3 Paul asks for help for the people, both men and women, who have worked alongside them. Mark 15:40-41 tells us of the women that travelled with Jesus and the rest of the disciples. Both women and men do have their own roles within the church, and in relation to one another, but Jesus never made women to feel less than or discriminated against. He healed the sick women, spoke to them in public, when society went left, Jesus went right. "But Tiffany what about the verse that says wives submit to their husbands?! Is that not a very anti-feminist view?!" Yes Ephesians 5:22 does say wives submit to their husbands. People have a bad habit of leaving out its predecessor Ephesians 5:21, which begins with "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." Relationships go both ways and it was important to state first that relationships should be approached with an even temper. Further down in Ephesians women are asked to respect their husbands, and husbands to love their wives. It's not that God didn't want both to love and respect their spouse, but generally speaking, the sexes have different needs and different strengths when it comes to loving one another. It's pointed out that men need to feel respected and women desire to be loved because those are the things their spouse is going to have to work a little harder to do. Women are inherently nurturing, they don't need to be told to love their husband and vice versa.
A woman who has a man that "loves his wife as Christ loved the church" will have no problem submitting (or deferring) to his leadership. Jesus' love for the church is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast.. I think you see where I'm going with this. This love is the type of love that breeds a servant leader, a leader that makes decisions with you in mind and fully listening to your point of view and opinion. A leader like Jesus. My husband and I are partners in this marriage. My opinion bares the same weight as his and all decisions are made after discussing it together. In the end I do leave the final decision up to him, not because I "can't" or am not "allowed" to make it myself, but because he is the leader of our family and I trust that he will make the right decision for us going forward. ( & between you and I, it kinda takes the pressure off big decisions when I can just say 'whelp you're the leader!' )
Jesus wanted equality, justice and opportunity for everyone. His message was not limited to men, or Jews or whites, His message and His mission extends to all and if Jesus believed in equality, then we should too.
As a feminist I do believe in equality, so it's important to point out that men aren't immune to struggle with equal rights and opportunities. The documentary The Red Pill opened my eyes to many injustices men face - 73% of suicides are men, 1 in 6 men are sexually assaulted & 1 in 4 experience rape or physical violence yet there are only 2 shelters for men in the entirety of the United States. Men receive 63% more prison time for the same crime as women and 93% of workplace deaths are men. source Feminists are often painted as hostile towards men, fighting for only the rights of women or fighting for women to be above men, but it is up to us to insure rights of men are also addressed. Equality is equality across the board, and although we can't fight a war on multiple fronts, it's important we don't forget the injustice that men also experience regularly.