Tag: feminism

The Trans Movement – Another Form of Patriarchy

Over at Crux, I have a new piece exploring the patriarchal effects of the trans movement. Until lately, if someone had mentioned patriarchy in the developed world, I would’ve thought…

Image from Bing images. Licensed for public domain.

Image from Bing images. Licensed for public domain.

Over at Crux, I have a new piece exploring the patriarchal effects of the trans movement.

Until lately, if someone had mentioned patriarchy in the developed world, I would’ve thought we were about to embark on a somewhat archaic conversation. But recent events, crystallized by Target’s decision to open its sex-differentiated bathrooms and fitting rooms to the personal narrative of its customers, have me thinking that patriarchy is alive and well.

Hear me out.

Throughout history, women have been denigrated and oppressed by men. While I don’t always agree with some feminist activists, I certainly acknowledge that I would not have had the opportunities that I have without feminist efforts to right so many wrongs.

Despite these advances, today’s “trans movement” (particularly the transwoman sector) inadvertently takes us back to a time when women were valued based on their appearance, and whether they fit someone else’s preconceived notion of femininity. In essence, all it takes to be a woman today are [fake] breasts and good hair.

Read more here.

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Don’t Make The Church A Stepford Wife

Fr. Dwight Longnecker set me up for one of my soapboxes this morning. He published a piece, “Men At Church”, touching on how the Roman Catholic liturgy draws men. I have…

Image licensed "free to share and use" by Bing Images.

Image licensed “free to share and use” by Bing Images.

Fr. Dwight Longnecker set me up for one of my soapboxes this morning. He published a piece, “Men At Church”, touching on how the Roman Catholic liturgy draws men. I have no quibbles with men being attracted to the Church and her liturgy, in fact I wish more were. My concern lies in his derogative use of the word “feminization.”

For example –

This is why the feminization of the liturgy is so unattractive to men. When well-meaning liturgists and priests feel they have to make everything in the liturgy emotionally relevant and “meaningful” to everyone, many men switch off. When Father Fabulous insists on being emotionally entertaining in the liturgy he is likely to please the women while the fellas roll their eyes. When Sister Sandals develops new age liturgies that attempt to connect with our emotions, or when Pastor Hipster tries to push the emotional hot buttons with his sermon, most men are not only ready to switch off, they’re ready to head for the door.

And –

Traditional Catholic worship, on the other hand, is by the book and objective. Men perceive it as being dependable and rock solid—not emotional, subjective, and flighty.

He sets women up as being “emotional, subjective, and flighty.” Hmm…sounds more like a deadbeat dad or, at best, a Stepford wife.

And for what it’s worth, many women think and feel similarly about such liturgies.

As I posted on Facebook, both on my wall and Fr. Dwight’s –

I get where you’re coming from, but as a woman who deeply loves (heart & mind = each are the same – “lev”- in Hebrew), and one who continues to study the role of women in the Church, I think you need to be careful with the word “feminization” and other similar words. Anything related to woman or female ends up being deficient, almost a dirty/bad word. Mary the Mother of God prefigures the Church. The Church is feminine, the Bride of Christ. What’s wrong with a feminine presence in the Church and her liturgy? Why is the Roman liturgy so-called “masculine”? I just don’t buy it. Again, I think I get where you’re coming from, but I don’t think it’s an intellectually tight argument as presented here.

To his credit, Fr. Dwight replied that he was in agreement that a different word would be appropriate. He offered “effete” and commented, “The ‘effete’ is what C.S.Lewis called ‘Christianity and water.’ They have watered down the wine and tried to tame the lion.”

Now we’re talking. (In Italian – Adesso parla bene.)

The only problem is that Lewis, Fr. Dwight and myself are using an older and now secondary meaning of the word. Unfortunately today, it’s become a tacit synonym for “gay” (the newer definition, not “happy”).

From Oxford Dictionaries –

  1. (of a person) affected, overrefined, and ineffectual: “effete trendies from art college” synonyms: affected · pretentious · precious · mannered
  2. no longer capable of effective action: “the authority of an effete aristocracy began to dwindle”
    synonyms: weak · enfeebled · enervated · worn out

A friend of mine noted that what we’re really talking about is something more like sentimentality. I would add “saccharine.” The point is that it has nothing to do with true femininity or feminization, which brings me back to my theme of the Stepford Wife model of the Church.

In fact, if we’re actually going to follow Catholic doctrine, feminization and femininity are good things. After all, we are all – women and men – called to imitate Mary the Mother of God who prefigures the Church and in many ways is the first rendering of the Church in so far as she becomes the living tabernacle (cf. Ark of the Covenant) for the Word made flesh.

In January, I taught an intensive course “Women and the Body of Christ” at the Augustine Institute in Denver. I’m now teaching it as a semester course at our satellite campus in Orange County. In both cases, I’ve had an amazing group of students. Just this past week, we spent three hours doing a seminar on St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women).

Let me share some highlights with you, just a few –

N. 3 “When the time had fully come, God sent forth his son, born of woman”. (Galatians 4,4) …. It is significant that Saint Paul does not call the Mother of Christ by her own name “Mary”, but calls her “woman”: this coincides with the words of the Proto-evangelium in the Book of Genesis (cf. 3:15). She is that “woman” who is present in the central salvific event which marks the “fullness of time”: this event is realized in her and through her. [Emphasis mine.]

It’s also interesting to compare the use of “woman” by St. Paul to Jesus’s use at the wedding in Cana, John 2,4:  “[And] Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” This is fulfilled in John 19,26-67: “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.”

Put simply, the fact that Mary was a woman is an essential part of the central salvific event of all times. It is not an accident. She is not unessential. She is not some sort of divine incubator. If you want that, there are other Christian denominations which offer it. It’s not Catholic. A woman was essential for the incarnation, redemption, and the Church, to name a few.

Back to Mulieris Dignitatem:

N. 22 “Moreover, contemplating Mary’s mysterious sanctity, imitating her charity, and faithfully fulfilling the Father’s will, the Church herself becomes a mother by accepting God’s word in faith. For by her preaching and by baptism she brings forth to a new and immortal life children who are conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of God” [cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 64]….The Council has confirmed that, unless one looks to the Mother of God, it is impossible to understand the mystery of the Church, her reality, her essential vitality. Indirectly we find here a reference to the biblical exemplar of the “woman” which is already clearly outlined in the description of the “beginning” (cf. Gen 3:15) and which procedes from creation, through sin to the Redemption. In this way there is a confirmation of the profound union between what is human and what constitutes the divine economy of salvation in human history. The Bible convinces us of the fact that one can have no adequate hermeneutic of man, or of what is “human”, without appropriate reference to what is “feminine”. There is an analogy in God’s salvific economy: if we wish to understand it fully in relation to the whole of human history, we cannot omit, in the perspective of our faith, the mystery of “woman”: virgin-mother-spouse.”[Emphasis mine.]

Throughout our three-hour discussion, even though I’ve read, written on, and taught this document many times, my mind was spinning at the profundity, not just of St. John Paul II, but of our Catholic Church – our tradition, Sacred Scripture, and our Magisterium.

I’m glad Fr. Dwight walked back his position, but I hear a lot of this type of thought. For example, Leon Podels’, The Church Impotent: The Feminization Of Christianity. There may be many things wrong with the practice of Christianity, but the uncorrupt understanding of the feminine element is essential for an integral understanding of the Church, the Body of Christ.

Even the liturgy is not masculine strictly speaking. Yes, it’s about the sacrifice of Christ made real again in every Mass. But that sacrifice would not have been possible without a woman – at least in so far as God ordained it. And the liturgy is also the Church’s response to and participation in the sacrifice, a particularly unique feminine response to which both women and men are called insofar are they make up the Church. (Think of Mary at the foot of the Cross…)

Some may choose to insist on Stepford wife type caricatures of woman and everything related to her, but they miss the reality of all things essential to humanity. Until we have a profound and authentic understanding of woman, we won’t understand fully the significance of salvation, humanity, the Church, or even Christ.

And the same goes for a profound and authentic understanding of man, which of its very nature would not make caricatures of women.



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4 Things You Should Know About International Women’s Day

In Rome, International Women’s Day is celebrated with small bouquets of mimosa flowers. The guys that typically sell you umbrellas and odd gimmicks come armed with these bouquets only for…

mimosaIn Rome, International Women’s Day is celebrated with small bouquets of mimosa flowers. The guys that typically sell you umbrellas and odd gimmicks come armed with these bouquets only for today, a lovely gesture.

But my time in Rome taught me that International Women’s Day wasn’t as innocuous a celebration as it might sound. What I learned in Rome was word of mouth from those who grew up in communist or socialist countries, but there’s a current opinion piece by Antony Davies and James Harrigan in the Wall Street Journal that confirms the same. The article may require subscription access, but here are a few highlights –

  1. “[F]ew, if any, will note International Women’s Day’s origins in American socialism and Eastern European communism.”
  2. “The day was first declared by the American Socialist Party in 1909 and, in 1917, it set into motion a sequence of events that would become Russia’s February Revolution. Female workers went on strike that day to achieve “bread and peace” in the face of World War I.”
  3. “Leon Trotsky later concluded that this event inaugurated the revolution.”

Now, Davies and Harrigan go on to argue the merits of capitalism and conclude that the free markets are the best alternative to remedy any type of socio-economic inequity, including gender.

But I’d like to add a fourth point to their consideration of the origins of today’s commemoration.

4. Proposing International Women’s Day took the focus off of the celebration of women as mothers.

The name suggests that women are being celebrated in their entirety, whatever their role may be. But the celebrations instead focus exclusively on women’s participation in the labor/economics/government and do not include stay at home moms nor women as women. Mothers are included insofar are programs are required to support them working outside of the home. All women, similarly, are measured solely in terms of what they produce in an economy, not for who they are.

In no way do I wish to suggest that women should not be involved in every aspect of society. They certainly should.

But motherhood is an essential aspect of life for most women. While it may have challenges, it is also greatly desired. Consider the multi-billion dollar global industry that seizes on this desire for couples who struggle with infertility or the reactions of joy that many women express when they learn that they are expecting, not to mention the joys of countless experiences in family life well beyond childhood. Unfortunately, we’ve been taught that motherhood is just one aspect of multi-tasking, that it ought not to be the center of a woman’s (or a husband’s or a family’s) life. Celebrations like today reinforce the idea that women ought not to identify too closely with motherhood, that it is something which should be subjugated to other types of achievements.

In his Encyclical on work Laborem Exercens, St. John Paul II wrote:

[I]t will redound to the credit of society to make it possible for a mother – without inhibiting her freedom, without psychological or practical discrimination and without penalizing her as compared with other women – to devote herself to taking care of her children and educating them in accordance with their needs, which vary with age.

Sadly, today’s commemoration fails to represent and honor the women who willingly and freely choose to make their vocation as a mother a primary part of their identity, even at the cost of career achievements.



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Why the Hobby Lobby Decision Brings Out the Feminist in Me

The more I think about it, the more the Supreme Court’s decision on the Hobby Lobby case bothers me. I don’t disagree with the decision, but I don’t like what…

The more I think about it, the more the Supreme Court’s decision on the Hobby Lobby case bothers me.

I don’t disagree with the decision, but I don’t like what it reveals about our culture. Case in point, Deroy Murdock listed all the contraceptives that were covered by Hobby Lobby before the decision and that would be covered after the decision.

Here you go –

  1. Male condoms
  2. Female condoms
  3. Diaphragms with spermicide
  4. Sponges with spermicide
  5. Cervical caps with spermicide
  6. Spermicide alone
  7. Birth-control pills with estrogen and progestin (“Combined Pill)
  8. Birth-control pills with progestin alone (“The Mini Pill)
  9. Birth control pills (extended/continuous use)
  10. Contraceptive patches
  11. Contraceptive rings
  12. Progestin injections
  13. Implantable rods
  14. Vasectomies
  15. Female sterilization surgeries
  16. Female sterilization implants

Sixteen. And only two of them are used by men. The other fourteen are a woman’s “responsibility.” [The Supreme Court decision simply backed Hobby Lobby’s decision to not fund the other four included in the HHS mandate which can work as an abortifacient by causing the embryo to not attach to the wall of the uterus, thereby causing this unique human organism – that’s science, not religion – to die.]

If we’re supposed to be dealing in a world of equality, shouldn’t there be a few more types of contraception that apply to men? After all, they’re the ones who are fertile all or most of the time.

Some of the hormonal contraceptives have had fatal effects on women. (Google it.) Makes it seem like women are sort of … disposable.

Every once in a while, a news story will surface about a pill for men. And then it disappears. I think it’s Prof. Janet Smith in her “Contraception, Why Not?”  talk who referenced early attempts to create a pill for men, but some of the men in the study suffered…”shrinkage.”

Death v. “shrinkage.” I’ll just leave it at that.

But there is news of a remote controlled birth control computer chip that could be implanted in a woman for up to sixteen years. A remote control could be used to turn it on and off.

Wow. Just wow.

Can we not see the potential for abuse? Does it take a Law & Order SVU episode to see how a woman’s fertility could be controlled by a man – an abusive husband, boyfriend, pimp, trafficker. And so on.

As it was, I didn’t think that contraception empowered women. This list just reminds me of how much women can be burdened with contraception, particularly the responsibility for any child that might be conceived. Maybe the dad can be forced to pay child support, but that’s it.

And, by and large, we as a culture are ok with that.

This is exactly the result of some forms of feminism that concentrate  on a woman’s pelvic region.

So much for progress.

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Ready to Rumble: Discussing a Theology of Woman.

I’ll be on the Drew Mariani Show, hosted by Wendy Wiese at 4.30 ET today to discuss the theology of women.  A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece prompted by…

I’ll be on the Drew Mariani Show, hosted by Wendy Wiese at 4.30 ET today to discuss the theology of women. 

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece prompted by Pope Francis’ implicit call for a theology of woman. Generated a variety of responses. Check them out and guess which is my favorite…

Simcha Fisher offered some much appreciated support, too.

As did Elizabeth Scalia on Facebook. I’ll just post her comment here. She cites Simcha’s article:

Look, Catholic women are in a very peculiar position in the 21st century. Many of us have, like de Solenni, rejected the radical feminism that the secular world offers. We are horrified that the feminist movement devolved into a parody of itself, and almost instantly turned from its sorely needed goal of promoting respect and justice for women, and became ugly and strident, rejecting fertility, scorning self-sacrifice, devaluing men and damaging women and children.

But most of the Catholic women I know are just as disgusted with the sissifcation of the Church. We have no desire to replace the sacraments with weaving classes and yoga. This is stupid stuff. This doesn’t tell you what woman can offer, any more than a stroll down the porn and firearms aisle of your local porn and firearms store tells you what men have to offer.

I do not want to be a man, and I do not want to be like a man. I also do not want to turn the Church into a hand-holding, feelings-sharing warm bath of emotion. That’s a parody of womanhood, and it’s just as offensive to women of faith as it is to men of faith.

This is precisely why we need a theology of women: because we’re tired of the parodies, the clownish extremes that purport to represent womanhood.

Brava, Somechop Fisher and Pia de Solenni. These extremes are killing us.


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