May 29, 2014
I’m in a quandary about feminism. It’s difficult for me to tell to what extent my views and opinions are coloured by early secular influences. It may be that my position on some issues is misinformed and misguided. Perhaps there are key Church teachings I need to study, and there likely are gaps in my grasp of world history. I know for sure I have a lot of learning to do.

There have been several incidents in the past while that have caused me to think on the matter. I’m finding it a slippery eel to handle so I thought I’d bring it here, and see if maybe there is greater clarity among our readers. Let's see what you think.

A while ago, a prominent blogger wrote that feminism is not our friend. His point was that the main plank of a feminist’s agenda is that of ‘free choice’ – abortion. He suggests that the original
purpose of the feminist movement, that of suffrage for women, has been accomplished, and now it is time to choose between feminism and Christianity. Feminism promotes the idea that our bodies are merely shells, and that abortion brings freedom, and that marriage encourages dependence (an evil to the modern feminist). Christianity, on the other hand, teaches the inherent dignity and worth of each person, the sanctity of human life, and the importance of marriage (not to mention the necessity of mutual donation and service – something feminists certainly do not talk about.)

Good points all, and I agree. I am swayed to his position... but then he asks: if, in order to undo the evil of abortion, would we be willing to forgo all that the feminists accomplished?

I found myself angry at the question, because it seems awfully easy for a man to talk about giving up the right to vote, and offering up equal pay and all the other ways that life has changed for the modern woman in the last hundred years. Those two examples are, for me, two of the lesser ways. More on that anon.

Oh, believe me, I would do it. The holocaust of abortion is an abomination, one that spreads seeds of sin and suffering we cannot even see.

But must it be an either/or decision?

Please understand: I have pledged no allegiance to the feminist movement. I have not made a study of Sanger or Steinem. I abhor the angry, man-hating stance so common among militant feminists. I can see how very off the rails gender dynamics have become and I lament that universities are full of women’s studies programs and school libraries are full of books intending to rewrite history from a feminist perspective. All of these contribute toward isolating men and women from each other rather than fostering complementarity, promoting animosity rather than charity.

Reading history, we can see that there was a time when men and women
worked together, contributing equally to family life and the good of the community. Family businesses were conducted from the home, whether they be farmers or merchants. Work and raising children happened at the same time, in the same place. With industrialization came factories which took the work to another place, meaning a split between family and business. One person stayed home, and the other went out to work. “Women’s work” began to mean child care, cooking, and cleaning. As time went on, we entered a period when women were considered less able than men to study and to work at ‘serious’ things. Right up until the ‘50s, it was thought that a woman’s uterus contributed to hysteria and that she should be medicated to give her mental and emotional stability. Imagine being referred to as ‘the little woman’ and being admonished to ‘not bother your pretty head about’…oh, say, an election.  What I’m getting at is there was – and still is today to a lesser extent – a tendency to treat women as other, as lesser, to condescend and patronize.  (How many of us have been uncomfortable walking through a construction zone, or at the auto mechanic shop?) And it’s one thing if the worst of it is like we see in Mad Men where the men patronize and condescend, but it’s a much more serious thing when a man goes on a killing spree shooting women at a university, or a woman is gang-raped on a public bus, or a pregnant mother is condemned to a whipping and then death by hanging because she was accused by a male relative of adultery, or school girls are abducted into slavery, or baby girls are aborted because boys have higher value. Recently in New York, a man beat his wife to death with a stick because she cooked a meal he didn't like, while in Quebec, a father slapped his daughter so hard for doing a poor job cleaning the floor that she died. Whenever I hear these stories, I think about how vulnerable women are despite 'how far we've come'. If men had the same experience, would the blogger I mentioned earlier have a different suggestion?

It is probably true that feminism is doing nothing at all to correct those faults of perception that allow a man to think less of a woman and treat her badly because she is a woman. It is also very true that our Church teaches us that such crimes are contrary to moral and natural law. Christianity teaches that every human life has value, and that every boy child and every girl child has the right to life, has something of worth to give to the world, and is deserving of care, compassion, and charity.

Being rid of abortion isn’t the whole issue. I believe that at the
heart of the matter is the fact that somehow we have come to believe that some people are worth more than others, whether it is a boy over a girl, or a ‘healthy’ baby over one with Downs Syndrome, or someone from the West over a person from the Middle East.

That is why I don’t want this to be an either/or question. Yes, let us abolish abortion, and let us consign the angry man-hating feminists to Siberia, but we cannot leave it there. We need to fill the void by teaching about the dignity of the human person; we need to lead by example how to honour men and women and their complementarity; we need to show how these offer greater freedom and fulfillment than ‘equality’.

What do you think?

5 comments:

  1. My mind immediately went to Chesterton on this subject he wrote alot on feminism very
    prophetically too. Also he was there when this movement was just beginning. I wish I had something of my own to contribute but like most things said they have already been said by someone better than me or at leat more eloquently. I thought this article was good it was written by the President of the Chesterton Society - Dale Ahlquist. It's a good article about some of Chesterton's veiws on the topic. If you don't want to read the whole thing although it isn't lengthy you can literally read just the first line and the last two lines of the article to get the point . Dale Ahlquist has a book out called (The Apostle of Common Sense) it's a wonderful synopsis on Chesterton's main works, a must have for anyone who may be interested in G.K Chesterton
    God Bless.

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  2. Forgot to post the link lol. http://distributistreview.com/mag/2011/06/the-triumphs-and-failures-of-feminism/

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  3. Thank you for the link, Matthew. I need to hear different opinions in order to have a broader understanding of the question.

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  4. Hee hee, the men in Siberia wouldn't appreciate us sending all the man-hating feminists there! What did they ever do to you?? =)

    As to the idea that in order to end abortion we'd also have to end everything feminism accomplished, you might be interested in an article I read on the Ladies Against Feminism website (it's an Evangelical Christian site.) If you search there you should be able to find it. In the article the author, whose great-grandmother was a suffragist, says that the suffragists of the time actually did not agree with the more hard-core feminists who were also trying to get contraception accepted, encourage mothers to work instead of stay home, etc. It sounded like they felt about feminists the same way we do about so-called "pro-life" people who bomb abortion clinics. So no, I wouldn't agree that anything that supports the idea that women are equal to men is to be put in the same camp as abortion.

    Susan

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  5. Thanks for letting us know about Ladies Against Feminism, Susan; it's a beautiful site. I've read through some of their articles, but I'm not sure I found the one you mentioned.

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What is a woman? What does it mean to be feminine? There is softness and hardness, compassion and ferocity. There is contentment and adventure, freedom and service. We're conundrums, especially to ourselves, but we all, in some way, possess beauty, creativity, intuition and love. We were made for love, and we are loved, cellulite and all. Here we aim to show every woman the richness and beauty of her own femininity and explore current issues relating to women in our world. We also wish to share our own experiences - exploring the joys and challenges of stay-at-home moms and single professionals and everyone in between. Welcome! So glad you're here!

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