Why Women Talking has women talking and complementarian men fuming
This article originally appeared at Baptist News Global on February 14, 2023.
As much as conservative evangelicals love to hate Hollywood, sometimes Hollywood plays the role of the prophet, exposing the brutal power dynamics of complementarianism’s “male headship.”
Such is the case with Brett McCracken, senior editor and director of communications at The Gospel Coalition. His article about how Hollywood makes Christianity the villain not only highlights his complementarian worldview, it has generated intense reactions from critics — namely, women — of his narrow theology.
His reviews bring together warnings about “woke” theology and the influence of “liberalism” in movies — longstanding themes in conservative evangelicalism — while praising a few movies he believes get it right.
His review of Women Talking indeed has women talking. And they’re not happy with what he wrote.
This is a movie based on a true story about women who are drugged and raped by men they trust. McCracken praises the film for depicting the women as continuing to hold to their faith despite their questions. And he offers his sympathy for the women. But he believes Women Talking is “an advocacy piece — celebrating the virtues of feminism, collective action, and liberation for women and LGBT+ people in a cisgender, patriarchal world.”
He writes: “Women Talking similarly concludes with imagery of leaving the old and beginning anew, with previously silenced women now having the power to speak into being whatever reality they desire.”
And what is this female desire he is so concerned about? It is the abused women liberating themselves, asking who they are, and moving forward into a religion that grows from their old religion but is “focused on love.”
A number of women have responded to McCracken’s complaints about Women Talking.
“These films are marginal to the amount of damage done in the name of Jesus by Christian institutions,” wrote Rebekah Mui, editor of The Kingdom Outpost. “As a Christian in the 21st century, the only posture that is remotely justifiable is one of humility, recognition of wrongs, and willingness to change. Not arrogance.”
Beth Moore added: “Brett, I haven’t seen any of these films but I’ve read the book Women Talking and with a lump in my throat through much of it. I can’t emphasize enough how much/long it’s taken for women to finally start talking. Christ-like men surely only want abuse exposed and rooted out, too.”
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