Say the word “feminist” these days, and I bet a very clear mental image pops up. One of pink crocheted hats, a shirt with “Feminist Kill Joy” printed on the front, a liberal arts degree in women’s sexuality and not just a little screeching. Feminism – all sorts – has been overtaken by the liberal feminism that has grown in popularity since the late 18th Century when women from Mary Wollstonecraft on up to Elisabeth Cady Stanton and Gloria Steinem and whatever lesser known third wave feminists are leading the charge these days, have pushed for the wrong kind of equality.
These women and what they promote are not indicative of what feminism really is. True feminism is NOT about declaring women as equal to men in kind, like interchangeable social units with no real differences (at least not, according to the bizarre but seemingly inevitable and sorry state of our society, real differences that can’t be “fixed” with a medical procedure). But rather women as equal in dignity, created alongside men in the image of the Creator.
Pope John Paul II explained it beautifully in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life):
In transforming culture so that it supports [the dignity of every human] 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.
It is foolish and misguided at best and evil at worst to cultivate a 21st Century feminism that encourages women to be the worst of men, whether that is in aggressive behavior, promiscuity and lustfulness, or any other typically masculine quality that is the result of our fallen nature.
So for women of this age, for Catholic women especially, what does it mean to be feminist? What does that look like in our beliefs, and how does it play out in everyday life?
I had a chance to speak with Catholic convert, evangelist and feminist Leah Moler on The Catholic Mama podcast about living and believing in authentic feminism – and what that means for Catholics.
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