Friday, March 08, 2013

Catholic Feminism!

So happy International Women's Day! I was not aware of this day existing until ... today! But I am happy it exists. Apparently it has socialist roots, but that doesn't bother me.

So I have two suggestions for how to observe:

1) Read up on women's issues today, in the Church, in society, in politics, in terms of healthcare, education, religion, etc. There are so many places where women still need to  be treated with dignity and respect. We may think those places are far-away, but we really don't have to look to far to see how women's issues are still a hot topic right here in our own backyard.

This article by Fiorella Nash published by Faith magazine in 2009, is just as relevant today about the unique and challenging position of Catholic women. It's not what you may think- a lot of oppression of women can come from within the feminist movement itself, silencing dissonant voices that do not agree with the central tenant of feminism these days: total self-autonomy. This article is an excellent read, I highly recommend it!

Why, right here in New York State, a bill has been proposed that will make New York have the least restrictive abortion laws in the country. As a feminist myself, I suppose I am to laud this in the name of women's rights. However, this tramples on the rights of women doctors to follow their consciences, and forces them to perform third trimester abortions on demand, like the one that recently claimed the life of a 29-year-old New York school teacher, who had a late-term abortion in Maryland after a poor diagnosis of the baby. When self-autonomy and rights to our bodies involves high risk procedures that can kill a perfectly healthy mother along with her child, rendering her surviving husband and two children wife and motherless, I would rather NOT have that freedom in our society.

2) Second way to observe International Women's Day: Take action! Email your state representatives about the Abortion Expansion Bill, letting them know that you believe this law would further put women at risk for coercive abortions and physical harm, rather than foster a pro-woman and pro-family society that values the family, motherhood, and children.

Donate money to Catholic Relief Services, or another charitable organization, that helps women in third world countries meet their basic needs of sanitation, food, shelter, and education. Or get involved through volunteer work, such as serving women at a local soup kitchen or shelter.

I am a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, and have considered myself a feminist since high school. Yet, I often feel that I am considered "the enemy" and my opinions are treated with horror by my pro-abortion-rights friends. Similarly, there are some men (and women) in the church, who treat the word "feminist" like it is a dirty word, something completely incompatible with Catholic values. I believe that I, and millions of other Catholic women, would argue that Catholic values WITHOUT feminism is incompatible. But feminism does NOT simply mean unfettered abortion and reproductive technology access. It was NOT about this to begin with, but was about access to the vote, the workplace, and higher education. Women still need wider access to many fields, and stronger laws protecting the family. Family values HELP women and society, by making healthcare, education, and childcare, more affordable, and putting in place stronger maternity and paternity leave laws, etc.

I am so glad I read Nash's article. I do believe that I myself need to be more outspoken about being feminist and Catholic, and to take more action myself on these issues that lie close to my heart.

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