A GIRL DEFINED BY GOD: BIBLICAL WOMANHOOD, ANTI-FEMINISM, AND WHITE EVANGELICAL MICROCELEBRITIES
Keywords:influencers, Evangelicalism, feminism, gender
AbstractGirl Defined is a cross-platform fundamentalist Evangelical Christian ministry started by two sisters, Kristen Clark and Bethany Beal. The goal of their ministry is to encourage women to reject feminism, deny their personal desires, and live out God’s design for their lives: Biblical womanhood, which centers on traditional feminine gender performance, subordinance to one’s husband, and motherhood. This project seeks to understand the ways that white fundamentalist Christian women make sense of and mobilize against the feminist movement in order to augment our understanding of anti-feminist backlash and white Evangelical women’s place in the culture wars. Informed by research on white Evangelical women in the US and microcelebrity practices, I conducted a critical discourse analysis of 67 blog posts (2012-2021) and 14 YouTube videos (2016-2021) tagged “feminism” on the Girl Defined blog. This analysis demonstrates that Girl Defined portrays feminism as fundamentally self-interested and synonymous with mainstream secular culture. Clark and Beal appeal to their audiences by incorporating neoliberal logics of self-improvement while appropriating the language of progressive movements to modernize their presentation of traditional gender norms. Through their expansive construction of feminism as ideologically dominant, Girl Defined simplifies and individualizes women’s experiences to frame Biblical womanhood as a “radical” alternative to feminism. Overall, these findings provide insight into the paradoxical flexibility of hyper-conservative ideologies that center on a rigidly defined “us” vs. an ever-flexible “them” while expanding our understanding of the ways conservative thought leaders modernize old ideas and use digital networks and influencer logics to spread them.
How to Cite
Lawson, C. (2023). A GIRL DEFINED BY GOD: BIBLICAL WOMANHOOD, ANTI-FEMINISM, AND WHITE EVANGELICAL MICROCELEBRITIES. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 2022. https://doi.org/10.5210/spir.v2022i0.13038