Giving Voice to Feminist Pacifism

The old stereotype goes that men are rough and that a shot of their testosterone will not only give them the necessary skills to hunt and gather, but that it will also provide them with the ability to wage war if need be.  Women, on the other hand, are sweet and mild.  Not capable of committing such atrocities because they are too innocent. Yet, today’s military boasts almost as many women as men, some who are increasingly rising to positions of power and prestige.  Women are edging to receive equality with men in every respect – including in their ability to wage war and to decide on which lives will be kept and which lost. 

While wars continue to ravage food supplies and devastate whole countries, there remains a hint of humanity in it all.  Several women join their voices together to say that while they are equal to men, there is something fundamentally different about them.  Their maternal nature is designed to give not to demolish life.  They believe that the next generation should not have to grow up in the tension of wars and appeal to other women to believe the same by reminding them of how much they “love their own families.”  A mother’s love is perhaps the strongest love anyone could ever possess, and it is for this reason that we are urged to think of Somali and Iraqi women who feel the same affection for their sons and daughters who are being lost to violence daily.[1]

While feminist anti-war movements can be traced as far back as the Greek Lysistrata who suggested that she be in charge of the country’s finances in order to prevent the war, which she deemed as unnecessary, from taking place; in more recent years two groups: Another Mother for Peace and Code Pink have landed on the purview of feminist peace activists.

Another Mother for Peace began in 1967 as an answer to ending the War in Vietnam. They toted a logo of a sunflower bearing the inscription “war is not healthy for children and other living things” and created Mother’s Day cards which urged their followers to end the fighting.[2]  This group had the motto of Pax Materna that “No mother is enemy to another mother” and was revolutionary in the fact that political, partisan, and socio-economic lines ceased to be an issue for them.[3]  All were equal in their mind.  As a group, they not only protested the War in Vietnam, but also the Nuclear Arms Race, the increasing military budget, and the destruction of nuclear pollution to the ecosystems of the world.[4]  What they were doing was truly revolutionary, and yet, because they were blazing a new trail in so many ways, they faced restricted freedom.  They were clearly feminists, and yet, they were not the type of radical feminists that one might expect today.  They were a group made up largely of housewives and the stereotypical “Miss Americas”.  They stayed mainstream, and were largely a group that sought to give women an opportunity to support the male voices already in the system which stood against war.[5]

On the other hand, CodePink, a group that was founded in 2002 as an answer to the looming invasion on Iraq has become more of a feminist movement.[6]  Men had their chance to lead the way in wars, now women must lead the way in peace.[7]  This group which includes co-founder Medea Benjamin, most known for her confident question asking stance to President Obama, seeks to move from the mainstream into more of a grassroots type setting deeply committed to peace and social justice.[8] 

The interesting thing to note in this shift is a change in the cultural understanding of the word “feminist”.  In a time when women largely have all the rights and privileges of men, at least on paper, their voices still remain unheard.  They still have to work towards being included in the political sector – an area seen as a boy’s arena which “proper ladies need to stay out of.”  Despite the fact that both groups consider themselves to be feminist answers to this problem, it is interesting to see how they both revert back to motherhood as the ultimate sign of femininity.  In a way they are right, feminism can include raising and leading a family, but it is also so much more.  Ultimately, feminist pacifism includes a desire to take a stance against the injustices of the world and to dare to free others from the lies and blatant contradictions made by many political leaders who justify war as a means to achieve peace.  This is where true feminism lies and it is an area that all women – whether old or young, are called to engage in. 


[1] M. Moravec, “Another Mother for Peace: Reconsidering Maternalistic Peace Rhetoric from an Historical Perspective, 1967-2007” (Journal of the Motherhood Initiative, Rosemont College, 2013), 5.

[2] “About – History,” Another Mother for Peace, Accessed May 30, 2013, http://www.anothermother.org/about.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Moravec, “Another Mother for Peace”, 4.

[6] Ibid, 5.

[7] Ibid.

[8]  “Medea Benjamin: Meet the CodePink Co-Founder Who Interrupted Obama’s National Security Speech,” Policymic, Accessed May 30, 2013, http://www.policymic.com/articles/44713/medea-benjamin-meet-the-codepink-co-founder-who-interrupted-obama-s-national-security-speech.Image

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2 thoughts on “Giving Voice to Feminist Pacifism

  1. Great post, people need to start realizing the impact that women have had and can continue to have for Jesus. The part that stuck with me was where you talk about these feminist groups “reverting to motherhood as the ultimate sign of femininity.”
    This reminds me of a video where someone was talking about why the enemy targets women so much (prostitution, objectification, rape, Eve, etc), the reason being is because they are the givers of life.
    Thanks!

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