“The F Word”: A Catholic Woman’s Perspective

***Feminism has become a huge hot button issue recently. In this article I would like to preface that as a woman I do believe that appreciating our femininity is important. In writing this blog I am not intending to take a controversial social stance. There are far too many of those already. Rather, I am simply communicating and upholding the inherent dignity of our feminine souls.***

Feminism is necessary. It is necessary that women have the right to vote, get an education, be empowered, not sexually exploited, paid well, and taken seriously. However, I’m still not a fan of three “types” of feminists that are seen in today’s culture. The first type being those who believe that sexually exploiting yourself will illicit earned-empowerment, the second type being those who degrade a man’s inherent dignity in the process of trying to improve an already gender compromised situation, and the third type consisting of women who call themselves feminists yet are confused about the beauty and meaning behind true, inherent femininity.

Here’s why: I believe that women should recognize that they are to be self-empowered, intelligent, and curious. Women should recognize that they are capable, but still walk humbly. Women are strong, and a woman who is to be praised recognizes her strength. But she is still gentle and convicted while still patient. A determined and feminine woman hopes with joy in spite of every defeat, knowing her abilities are evolutionarily designed to conquer all injustices with grace, affection, and assertiveness.

She is without the need to act aggressively, for she is driven by her necessity to demand respect, and this should always be permitted. A real woman selflessly loves while seeking the greatest good for her beloved. And above all, she recognizes that her beauty isn’t self-made; rather, she is self-appreciative of the already innate beauty within her; which is a God given characteristic that can never be taken away.

These are not oppressive qualities. But here’s the catch, if feminists are speaking for true equality, then naturally this should be the standard for men, too.

THE FIRST TYPE

Women continually degrade and objectify men even after they shame males for committing the same crime against women. And yet, as women, we are still encouraging the objectification of own bodies. I am not saying that it is entirely our fault that women are objectified, but what I am saying is that if we want to see improvement and empowerment, then its harmful to add salt to an already infected wound. We have to be actively demanding respect by outwardly expressing the inward respect we have for ourselves.

This may be an unpopular opinion, but as women who demand respect, I still believe that we are faulty and hypocritical if we tell men, “do not objectify me,” and yet still refuse to help the situation by compromising our womanhood, sexually exploiting ourselves, being immodest in speech, or calling other girls “sluts” and “hot mami’s.” It encourages our words to mean nothing. If we expect our men to respect us, well, then on some level we have to respect ourselves. I don’t believe women need to gain respect. Women should ALREADY be highly respected.

But it’s true that it’s not always like that. And what I’ve noticed is that sometimes we wonder SO much about why we’re not respected enough while still giving people plenty of reasons not to. You should respect a woman for simply being a woman, but if someone see’s that you lack respect for yourself then chances are they won’t respect you, either.

However, obviously this is not representative of all women. I’ve actually been impressed by the strong and independent women that I’ve spoken with recently. We’re working toward great social equality when it comes to certain issues. However, we still have the obligation as women to display what a strong feminine womanhood really looks like. I don’t think our culture has totally done a good job at that yet.

We get it. You could be walking down the street in your lingerie and still not be asking for it, but the line in the sand has to be drawn somewhere. As far as I’m concerned, that statement isn’t very effective or even beneficial if we’re not upholding our dignity as women inwardly and outwardly, especially since deep down within us we all seek affirmation in our own beauty. The truth is, if we’re disrespecting our femininity then we’re not making the conscious effort to help the problem, regardless if a woman is “asking for it” or not.

THE SECOND TYPE

This issue of men not respecting women is not because men lack self-control. In fact, the notion that men lack self control is a claim that is in itself sexist. I’m sick of hearing women say, “All men suck, I’m giving up,” because more often than not I find myself encountering nice, faithful, and genuine men who are SO excited to fit the role as a protector, lover, and companion to a woman whom they respect in love. It is the deepest desire within a man’s heart to take on this role of a “selfless leader,” but our culture makes it hard to understand how to do that. And ladies, I realized that if this is what I desire then it’s a two way street.

If we have integrity and set a healthy standard for ourselves, which we deserve, chances are most men are going to rise to the occasion to prove that they can respect a woman exactly the way that they deserve, and if he isn’t willing, then that’s a good sign to get out. Sadly, some men do have a misguided understanding about how to properly love and desire the greatest good for their beloved, and this is never a woman’s fault, but this also isn’t categorical of ALL men.

However, I do feel that this issue is not just a man’s issue. I think it is still prevalent because at our core most women have forgotten how beautiful we really are as precious, loved, and desired daughters of God. This is partly because of technical distortions, partly because of the Robin Thicke’s of this world who communicate otherwise that our bodies are something to objectified rather than cherished, and partly because we’re lacking to realize something within ourselves.

It is wrong to put men in a box and say that they’re all pigs and are incapable of becoming that selfless leader. As women, we need to show them that what the culture is saying is wrong. We know that it’s wrong. We need to respect them and hold them up to a higher standard, which ultimately, is something they deserve too.

THE THIRD TYPE

It confuses me when women claim to be feminists while lacking femininity.

True femininity is not oppressive. Women have only oppressed themselves will a false idea of beauty. We are not flawed in our advancements that make us further capable to be equally paid or recognized with a voice outside of the household… but appreciating our God-given feminine beauty is where feminists have fallen short.

What ever happened to valuing the joy in being a woman not because of what we can accomplish, although highly important that we accomplish much, but as Saint John Paul II put it, valuing our womanhood because of what God has already accomplished for us as the “crown of creation“? We are the most strong, complex, and truly beautiful creatures to ever be thought into existence.

But selfishness has gotten in the way. Sexual dominance does not prove our beauty. Equality does not prove our worth. And the decision to be a housewife is not a disgrace. Beauty beyond our comprehension already exists within us. We lest not need to do anything more than exist and embrace our womanhood.

Lets be honest, I’m not talking about social issues here, I’m talking about the issue of our souls. Currently it’s a race to “equality.” And certainly rights are important, but when I’m talking about who we are as daughters of God we should never try to be equal to our fellow man. Yes, we are called to respect the men in our life as I mentioned previously, but when we’re considering about our innate beauty as women the issue of equality is not something we should be worried about. God has already created us to be most cherished. And when we unite with our husband as the crown of creation, the divine beauty communicated by God is that union between man and woman for fruitful communion is unreal! The love we are capable of changes history. We don’t need to change ourselves. We don’t need to prove anything to anyone. Women have always been the crown of creation, and that’s a God given right that can never be taken away. We are so complexly beautiful. How do we not see this reality?

Until we journey on a mission together to reclaim the truth of our beauty we will have no peace in our hearts. Because we are the crown of creation, and not an afterthought, we know that it’s never been equal in the first place. Women have always been a prized possession over men because of how we were inherently created. We can bear life. Man was searching for that perfect companion in the Garden of Eden and we fit the role, and it was “very good.” With this in mind, we need to desperately recognize the beauty already within us above anything else, and act accordingly. But we also need do our part to respect and honor the men in our life by helping them along in their journey to Christ.

A woman named Mary gave birth to God Himself and is revered as the Most Holy Queen of Heaven and spouse of the Holy Spirit. There are more woman saints in the Catholic Church than males. The most endearing, joyful, and attractive women are holy. The Church has never been oppressive to women. We embrace womanhood in its entirety. In conclusion, within the Catholic Church, women are always praised and thanked women for “simply being women” (Saint John Paul II), and maybe that’s what we’re somehow forgetting, but also something that we so desperately need to remember for ourselves.

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