1. I’ll side with Toni Morrison on this one and say I’m not any anything-ist. Why reduce the human person to any single feature? No matter how great or broad that feature is, putting an -ist onto it ends up reducing both the person and the feature.

    I think I appreciate what you’re getting at, but I think the term “feminist” has already been set/ruined. I remember my ultra-liberal sister getting shocked reactions from her semi-like-minded friends when they found out she was pro-life. They simply assumed that because she was a “feminist,” her being pro-choice went without saying. The word “feminist,” like all -ist words, is too restrictive to invite any newcomers into the herd, so I don’t think a Catholic strand of feminism is either possible or desirable.

    I would say I’m a humanist, but that term too has already been ruined.

  2. Feminism is just the word to use– let’s take it back from all those people who are afraid of babies! Great article. I am a Catholic feminist of the most orthodox variety and I feel for you– I’m the one that has to change the headlights in my house too🙂

  3. yes- I am very much one of those impossible to categorize people- I made my husband a hot breakfast & a sack lunch this morning and he took out the trash. But I will pay the bills and he gave me the $100 a visitor (!!!) gave him at church (he said it was because I debugged the computer without going to a repairshop)- my girls will NOT be altar boys…and I made my son a prince cape so he can do ballet with his sisters while still encouraging his masculinity…but I think I am just a bit plain old Gloria Steinem type feminist—It really bugged me at Chuck E Cheese (maybe I was irritated just because I was there) that the big singing dolls were the boy mouse/rat, the boy chef, the boy monster, the boy dog, and a girl duck/chicken. Why couldn’t there be at least one more girl singing doll thing to balance a bit this gender inequality???!!! (just kidding- a little)

  4. This article produced a “Geez She is harsh!! Nobody I know is like what she says in her recommendations to Catholics!!” reaction on my brother’s facebook page. When challenged, both my brother and his friend insisted that despite moving in trad circles they had not ever met anyone who thought or said such things. ((Eyeroll)) Talk about denial…or blissful ignorance…

    I should probably have just left it at my own personal eyeroll, but it ended badly instead. I will cop to an extreme lack of charity, but I was pretty worked up, as my brother had just insisted that “we are supposed to dress insuch a way that :men AND women should dress a particular way , for the sake of the purity of the opposite sex” so, you see… people who talk about modesty are always meaning it equally for men and women, of course!!!!!

    Here was my reply:

    “When women bear the major burden of the shame associated with dressing “properly” it should raise a little flag of awareness. You say that just because both men and women are included it is the same as being right and good. BUT YET the women are the ones who, in reality, are the ones responsible for upholding the principle in 99% of situations…

    If you want to go ahead and just say what you really think, that women *are* more responsible for bearing this burden, *just because* of their womanhood, then say it! You can back it up with lots of catholic thinkers — including some saints and popes, as you said. …I mean, there IS a case to be made for making women bear the lion’s share of “guarding purity”. Which case I have tried repeatedly and find it extremely poor… but I didn’t say it doesn’t exist.

    The explicit case is usually made outright by one of two kinds of brave people: 1)Very holy older people like Alice Von Hildebrand, for example, who have a very real charism and live in a very holy world of inspiration — that doesn’t necessarily translate into the world as each person in her own place and time can see and live it, and 2) The bearded weirdoes who also live in a world of their own: Angry Catholic communes, real or imaginary, where the quivering potency of the female womb is too much for their jealous minds to handle.”

    SO this is part of what feminism means to me, and it is good and bad: Feeling the inspiration/burden of challenging ignorance and twisted ideas when I see them. But sometimes feeling so burdened by that, that it means I get pissed off. Which of course leads to perpetuating the stereotype of the angry feminist, and is NOT very-good-Catholic behavior at all. (especially from a woman, don’t you know!)

    • Corita, I agree with you. I have never understood why the majority of the Modesty Brigade, when they do uncloack in discussions, are all about what WOMEN should wear, not men. The underlying idea being, poor men, they are just beasts and can’t help it, so we must cover up, otherwise we are tempting them to sin.

      Resisting temptation is part of being human, being Catholic.

      I was at a large homeschooling convention last year, and there were quite a few families who I would guess are from tne Anabaptist persuasion. The women were wearing long, prairie-style dresses and had their hair severely pinned up under caps. Their husbands were wearing short-sleeved, regular dress shirts and slacks; while the women looked like they’d come through a time machine from the 1800s, the men just looked like every other guy dressed normally, if a bit formally. Some were even wearing jeans.

      The women looked…well, miserable. Not from a comfort standpoint (I don’t think) but because they stuck out like sore thumbs in the crowd. Is that modesty? Forcing women to dress a way that makes them MORE noticeable? It bugged me, and I couldn’t put my finger on it, until my friend who was with me said, “Wow, those guys are getting off easy.”

      • I am all for women choosing to dress in long skirts and severe hairstyles as part of their authentic and chosen expression of a communal faith.

        I do not think that particular way of dressing is an especially Catholic way of doing it; it is certainly not an essential of Catholicism. It irks me when people try to claim that one particular cultural expression of Catholicism is more than that. Now don’t get me started on “the marriage debt.”

  5. I’m definitely a feminist in line eith Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI. I think the shock-value in using the term while still striving to be good mothers and making this as attractive as possible to outsiders shouldn’t be underestimated. I’m particularly interested in this respect in a statement that JPII made in one of his documents, that women in the church are already starting to live a new feminism, as mothers and professionals. He added that it’s up to us to define what that will be and look like. This might be of interest: http://www.faithandfamilylive.com/blog/the_new_feminism/
    As a mother of three open to life (now and in the future) and abpit to take on a university post, I’m particularly interested in figuring this one out! Great post and topic, Simcha!

  6. Thank you for that article! I enjoyed it a lot. Your writing is great!

    I really liked this sentiment:

    “I was young, and just trying to figure out who I was. So it was easiest to just find an admirable model and imitate it for all I was worth.”

    That is very well said and I’ve so.been.there.

    I liked this, too:

    “My husband says I’m a feminist. I know many liberal feminists would recoil in horror at that assessment: After all, I have all these kids, and I’m a member in good standing with that horrible old misogynistic Church, with its oppressive rules about reproduction and obedience. I’m pro-life and wholeheartedly follow the Magisterium’s teaching on the male priesthood and contraception, and try to make the Blessed Virgin my model.”

    I think about that a lot, that that’s how a mainstream cultural feminist would look at someone like me.

  7. Count me in… and if you want to use the word feminist I don’t see why you shouldn’t, it’s not like anyone owns the word

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