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  • Resolutions for a New Feminist

    by Henry Karlson


    Ten Resolutions of a New Feminist Man
    Henry Karlson 
     
    The answer to the question of women’s rights, as with all other serious questions, is in an understandable, sensible and revived Christianity.

    — Vladimir Soloviev
     
    In his 1995 “Letter to Women,” Pope John Paul II, continuing in the tradition of his encyclical Mulieres Dignitatem, stated what may be considered the fundamental theme of New Feminism:
     
    Unfortunately, we are heirs to a history which has conditioned us to a remarkable extent. In every time and place, this conditioning has been an obstacle to the progress of women. Women’s dignity has often been unacknowledged and their prerogatives misrepresented; they have often been relegated to the margins of society and even reduced to servitude. This has prevented women from truly being themselves and it has resulted in a spiritual impoverishment of humanity.
     



    As the pope illustrates here, New Feminists desire to find and appreciate the place of women in the modern world. They seek to overcome the mistakes of the past, mistakes which have limited the role women have had in the public sector. New Feminists want to hear the voices of women and what they have to say on what it means to be human. They do not reject the masculine; rather, they want to understand how the masculine and feminine complement each other.
     
    Because of the use of the term feminism, many think New Feminism is a Trojan horse trying to justify radical feminism with a Catholic veneer. They fear that if we help women achieve the dignity and status they deserve, men will suffer. New Feminism rejects this: What it wants is a proper appreciation of both genders. The ways in which women have been held back in our society have created unjust and invalid expectations of men, damaging our understanding of what it means to be a man, just as much as it has hindered us from appreciating and understanding what it means to be a woman. In this way, John Paul is right in saying we have had an impoverished humanity.
     
    New Feminism is called “new” not because its concerns are new, but because it represents a new, Catholic way to deal with the questions feminists (of all stripes) have raised through the years. Catholics cannot neglect these concerns: They must now give new, Catholic answers to them.
     
    As a male representative of those who follow the New Feminism, here are ten goals and resolutions I have for the new year:
     
    1. To reflect more on what the New Feminism should mean for the masculine; to continue to work out all the underlying structures that have hindered an appreciation of the masculine; and to encourage men and women alike to understand themselves according to their gender and appreciate those differences, instead of seeing them as a hindrance.
     
    2. To help people see the reasons why the New Feminism is a necessary component of the Catholic tradition and why John Paul paid it so much attention in his papacy. To do this, I will try to reflect more on the historical conditions that brought about the New Feminism and share those findings in my own writings and conversations with others.
     
    3. Reintroduce myself to some of the great women of Christian history (such as Sts. Macrina, Monica, Mary of Egypt, Claire of Assisi, Hildegard, Teresa of Avila, Thérèse of Lisieux, and Edith Stein) and ponder not only their influence on Christian history, but what they might tell us of the dignity of women.
     
    4. Ponder more deeply the works of recent theologians such as Paul Evdokimov, Adrienne von Speyr, and Hans Urs von Balthasar on the issue of gender (and decide how much of what they said is appropriate and valuable to us today).
     
    5. Try to find ways to better help women in need with the skills and abilities I possess — or, if possible, lead them to others who could help more than I.
     
    6. Encourage more men to research the authentic Catholic understanding of gender so that they will not find themselves confused, angered, or overreacting to those concerns the Church rightfully brings up.
     
    7. Promote a better appreciation of life and, with it, the kinds of relationships that are necessary for us to live morally in this world.
     
    8. Seek internal peace in whatever situation I find myself, and work at bending more to the will of God, instead of hoping that God bends to my own.
     
    9. To work for authentic, moral peace in the world — a peace that can only exist in the light of justice and truth — being careful not to undermine justice for the sake of peace, nor to undermine truth for the sake of improper compromise.
     
    10. To work for better cooperation of Catholics in all walks of life, from all levels of understanding, so that we can work together as Catholics first and above all things.
     
     
    ♦♦♦
     
    Ten Resolutions of a New Feminist Woman
    Marjorie Campbell 
     
    There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:28).
     
    New Feminism must be understood as one movement among many aimed at “cultivating everywhere a culture of equality, which will be lasting and constructive to the extent that it reflects God’s plan,” as Pope John Paul II said in The Genius of Women. While New Feminism builds on the achievements of the 20th-century feminist movement, it recognizes that, as Elizabeth Fox-Genovese puts it in Women in Christ,
     
    the strategies of old feminism have seriously undermined essential features of our culture and moral life, notably our ability to value and nurture human life in all its diversity . . . our willingness to honor any form of natural or divine authority . . . and our ability always to see other persons as ends in themselves, never means to another end.
     
    Some may already be thinking, “Feminism ruined the culture. So why keep pushing a ‘new’ feminism?” But I suggest that we quit quibbling over the word “feminism” during 2010, and instead strive to learn what this new movement means and what it demands of us to effect a true “culture of life” and a “new model of the way to be human” (Women in Christ). We all stand to gain, because New Feminism offers hope to a broken humanity — male and female alike.
     
    I offer ten resolutions for 2010 to further the New Feminism — both within my own heart and within my community. Can we, this year, make New Feminism a way of living, not just a ground for dispute? These are ten steps I plan to take to bring “the feminism of life” into the exercise of living:
     
    1. No excuses. I will not compromise my relationship with Christ this year, not even to host dinner for the eight visiting businessmen who, my husband says, “love pasta, bread and red wine. Please honey?” I will prep the meal, but go to Perpetual Adoration anyway.
     
    2. Primary prayer. I will use prayer as a primary tool to expand New Feminism and seek the conversion of a particular radical feminist I have in mind. I will pray for her daily. I will read her online writings all year, no matter how ill they make me — and I will respond if it is God’s will to give me charitable words.
     
    3. Honor my husband. I will not stay up and write past 3:00 a.m. more than once a week — and I will try to do so only when my husband is away. He is my first and greatest gift; I ought to spend the night with him, not this keyboard.
     
    4. Pornography patrol. I will scan our home computers for pornography. I will delete immoral material and initiate the painful, patient process of correction. If I find no pornography, I will tell my sons how proud I am that God has a “pornography free” home in San Francisco.
     
    5. Patron saint. I will pray daily to St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) that she will guide the voice of New Feminism in expression and expansion. I will continue reading all of her translated works.
     
    6. Financial support. I will reevaluate with my husband our charitable giving to focus on causes that promote an authentic “ethic of life” that is not compromised by denials, oversights, obfuscations, and bizarre rationalizing.
     
    7. Core readings. I will slowly and carefully reread Evangelium Vitae, Mulieres Dignitatem, and John Paul’s”Letter to Women” of June 29, 1995. I will enthusiastically read the new contributions to New Feminism of other theologians and writers.
     
    8. Connect with compassion. I will maintain calm with each young woman who confides to me her experiences with contraception, sexual promiscuity, and abortion. I will offer the same to each young man who confides his frustration in finding a young woman “without sexual baggage” and his consumption of pornography. I will recall Pope Benedict XVI’s call to the purity of Mother Mary, “to look at them with mercy, with love, with infinite tenderness, especially those who are most alone, most looked down upon, most exploited.”
     
    9. Children first. I will, in word and deed, put the well-being of children foremost. I will remember my primary role as nurturer and teacher, even when I would like to lock my sons in their respective closets.
     
    10. Responsible writing. I will espouse no theory of New Feminism unattached from the reality in which women live, love, and struggle to develop in their God-given fullness, alongside the men who support them in a determination to represent God’s love through our gender differences.
    The views expressed by the authors and editorial staff are not necessarily the views of
    Sophia Institute, Holy Spirit College, or the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.

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    • I am not Spartacus

      And why use the word “gender” when “sex” is more direct and accurate?

      In his 1995 “Letter to Women,” Pope John Paul II, continuing in the tradition of his encyclical Mulieres Dignitatem, stated what may be considered the fundamental theme of New Feminism:

      The words “New Feminism” are not in that letter. But Mary is: The Church sees in Mary the highest expression of the “feminine genius” and she finds in her a source of constant inspiration

      So, does the “new feminism” mean that Mary is out?

    • I am not Spartacus

      1. No excuses. I will not compromise my relationship with Christ this year, not even to host dinner for the eight visiting businessmen who, my husband says, “love pasta, bread and red wine. Please honey?” I will prep the meal, but go to Perpetual Adoration anyway.

      The New Feminism; giving offense in the name of Jesus.

      The “New Feminism” sounds as Christian and sensible as the Old Feminism.

    • Vikram

      I’m thankful I read through to Marjorie’s “new feminist” resolutions because they made a lot of sense and included some good practical ones like seeking the conversion of radical feminists through prayer. Altogether they read like the life’s ambition of the lioness of the house. Any husband and kids should feel honored to live in a home patrolled by such a beast (I mean this in the nicest possible way!).

      If this is what the “new feminism” is all about, bring it on brother, and bring it on in spades. It certainly is “new” in that it is in stark and welcome contrast to the feminism that most of us have seen brandished about since baby boomer times.

      All the best to both Henry and Marjorie with keeping a perfect 10/10.

      By the way (I can’t help myself) seeing as we’ve had a dozen different kinds of feminism from radical to liberal, and now “new”, when’s the first version of masculinism going to appear?

    • Henry Karlson

      The Vatican, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI understand Pope John Paul II’s work as being connected to the “new feminism.” You can find Pope Benedict explaining this, for example, here: http://tinyurl.com/yd56hfd

      Now, you ask why no mention of the Theotokos, and does the new feminism reject her. I think the answer is simple: the Theotokos, our respect for her, and her role as model for women was pre-supposed here. Sometimes, especially in brief reflections, one doesn’t mention everything, and several things are presumed. However, even if you wondered, you could look into the resolutions made, and you would see the works of von Speyr and Balthasar are mentioned. Their work on gender is highly connected to their Marian theology, and as such, if there were any question as to whether or not Mary’s role is included, it is, and is indeed central.

      Finally, I am not certain as to why you think “sex” is more appropriate than “gender.”

    • georgie-ann

      pretty much ditto to I Am Not Spartacus,…

      Mary is a wonderful teacher & model,…very alive & present to us,…quiet listening, petitioning, and paying attention to & receiving from her are the best ways i’ve found to become transformed (of course “in process”) from simple, stupid, misled, suffering human into something so much better & rewarding,…i am so pleased and humbled by her love & attention,…it (she) is ALL GRACE & LOVE, freely given/shared/imparted,…i can take no credit and am nothing but grateful,…”Hail Mary, full of grace,…”

      of course she will point to her Son!,…

    • Zoe Romanowsky

      Thanks for your reflections and resolutions.

      The challenge I see is that the “new feminism” has never been well defined and the average Catholic (not to mention everyone else) doesn’t understand it. Additionally, the “f” word is so uncomfortable for many who would otherwise embrace the ideas behind it. The word itself continues to be a stumbling block.

      It is important, however, for people to consider that the Pope called it a new feminism for a reason. He often put it in quotation marks, in fact, suggesting he knew it was a loaded term. But he used it on purpose — to build a bridge with those whose feminism needs transformation, as well as to acknowledge the truths found within old brands of feminism.

      John Paul II initiated the conversation about a new feminism and provided a framework and principles for such a discussion. He then invited women — and men — to ponder and develop what this new feminism was about, and decide how to implement it.

      One of the key things he highlighted was the need for society itself to become more accommodating to women in new ways. Only in doing so can women use ALL their gifts AND be true to their nature. We have yet to achieve this within workplaces, communities, the Church, and even households. The new feminism reminds women that they’re the custodians of life, and this must be carried out in all spheres. It also reminds people that women belong pretty much everywhere their gifts are needed, and their roles need not be limited.

      This is about when people start shaking their heads and feel the need to remind me that women actually dominate parish life and middle management in the Church, and more women are in college than men, and that we have a major crisis in masculinity and manhood, etc, etc. True enough, we do. But one needn’t be at the expense of the other. The old feminism is partly responsible for the crisis in masculinity. The new feminism doesn’t pit women and men’s interests against each other, but seeks to have true masculinity restored without relegating women to a place of pre-old feminist assumptions and roles.

    • Gender vs. Sex

      I am not Spartacus, but I assume his point is that “gender” has always been the preferred term of the sexual revolution, in place of “sex.” “Sex” connotes a biological and ontological reality, something that is a matter of fact, while “gender” is supposedly a social construct – hence such terms as “gender reassignment,” etc. Polite society now addresses a man as “she” simply because he has declared he sees himself as female. That’s the cultural point of substituting “gender” for “sex.” Thus, generally speaking, “sex” would be a better term to choose, for those who wish as you do to affirm that masculinity and femininity are real and intrinsic qualities of the person.

    • brendon

      The Vatican, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI understand Pope John Paul II’s work as being connected to the “new feminism.”

      Nobody has to believe that every particular action or word of a Pope is a good thing. One is perfectly free to think it foolish to try to fill an anti-Christian name with Christian content. It would be foolish to group true principles about the importance of community life under the name “New Communism,” and it seems just as foolish to group true principles about female worth and dignity under the name “New Feminism.”

      I am not certain as to why you think “sex” is more appropriate than “gender.”

      I am willing to guess it is because sex primarily means the embodied, biological, and ontological reality of being created “male and female,” whereas gender is primarily a linguistic term that refers to how nouns are classified. Gender is culturally conditioned. sex is not.

      Feminists use “gender” in place of “sex” because they see male and female as entirely culturally conditioned rather than as ontological realities. The use of “gender” on place of “sex” was not an organic linguistic development, but one forced upon the English language by anti-Western, anti-Christian cultural destroyers.

    • Mrs O

      I would add, not to be afraid to look like a woman either.
      There are some flattering clothes out there, and there are some that make you look like a man.
      The last time I checked, most of those pushing the radical feminist agenda inevitably look like men or dress like them.
      It is pretty bad when you wear a skirt someone assumes you are pentecostal…

    • I am not Spartacus

      Finally, I am not certain as to why you think “sex” is more appropriate than “gender.”

      And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them

      I. “MALE AND FEMALE HE CREATED THEM . . .”

      2331 “God is love and in himself he lives a mystery of personal loving communion. Creating the human race in his own image . . .. God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsibility, of love and communion.”114

      “God created man in his own image . . . male and female he created them”;115 He blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply”;116 “When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created.”117

      2332 Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. It especially concerns affectivity, the capacity to love and to procreate, and in a more general way the aptitude for forming bonds of communion with others.

      2333 Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out.

      2334 “In creating men ‘male and female,’ God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity.”118 “Man is a person, man and woman equally so, since both were created in the image and likeness of the personal God.”119

      2335 Each of the two sexes is an image of the power and tenderness of God, with equal dignity though in a different way. The union of man and woman in marriage is a way of imitating in the flesh the Creator’s generosity and fecundity: “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.”120 All human generations proceed from this union.121

      2336 Jesus came to restore creation to the purity of its origins. In the Sermon on the Mount, he interprets God’s plan strictly: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”122 What God has joined together, let not man put asunder.123

      The tradition of the Church has understood the sixth commandment as encompassing the whole of human sexuality.


      People have sex language has gender. I think the substitution of gender for sex was done intentionally as part of the liberal project to deny the reality that men and women have different abilities and vocations.

      I purchased and read von Speyr’s, “Confession.” I guess she is not my cup of tea.

      In transforming culture so that it supports life, women occupy a place, in thought and action, which is unique and decisive. It depends on them to promote a “new feminism” which rejects the temptation of imitating models of “male domination”, in order to acknowledge and affirm the true genius of women in every aspect of the life of society, and overcome all discrimination, violence and exploitation.

      These letters (to individuals participating in a UN Conference of some other conference), with quotations placed around the words “new feminism” hardly seem to me to be a clarion call to Baptise Feminism but, rather, to exorcise the demonic from the “male domination” but the reference to discrimination, to me at least, does not mean that there are not legitimate areas of discrimination (such as the Priesthood, Women in Combat, Mother’s of Three prevented from acting as Chief of CIA Bases in Afghanistan,Males excluded from becoming Nuns, Homosexuals excluded from Seminaries, Homosexuals excluded from Boy Scouts etc etc etc)

      If you think one must become a “New Feminist” to set right what is wrong in the world then I have to wonder why you began with the perfectly sensible quote from the great Russian who I can not imagine ever writing that he was a new feminist.

      In any event, the fact that this or that Pope mentioned, in passing, in letters to those headed-off to Conferences, the phrase “new feminism” is hardly, to me anyways, indicative that a new movement of feminism is either necessary or desirable.

      To help people see the reasons why the New Feminism is a necessary component of the Catholic tradition…

      You will fail and not because you lack communication skills. You will fail because calling something extraneous as necessary is doomed to failure.

      Long before the words “new feminism” recently appeared, Christian Catholics had figured-out the whole male and female thing and if it really were a necessary component of Catholic tradition, the movement would be spoken about publicly, repeatedly, by Popes rather than appearing in Letters that Nine Catholics have ever read or ever will read.

      Do you have any examples of, say, a Wednesday Audience, devoted to this necessary part of Catholic tradition?

      When Pope Benedict came to America, I watched a ton of coverage on EWTN and I read all of his speeches and I do not recall one mention of “new feminism.”

      If “new feminism” is a necessary part of Catholic traditionone would not be able to judge that is the case given the reality our great Pope has never spoken about it (at least that I am aware of).

    • Mrs. JH

      “1. No excuses. I will not compromise my relationship with Christ this year, not even to host dinner for the eight visiting businessmen who, my husband says, “love pasta, bread and red wine. Please honey?” I will prep the meal, but go to Perpetual Adoration anyway.”

      Isn’t this really an excuse to not be a wife first? Being your husband’s partner in social and work events is as important as your prayer life. Couldn’t you fit in PA at another time – especially since Perpetual Adoration Chapels are 24 hours? Your husband needs you and he needs to understand that your vocation is through him, he is not a block to your relationship with God – but the channel through which you praise God and give Glory to Him.

      I’m tired of feminists belittling the traditional roles of women like cooking, cleaning, caring for their children and keeping a nice house. While I work full-time, I know that my sacrifices in the kitchen (and my husband’s sacrifices at the dining room table – lol) are gaining us graces and strengthening our marriage.

      This is all a load of bunk to belittle traditional roles and to feminize men. I’d like to see some resolutions about the new Masculinism.

      I would like to see more resolutions about contemplating Mary’s role in the house, her role as mother, saying the rosary – not this mumbo jumbo about “seek internal peace” (a little self-serving, no?), “encourage men to learn about women”.

      Here’s a few concrete ones:

      1. Host dinner parties important to my husband’s career without complaining.
      2. Ensure that the bedroom is always clean.
      3. Pray the rosary with my family and meditate on Mary’s life.
      4. Help a woman that I know who is overwhelmed by the demands of motherhood or find a newly married young woman who needs help easing into her new role.
      5. Cook my husband’s favorite meal once every two weeks.
      6. Take my children to perpetual adoration and teach them the importance of prayer.
      7. Read the Lives of Saints to my children as their bedtime stories.
      8. Find a female saints whose virtues I can emulate in my everyday life.
      9. Encourage my husband and my children in their pursuits and assist when I can. Be sure to tell them that I love them at least three times a day.
      10. Make sure that the house is clean and peaceful so my husband has a nice place to rest when he comes home from work.

    • I am not Spartacus

      These United States of America stations 10,000+ female soldiers in the Iraq War Zone. These United States stations 4000+ female soldiers in the Afghanistan War Zone. Many of these women are Mothers with children. Some are single Mothers.

      What does The New Feminism (TNF) think about that reality? Is TNF in favor of stationing female soldiers in war zones where they will, inevitably, be called upon to use guns/mortars to kill the enemy or is TNF opposed to that policy?

      A Mother of Three, stationed in Afghanistan as the Chief of The CIA Base, was recently killed in a suicide-bomb attack at the Base.

      Is TNF in favor of or opposed to Mothers (or any woman) acting as Chief of a CIA Base in a foreign country?

    • Buckyinky

      Thanks for your list, Mrs. JH. I must say I prefer it over the ones in the article, though I appreciate the authors’ efforts.

      I don’t mean to flatter, but I imagine that if I was your husband, you would have me close to tears every time I considered your humility. It would show me my unworthiness of the honor of being your husband, and it would make me want to be a better man.

      As it is I have a wife very much fitting your list above, and I do feel unworthy of her, and she makes me want to be a better man.

    • Maria B.

      Is

      n’t this really an excuse to not be a wife first? Being your husband’s partner in social and work events is as important as your prayer life. Couldn’t you fit in PA at another time – especially since Perpetual Adoration Chapels are 24 hours? Your husband needs you and he needs to understand that your vocation is through him, he is not a block to your relationship with God – but the channel through which you praise God and give Glory to Him.

      I’m tired of feminists belittling the traditional roles of women like cooking, cleaning, caring for their children and keeping a nice house.

      I agree that serving our spouses IS our main way of serving God. Still, each spouse needs to build their own relationship with the Lord and needs time to do so.

      Feminists might belittle traditional roles, but new feminists do not. Domestic roles are beautiful and noble and necessary. They are just not the only ways a woman can live out her womanhood.

      10. Make sure that the house is clean and peaceful so my husband has a nice place to rest when he comes home from work.

      You say you work full-time… I assume this means in the paid work force? If so, why is it automatically your tole to make sure the house is clean and peaceful for your husband to rest? That is a loving desire, but where does the assumption come from that that is a “woman’s role?”

    • Mrs. JH

      Believe me, I don’t fulfill these resolutions, and my child is, as yet, unborn – but these are the things that my mother did, and I don’t know a woman who better emulates true feminism except for Our Lady.

    • Zoe Romanowsky

      [quotes IAN Spartacus]These United States of America stations 10,000+ female soldiers in the Iraq War Zone. These United States stations 4000+ female soldiers in the Afghanistan War Zone. Many of these women are Mothers with children. Some are single Mothers.

      What does The New Feminism (TNF) think about that reality? Is TNF in favor of stationing female soldiers in war zones where they will, inevitably, be called upon to use guns/mortars to kill the enemy or is TNF opposed to that policy?

      A Mother of Three, stationed in Afghanistan as the Chief of The CIA Base, was recently killed in a suicide-bomb attack at the Base.

      Is TNF in favor of or opposed to Mothers (or any woman) acting as Chief of a CIA Base in a foreign country?

      IANS: There is no official “NF” board or panel you can ask for a black and white answer on stuff like this, I’m afraid. As I mentioned above in a comment, the new feminism rests on principles and within a framework, but what it means practically/ lived out, is still being considered and understood. You might want to read John Paul II’s writings pertaining to the new feminism to get a good start on the topic.

    • georgie-ann

      those descriptions are a wonderful example of the (“hidden” effect–i.e., mystery– of the) feminine genius, fully engaged in creating a deeply inspirational atmosphere and environment for those (blessed enough to be) under its loving and considerate care,…

      even so, i wouldn’t want to seriously pan the article,…any discussion of this topic is a beginning of more to come, more developments and refinements and continued reflection and thoughts,…

    • I am not Spartacus

      In Man and Mind: A Christian Theory of Personality (Hillsdale College Press 1987) Dr. Paul C. Vitz writes the last chapter in the book and in that chapter he writes about the various attacks against men in America – from secular psychologists (emphasising individualism) to corporate expectations (that the man will do whatever is necessary, move anywhere etc no matter the effect on the family) and then he cites feminism:

      From a different side came shots of the feminists, and the shooting has been pretty heavy from that direction for thirty years now. They have provided a constant, strident attack on men for being men- or for not being the men they want men to be. Above all, the movement has consistently expressed a hatred for the very concepts of manhood and fatherhood, and its adherents actively work for the suppression or removal of these important, distinctive realities.

      Instead of what is being promoted here, Dr Vitz advises:

      The answer to all this – let me suggest – is the Christian man, the man who is fully a man in the natural sense: he leads, he has energy, zeal, but he puts his manhood in service of God and of others – his family, employers, or community. Here is the man who truly enjoys his God-given masculinity, because he is using this gift for others. Thus does Grace perfect nature. He is a man with true strength, without the macho’s selfish insecurity, without the secret cringing and anxiety of the wimp.

      I know of no Pope advising a man to become a feminist, new or old.

      I can understand a Pope, looking at the world as it is, and understanding the triumph of feminism in the West, appealing to those convinced of the “truths” of feminism deciding to try and correct the evils of feminism by advancing a “new feminism” (a sort of Christian ressourcement as to the understanding of the true nature of men and women) as a purgative to those locked-into thinking in those categories but the idea that to really understand what it means to be a man or a woman one must become a feminist, new or old, is bathetic.

      Did Johannes Paulus Magnus ever declare he was a new feminist?

      Has Pope Benedict ever declared he is a new feminist?

      Of course not.

      If a Pope did declare he was a new feminist a school of fish on bicycles would devilishly appear in St. Peter’s Square.

    • Mrs. JH

      “That is a loving desire, but where does the assumption come from that that is a “woman’s role?” ”

      Let me interpret – those are “nice” things to do, but why shouldn’t your husband do them for you?

      Why? Because he can’t. He is physically unable to keep a nice, comfortable, loving home. He doesn’t have the equipment, he wasn’t made for it. He can’t see dirt. He thinks that matching candlesticks and a tablecloth are a novelty rather than a staple. He’s not wired that way – and it’s not his role.

      Women are maternal, they nest, they see details. They understand the coordination of colors, textures, fabrics, light. Men understand balance, symmetry, order. And we’re made that way, and I rejoice in the complementary gifts that we have been given. Could I create a “home” by myself? Absolutely not. And neither can my husband. I’m not saying that he doesn’t help. He does laundry, cooks sometimes, does dishes… but the detail work – it is the feminine genius.

      I think women should be encouraged to embrace their femininity rather than trying new ways to be like men. When women became feminists they gained the right to act like men. Now, true women are fighting for the right to remain women, mothers, wives, sisters, homemakers, etc.

      Our Lady didn’t become Jesus’ “manager” – she didn’t give speeches, write a book, start giving homilies, etc. She served and that is the greatest role that women can embrace.

    • I am not Spartacus

      If the authors of this TNF Column to whom the questions were addressed can not answer the questions posed, of what use can it possibly be?

      I hope, “the answer is blowing in the wind,” is not the response of TNF vis a vis sending female soldiers into war zones or making a Mother of Three the CIA Base Chief in Afghanistan.

      If TNF think such actions are acceptable, there is nothing “new” about their feminism.

      As an aside, what do you think about sending female troops to the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan?

      What do you think about making a Mother of Three a CIA Base Chief in Afghanistan? (She graduated from Colby College in 2001 as I recall).

      Now, there is no news I can find about the ages of her children but surely TNF does not have to undertake a lengthy period of study and reflection to take a position as to whether or not making a Mother of Three the Chief of a CIA Base in Afghanistan was acceptable or not.

    • Henry Karlson

      I’ve been away, and just looked back at the discussion. I don’t want to get into an all out war with people, and so I will give a few more comments and leave it at that.

      Gender has many definitions, one of them is “sex.” While you have “gender redefinitions” you also have “sex changes.” It really is a word which does mean sex. Of course, it can mean other things, but so can sex — sex can be the word for procreation as well. So just because a word can be used one way does not mean it is incorrect to use it in another one of its possible meanings. In this way saying “God made them male and female” doesn’t really deal with the issue of the meaning of the word gender which can be “sex.” So you have your own preference of word usage — everyone does, but that has more to do with vocabulary and style than it has with content. Sadly, I think much of the criticism has not been with the content.

      Thus, it is interesting to see IANS’s comments after I put up a link to Benedict XVI talking about the new feminism; interestingly enough, the reference he makes is a quote from EV. Nonetheless, it is true, the new feminism was more within John Paul II’s focus than what we have with Benedict XVI. Does that make it null and void? Obviously not.

      Sadly, some of the conversation here reminds me of a Protestant looking over a Catholic document on Mary and then saying “Well, Christ is ignored.” The thing is, in a given discussion, especially in short space, you won’t say everything on everything, and context is key. And different people are meant to take different concerns and work on them — one person focusing on Christology, for example, would not be considered bad because they don’t talk about Biblical Studies. Instead of trying to pick a fight out of issues of silence, it is better to try to grasp the issue and the concern.

      Third, of course no one is saying “everything a Pope has said” is “great.” However, one should at least give due consideration to the Pope, and the response should be not only one of charity, but of humility, remembering who the Pope is and what office he fills. One can of course respond to him — but to do so, one must first know what he says and respond in kind, not straw men and red herrings. Thus, I echo Zoe’s statements — read the documents of Pope John Paul II — and read them with an open mind. What I see, alas, is the reverse — and with it, people not even reading what was posted here properly — rather, people looking for something to criticize, and if it isn’t for something within the brief post, it is what they didn’t find in it (making all kinds of false accusations in the process, due to an argument from silence).

    • Henry Karlson

      First, don’t necessarily expect people will give automatic answers to questions. Nor that they have to give answers to your questions just because you raise them. The fact that someone doesn’t give an answer (or doesn’t do it to the speed of your liking) does not say there is no answer.

      It seems to me what you want is to set a “trap,” similar to how the Pharisees wanted to do with Christ. I won’t play that game. You have the foundations, you have the moral principles. Just as Sherlock Holmes would tell Watson to follow through and deduce things for himself, I leave it to you to do so. It is not because I have no answer, it is because I do not like being baited with a trap.

      But that leads to one last thing, and then I will leave things be. New Feminism, as I said, is about principles. People will take them sometimes in different ways, but that is how theology is engaged. Sometimes there is no one “the answer,” but many possible answers to consider — and sometimes all the possible answers are valid. Sometimes only some. Sometimes maybe none. But if you consider it a principle foundation from which to start, then you can take it like, well, scholasticism. Just because Sts Bonaventure and Thomas Aquinas could end up with different answers and conclusions doesn’t make scholasticism useless, nor does it make either of their own work useless.

    • Deal Hudson

      I have always preferred the term ‘sex’ to ‘gender,’ but understand the necessity — from the perspective of apologetics — to employ the latter. As has been stated, ‘sex’ implies a sexual orientation which is natural, fixed, and normative, while ‘gender’ has been used by postmodernists to mold whatever form of sexual orientation they prefer. Of course, every time a sexual orientation is ‘constructed’ both men and women are recruited to its cause. The New Feminism, as I understand it, begins from with human nature as created by God both male and female but uses ‘gender’ as a way of recognizing the plasticity of roles in a given society. Those ‘gender roles’ need to clarified in the light of what Marjorie describes here: “the reality in which women live, love, and struggle to develop in their God-given fullness, alongside the men who support them in a determination to represent God’s love through our gender differences.”

    • brendon

      Gender has many definitions, one of them is “sex.”

      Except that etymological dictionaries note that this usage first appeared in 1963. It was used for exactly the reason noted above: to change male and female from absolute, ontological categories to relative, culturally derived categories. This matters because changing the way we speak is a means of changing the way we think. Read Josef Pieper’s Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power.

    • Old School Catholic

      Over the past few years, I’ve read a great deal of St. Teresa of Avila (an author New Feminist claim as their own) and she doesn’t seem particularly concerned with gender issues, other than to say some pretty mean things about women. The only good thing she says about women is that the are better, and holier, then men – certainly not the greatest of compliments, considering what we have done, and are presently doing, and will continue to do.

      In light of that, I would like to post, in no particular order, my 10 resolutions for the new year:
      1.) Stop thinking about myself all the time whether that be in terms of New feminism or my masculine spirituality. And don’t take myself too seriously – at best, I’ll wind up as God’s holy fool.
      2.) Resist, as much as possible, the terrible influence of the modern world, and the 20th Century in general. We’ve had some bad times lately and some bad ideas.
      3.) Pray more
      4.) Sacrifice more
      5.) Pray for the holy Father, Bishops, priests, nuns, Catholic educators and legislators, and in fact, the entire mystical body of Christ, with a real emphasis on the Holy Souls.
      6.) Be more charitable and do more good works. Including working with the Missionaries of Charity without any regard to the role of women in society. Seeing them at work, I can think of few higher roles.
      7.) Read more (with a special emphasis on the great works of the Church, regardless of gender)
      8.) Fight to preserve the Catholic Faith in this country, realizing that this thing of our’s didn’t start with me and won’t end with me. This is not the beginning of a new age, it is, for all intents and purposes, simply more of the same. And my job remains, as any other Catholic, to preserve and pass on the great gift of the Catholic faith.
      9.) Remember, as C.S. Lewis said, that we are born into a world at war and we are “in enemy occupied territory”. Sometimes (this is from Chesterton) it is important to see life as nothing more than an epic battle with a great dragon. For this, I need courage, humility, prayer etc, as does any man or woman
      10.) Be more sarcastic.

      Sorry, but this list will keep me awfully busy and won’t afford time for contemplating my masculine spirituality. Sure, it is not as idealistic as other things but it’s something I can hold onto. It’ll give me direction and purpose, and with God’s grace, keep me out of trouble. All these discussions about New feminism and the like, are, for my mind, nothing more than red herrings. It is a modern idea that distracts us from our real mission.

      The Church in her great wisdom has spent some time talking about gender issues, but very little. And that is for a reason. It is certainly a part of us, but never a deciding factor. If I live out the faith my simple old mother taught me (and she was no Feminist, neither old nor new), that will go a long way to improving and understanding the world in which I live and my real purpose. I spent a lot of time in my teen years trying to understand my gender and my sexuality, and the fact is, it did nothing to help and only got me thinking all the time about sex. Until I began to see myself, and the men and women around me, as children of God whose purpose is to get back to Him, I never made it very far. Hopefully, this year I will.

    • Old School Catholic

      Over the past few years, I’ve read a great deal of St. Teresa of Avila (an author New Feminist claim as their own) and she doesn’t seem particularly concerned with gender issues, other than to say some pretty mean things about women. The only good thing she says about women is that the are better, and holier, then men – certainly not the greatest of compliments, considering what we have done, and are presently doing, and will continue to do.

      In light of that, I would like to post, in no particular order, my 10 resolutions for the new year:
      1.) Stop thinking about myself all the time whether that be in terms of New feminism or my masculine spirituality. And don’t take myself too seriously – at best, I’ll wind up as God’s holy fool.
      2.) Resist, as much as possible, the terrible influence of the modern world, and the 20th Century in general. We’ve had some bad times lately and some bad ideas.
      3.) Pray more
      4.) Sacrifice more
      5.) Pray for the holy Father, Bishops, priests, nuns, Catholic educators and legislators, and in fact, the entire mystical body of Christ, with a real emphasis on the Holy Souls.
      6.) Be more charitable and do more good works. Including working with the Missionaries of Charity without any regard to the role of women in society. Seeing them at work, I can think of few higher roles.
      7.) Read more (with a special emphasis on the great works of the Church, regardless of gender)
      8.) Fight to preserve the Catholic Faith in this country, realizing that this thing of our’s didn’t start with me and won’t end with me. This is not the beginning of a new age, it is, for all intents and purposes, simply more of the same. And my job remains, as any other Catholic, to preserve and pass on the great gift of the Catholic faith.
      9.) Remember, as C.S. Lewis said, that we are born into a world at war and we are “in enemy occupied territory”. Sometimes (this is from Chesterton) it is important to see life as nothing more than an epic battle with a great dragon. For this, I need courage, humility, prayer etc, as does any man or woman
      10.) Be more sarcastic.

      Sorry, but this list will keep me awfully busy and won’t afford time for contemplating my masculine spirituality. Sure, it is not as idealistic as other things but it’s something I can hold onto. It’ll give me direction and purpose, and with God’s grace, keep me out of trouble. All these discussions about New feminism and the like, are, for my mind, nothing more than red herrings. It is a modern idea that distracts us from our real mission.

      The Church in her great wisdom has spent some time talking about gender issues, but very little. And that is for a reason. It is certainly a part of us, but never a deciding factor. If I live out the faith my simple old mother taught me (and she was no Feminist, neither old nor new), that will go a long way to improving and understanding the world in which I live and my real purpose. I spent a lot of time in my teen years trying to understand my gender and my sexuality, and the fact is, it did nothing to help and only got me thinking all the time about sex. Until I began to see myself, and the men and women around me, as children of God whose purpose is to get back to Him, I never made it very far. Hopefully, this year I will.

    • Rachel

      Why? Because he can’t. He is physically unable to keep a nice, comfortable, loving home. He doesn’t have the equipment, he wasn’t made for it. He can’t see dirt. He thinks that matching candlesticks and a tablecloth are a novelty rather than a staple. He’s not wired that way – and it’s not his role.

      Women are maternal, they nest, they see details. They understand the coordination of colors, textures, fabrics, light. Men understand balance, symmetry, order. And we’re made that way, and I rejoice in the complementary gifts that we have been given. Could I create a “home” by myself? Absolutely not. And neither can my husband. I’m not saying that he doesn’t help. He does laundry, cooks sometimes, does dishes… but the detail work – it is the feminine genius.

      I think women should be encouraged to embrace their femininity rather than trying new ways to be like men. When women became feminists they gained the right to act like men. Now, true women are fighting for the right to remain women, mothers, wives, sisters, homemakers, etc.

      Our Lady didn’t become Jesus’ “manager” – she didn’t give speeches, write a book, start giving homilies, etc. She served and that is the greatest role that women can embrace.

      I guess what bothers me about your comments here is that you take your own situation and make it the universal. I know many Christian couples where the wife is messy and the husband is the neat-freak, and quite a few couples where the husband is the much better cook. Women do not always “understand the coordination of colors, textures, fabrics and light while men understand balance, symmetry and order.” This is simply not true and is NOT what makes us male and female. Are there differences between the sexes? Yes. But they are not so rigid and role-defined as you make them out to be. Domestic chores do not equal femininity. They might be the way a woman expresses her nurturing service to her family, but they may not be.

      Are you actually saying that giving speeches, writing, etc. are not service? Wow. I am not here to degrade motherhood and building a rich home life — those are of absolute importance. I myself am a stay at home Christian mother. I am, however, baffled by the one-size-fits all views you have. These are the views that the old feminists reacted to and I hope we never go back to them.

    • MRA

      1.) Stop thinking about myself all the time whether that be in terms of New feminism or my masculine spirituality. And don’t take myself too seriously – at best, I’ll wind up as God’s holy fool.

      Amen to that! You’ve put your finger on exactly what I’ve found off about this whole New Feminism discussion, but couldn’t articulate. At bottom, all this talk of gendered spirituality is just another way of being self-absorbed instead of looking outward. The difficult job of being human should give anybody plenty of work to take care of.

    • Zoe Romanowsky

      If the authors of this TNF Column to whom the questions were addressed can not answer the questions posed, of what use can it possibly be?

      Because this is what it means to discuss and deliberate a concept like the new feminism. If you are looking for tidy answers everyone can agree to, you’re going to be frustrated and best go find something else.

      As for your questions about women soldiers, I agree with Henry here and think you are trying to set a trap. It is also tangential to the discussion in my view.

      You address the new feminism as an entity that can “undertake a lengthy period of study and reflection to take a position as to whether or not making a Mother of Three the Chief of a CIA Base in Afghanistan was acceptable or not.” Respectively, I think you need to go back to the sources to gain a better framework for this discussion.

    • Mrs. JH

      Rachel:

      Its a comment section of a newspaper article. There isn’t time or distinguish between the true roles of women and men. I guess my sarcasm didn’t read properly.

      Of course, men being unable to physically see dirt is not meant to be universal, and of course there are plenty of men who are more detail oriented than plenty of women. But I will not shy away from the fact that men and women do have different roles in a family – and we should embrace them. Does each family “figure it out for themselves”? Of course… but again, this is a comment section of a newspaper article, not an Oxford style debate.

      And the views that the old feminists reacted to? Well, they reacted improperly and perhaps they misunderstood their roles and how one should properly approach them.

      Remember the days when someone would say, “X is gay… not like there is anything wrong with that.” We’re beginning to say this about homemakers. “She is a stay-at-home mom and doesn’t have a job… not that there is anything wrong with that… Butshe could be using her talents elsewhere. You know, she used to be very successful in x field.”

      There are ideals and we need to pursue them.

    • Marjorie Campbell

      So, does the “new feminism” mean that Mary is out?

      of course she will point to her Son!,…

      Wow! Delighted with the comments I am seeing here. Since I agree with Zoe and Henry’s able perspectives, I will address a few of the more discrete questions/points.

      First, I acknowledge how difficult and troubling the word “feminist” has become for some people. But I concur with Zoe that the mission is to bridge, not destroy; clarify in search of truth, not obliterate; and accept the mission JPII framed, not redefine it. So, as difficult as it is, we must move beyond our discomforts with “feminism” and get to work on daily living and discussing New Feminism.

      Mary is, of course, fundamental to the New Feminism as evident in the exquisite discussion of Eve and Mary in Mulieres Dignitatem: In Mary, Eve discovers the nature of the true dignity of woman, of feminine humanity. This discovery must continually reach the heart of every woman and shape her vocation and her life.

      Every woman I’ve known actively engaged in discovering her “true dignity of woman, of feminine humanity” has relied on Mary, as mother, model and intercessor. It is only through Mary (and a daily Rosary) that many of us can summon the courage to approach a Lord whom we have deeply and repeatedly offended. But we must bear in mind that Mary said,

    • georgie-ann

      i certainly am older, perhaps wiser for myself in some things than i used to be, but not necessarily automatically wiser than younger folks who have grown up with rather bizarre cultural challenges on their plates,…and i’m sure context matters,…

      the “strange” idea that occurred to me after reading the article and some of the earlier comments, was that having Mary as our example/pattern, focused me on a certain contrasting phenomenon in this type of discussion/proposal,…

      the examples of “feminine genius” that for some seemed to hearken back to an earlier time and paradigm, were for me nonetheless quite beautiful and illustrative of a demeanor that i find to be natural and appropriate to womanhood,…and others echoed a similar recognition,…

      what i find to be SO HARD to reconcile with this particular “issue,” is a zealousness, (at least it sounds/feels that way), that contains not only a highly-geared, highly defined, pro-active momentum, but an intensity of impulse to directly define, influence, affect, even manipulate outcomes,…i’m not at issue as much with specific concepts, as i am with the picture of the type of energy & its generated effects that i’m getting here,…

      i must say that i have NEVER EVER perceived Mary as being in, or acting from, that mode,…& this does concern me,…

      when women go into over-drive, for whatever reason (except maybe for a genuine emergency), it seems to have the effect of marginalizing most everything and everyone else around them, including men,…& this is of very great concern to me,…i find that it ends up being counter-productive in the long run,…appropriate long-term goals being sacrificed for an “immediate” impulsive result,…

      i prefer to energize things in the prayer realm by directly referring to and calling in the Saints, the Holy Spirit, the Archangels, and then trusting them to be the ones with the Wisdom to approach a “dicey” issue or person,…it’s a very trustworthy method,…intentionally meshing gears oneself in a directly confrontational manner with a representative of Evil, even in prayer or observation, could end up “crossing wires” with some negatives in a draining, counter-productive, and unnecessary way,…

      i’ve learned to be wary of this approach and the results obtained thereby,…the Bible does reference “witchcraft” in some different ways,…other than the intentional, overt practicing-satanist version of this nasty business, there is also the danger of a potential for an impulse toward “domination and control” that resides “in our flesh,”…i believe this is a residual characteristic from the “fall,” and is NOT the way to proceed accurately spiritually,…as i said before, i’ve NEVER had any kind of inkling of this from Mary,…our womanly example,…(the Archangels, St. George, they are another matter!),…

      i believe the prominent thing that is wrong with the “old feminism,” and why it has been so damaging to manhood, is that it comes from an “old root” of witchcraft, dressed up in a “modern”-sounding facade,…we should be very careful not to fall-in with the enemy camp,…very subtle issues of prayer and discernment involved here,…

    • Marjorie Campbell

      Isn’t this really an excuse to not be a wife first? Being your husband’s partner in social and work events is as important as your prayer life. Couldn’t you fit in PA at another time – especially since Perpetual Adoration Chapels are 24 hours?

      This is a great question and I thank you for raising it. Not to alarm you, but I am not a “wife first”. I am a child of God and He gave me the gift of my husband … not to take God’s place but to faciliate our journey in the Lord. Radical feminism certainly did belittle the domestic vocation of women, but New Feminism recognizes that a domestic vocation is one of many women may pursue. “Home and hubby foremost”, abused, can stunt a woman’s spiritual growth and fulfillment. Too often, the strategies of a well-lived domestic vocation become a substitute or righteous medium for a direct, tended, personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This can create create disaster for women. For example, I know truly wonderful, faithful women spiritually suffering because they live their domestic vocation with care for their families first, without personal, spiritual boundaries – and they feel puzzled (even guilty) why they are spiritually dry and chronically exhausted. This is akin to tending your husband and children’s physical fitness by providing good exercise and healthy food for them – and neglecting your own diet and workout. I suspect that you will do a fabulous job with your resolutions, Mrs. JH, as long as you maintain your direct, personal relationship with Jesus so that He can give you the grace you will need to give so abundantly and unselfishly! Thanks for a great list of suggestions/reminders.

    • georgie-ann

      has anybody noticed that, in spite of well-intended devotion to spouces on the home-front, that over time repetition of daily/weekly patterns becomes a bit “numbing,” and frequently boredom and ants-iness and mutually limiting behaviors seem to become part of the “mix?”

      in this i’m very enthused by what Marjorie has just explained,…i think it could lead to “more authentic Life” for all concerned,…imho,…

    • georgie-ann

      sorry,…spouses,…

    • Rachel

      Its a comment section of a newspaper article. There isn’t time or distinguish between the true roles of women and men. I guess my sarcasm didn’t read properly.

      Of course, men being unable to physically see dirt is not meant to be universal, and of course there are plenty of men who are more detail oriented than plenty of women. But I will not shy away from the fact that men and women do have different roles in a family – and we should embrace them. Does each family “figure it out for themselves”? Of course… but again, this is a comment section of a newspaper article, not an Oxford style debate.

      And the views that the old feminists reacted to? Well, they reacted improperly and perhaps they misunderstood their roles and how one should properly approach them.

      Remember the days when someone would say, “X is gay… not like there is anything wrong with that.” We’re beginning to say this about homemakers. “She is a stay-at-home mom and doesn’t have a job… not that there is anything wrong with that… Butshe could be using her talents elsewhere. You know, she used to be very successful in x field.”

      Sorry, I had no idea you were trying to be sarcastic. This isn’t a comment section of a newspaper, however, it’s supposed to be a place for discussion about issues published on this web site. While I agree discussion is limited here, it’s no excuse for poor arguments or not making clear distinctions in what you write. No one’s talking about an Oxford-style debate.

      Old feminists reacted improperly? The early ones wanted rights to inherit property and to be full citizens and accorded voting rights. Do you disagree with that? Later, others reacted against the kind of views you seem to hold: that women belong solely in the home and doing domestic chores and if they’re not happy there, they’re selfish.

      In some circles homemakers may be discredited, sure. In my corner of the world, I see many women in the workforce who are envious of stay-at-home moms. The ones I know tell me this all the time, or at least admit to the conflicts they have about it. Those who are fine with it, don’t seem to resent my choice. Perhaps your circles are different and I’m sorry for that, but again, you shouldn’t generalize your experience.

    • georgie-ann

      really putting one’s personal relationship with Christ first, with mutual support and understanding, certainly is a refreshing concept,…and i don’t need to try to tell someone else how to do that for their own self and situation,…

      but about that dinner-for-hubby vs. Adoration scenario: i could still see it going either way,…loving flexibility in God is a great way to demonstrate not only God’s generous, compassionate, and understanding Nature, but our own as well,…

    • Marjorie Campbell

      If the authors of this TNF Column to whom the questions were addressed can not answer the questions posed, of what use can it possibly be? . . . As an aside, what do you think about sending female troops to the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan? . . . What do you think about making a Mother of Three a CIA Base Chief in Afghanistan? (She graduated from Colby College in 2001 as I recall).

      I’ve not seen New Feminism reduced to an “TNF” with a platform of positions quite like you are looking for, IANS. The Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) might be a closer match to the sort of entity/position papers which you seem to be looking for. IWF has a secular New Feminist perspective in its think tank approach – but (unfortunately in my opinion) eschews the spiritual and reproductive questions which so profoundly define women’s lives. Regarding your questions about the military and female service, you might enjoy the papers here, http://www.iwf.org/topics/topic/51.html.

      Regarding the theoretical differences between radical feminism and New Feminism with respect to your concerns about female service personnel stationed in harm’s way, I have a couple of thoughts. The radical feminist movement – a form of extreme individualism – opened these “opportunities” for women without regard to impact on the family or women’s gender/sexual differences. It was a fanatical exercise in equality as sameness. “Opportunities”, of course, quickly morph into “duty” and “expectations” and “expediences” that pollute and even displace voluntary, discerned pursuit, even tempting people into immoral acts against God. I have no doubt that there are women in high risk positions who are not pursuing an authentic vocation.

      New Feminism recognizes that there is no work which a woman, theoretically, cannot do, and, perhaps, do “as well” or even “better” than a male counterpart, but New Feminism emphasizes that there are positions less suitable (even unavailable for theological reasons) to women by virtue of their gender/sex design and priorities. What New Feminism claims for each woman is the opportunity, duty and expectation of finding their fulfillment in God. The personal resources of femininity are certainly no less than the resources of masculinity: they are merely different. Hence a woman, as well as a man, must understand her “fulfilment” as a person, her dignity and vocation, on the basis of these resources, according to the richness of the femininity which she received on the day of creation and which she inherits as an expression of the “image and likeness of God” that is specifically hers. (John Paul II, MD).

      Does this mean some women will discern service in high risk positions in the armed forces as God’s will for them? ~Probably – if they do so, thereby exposing their spouses, children and/or loved ones to the risk of grave loss, they will hopefully do so prayerfully, in communion with Christ and with (in my opinion) the rich spiritual guidance Christ offers us through the Church.

      Does this help?

    • Kamilla

      Marjorie,

      You said, in your point #10 above, “I will espouse no theory of New Feminism unattached from the reality in which women live, love, and struggle to develop in their God-given fullness, alongside the men who support them in a determination to represent God’s love through our gender differences.”

      This concerns me because of my experience with Evangelical “Feminism” or Egalitarianism (as they prefer). Their entire raison d’etre is to defend “the reality in which women live”. They have looked at the world and said the Church (in their case, Protestant churches) has unjustly repressed women because it hasn’t caught up to the egalitarianism of society. Their response would be that such reality is precisely why we need Egalitarianism in the church. We can deal with reality or we can deal with reality – and I think any authentic Christianity as expressed by women requires a lot of what OSC mentioned in his point #4, sacrifice.

      The trouble is that too few of us are willing to sacrifice to live how we, perhaps, should. This is one of the themes of Stephen Clark in his excellent book, “Man and Woman in Christ” — that we can’t live how we have tended to live in our technological society and also have genuine, biblical, sex “roles”. And too few of us are willing to look at the chasm between what is and what (perhaps) should be and how we get there, if we get there at all. In other words, what sacrifices *should* we be willing to make in order to live biblical (Catholic) lives?

      I am blessed to know a few young mothers who are willing to make those sacrifices. One friend of mine, with her husband, is raising three children in a 1000 sq ft home. Others I know are adept at “Freecycling” re-cycling and “upcycling” along with dumpster diving – I believe one young family has furnished virtually their entire apartment by doing that. Another young mom stays home with her four children and gives private piano lessons out of the home for extra income.

      These are the kinds of young families, young mothers and wives, who give the lie to the “reality” so many of us believe is the only possibility in our culture.

      I also have just a question about point #4. Shouldn’t that be the father’s job?

      I know we’ve “talked” about feminism before and whether or not the concept is in any way redeemable. I’ve, sadly, come to the conclusion that it is not. There is far too much baggage to get around, and I don’t think the term’s needed or helpful in any way. I gave almost five years to the project of trying to make Christianity and Utilitarianism meet in something more than a glancing blow, to no avail. Unsurprisingly, I was steered in that direction by my *very* Egalitarian advisor at Denver Seminary. It just looks to me as if “New Feminism” is the same sort of futile project. And, if I am not mistaken, JPII later expressed regret for his use of the term.

      Kamilla

    • Vince

      I really get tired of this idea that there is one way to be Catholic. Some of you people need to visit other countries where devout Catholics live and work. The idea that women are designed to stay home and do domestic chores is a modern, North American, Protestant ethic, and frankly, a luxury, though I know many people make sacrifices to do it. But this has not existed throughout history nor does it exist in many countries outside of the West. Other cultures value family and community much more than the USA and Europe and yet do not hold rigid gender roles in the way many of you do. Motherhood does not prohibit women from doing all kinds of things to help this sorry world. Women as do men have many different callings by God. I don’t care either way about using the word “feminism.” The problem is, it’s too broad a term — everyone defines it differently. In so far as it means being for women, great. Too many places in the world still treat women as second class citizens. Travel more and find out for yourself.

    • Kamilla

      Yeah, yeah, yeah, us old narrow-minded bigots just need to get out and see more of the world.

      Right. Of course.

      Never mind that the idea that women are to stay at home comes from is not from some mythical “protestant ethic” but from Scripture itself. Titus 2 and keepers at home and all that, don’t you know?

      Kamilla

      P.S. I’ll let you have a peak at my passport if you ask real nice.

    • Kamilla

      Never mind that the idea that women are to stay at home comes not from some mythical “protestant ethic” but from Scripture itself. Titus 2 and keepers at home and all that, don’t you know?

      That’s better, can’t type, can’t edit myself. What’s a girl to do?

      The offer of a peEk at my passport has been changed – I now require $1 for said peek in order to build up a fund for typing and editing classes, ha.[smiley=tongue]

      Kamilla

    • Marjorie Campbell

      Marjorie, I also have just a question about point #4. Shouldn’t that be the father’s job?

      If you are referring to keeping pornography out of the home, my answer is “No.” It’s a “job” that belongs to every member of the home and community. Want to get me started on this evil?

    • Kamilla

      Marjorie,

      No – I don’t want to get you started, I don’t want to get *me* started, either! It just struck me funny, the way you wrote that one, as if it was primarily *your* job.

      Perhaps not so strangely, the one Egalitarian marriage that we (my old group of Egal friends) thought was both genuinely happy and genuinely Egalitarian broke up over the husband’s refusal to do anything about his addiction to porn. Now I know why I always thought there was something not quite good and “nice” about him.

      Kamilla

    • Donna

      Never mind that the idea that women are to stay at home comes from is not from some mythical “protestant ethic” but from Scripture itself. Titus 2 and keepers at home and all that, don’t you know?

      Kamilla, you might want to be careful about how literal you want to get when it comes to gender roles and behaviors. By your approach here, women should also be covering their heads at Mass and the vocation of marriage is really a choice you should make only if you don’t want to burn in hell because of sexual sin (St. Paul). The list goes on. In the Catholic faith, how we interpret Scripture is very important. It is indeed the Sacred Word of God, but lots can be justified by proof texting. The Catholic Church places motherhood as the most dignified calling of all, but doesn’t claim women “belong at home.” Modern popes wrote and spoke about the importance of bringing the feminine genius to all spheres of life, while not neglecting the paramount role of being life-bearers.

    • Ana C.

      Yeah, yeah, yeah, us old narrow-minded bigots just need to get out and see more of the world.

      That was a little bit of an over reaction to Vince’s point, don’t you think? Having lived in various parts of the world myself, I think some of the views expressed here ARE a bit narrow-minded and ignorant because they do not recognize cultural and historical influences on gender roles, and can’t seem to make distinctions between authentic womanhood and domestic chores.

      Throughout the world, devout Christian women create homes and raise children… at the same time that they work, whether in the fields, or at various crafts and professions. The majority of microloans go to women in the developing world. Catholics in America think the middle class suburban housewife is the model Christian woman, unless she’s a home-steader in a skirt and apron homeschooling 10 kids. As fine as those are, this can not be applied as the only model of Catholic womanhood, and is not the only way to live Biblically as a daughter of God.

    • Ana C.
    • Kamilla

      Donna and Ana C.,

      As Mr. Karlson so aptly pointed out earlier in the thread, we don’t all speak to everything all the time. Titus 2 doesn’t preclude Proverbs 31 – in fact it rather requires it.

      As for overreacting, I don’t think so. It’s a common ploy which the “broader minded” like to use to dismiss those of a more “narrow mind” and needs to be stomped on for the fallacy it is. You’ll just have to forgive me if I take the assessment of my friend in Zambia over yours (I sent him a link to this thread).

      Kamilla

    • Kamilla
    • jetpilot

      Its heartening to see a discussion on feminism come back to Mary, because Mary is the model of the feminine, the new Eve.

      Mary is the woman of Revelation who is clothed with the sun, with a crown of twelve stars, with the moon (the Devil) under her feet.

      Feminists crave power. Mary has more power than anyone except God Himself, yet is more humble than the humblest saint. “I am the handmaid of the Lord, may it be done to me according to thy word”. I tremble when I say those words, they are words of humility, but they have more power than Krakatoa or Vesuvius in full eruption, they render the words of the most learned of men to the realm of the dribblings of an infant.

      Feminists crave control over their bodies, for them their bodies are their own property to do with as they wish, yet in doing so they make it a plaything for men to do with as they wish, and for abortion medics to invade and cut, slice, maim and kill. I’m glad for all the mentions of Titus ch2 because today’s second reading is from this book and says that we have been bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus. Our bodies don’t belong to us.

      Mary understood that. She was in the prime of her life when Gabriel made his announcement. Unfortunately today the typical beautiful young virgin in the prime of her life looks forward to a life of debauchery with no care for the regret that will come in 20 or 30 years, or the blackening of her soul that will inevitably ensue. This is freedom? This is control of her body?

      How beautiful are the virgins who knew that their bodies weren’t their own. Saints Ebba, Appolonia, Alexandrina, and of course Maria Goretti, who died rather than allow what wasn’t theirs to give. Their bodies had been ransomed by Jesus, they did not belong to them.

      In craving control of their bodies, feminists give it up to all and sundry, and their souls to the Devil. In ceding control to Jesus, Mary gives her body to the Lord and the Devil falls under her feet.

      Humility brings power, especially over the Devil. Pride belongs to the Devil and he is the prince of darkness and the gatekeeper of Death.

      If TNF is real, they would need just one word – Mary.

    • georgie-ann

      i agree with you, jetpilot,…& am happy to see your post,…Mary was/is humble, obedient,…she is pure,…i believe she is truly wise and can lead us into much truth,…

      a mention was made somewhere on these boards recently, about finding “inner peace” as being self-indulgent, self-serving,…(???),…if anyone has “inner peace,” i’m sure it would be Mary, and it wouldn’t be something to be ashamed of,…it would be a sign of her harmonious relationship to/with the Godhead,…

      it would seem to me that we (as women) can do no better than to love and emulate Mary, our God-given pattern for redemption (leading us to Christ),…a deep inner change, a reconciliation with God, peace, love, contentment, harmony,…these are qualities the world, and men, need us (as women) to have,…imho,…

      God Bless,…

    • Martin

      I refuse to believe that a conceited, zero sum ideology that is inimical to men and boys (the latter of whom definitely do not deserve it) is integral to Catholicism.

      John Paul II was a good man and the best Pope we could have hoped for in the wake of the “Spirit of Vatican II” fallout but he was also someone whose language was incredibly florid and imprecise.

      Believing that women and men are fully equal in personhood is not a feminist principle. It is a Christian one.

      The fact that Christians have been rather lousy at living that out (I can hear the mental cries: “You mean MEN, MEN!) is no reason to buy into a creed that has some, if only very little, congruance in its aims.

      Feminists, it seems to me, prefer a bevy of pragmatic victim narratives (those that tend to favour bourgeois white women, especially) over open, honest and equal dialogue with men.

      Tragically, it seems many are unwilling to give up an arsenal of presumptions and out-and-out prejudices that ascribe a priori blame in favour of really understanding men.

      In my local area (somewhere in Australia), one thing you won’t hear “New Feminists” do is talk about their own faults and the things they need to change, particularly in their relationships with and behaviour towards men.

      They, afterall, are oppressed, no matter how young they are or how privileged their upbringing.

      It is men who need to change, and indeed we do, but not according to edicts issued on high from holier-than-thou women but from a God who is the embodiment of “radical empathy for the other” rather than mere lipservice to it.

    • Kamilla

      Martin,

      Sometimes you can look at something, study it, life with it, stare at it and just not “get” what’s wrong with it. You know something’s not quite right, you try to redeem it, but you never it is never, finally redeemable.

      And then someone new comes along and (seemingly) tosses off one-liner that just zings right to the heart of the matter and ou bang your head against the wall for not having seen it yourslef.

      Zero sum game — of course!

      Kamilla

    • Kamilla

      ack again! you live with it . . . you know it is never, finally redeemable.

    • Marjorie Campbell

      Feminists, it seems to me, prefer a bevy of pragmatic victim narratives (those that tend to favour bourgeois white women, especially) over open, honest and equal dialogue with men.

      Sadly, until we attempt to exchange with “open, honest” dialogue and presumptions of goodwill, there will be no discussion moving toward understanding each other in Christ. I read comments like this one with a very heavy sense of the hurt you, Martin, might be feeling. But side swipes at John Paul II for being “imprecise” and digs at the authors here for being “conceited” are unjust and wrong, if that’s what you intended. Henry Karlson’s considered column, rich in resource and reflection, was anything but a “zero sum ideology”. Perhaps, though, I’ve misread your comment, Martin, and you are expressing some quite legitimate, reasonable criticism of radicial feminists, with which I might entirely agree.

    • Kamilla

      Marjorie,

      Just a final note from me — Martin expresses precisely what I have found in the world of Evangelical Feminism (Egalitarianism). Dale O’Leary writes about much the same problem in her essay on Feminism (available at EWTN). Whether they have gone completely off the rails or otherwise look like a “normal” evangelical, the victim narrative is a narrative Egalitarians share.

      What O’Leary says in her essay, and what I have found to be true, is that a lack of forgiveness is what prevents the conversation from moving forward. Usually it is against their father, if not their father, it is always a male who stands in a relationship of authority to them. Because of this root of bitterness they harbour, it doesn’t matter how open, honest or gentle you are — they are simply incapable of hearing what you have to say. It it this which requires deep, consistent long-term prayer (I know it did in may case).

      Now, since I am not Catholic (though I sometimes play one on the internet[smiley=cool]), I think I had better leave this discussion to those of you who are. You are, of course, welcome to contact me through the link to my blog!

      Kamilla

    • I am not Spartacus

      TNF is very defensive and loathe to take a position on a few simple straight-forward questions. Maybe fear of being called sexist, sorry, genderist, is the beginning of wisdom. Who knows?

      I doubt TNF would refuse to take a position on abortion.

      But, questions about Women/Mothers in Combat/Military are described as traps – revealing where TNF really stands.

      If TNF thinks men and women are essentially interchangeable when it comes to the military, then why not say so?

      Then further on in the discussion, I read this:

      Does this mean some women will discern service in high risk positions in the armed forces as God’s will for them?

      Thanks for the response. TNF, it appears, will try to support and succor some of the indefensible insanity of the old feminists.

      ~Probably – if they do so, thereby exposing their spouses, children and/or loved ones to the risk of grave loss, they will hopefully do so prayerfully, in communion with Christ and with (in my opinion) the rich spiritual guidance Christ offers us through the Church.

      If you have one Magisterial referent for such an notion, I’d love to read it but I do not think you, or any other adherent of TNF, can supply one.

      Holy Mother Church does not think Mothers ought be abandoning their families so they can serve as a Chief of a CIA Base in a foreign country rather than staying at home raising her children.

      And I would be hard-pressed to come-up with an idea more flat out absurd than that idea.

      It seems to me that TNF is succoring the disordered will of an individual – a Mother – while ignoring the needs/desires of her children and all of her duties and responsibilities as a Christian.

      She doesn’t need men supporting her delusions, she needs psychiatric help.

      “Daddy, I don’t feel well. When is Mommy coming home?”

      “Honey. Mommy volunteered to work for the CIA in Afghanistan and we don’t know how long she will be there. But you, and Sally, and Timmy, have to be brave and pray that Mommy will be home in time to see you graduate from High School.”

      “How come Mommy didn’t want to stay home with us, Daddy?”

      “Well, Mommy felt God called her to be the CIA Base Chief in Afghanistan.”

      “Daddy, could Mommy have stayed home with us instead of going to work for The CIA?”

      “Yes. But she feels that God called had a more important job for her than just being a Mommy.”

      Such ideas are revolutionary and are anchored in an ideology which completely rejects the 2000+ year Tradition of the Catholic Church

      Does this help?

      Yes. It did. I appreciate the candor. Thank you.

      Finally, seeing as how this is the time for the NFL Playoffs try to imaging a Mother claiming she feels called by God to enter the NFL Draft in the spring.

      Roger Goddell would tell her to forget it. She ain’t eligible for the NFL Draft despite her claims God has called Mommy to be a Middle Linebacker for the Oakland Raiders.

      And as for women claiming they feel called by God to be a Priest…

      I assume TNF are opposed to being reconciled to that claim.

      Feminism has made wimps out of a lot of men and they are fearful to laugh-out-loud at some of this madness or stand-up and denounce certain crazy ideas as crazy or to come forward and identify certain ideas as unworthy of being called Christian.

      And I do not see how TNF is going to make males begin to act like men again.

    • Martin

      Marjorie and Henry et al,

      I apologise for the terse and accusatory tone of my previous post having just re-read it.

      It was wrong of me to mention the new feminist women (and men) that contribute to discussion here in the same breath as people I feel to be misandrists.

      I don’t doubt your good will no matter how much I might disagree with your analyses and prescriptions.

      I think I will take some of my own advice (and Christ’s) and focus on my own faults and opportunities to change.

      All the best with your resolutions.

      God bless,

      Martin

    • I am not Spartacus

      MULIERIS DIGNITATEM

      He shall rule over you” (Gen 3:16) must not under any condition lead to the “masculinization” of women. In the name of liberation from male “domination”, women must not appropriate to themselves male characteristics contrary to their own feminine “originality”. There is a well-founded fear that if they take this path, women will not “reach fulfilment”, but instead will deform and lose what constitutes their essential richness

      We must now focus our meditation on virginity and motherhood as two particular dimensions of the fulfillment of the female personality

    • georgie-ann

      attempting to define/redefine/clarify a “new feminine paradigm,” even in part based on the conditions of the fallen world as it exists in this hour, and based on temporal “conditions” that women just happen to find themselves immersed in, is probably setting up an improper mix of conceptual contexts for one to be able to “see”/ascertain clearly where the foundational “truth” of a woman’s reality is located,…

      just as i take many relatively “new” conveniences for granted, as “givens” in this life (that were unheard of in my grandmother’s day), younger women are finding themselves born into the middle of many cultural paradoxes that they also will be inclined to accept as “givens” as well,…however, should they?,…

      MULIERIS DIGNITATEM

      “He shall rule over you” (Gen 3:16) must not under any condition lead to the “masculinization” of women. In the name of liberation from male “domination”, women must not appropriate to themselves male characteristics contrary to their own feminine “originality”. There is a well-founded fear that if they take this path, women will not “reach fulfilment”, but instead will deform and lose what constitutes their essential richness…”

      great quote!,…finding the appropriate forms for feminine identity, reality & function, within the God-given, God-structured realms of Creation, with a willingness to find, fulfill and actualize harmonious and grateful “service” unto God with one’s whole being, should really be a well-considered starting point,…

      from such a vantage point, consideration of what may or may not be appropriate personally, or as “worldly” options, should become more clear,…

      beginning from the “outside in” can only lead to confusion,…i sense that “simplification” will also be a necessary part of this search, inner & outer,…just as “keeping up with the Joneses” has been shown to be a fairly frenetic, fruitless, futile exercise in the long run, we need to learn “where to look” for our helpful information & guidance,…

    • Laura

      I am genuinely shocked that any of you consider this feminism, I struggled through reading the article and I could only skim the comments but I think I get the gist of what you all believe is feminism and I am genuinely shocked. I am a self declared feminist but really????? ” Honor my husband. I will not stay up and write past 3:00 a.m. more than once a week — and I will try to do so only when my husband is away. He is my first and greatest gift; I ought to spend the night with him, not this keyboard.” and “Children first. I will, in word and deed, put the well-being of children foremost. I will remember my primary role as nurturer and teacher, even when I would like to lock my sons in their respective closets.” Really????? I am a good and faithful Catholic but for you all to hold up John Paul II as though he was actually a good feminist is appalling I am a woman who does not desire to be just like Mary Mother of God instead I want to be a fully and active meber of my Church which my Baptism says that I deserve and am called to be yet my Church seems to glaze over that fact and so do all of you I cant believe you call your selves any kind of feminists, this is the first time I read this website but be assured it will not be the last because you need to watched and I need to be constantly reminded that you exist in the Church I love.

      If you dont post this that is fine since it means that you will have read it and that it proves my point