Thursday, 8 March 2018

International Women's Day: The Catholic Feminist?

You may not have thought that Feminism and Catholicism are something that would fit too nicely in a sentence, but the truth is, as Catholics we are all about celebrating women and the beauty that they have. To get a few different perspectives on it, we asked Fred and Sarah Morton, a young married couple, and two students Daisy and Paddie (who aren't dating, just fyi...) to answer some questions on what being a Catholic feminist is all about.

What do you think feminism means for us as Catholics?

Daisy: To be a Catholic feminist is to see the beauty and dignity that we have as women and to honour that by encouraging women to be women and to not have to change in order to make our voice and opinions heard and taken seriously.

Paddie: Feminism for Catholics is about dignity, living out femininity but with a ferociousness to stand up for equality of life, social standing, womanhood and truth.

Fred: Feminism for Catholics is about recognising the significant role that women play in building society.

Sarah: Knowing the ways in which men and women were created (both with equal dignity) to complement each other, not have to compete with each other.

'I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.' Psalm 139:14 

How can we live that out?

Daisy: I think as a women, in essence, we can live this out by really questioning what it means to be a woman and figuring out why that is so unique. Equality does not mean that we have to be the same as men, so looking at the fundamental differences between men and women and being unafraid to live out God’s original design for how women should be. In that there is so much freedom, and resting in that calls other women into that freedom as well.

Fred: Women- married, single, nuns, need to know they can be strong and take the lead in those positions.

'And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me - holy is his name.' Luke 1:46 - 49

Why is feminism a good thing for men and masculinity?

Paddie: Authentic femininity is a light that shines on authentic masculinity and vice versa. You know this most of all when you see it lived out in marriage. Each partner grew up as individuals but then compliment each other in relationship. It’s like a iPhone upgrade, a 6 to 6s, basically the same model but with a bit more. They compliment, they don’t compete. But not just that, it’s the whole experience of the opposite of something, like how an experience of darkness teaches us about the light, experiences of loneliness teach us about companionship and the experience of knowing true womanhood, teaches about true manhood.

Fred: Women were made to be man’s partner- not necessarily solely in marriage, but within friendships or communities, and a maternal influence is necessary for a boys development as a child, and then in his growth as a man to comfort and assist him where he needs or push him and encourage him when he struggles. This partnership is equal on both sides, it’s not a case of one created to serve the other, but to work together. 

'Love is a mutual self-giving which ends in self-recovery.' Archbishop Fulton J Sheen

Where have you seen this being lived out?

Sarah: In our home, the way we can lay a firm foundation to raise our family. Fred and I work because of our inherent differences- me as mother and him as father. This isn’t down to who has the better job, there might be a time when I am the main breadwinner despite being a woman, but our influence on our son. Because of the way Freddie loves and respects me, Rex will hopefully grow up knowing that women are strong, capable, and made to be cherished and respected rather than just there to wash his dirty socks!

Daisy: Spending a year in community with both men and women last year showed me how both men and women can be feminists in such a holy and Catholic way. As we were not allowed to date each other, we knew that whenever the men were honouring us with dinner, or something that they had brought for us, we knew that there were no other motives in their acts of kindness other than to show us that we were worth it. We were allowed to be who we were and were not expected to be anyone else.

Paddie: I have seen true femininity lived out in many ways, but one of its purest is in Sisters (the religious kind). For obvious reasons they are not literal mothers, but they express their call to motherhood in its fullness and beauty. The defend and care for those less fortunate and in need. They are leaders and teachers.

'When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.' Archbishop Fulton J Sheen

How can we better celebrate femininity and feminism?

Paddie: I think we need to stop being scared of the word feminism. In recent times its been turned into a bad word, and that could be understood, but its not a good thing. What better way to celebrate femininity than to celebrate any and all women in our lives, to celebrate all that make them beautiful, all that makes them unique.

Sarah: Women have had a rough deal, and we have fought hard to get to where we are concerning equality. It’s important now, not to focus on competing with men and try to outdo them for all the years they were allowed to vote/work when we weren’t, or to compare, but to celebrate the differences and the way in which we were created to complete each other.

'The world doesn't need what women have, it needs what women are.' 
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) 

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