Is Feminism a Heresy?

The following essay first appeared in Disorientation: How to Go to College Without Losing Your Mind, ed., John Zmirak. It is reprinted with permission of the publisher.


You might be surprised to hear feminism described as a “heresy.” Like most Americans, you may assume that the feminist movement simply asserts that women are full members of the human race, equal to men in dignity and intellect, and equally deserving of opportunities to develop their gifts. In fact, Feminism is harder to pin down than many of the errors addressed by my fellow authors, because its advocates typically avoid defining the term. In consequence, “Feminism” takes on whatever color a listener gives it. So persistent is this ambiguity that even now, few have more than a vague notion of its real nature.

Some highly reputable Catholics call themselves “pro-life feminists,” and maintain that Feminism, if it could be purged of its attachment to abortion on demand, would be fundamentally good and compatible with the Faith.


Test Yourself: Are You a Feminist?

Few young women today aspire to emulate the ferocious, bra-burning militants of the 1960s. As mounting numbers of college students tell pollsters they question the morality of most abortions, old feminist slogans like “Abortion on Demand, Without Apology” make sane people wince. Nevertheless, most of us in the West have, often unwittingly, absorbed feminist premises that involve a wholesale re-evaluation of human nature and family life, and are in many respects incompatible with Christianity.

At its core, Feminism teaches that:

  • Men and women tend to behave differently because of social conditioning, not because there are innate biological and psychological differences between them.
  • The chief reason women have been less often represented in the first ranks of public achievement in scholarship, the arts, politics, and war, is that in every human society of which we have evidence, throughout all of recorded history, they were repressed by a patriarchal power structure maintained through force and indoctrination.
  • Because large numbers of children in a family constitute both a barrier to the advancement of women and a threat to our ecology, small families should be the cultural norm.
  • It is unjust that the consequences of sexual behavior are biologically unequal for men and women. As much as possible, those consequences must be equalized through medical technology and reformed cultural attitudes.
  • To find meaning in their lives, women should look first to their careers, rather than to their role as lifegivers, culture bearers, nurturers, and educators of the next generation of human beings.
  • Women who regard themselves as mothers first are wasting their education and smothering their talents by staying home to raise their children.

Thirty years of close study of Feminism in action, as well as reading hundreds of books written by its advocates, and attending scores of conferences held by feminists who called themselves Catholics (or at least “religious”), inform these conclusions. Reflect on them, and ask yourself honestly: does some part of you accept one or more of them? If so, then you have, to that degree, been infected with the feminist virus.

Our purpose here is not only to define Feminism but also to determine whether being a feminist is compatible with being a Christian. In any such assessment, an ideology must be judged by its “body count.” We need not argue political theory with proponents of National Socialism; we can simply point to the Holocaust. Apologists for Soviet Communism must take into account the millions who perished in the gulag. Feminists, too, must evaluate an overwhelmingly ugly fact: since 1970, more than fifty million unborn American babies have died by their mother’s choice at the hands of abortionists. That is Feminism’s body count.


Feminism’s Marxist Roots

A brief historical review helps to explain how Feminism was transformed from an eccentric opinion held by a few highly educated and discontented women to an ideology that revolutionized society’s views about how to found families and how to live in them.

Make no mistake: Feminism has had that kind of power. And it has sought it. The leading “mainstream” feminist group in America, the National Organization for Women (NOW) said in its 1966 statement of goals that it would settle for nothing less than

a sex role revolution for men and women which will restructure all our institutions: childrearing, education, marriage and the family, medicine, work, politics, the economy, religion, psychological theory, human sexuality, morality, and the very evolution of the race.[i]

Where did feminists get the idea that family life needed a “revolution”? From those specialists in revolution, the Marxists (see Chapter 13). In his 1884 treatise, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, Karl Marx’s best friend and co-author, Frederich Engels, asserted that the “bourgeois” family with its division of labor—men working, women raising children—was one of the greatest obstacles to the achievement of a socialist society. Engels argued that this barrier should be dismantled by encouraging women to see themselves as an oppressed class, like exploited factory workers, who must engage in Marxist “class warfare” against their fathers and husbands. Of course, “class warfare” in the workplace has been condemned by numerous popes, including Leo XIII and Pius XI.[ii] Applying that socialist principle to the intimate relations of the family is even more destructive: women who accept such a principle cease to see the family as a unit joined by common goals, and instead feel morally justified in seeking their own selfish interests—at the expense not just of their husbands but of their children. If a woman’s own children can be her enemies, it is no wonder that feminists came to endorse first contraception and then abortion as central requirements for the progress of women in society.


From Class Struggle to Contraception

It is true, as “pro-life feminists” like to say, that early feminists like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton accepted the belief, common in their era, that abortion is a barbaric crime committed by selfish men against women victims. Most nineteenth century suffragists thought that women voters, with their presumably nobler morality, would heal a world wounded by male selfishness. But their fundamental premise—that women were an oppressed social class, a “domestic proletariat”— eventually eroded the wholesome social principles they had inherited from a deeply Christian society. Today there is not a single major feminist organization that does not support government-funded contraception and abortion on demand. Opposing either of those demands gets women drummed out of such organizations, just as pro-life female candidates for office find themselves opposed by such high-powered feminist fundraising groups as Emily’s List—whose litmus test is support for Roe v. Wade.

Even in its Victorian stages, Feminism’s implicit assumption, that wives and husbands are opponents locked in a power struggle, was corrosive of society. The words of suffragist leaders reveal that, like Engels and Marx, they wanted to do away with traditional family roles. The suffragists did not call on society to value woman’s distinctive and irreplaceable contributions as mothers and teachers of young people—who sometimes, out of necessity, had to work outside the home. Instead, they called on women to reject their natural vocation in order to live like men. In 1868, suffragist leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton, herself a married mother of seven, advocated birth control and equated traditional marriage with prostitution. She went on to say:

Our idea is that every woman of sound mind and body, with brains and two hands, is more noble, virtuous, and happy in supporting herself. So long as a woman is dependent on a man, her relation to him will be a false one, either in marriage or out of it; she will despise herself and hate him whose desires she gratifies for the necessities of life; the children of such unions must needs be unloved and deserted.[iii]

 A libertarian might suppose Feminism to be merely a strategy to give women more options, enabling those not called to motherhood to achieve other highly valued positions in society. Alas, no. For women who don’t embrace their agenda, feminists tend to advocate coercion instead of liberty. Simone de Beauvoir, author of the pioneering feminist work The Second Sex, admitted as much in 1975:

[A]s long as the family and the myth of the family and the myth of maternity and the maternal instinct are not destroyed, women will still be oppressed…. No woman should be authorized to stay at home and raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one. It is a way of forcing women in a certain direction.[iv]

The Catholic Alternative

In contrast to the bleak vision of family life held by feminists, the Church has always taught that the family, not the individual, is the basic unit of society. Children are gifts from God, to be cherished in love and educated for life in Christ, and a just society must ensure that a mother has adequate means to stay home with her children, doing that irreplaceable work. Because of this, as Leo XIII and Pius XI wrote with papal authority,[v] a working man has a right in justice to a living wage—that is, a salary that can support his family in decent comfort. Indeed, as Allan Carlson documents in The Family Way,[vi] by the end of the Second World War, most American employers—influenced by politically active Catholics close to Franklin Roosevelt— were paying “family wages”—that is, offering higher wages to married men with children than to single or childless employees. The practice prevailed widely until 1964, when it was outlawed as “sex discrimination” by the Civil Rights Act. Ironically, that otherwise valuable legislation stripped from every mother the basic right to be supported as she cares for her baby—and replaced it with the feminist objective of uniform pay for anonymous workers in factories or offices.


From Contraception to Abortion

In the context of the times, it is not surprising that birth control crusader Margaret Sanger found her most eager recruits among the feminists of the 1920s. They sought as she did to reduce the “plague” of large families among the “less fit” immigrant ethnic groups who were filling up America’s cities. Feminists who shared Sanger’s eugenic concern for creating a “higher” human race through selective breeding influenced the passage of laws in thirteen American states requiring sterilization for those who fell below a certain norm on IQ tests. Feminists who did not join in Sanger’s eugenic crusade were nevertheless led by concern for female autonomy to champion the use of contraceptive devices in marriage.[vii] Practices once confined to prostitutes were now hailed as the key to happy marriage, by organizations with innocuous sounding names like “Women’s Health Project,” “Family Planning Associates” and, most well-known, “Planned Parenthood.”

Inspired in part by feminist arguments, the Church of England in 1930 became the first Christian denomination in history to endorse the use of artificial birth control. Even well-meaning Christians, misled by such propaganda, joined notorious public figures and philanthropic foundations as Planned Parenthood benefactors. Donors’ names range from advice columnist Abigail Van Buren to Johnny Carson, Senator Barry Goldwater, Bill and Melinda Gates, Barbra Streisand, Ted Turner, and Jane Fonda. Eventually most other churches followed the Anglican example, leaving a single holdout—the Catholic Church.

Yet, by the late 1950s and early 1960s, many Catholics—consciously or not—had also accepted the feminist premise that women must be freed from the “burden” of frequent child-bearing to take their place alongside men as breadwinners. During the late 1960s, in the wake of changes introduced in the name of the Second Vatican Council (some authorized, many improvised), it was widely expected that Pope Paul VI would grant permission for Catholics to use artificial birth control. Promoters urged the Church to approve “the Pill,” a recently invented form of hormonal contraception. The argument wouldn’t have gained traction if it had been generally known then that the Pill doesn’t always prevent conception, but instead can cause an early abortion.

In 1968, to general consternation, Pope Paul VI issued the historic encyclical Humanae Vitae, reaffirming the Church’s two-thousand year teaching that marital relations are naturally ordered toward reproduction and that we may not employ artificial means to frustrate either the procreative or the unitive purposes of the sexual act. In the document, the pope issued grave warnings about the consequences likely to follow pervasive acceptance of contraception. His prophecies were casually dismissed—but almost all of them have come to pass.

Badly advised by dissenting priests, theologians, and even bishops, most American Catholics rejected the Church’s teaching, and secular society proceeded along the path Paul VI had warned against. Among a majority of Catholics, expectations about marriage have been formed by secular culture and feminist ideology, not by the Church’s teaching on lifelong sacramental union. Separating sexual pleasure from procreation led to the degradation of women and the cheapening of sex. Premarital sex became routine; unmarried cohabitation, unwed pregnancy, and single parenthood were soon accepted in every social class. In large sections of our population, fatherless families are now the norm.[viii] Sexually transmitted diseases and consequent infertility are pandemic. More than at any time since late pagan Rome, society nonchalantly tolerates sexual exploitation, abortion, and pornography. Children are sexualized at ever younger ages, as provocative clothing is marketed toward girls still below the age of puberty, and “comprehensive sex education” instructs elementary school students in perversions. Divorce and remarriage have lost any social stigma, even among Catholics: the Vatican has had to intervene to stem a deluge of casually granted annulments.

Single mothers with children make up the majority of the newly poor. Three generations of latch-key children have grown up neglected, emotionally stunted victims of fatherlessness and inadequate mothering, in a culture warped into moral confusion by perverse sex education, doctrinally empty religious instruction, coarsely sexualized television, and raw pornography online. For the first time in our history, married women are more likely to be employed than married men, and according to the 2007 U.S. Census Bureau Report “Families and Living Arrangements,”[ix] only one woman in four with children under fifteen stays home to care for them.


Was It Worth the Price?

Few families have benefited even financially from the loss of the full-time mother. The demise of the “family wage” means that it now takes two full-time workers to provide a living standard comparable to that once earned by a male breadwinner. So most women remain trapped in the labor force out of economic need, trying to raise their children in their spare time. On that point, feminists like Simone de Beauvoir got what they wanted.

Explaining why he became a Catholic, G.K. Chesterton, wittiest of English converts, once wrote that the Faith “…is the only thing that frees a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age.”[x] What the Faith offers in place of transient fads is the perennial truth about the human condition: why God made us, what kind of lives He wants us to live, what choices will lead us to the eternal happiness He intends for us. The Church knows that men and women are not interchangeable units. God created them in two sexes so they can unite in voluntary, permanent, loving, sacramental marriage covenants, and there raise up souls to God. It is hardly necessary to point out the mother’s irreplaceable role in that enterprise.

Consistently, the popes have called the relationship between husband and wife one of equality in dignity and complementarity in function. Pope John Paul II was ridiculed when he cautioned men not to treat their wives as objects of lust, though what he advocated was the very mutuality feminists claim they seek.[xi]

The sole advantage of living in a lawless time is that you can refuse to be a child of your age. Almost everyone in this workers’ society is too preoccupied with his own place on the treadmill to pay much attention to your eccentricities. What devastated our culture was the flight of mothers from their homes. Society is drowning in the consequences, but nothing prevents you and your family from living your lives differently. Our culture will never be restored until women again take up rearing their children as their chief and indispensable task—and men make the sacrifices needed to support them in that decision. While aggressive forces continue to push the nation toward family disintegration, a healthy resistance movement is awake and growing. It is made up of uncompromising religious believers, pro-lifers, and homeschoolers, both organized and autonomous, along with back-to-the-land agrarians and Tea Party independents. One Virginia women’s organization summed things up in a bumper sticker reading “Be Countercultural: Raise Your Own Kids.”.

An appetite for achievement is built into human nature. If women choose to model their lives on the Valiant Woman of Proverbs (31:10-31) by raising and educating their children in a genuinely Christian environment, they will have to find ways to present them with a culture no longer found in society’s mainstream. This will be their most demanding, most absorbing, most gratifying task, requiring all their gifts, but eminently worth doing. Human imperfection always makes the future uncertain, but choosing freedom offers you and your family the best hope of finding joy in a deeply Catholic life.


Recommended Reading:

Domestic Tranquility: A Brief Against Feminism, by F. Carolyn Graglia (Dallas, TX: Spence Publishing, 1998).

Men and Marriage, by George Gilder (Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 1992).

The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality, by Mary Pride (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1985).

The Flipside of Feminism: What Conservative Women Know — and Men Can’t Say, by Suzanne Venker and Phyllis Schlafly (WND Publishing, 2011).

A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue, by Wendy Shalit (Austin, TX: Touchstone, 2000).


[i]               As cited in The New Freedom: Individualism and Collectivism in the Social Lives of Americans by William A. Donohue (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1990), 59.

[ii]               See Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum, no. 19; Pius XI, Divini Redemptoris, no. 9.

[iii]              Elizabeth Cady Stanton, in The Revolution, viii, March 1868. For Stanton’s support for contraception, see Jean H. Baker, Sisters: The Lives of America’s Suffragists (New York: Hill and Wang, 2005), 106-109.

[iv]              “Sex, Society, and the Female Dilemma,” Saturday Review, June 14, 1975.

[v]               See Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum, no. 65; Pius XI, Quadrigesimo Anno, no. 71.

[vi]              Wilmington, DE: Intercollegiate Studies Institute Books, 2003.

[vii]             For a full history, see Blessed Are the Barren: The Social Policy of Planned Parenthood, by Robert G. Marshall and Charles A. Donovan (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1991).

[viii]             There are countless studies supporting these grim assertions. For a brief overview, see “The Decline of Marriage,” by James Q. Wilson ( For much more information, visit

[ix]              See

[x]               G.K. Chesterton, The Catholic Church and Conversion (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006), originally published in 1926.

[xi]              Mulieris Dignitatem (1988), no. 10


Donna Steichen’s first book, "Ungodly Rage: The Hidden Face of Catholic Feminism,"(Ignatius Press), stirred up a storm among feminists when it was published in 1991. Her most recent book is "Chosen: How Christ Sent Twenty-Three Surprised Converts to Replant His Vineyard" (Ignatius Press, 2009).

  • Gian

    The heresy of the feminism essentially lies in the denial of the subjection of wives. All the rest is secondary.

    • herewegokids7


  • Michael PS

    Am I alone in finding an eerie similarity between the “Truce of 1968,” when the Church declined to discipline dissenters from Humanae Vitae ” and the “Peace of Clement IX” during the Jansenist controversy?

    In both cases, after the Church had been riven by a decade-long dispute, a papal document was issued that was intended to be definitive.

    In both cases, the original quarrel was immediately forgotten and argument raged over the scope of papal authority to decide the question. In the Jansenist case, peace, of a sort, was achieved, when Pope Clement IX brokered an agreement that neither side would argue the question, at least, from the pulpit.

    The “Peace of Clement IX” lasted for about 35 years and ended in 1705 when Clement XI declared the clergy could no longer hide behind “respectful silence.” Eventually, in 1713, he issued Unigenitus and demanded the subscription of the clergy to it. There was enormous resistance, with bishops and priests appealing to a future Council (and being excommunicated for their pains, in 1718). As late as 1756, dissenters were still being denied the Last Rites.

    Will the “Truce of 1968” end in a similar fashion?

  • Mark Millward

    A masterly synthesis of the most profound evils of our age. Evils which without doubt propagate evils in other aspects of our lives and culture.

    Nevertheless, let us not forget that the sins of the sisterhood of feminism have roots in the sins, both of commission and omission, of men. The truth of mutual submission between husband and wife is too beautiful and profound to be rejected were it not for the coming together of opportunity (brought about through profound industrial / economic, social and philosphical change) and provocation.

    It is grievous to have to observe that the normalised perversions of the day make it profoundly difficult for man and woman to regain this mutual understanding, respect and love. Difficult, but not impossible, and the seedbed of future Saints.

  • Theresa

    This article totally ignores the complexities of family life. Not every family, no matter how Christian, is made of the same ingredients. If a women is not blessed with fertility, does she have no important and indispensable task?

    The flight of women into the work force has done incredible things for family life and for our culture. There is a huge movement for breastfeeding mothers bring their babies to work. There are movements within academia to provide better childcare, healthcare and family support for parents pursuing PhDs. There are movements within corporations to provide family education classes to their employees.
    None of this would be possible if women and children were restricted to the home.

    The worst thing about this article is that it incorporates a vague religiosity which is confusing to a lot of people who really want to do the right thing.

    • trad_cat

      “If a women is not blessed with fertility, does she have no important and indispensable task?”
      Strawman. See Genesis 2:20

      ” provide better childcare”
      Better than a mother doing it?

      • Theresa

        I don’t understand what your arguement is. Are you against women working/pursuing hugher education or are you against the use of childcare?

        My other point was that families are so diverse that its impossible for each family to use the same method. Some fathers are unable to work so the mothers works. Some couples don’t have children and both work. Some mothers are widowed or have left an abusive husband and so they work. For my family, my husband is in school so I work to support us. I have a career that I love. I don’t belive that any of these situations are heresy. Do you?

        • trad_cat

          The highest good is a woman focusing on raising the children. Every career is meaningless compared to the value of raising children well and women are best equipped to do that raising and educating. It is a deception fabricated by feminists that working in a dreary (or even exciting) career or corrupt politics is better than focusing on the family. Anecdotal situations do not make the normalization of breaking down this highest good legitimate. Your enjoyment of your career does not alleviate your responsibility to raise your children just as a man’s non enjoyment of his career would not alleviate his responsibility to earn a living.

          The absence of children does not make women meaningless. Women , as well as men, still have a role in a childless marriage, thus the quote from Genesis.

    • Rebecca

      The reason proponents of the sexual revolution and radical traditionalists hate each other is because they are so much alike; both view women as sexual objects. For sexual hedonists, every woman is viewed as a porn star. For radical traditionalists, every woman is viewed as a fertility goddess. Neither group respects women as people, but rather for the sexual goods (pleasure or children) that women can provide to men.

      • Bravo! I wholeheartedly agree with this assessment: bitter enemies are typically far more similar than either wishes to acknowledge.

        This article suffers from this malaise: in identifying a failure in certain forms of feminism (and feminism is indeed a quite diverse movement), the author has the tendency to “swing back” towards the other extreme.

        • Micha Elyi

          …feminism is indeed a quite diverse movement…

          Feminism does indeed span radical sex object hedonism to fertility goddess paganism. When wiser people point to the internal contradictions of feminism, feminists condemn “male linear thinking” and “masculine logic.”

          • Rebecca

            My point was that fanatical traditionalists, including Catholics, view all women as fertility goddesses, and therefore as sex objects. They do not respect women as they claim; they respect the sexual good (children) that women can provide to men.

            If a traditional Catholic argues that a woman’s only role in the world is as a biological mother, he is viewing women as sex objects.

            • David

              Rebecca, I think you misunderstand the Catholic position about womanhood. The value we see in motherhood is not merely that it is the means by which children come into the world. If we saw it that way, we would see no need for mothers to remain in the home after they give birth. Instead, we see the worth of women primarily as a function of ‘who’ they are. The ‘what’ of what they are (meaning their bodies) is for us just one aspect of that ‘who’. This is to say, we see womanhood as something sublime, something beautiful, something worth loving – and the gifts it may (or may not) bring into the world by its own free choice, as worthy of our appreciation and our heartfelt gratitude. I do not believe I exaggerate – I believe what is felt in the heart of many Catholics is a sincere appreciation for womanhood. As a man I recognize it as something I cannot give to myself, but which can only be given to me by another, or never had at all.

              I think our position finds attestation in our own experience of life. How sad is a home that does not have a mother, or whose mother is unable to express herself wholly and completely, perhaps because of some hurt she has suffered in the past, or because of her relationship with her husband, or whatever else. We can see that a home really needs a mother for more than birthing. Actually what a home needs is, in a word, a woman’s heart. Another way to say it is that a home needs a woman’s gift of self. Of course, the gift has to be free if it is not to violate the woman herself. A woman should only give herself to her husband and children because she really wants to, because she finds in this calling the possibility of her own self-fulfillment. Otherwise she reduces herself to the lowly status of an object, just as you said, and a woman obviously isn’t an object for the use of others.

              Finally, we Catholics do not believe the home is the only place where women have something worthwhile to contribute. On the contrary, we understand that women have much to offer the world in every sphere of life. We are in fact hoping that women will indeed take it upon themselves to share these gifts with us in every position and role they occupy in society.

              • //Rebecca, I think you misunderstand the Catholic position about womanhood. The value we see in motherhood is not merely that it is the means by which children come into the world.//

                It is interesting that (perhaps unintentionally) you immediately shift from speaking about “womanhood” to “motherhood.” To some degree, I believe this natural assumption about the equivalence of the two terms constitutes part of Rebecca’s objections: women are considered sexual objects in this traditionalist view by reduction to their role in sexual reproduction. Now, you will go on to note the possibility that women can be something other than a mother, but that this is of secondary consideration in your definition may again reflect this assumption that women are meant to be the carriers and caretakers of children.

                //As a man I recognize it as something I cannot give to myself, but which can only be given to me by another, or never had at all. //\

                Other than the actual process of giving birth, as well as the nutritive qualities of breastmilk, men are quite capable of giving care to children. Now I believe and wholly agree that a mother’s gift of breastmilk is indispensable: formula is a poor alternative. But beyond this, it is only a matter of prejudice that would assume that a stay-at-home father cannot provide as good of care and upbringing for children as a stay-at-home mother. If my wife wants to return to work, I will stay at home with the children, because as a father I have co-equal responsibilities towards their upbringing. As for the particular quality of the care received, this is a matter of the individual and is not reducible to their gender.

                //On the contrary, we understand that women have much to offer the world in every sphere of life. We are in fact hoping that women will indeed take it upon themselves to share these gifts with us in every position and role they occupy in society.//

                This is a feminist notion. I agree with it, of course, but I would only wish to point out that believing women coequals in every occupation and sphere of life is not “traditionalist” thought, even in Catholicism.

                Now, it is true that Catholicism marks a positive departure from the pagan pre-Christian world in regards to women’s rights (Rodney Stark has an excellent book on this matter). However, any objective analysis shows that Catholicism still did not, at that time, afford women equal social privileges and opportunities. It is also important to realize that as long as women are faced with the burden of unprotected sex with their partners, they must choose between eschewing a romantic life entirely or being debilitated by pregnancy (and, in most of the world, also with the responsibility of the upbringing). The Catholic Church has opposed contraception, which would be a way for women to both engage in a romantic life while avoiding the relegation to home life.

                • David

                  Womanhood and motherhood are not interchangeable terms, but the capacity for motherhood is an inextricable part of womanhood. A woman who does not bear children is not a mother in the biological sense but she may express her capacity for motherhood in other ways. It is a similar situation for men: manhood and fatherhood are not equivalent terms but the capacity for fatherhood is an inextricable part of manhood. I do not think it is a matter of reducing anyone to his or her role in sexual reproduction but of recognizing that our sexuality (as masculine or feminine beings) is an integral part of who we are.

                  I think most adult persons experience a desire to express themselves as mother or as father in some way to other people in the world, whether those other people are their own biological children, nieces or nephews, boys on a basketball team, young adult coworkers, or whatever.

                  I disagree that the differences between fathers and mothers are reducible to the two physical capacities you mentioned and the individual capacity to provide personal care. Certainly men can provide excellent personal care to their children, just as women can provide poor personal care. This is an important variable in its own right. However the father will never be ‘Mommy’ and the mother will never be ‘Daddy’. There is something about being a mother the father simply cannot reproduce, and the reverse is also true. This is not to say he’s a bad father, but simply that he’s not a mother. It would be similarly strange to say a woman who fails to be a father to her children is a bad mother.

                  It’s sad to hear you speak of unprotected sex with one’s partner as a burden and of pregnancy as debilitating. We do have very different views on these matters.

                  A woman who has children can still choose to work so the position of the Church on contraception is not the issue here.

                  • //It’s sad to hear you speak of unprotected sex with one’s partner as a burden and of pregnancy as debilitating. We do have very different views on these matters.//

                    Maybe so. But although in practice I follow the Church’s teaching (probably a surprise to you?), in theory I have a great number of objections to it, especially the fundamental groundlessness of some of its assumptions and the effect it really does have on women. I also do not believe there is any coherent way whatsoever to demonstrate that contraception is immoral from strictly rational grounds; it seems to be a prejudice of faith.

                    Since the post is about feminism, I will stick to a brief discussion of contraception from that angle. Basically, the male’s role in reproduction is far less demanding in terms of physical and time burdens than the females: women not only endure pregnancy and incur the risks of delivery, they also in just about every society since the agricultural revolution have been the primary (if not practically sole) caretaker for the children. When there is no way to separate sexuality from these factors (i.e., through contraception), it means that sexually active women by definition will incur the far greater portion of the social burden regarding reproduction in general, a burden that (even apart from the general prejudice that most of history has shown against women) would result in a severe handicap to their social advancement in non-childcare related occupations. So, the issue of contraception is bound up tightly with feminism and an attempt to remove women from having to choose between incurring these burdens (burdens which far outweigh the burdens men incur from reproduction) and not having an active sexual life.

                    //A woman who has children can still choose to work so the position of the Church on contraception is not the issue here.//

                    While I agree with this statement, practically speaking (for the reasons I listed above) it is still not the case that working with children is as easy for women and it is for men. Correcting this imbalance has been one of the many projects of feminism, and one of the tools has been contraception.

    • Teacher

      You think that the “flight” (very apropos wording) of women into the work force has done incredible things for family life??? You must be joking! Get real!

  • Howard Kainz

    I am surprised that you seem to include the Susan B. Anthony list ( along with other feminist organizations. They have been at the forefront of the anti-abortion movement for many years.

  • Feminism is only a word, it depends what you are talking about. The author is perhaps not aware of the very first appearance of feminism which was promoted also by Edith Stein and Hildegard Burjan, soon to be declared a Blessed of the Church by Rome this month, and also Dietrich von Hildebrand, the champion writer of Traditionalists.

    The so called New Feminism takes the Theology of Body of John Paul II as its foundation. And the fight for the election right and equal payment for women was totally justified. Today people often start to rant without informing themselves. And a single word is enough to release a storm of outrage. The author of this article above is talking about a certain kind of feminism but he really needs to give in the beginning of his argument a more precise definition of the feminism he is attacking.

    This said, I am no feminist and I am not interested in New Feminism. But justice when justice is due, and I really find the internet debate often very fruitless and useless as people never care to think objectively.

    • Sarah M

      I agree!

    • Rebecca

      Think objectively? This is the Internet, for crying out loud!

  • FYI:
    “‘New feminism’ shines light on true genius of women
    Grassroots movement celebrates a woman’s gift of self while acknowledging true natures of women and men

    Pope John Paul II’s exhortation for women to develop and promote a “new feminism” in his 1995 encyclical has flowered into “the new feminism,” a philosophical and theological work in progress and, more palpably, a fast-growing grassroots movement.”.
    Excerpt from Our Sunday Visitor. Read more at:

    • David

      Pope John Paul II taught that men were less human than women. He also taught that femininity is the default spiritual position, and that masculinity is a sort of embarrassing bastardization of the relationship with the divine. Men will face centuries of discrimination and hardship because of what this misandrist pontiff taught. Then that filthy pig, Alice von Hildebrandt, who is so vile as to cover the face of female supremacy in a veil of elite religiosity, dared suggest we men cower in fear in the face of a woman’s vagina.

      No matter what it’s called or where it comes from, anything that calls itself feminism winds up amounting to a total war on the male sex.

      • Sarah M

        For anyone else tempted to read this hogwash and believe it, pick up Theology of the Body or anything by Alice von Hildebrand to see for yourself it isn’t true. David, you probably consider yourself some kind of traditional guy but you sound just like a lot of liberal Catholics– anti-intellectual, whining about inequality, and using hateful words instead of rational arguments to defend your point. Get a grip brother.

        • David

          Pope John Paul II taught that humanity is essentially and profoundly feminine because it occupies a position of receptivity in its relationship with God. What can this mean except that the souls of men are structurally defunct, since they are required to operate in a feminine mode but are actually masculine? It’s something like telling a driver to fly his car: one can find creative ways to get a car airborne but you’re better off boarding a plane. So maleness must be some kind of disability in the eyes of the late Pope. One can imagine the male soul sort of hobbling and wheezing as it attempts to act like a female soul – and never quite getting the job right. God makes men and tells them to act like women. What sense does this make?

          Starting again from the position of JP2, the feminine soul is clearly made for Heaven because it is naturally suited to the relationship with the Infinite. The masculine soul might be able to enter Heaven but must, if we are to take the Pope’s words seriously, forever experience a kind of internal tension because it can never act in accordance with its nature. If the masculine soul cannot possibly be comfortable in Heaven, it must not have been made for it. Nothing is ‘made’ for Hell but then Hell is a trash pit for the defective spiritual merchandise of the cosmos and thus the logical home for men who are permanently at odds with the Creator.

          In an age when the value of men is routinely called into question, JP2 drops the staggering weight of papal authority onto our already slumping backs by telling us (in effect) to act like women. That’s how it feels to me, anyway – like a staggering weight has been dropped down onto my back. He doesn’t help by going on and on ad nauseam about the feminine genius while saying absolutely nothing about the masculine genius. I begin to feel like what he’s saying is that actually, we men don’t have any particular genius or gift to offer at all. If we did, the Pope would have told us. So maybe there is no sense in our being here after all.

          Alice von Hildebrand did in fact say that men should tremble in fear at the sight of a woman’s genitalia. It’s no exaggeration. It’s in the final third or quarter of her book, “The Privilege of Being a Woman.” I don’t have a copy handy so I can’t provide the exact page.

          • John Zmirak

            I think you’re taking needless offense at the pope’s use of a very traditional theological scheme of allegory. Christ the “Bridegroom of the soul,” isn’t He? John Paul II didn’t make that up. Think about the implications of that…. That’s what the pope was doing, I think. If you follow the Jewish and Christian (and natural-religious) allegory of sex, and use “Masculine” to equal “transcendent, active, lordly, masterful, free,” and “Feminine” to equal “immanent, receptive, docile, obedient, committed” then how could ANY of us desire to be in the Masculine role with relation to God? That’s what Lucifer wanted. It’s that kind of “mastery” and “possession” of nature that Descartes wanted for mankind. None of us partakes purely in the Masculine or the Feminine. Soldiers are masterful to their subordinates, obedient to their officers. Wives are docile to their husbands, but lordly to their children. And so on. Because of Original Sin, we none of us live out our roles perfectly, however–so husbands are passive or weak, wives are rebellious or callous, parents are abusive, children are intractable, etc. Yes, we must model ourselves on the perfect Christian, Mary–in a way we could never model ourselves on the Messiah and second Person of the Trinity. This should NOT be psychologically discouraging to a man possessed of the virtue of humility.

            • David

              This was helpful, John. Thank you. It takes a man to get down to brass tacks.

              I can see that we all switch from one mode of relating to another depending on the circumstances. Does this mean that subordinate soldiers find it uncomfortable to be subordinate, and mothers find it uncomfortable to be the masters of their children? In both cases the person is acting in a manner contrary to his or her sexuality.

              It would still seem to be the case that the relationship with God (Heaven) is natural to women, while unnatural to men. Not sure how anyone can get around this.

              Can you explain what it means to imitate Mary? Are we imitating her way of imitating Christ? It’s confusing. Why not just imitate Him? Am I supposed to carry my Cross and stand before His Cross at the same time? What does this mean? How do I imitate the Master and the disciple at the same time?

              Also, why do we emphasize the imitation of Mary? Is this a recent theological development? I understand Jesus is God and human while Mary is only human but Mary was conceived without the stain of Original Sin so I’m not sure I’ll do a better job imitating her than Christ.

              Again, the point is still that God made me a man but told me act like a woman (Mary). It’s raw. No wonder BXVI seems so feminine. He’s holy!

      • holy terror

        I have met Alice Von Hildebrand. I heard her speak, and talked a few minutes with her. She is a brilliant, kind woman who had the privilege of being married to a brilliant, kind man who seemed to have been a model of masculinity that embraces it role as servant protector.

        I find her writing very challenging. Her message seems to me to be too hard: to embrace your femaleness and the weakness it implies. The gentleness it implies, too, I find hard to comprehend.

        That doesn’t stop me from trying harder to understand.

        Anyway, I can’t believe anyone would call her such a horrible name. Just for saying that about female genitals? Maybe if we fully understood the true power and significance of things in this world we might tremble a lot more, in the face of a lot more things. But using such language toward a thinker, who has done nothing but tried to articulate a holy way of life for believers?

        It really sounds like an unholy rage.

        • David

          It sounds like you want to help. Can you respond to my discussion with John Zmirak and help me understand better?

          • holy terror

            Reading your part in the discussion with Mr. Zmirak I am struck by two main thoughts. First about imitating Mary: I do not think of it as imitation of her womanhood. Certainly women can find especially feminine aspects of her life to emulate: particularly the physical birth and nurturing of Jesus as well as the domestic life she must have had.

            But Mary’s identity, to me, is essentially focused around her most important act: The YES she gave. God asked, she said yes. This alone is an act worthy of imitation and, indeed, could be all the Christian ever aspires to in order to lead a holy life.

            Second, it sounds as if in your way of talking thereyou are making a direct correspondence between leader/subordinate and male/female. You also make these categories all fall under the heading of “sexuality”.

            I do not know if you mean this correspondence to be so firm and direct, but I myself think it is a mistake. I will have to think more about how to describe why.

            • holy terror

              I do not agree that the six “core teachings” of feminism as identified by the author constitute feminism, nor that there is anything coherent enough particularly around these “teachings”, that could be identified as a heresy. What the author has written of feminism, while true of a kind of intersection of academic and cultural feminisms, would not be recognized by many feminists throughout history.

              Perhaps the author means to refer to a specific political and cultural movement, defined by the words of writers and the action of particular interest groups, and in particular during a specific time period, say from the late 50’s to the 80’s. This is commonly referred to as “second-wave feminism” and the first wave — mostly campaigners for women’s rights and certain laws that encoded women as property — and third wave would not fall under the definitions given above.

              I daresay that Catholic public discussion of feminism is still dominated by baby boomers, for whom second-wave feminism is a dominant force, for or against. But there is more to the conversation, and I hope that Crisis will explore the rest of that conversation as well.

              I think rather the term is used imprecisely, in part due to the side-ranging attitudes of those who claim to be feminists.

              • holy terror

                (The above was not meant to be posted as a reply here. )

            • David

              I am making a direct correspondence between leader/subordinate and masculinity/femininity. In this I am only following the lead of the Church which teaches that receptivity, responsiveness, and docility are qualities of the feminine mode of relating, the feminine and not the masculine mode being suited to the relationship with God.

              Whatever the nuances of daily life, the bottom line is that the relationship with God must be unnatural and therefore uncomfortable for men because the dominant sexuality of men is masculinity and masculinity is active and doing rather than passive and attentive.

              It’s just logic. And I can’t understand why God would make a group of creatures who would find it eternally difficult to relate to Him.

              Oh and before anyone forgets I still hold it very much against the late Pope that he failed to articulate the meaning, value, and dignity of masculinity. It’s not like he died shortly after the advent of second wave feminism. He died after the dawn of the third millennium and must have seen for himself the way men and maleness were under assault in every quarter of the culture, precisely at the hands of second and third wave feminists (because their ideology can’t survive without convincing women that in the past every man was a wife beater, and every woman a rape victim). Helping men to understand their value and their indispensability in the divine plan would surely have encouraged and invigorated them in living active and holy lives in and for the Church. The fact that JP2 went on at length about the feminine genius but had absolutely zilch to say about the masculine genius (if there even is such a thing) demands an explanation. Because I’m sorry, ‘Be a Man’ by Fr. Larry Richards is child’s play compared to the Theology of the Body. We men deserve better than that (no offense to the good priest who was trying to help).

              But I guess the Church Christ had in mind was precisely a crowd of women talking about their own feminine genius under the token ‘leadership’ of an ever shrinking number of effeminate priests.

              • John Zmirak

                Dan, I think you’re creating a problem where one doesn’t exist. As I pointed out, there are countless times in life when men must act “receptively,” “obediently,” and so forth. Did it violate the masculine nature of General Patton to take orders from General Eisenhower? Did it do violence to me to take direction from my father? Of course not. The kind of man who consistently refuses discipline, direction, and the duty to submit to superiors is the dangerous, unhinged loner–like the Unabomber, Anders Breivik, Timothy McVeigh, or Osama bin Laden. We see in such men the Luciferian impulse, the perverted boyish urge to say “non serviam.” And of course there many women like this too–more since Simone de Beauvoir taught them to imitate the worst kind of man (Jean-Paul Sartre). The marital relationship does entail a basic subordination of wife to husband, but it is certainly rife with exceptions–for instance, when the man wants to sin, and the wife must resolutely say, “No.” Think of Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII, or the countless Christian women who married pagan men and insisted on raising their children as Christians.

                The contrary, feminine vice is to obey orders mindlessly, even to collude in evil–and the 20th century saw so much of that there’s no need to elaborate further.

                However, you do point to a fundamental challenge for men: In the most intimate and important relationship of all, the one we have with God, we must take the subordinate role. Even there, however, there is no need for servility or abasement. God is not Allah, and seeks not slaves but sons. He builds us up and divinizes us, fills our lack with His superabundance. We become new men, and by imitating Mary become ever more like Christ.

                If that still troubles you, I think you’re struggling with a spiritual, not a theological problem. In addition to the Rosary, I URGE you to read a book–just a single book–on the subject, by the Catholic philosopher (and critic of feminism) Karl Stern, “The Flight from Woman.” It will show you the richness and beauty of a tradition that shows equal respect for the unique gifts of each sex.

                • David

                  John, your comments are by themselves the most helpful I have ever encountered on this subject. Thanks so much for not just writing me off but actually taking the time to respond.

                  Okay – I am going to check out the book you mentioned.

                  Thanks again.


                • buckyinky

                  I also thank Dr. Zmirak for his generous response to David and may also look into the book he recommended. I understand much of what David has expressed here and have also been baffled by the teaching of the more recent popes and many of the bishops in regard to the relationships between men and women. Like David, I perhaps have had the hardest time with Pope John Paul II. It really does seem that at a time when men as a sex, at least in the Western world, were most embattled by the attacks on masculine identity that is so essential to what it means to be a man, he came out swinging on the side of the feminists by presenting women in key passages of Mulieris Dignitatem, Letter to Women, and other addresses/audiences as an oppressed class, particularly oppressed by men as a class. It was demoralizing to read these items from the late Pope and I still find it difficult to comprehend exactly why he wrote what he did. It seems as though, when he wrote extensively about the “feminine genius,” he expected that his audience would already have understood and accepted the worth of men. It seems to me, however, that few things could be further from the way things actually were in the common understanding of the West.

                  Perhaps I had put too much stock in Pope John Paul II as a mentor. I wanted to look at him similarly as I would to a general if I was marching into battle, who would always have even the lowest-ranking troop’s best interests in mind. These may have been unfair expectations to put on him. As it is, I have simply had to shelve the writings and thoughts of John Paul II lest I too become embittered.

                  • David

                    Cheers. I’m with you, one of the hardest things to accept about JP2’s completely throwing us under the bus was the sheer power and weight of his name and person, even independent of his station in life. But then alpha males usually will stomp on lower ranking men to put smiles on the faces of his women.

                    Sorry to be so cynical, but damn, that is exactly how it looks to me.

    • David

      I will forever hate this pope who had nothing to say to men about their spiritual genius in a time when our very value is under attack.

      • John Zmirak

        David, you seem to have some points to make that have value. You’re going to have to do so in more temperate language starting RIGHT NOW, or you’re banned forever. We don’t call abortionists “filthy pigs” here at Crisis. We certainly don’t refer that way to ladies, especially Catholic thinkers, even ones with whom we disagree. As to “forever hating” a pope, that’s the kind of thing you really should keep to yourself.

      • anna lisa

        “David”, try to forgive your mother. Your rage will continue to eat at you until you learn to forgive. Your value is not under attack. God loves you very much, but feeding your rage keeps you in bondage. I’m praying for you, and am sincerely sympathetic about your pain. I hope and pray that you will relinquish this anger and truly hand yourself over to the healing power of your loving Father.

        • David

          You’re really not in a position to speak about my mother, since I have never mentioned her to you.

          The value of men most certainly is under attack today. I have found that many other men feel the same way.

          I have never seen a woman told she has issues when she speaks about politics or gender – no matter how passionately she speaks about the subject. On the other a hand a man who has the audacity to speak must have something wrong with him.

        • David

          I am insulted by the condescension of your remark, Anna Lisa. Just who do you think you are to give me advice about my personal life?

      • anna lisa

        “Forever hate”….what self inflicted bondage. Why would you do this to yourself, “David”? Life is beautiful. It is a gift from our loving God. Choose life. Choose love. The alternative is clear cut.

        • David

          Anna Lisa, are you stalking me? How did you find my comment from the other website?

          I’d like to remind you that relational aggression, manipulation, and reputation ruining are all contrary to love.

          I’m starting to think you have serious problems, Anna Lisa. Please get some help and stop following me around the Internet. It’s creepy.

          • anna lisa

            Dear David aka Dustin,

            As you know, I am a busy mother of eight. I read New Advent, which links to NCR and to this site. I was stunned when I read your words because I recognized the same tone of hostility as your other posts. I also recognized your tone when you spoke about the use of corporal punishment. I don’t have the time or will to “stalk” you. (Lol) Call it feminine intuition. As before, when you wrote pages and pages, I think Corita and Deb were amazingly patient in their well thought out replies to you. I actually think you are very intelligent, (are you really just a college student? If you are I am stunned) Remember that Satan was a better theologian than any of us. I hope that you will get out from under what oppresses you, and use your gifts for good. May I ask how I have “ruined” your reputation? I only wish the best for you. John’s reply was excellent.

            • David

              Corita and Deb had all the patience of expert predators. They acknowledged almost nothing that I said, which leads me to believe their intent was not really to have a dialogue so much as to wear me down into shutting up, which, to their credit, they did succeed in doing, substituting, along the way, pious evasions and personal attacks for real communication. It’s this level of dishonesty and malice that makes me angry in the first place. A woman knows how to make treating a man like garbage look very, very good. Few onlookers have any idea what’s going on. And you know it. You thrive only under the cover of lies. How’s that for diabolical?

              And you: “I told my daughter on you! I told my husband on you! Nya nya nya!” Give me a break. I can’t believe this is how a middle-aged woman conducts herself.

              Oh, wait. Yeah, I can.

              I don’t believe you when you say you only wish the best for me. The fact is that you rushed back to NCR as fast your mouse would let you and typed a dramatic, hyperventilating, school girlish comment squealing that the Big Bad Wolf (shivers) was spotted again. Just like that week back in middle school when the alpha female of my class had me ostracized because I called her a jerk. Anyway, I showed my anger with JP2 and AVH and you intended to capitalize on my misstep in order to discredit me fully. Then you rushed back here and tried discrediting me again by launching a series of personal attacks. Not that I made it hard for you.

              Then again, I couldn’t have stopped you no matter what I said. You’re a liar to the core. This is nothing but a game to you.

              John did give an excellent reply. It takes a man to get down to business while women sit around whining loudly and uselessly about the interlocutor. You stop one pace short of calling me possessed, Anna Lisa, but the fact is, I really want an answer, and when I get a good one, I pay attention. Meanwhile it’s not clear to me that the truth means a damn thing to you.

              Thank you so much for caring about meee!! *mouth foams, eyes roll back in skull*

  • Oh Donna,

    I’m so glad you’re still out there fighting the fight. I’ve been out of things for so long I was starting to worry that people would forget that feminism is an evil ideology designed to strip dignity from all human beings and crush traditional society.

  • … And nothing infuriates me faster than hearing wimpy, appeasing, mealy-mouthed churchmen bleating about how we should try to “Christianise feminism”.

    • Micha Elyi

      I hear your frustration. To “Christianise feminism” is impossible, like trying to Christianise temple harlotry or abortion.

      “Is Feminism a heresy?” C’mon Donna Streichen, do you really have to ask?

  • Alecto

    The implication that despite what women say and do, they really just want to stay at home and raise children is troubling. If the basic unit of the Church is a family, and not an individual, then we are not individually responsible for our thoughts, actions or words. Yet, the basis must be the individual or clearly, the Church doesn’t accept the premise that women are created equal to men, or even that salvation is personal, not communal or collective.

    Conservative Americans like me may have issues with the proposition that we need to subsidize women who choose to stay at home by paying married workers more than single ones. Is the author suggesting the Catholic Church abandoned the notion of a just society based on merit, not status? I’d prefer not to be responsible for your lifestyle choices, whatever they are. I already am penalized with unequal tax treatment.

    Finally, that abortion is murder is an inescapable truth. However, may I remind Catholics that support for abortion on demand comes from as many misguided, selfish, and narcissisitc men as it does feminists? To portray this as purely or even chiefly a “feminist problem” is to deny that millions of women who have had abortions have done so because they were abandoned by, threatened by or encouraged to do so by a man. God help me, the Catholic Church is as misogynistic as the days when it was engaging in witch trials as a pretext for confiscating women’s property. Call me whatever you want, I’m not going back there.

    • Sue

      It is the working women who are coasting on the backs of the stay at home wive’s family. Because of affirmative action, women are offered more than their share of jobs because some women stay home and don’t claim them.

      Also, because of the feminist phenomenon of singleparenting, both from the start and after divorce, our whole society bears the brunt of paying the heavy costs of this “lifestyle choice.

      Read “Freedomnomics”, the answer to “Freakonomics”. A compelling case can be made that we have the suffragettes to blame for the mushrooming of Big Government in the last century.

    • Daniel

      Feminism isn’t just a woman movement anymore. Those misguided men are feminists, too! And a good number of them openly accept the appellation.

  • jackie

    I have no problem in calling myself a feminist and am proud that I have raised my elder daughters and am in the process of raising my younger daughters to be feminists. Feminism to me is the right to decide for myself what it is I want out of life.When I look back at the historical treatment of some women (raped within marriage, beaten by their husbands, denied an education and the right to choose a career for themselves if that was their choice and all of this degrading treatment was perfectly legal in the patriarchal society they lived in) I get down on my knees and thank god I was not born in that era.Women have as much right as men to make choices with regards to marriage family and a career. I have worked all my married life all be it in a part time capacity and have enjoyed the combination of work and family. I would certainly not like to see women being forced back into the home against their will Let those women who wish to stay at home on a full time basis do so and those who want to balance a career with raising a family should also be free to do so.

    • Daniel

      Thank you feminism! because before 1960 men had no idea what love was.
      There’s more domestic violence, unrest and hatred in this feminist world than there was pre-feminism. A woman is more likely to be beaten and degraded today than ever before.

      • jackie

        The difference Daniel is it was perfectly legal to degrade women (marital rape, beating etc)in years gone by, now it is illegal and women have the protection of the law on their side.

      • John2

        “A woman is more likely to be beaten and degraded today than ever before.”

        That is certainly true with regard to degradation. To enhance the negative effect, many women take an active part in their own debasement. Pop culture treats women’s dignity as:
        1. their ‘worthiness’ as ‘hos’
        2. the ability to deliver an occasional bitter, ironic, snarky one-liner.

        It ain’t much. FWIW, pop culture doesn’t respect men, either.

    • Baby Boomer

      Thank you, Jackie, for defining feminism as so many others of us see it. The author does note that it is a difficult term to define, but then seems to go looking for the least inclusive, most radical definition she can find. I am a Catholic, and a feminist, and I don’t see the conflict at all. I will add, although the Catholic should have identified me already, that I am pro-life. Gloria Steinem and Simone de Beavoir have their thoughts, and frankly, I have mine.
      My definition of feminism involves having the opportunity to get a college degree, something many women my age were denied because parents wouldn’t pay for something that “you aren’t ever going to use anyway.” You were expected to get married, and have a baby about eleven months later, and then stay home and let your husband support you.
      My definition of feminism involves the ability to get credit in my own name, something that was unheard of as recently as 1972. Frankly, I’ll never forget walking into Macy’s to apply for a charge and having the application rejected because I had filled in my own social security number and income. Sad to say, how many abused women stay in relationships today because they have no money and no credit.
      My definition of feminism says that no employer ought to be able to call me away from my desk, into the Ladies Room, and have a female supervisor check me to be sure I am wearing a bra. And yes, ladies, this was not just a FORTUNE 500 company, it was in the top ten for many years.
      And all these things were perfectly legal.
      So before you define feminism as a philosophy written about in books, and inextricably linked to abortion rights, please take a minute to think about where we were, and where we are. It’s not all about abortion, it’s about being treated with respect and dignity.
      Now I’m going to take off my granny bifocals, sit in my rocker with its flower power afgan, and have a cup of herbal tea.
      Thanks for hearing me out.

  • Kevin

    Non-feminist institutions, including media institutions, are de facto banned in this country because of discrimination laws and affirmative action.

    Imagine how different a newspaper’s editorial line and coverage choices would be if it were run along “family wage” lines that preferred married men as employees!

    Before feminism came along, women could often rise relatively high in society, even in many workplaces.

    Now, men cannot rise. If men work better than women in a given workplace, and so get paid and promoted at faster rates, it creates the appearance of workplace discrimination.

    So employers are forced to hire feminist consultants and to favor women.

    Then after a few decades of policies like these, men don’t have enough good jobs to start families, and careerist women start complaining that men are slackers and there aren’t any good ones left.

    • John2

      Feminist human resource management policies in the workplace are a major problem, no doubt about it. But I suggest that men don’t like the terms of the contemporary marriage as offered. That is, even if all or most men had good jobs, they would not be attracted by the post-1960s version of marriage. If I take Zmirak’s point, he thinks the deal is not so good for women, either.

      Conclusion: Feminism of the 1960s wrecked both sides of it.

  • Unfortunately, the author seems unaware that the root complaints of the feminist movement in general were based in historical and cultural realities. Even a brief survey of human society after the agricultural revolution reveals that women were almost universally denied rights, privileges, and power that were otherwise granted to men (with, of course, notable exceptions). The feminist movement has done much to bring to light the way in which a woman’s sexuality may actually be used against her: in the most basic terms, sex is far more costly for women than men, yet has generally been controlled by men, resulting in a severe social handicap for women. There are, of course, numerous other variables and subtleties, but this lays at the heart of them.

    • Daniel

      Scotty, isn’t this just more slipperiness in defining feminism? The author seems interested in actually getting something done, instead of nuancing away the problem.

  • Joe Tembreull

    I’m just curious; which is it misandry or misogony? Much like when Jesus told the people present when condemned for eating with sinners”You are like children in the street crying we played a tune you did not dance we sang a dirge you did not sing for us John came fasting and you said ha had a demon I come eating and drinking and you say I am a glutton and a drunkard” the ad hominim attacks are always the same …

  • TeaPot562

    In order for a culture or civilization to survive for centuries, women of child-bearing age (roughly 15 to 45?) must give birth to enough children in the aggregate to replace the numbers in their generation. Say 2.2 or 2.3 children.
    It is no accident that nations infected by “enlightenment” thinking now have TOO FEW young adults to pay the taxes needed to support their old age pension schemes.
    If “Feminism” as defined above in its materialistic form leads to this result, it is an inevitable path to cultural suicide. In contrast, a culture ruled by Taliban-like principles will thrive, because of women bearing relatively large families.
    Husbands in aggregate must learn to be more respectful of their wives; and Marriage is a partnership, not a relationship between a master and a slave.
    Fwiw, my wife and I have 5 children (4 living) and 12 grandchildren. And since my retirement from gainful employment, I seem to do most of the cooking and kitchen cleanups.

  • holy terror

    I posted this in error as a reply. It was meant to go down here.

    I do not agree that the six “core teachings” of feminism as identified by the author constitute feminism, nor that there is anything coherent enough particularly around these “teachings”, that could be identified as a heresy. What the author has written of feminism, while true of a kind of intersection of academic and cultural feminisms, would not be recognized by many feminists throughout history.

    Perhaps the author means to refer to a specific political and cultural movement, defined by the words of writers and the action of particular interest groups, and in particular during a specific time period, say from the late 50′s to the 80′s. This is commonly referred to as “second-wave feminism” and the first wave — mostly campaigners for women’s rights and certain laws that encoded women as property — and third wave would not fall under the definitions given above.

    I daresay that Catholic public discussion of feminism is still dominated by baby boomers, for whom second-wave feminism is a dominant force, for or against. But there is more to the conversation, and I hope that Crisis will explore the rest of that conversation as well.

    I think rather the term is used imprecisely, in part due to the side-ranging attitudes of those who claim to be feminists.

  • Gilliam

    Read “Pastores Gregis” number 67. John Paul II supports the idea of class warfare. The rich do oppress the poor and the Church is smart enough to realize that. On the other hand I think feminists suck though.

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