Skip to content ↓

Book Review – The Feminist Mistake

Book Reviews Collection cover image

I remember the first time I became aware of the impact of feminism. My grandmother, a tiny, sweet, woman, told me about working in an office environment. She mentioned how it used to be that when she approached a door, especially if there were lots of people around, someone would always open and hold the door for her. It was just common courtesy. But by the time she was near retirement, this was no longer the case. Men were intimidated by women and had long since given up acts of chivalry. In fact, the only person she could think of who had held a door for her recently was a young, studded punk rocker with a huge pink mohawk. She blamed this on feminism.

She was probably correct in her assessment. The Feminist Mistake, by Mary Kassian traces the rise of feminism through the twentieth century. It shows how a movement at first designed to protect women’s rights, soon morphed into a movement of incredibly destructive power – a movement that has ultimately caused great harm to society and to the church. “Looking back over the past fifty years is a sobering exercise. Feminism was the dream that promised women happiness and fulfillment. But I suspect … we would find that women are unhappier and less fulfilled than ever. The feminist paradigm simply does not match the reality of who God created women and men to be. Hence it cannot deliver on its promise” (page 299).

Kassian traces feminism through three broad stages: naming self, naming the world and naming God. Feminism began as a movement to define and protect the rights of women. Women were naming themselves. As it progressed women demanded the right to name the world, to redefine much more than their own roles. And in the final stage, women have demanded the right to redefine God within the framework of their feminist philosophy.

The book seems to have three goals. The first is to trace feminism through modern history. As someone who has always been fascinated by history and who studied it through college, this had great appeal and I found it very interesting. It was particularly fascinating to see the movement stray farther and farther away from the biblical and societal norms.

The second goal is to prove that Christian feminism and secular feminism are really no different. Kassian shows that what is radical in one generation is mainstream in the next, and then works its way into the church shortly thereafter. At this point in history, feminism has gone mainstream so that most women are feminists without being aware of it. And this includes Christian feminists. The author writes, for example, that in the evangelical church, “the biblical pattern of complementarity is no longer the standard. Whereas in the past, complementarity could generally be “caught,” the new cultural milieu dictates that it must now be “taught.” The default belief of the average churchgoer has changed” (page 288). Christian feminism, at its heart is pluralistic, ecumenical, anti-authority and pro-deviance. The chapter about feminist hermeneutics was startling; showing how feminists hold nothing sacred in their desire to oust any theology they feel contradicts their feminist presuppositions.

Finally, Kassian suggests what the church needs to do and to recover in order to guard against feminism. Unfortunately this constitutes the shortest section in the book, which is a pity since what is there is fascinating.

Kassian concludes that “Feminism has failed miserably, and ironically it has exacerbated the very problem it set out to resolve. Instead of promoting a healthy self-identity for women or contributing to the greater harmony between the sexes, it has resulted in increased gender confusion, increased conflict, and a profound destruction of morality and family” (page 299). Those are strong words, but they are well-proven. While it is simple enough to trace the history of feminism, it is far more difficult to see how what has been lost can be reclaimed. But the book ends optimistically, calling for a new generation to embrace the Gospel and to take God at His word.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who is willing to embark on what is sometimes a difficult read. To truly understand feminism, it is necessary to see it in its historical context both within and outside of the church. Having defined and having come to a greater understanding of it, we will be equipped to guard against it.

The book is more historical than theological. But what theology there is seems sound.
It is not the easiest book you’ll read, but that is due to content more than style.
There is much more written from theh opposite perspective.
This is an important book if you want to understand the rise and influence of feminism in the church.
Recommended for pastors, church leaders and others who are interested in the subject matter.
More About Ratings & Reviews

  • Unite in Prayer with Persecuted Believers

    This week the blog is sponsored by Help The Persecuted. “Can I have a Bible?” The guard studied Qasem. “If you paint the walls of every cell in this prison, I’ll get you a Bible.” “Where is the paint?” And so Qasem, enduring what would ultimately be a three-year sentence for running house churches throughout…

  • Tell Me

    Why Didn’t You Tell Me?

    If you have spent any time at all on YouTube, you have probably seen videos of people hearing for the first time or people seeing color for the first time—videos of people who, through the miracles of modern science, have senses restored that had either been missing altogether or that had become dull through illness…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (February 26)

    A La Carte: How not to apply the Bible / 30 people in the New Testament confirmed / Taylor Swift and Christianity / But I did everything right / 10 reasons the Old Testament matters to Christians / Kindle deals / and more.

  • We All Have To Do With God

    We All Have To Do With God

    Every one of us must deal with God. Every one of us must, at some time, face God. Every one of us must be prepared to give an account to God. For, as Scripture says, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    Weekend A La Carte (February 24)

    A La Carte: Wherever he leads, he’ll go / Britain’s loneliest sheep / Helping your teen with porn / How do the Arminian and Calvinist views of election differ? / Exposing the good in digital distractions / Kindle deals / and more.

  • Free Stuff Fridays (Coram Deo Pastors Conference)

    This week the blog and this giveaway are sponsored by the Coram Deo Pastors Conference. Dear brother pastor, In a spirit of prayerful expectation, I want to invite you to the Coram Deo Pastors Conference. This new event is hosted by Clearly Reformed (a new ministry I help to lead) and Christ Covenant Church (where…