Loading

Feminist memories

Laraine Bennett

Photograph by Natasha C. Dunn - (CC)

For the first time, the headline read, more women than men earned PhDs in the U.S., the culmination of decades of change in the status of women on campuses nationwide.

I was there, during some of those years. The article brought me back to my own brief stint in graduate school, back in the late seventies.  Memories were still fresh of the famous bank burning protest in Isla Vista. It was an era of radical feminism, Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying, and “take back the night” demonstrations. 

I was one of three female grad students in a male-dominated field (philosophy) and, as perhaps the least eccentric, I was invited to sit on the Chancellor's Advisory Committee on the Status of Women. (One of my colleagues was having a wild affair with a political philosophy professor, while the other smoked cigars in the style of the brilliant G.E.M. Anscombe.)

We discussed female representation in graduate studies, on the faculty, and in tenured positions, along with sexual harassment and violence against women.

Today, however, men still hold the majority of faculty and tenured positions --my former department has only one female professor currently on the faculty-- and women earn less than men in academia.  As I peruse the website of the current department of philosophy, I note that all five of the new graduate students are male. Not much progress there.

My thesis advisor once told me that I was probably only in grad school to find a husband. He had reason to believe this, since he had married one of his grad students. As a grad student trained to argue every point that ever was uttered, I should have had a smart response, but his comment simply took the stuffing out of me.

Though I completed my thesis, I did not pursue the doctorate, but left with a master’s degree and a huge sigh of relief.

A decade later John Paul II wrote Mulieris Dignitatem, on the dignity and vocation of women, directly addressing both the problems faced by women, and the mistaken conclusions drawn by radical feminists.

“The woman cannot become the ‘object’ of male ‘domination’ and ‘possession,’” he wrote.  Nonetheless, “In the name of liberation from male ‘domination,’ women must not appropriate to themselves male characteristics contrary to their own feminine ‘originality.’” He argues that the true dignity of a woman does not rest on the acquisition of male attributes or of power, but rather in becoming a child of God, created in his image and likeness. 

The fundamental equality (both “a gift and a right”) between the sexes, lost through Original Sin, is overcome in Christ. “[T]here is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3: 28).

We are meant to do something in this world, to develop our unique talents and capabilities, Pope Benedict XVI tells us in God and the World. Yet this is more than simply acquiring skills, competing in a traditionally male arena, or breaking the glass ceiling. And it certainly doesn’t mean seeking power or jockeying for position at the altar as "priestesses."

Our development as women should always occur not as a matter of vindictive competition, but within the context of love. As Pope Benedict said: “I am only fulfilling my mission to love, so to speak, when I become the person I am capable of being. When I am giving what I am able to give.”

The Church has always affirmed the equality of dignity between men and women. In fact, there are three female saints who have been named “Doctor of the Church” because of their outstanding holiness and depth of understanding and insight shown by their writings and teachings: Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Teresa of Avila, and Saint Therese of Lisieux.

Only in Christ will we realize our true dignity as women, our role as active personal "subjects" --not objects-- who are free to develop our talents and skills and to grow in holiness.

John Paul II would have applauded the rise in academic doctorates, as long as it doesn’t come at the price of our fundamental vocation, the most fundamental and innate vocation of every human being, male or female: the vocation to love. 

 

Photograph by Natasha C. Dunn - (CC)

Topics: Books , Culture , Current Events , Faith , Workplace , Young Women

Laraine Bennett co-authored, with her husband Art, The Temperament God Gave Your Spouse and The Temperament God Gave You, published by Sophia Institute Press. Their new book, The Emotions God Gave You, is due Spring 2011. Please visit their website at http://temperaments.sophiainstitute.com/.

View all articles by Laraine Bennett

Ads by Google
(What's this?)

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

OUR TOPICS

Abortion (48)  Advent & Christmas (19)  Beauty (3)  Bioethics (4)  Books (55)  Church history (16)  Church teaching (31)  Contraception (26)  Culture (123)  Current Events (93)  Dating (15)  Death (4)  Depression (14)  Divorce (7)  Education (14)  Eucharist (4)  Exercise (3)  Faith (220)  Family (89)  Fashion (5)  Feminism (14)  Fertility (2)  Fitness (1)  Food (2)  Forgiveness (18)  Friendship (18)  Generosity (2)  Girl Scouts (2)  Grieving (1)  Health (23)  Home Management (17)  Humor (14)  Leadership (4)  Lent & Easter (13)  Liturgical Year (11)  Marian devotion (8)  Marriage (35)  Mature Years (5)  Meditations (17)  Mental illness (1)  Mercy (2)  Military Families (2)  Ministry (5)  Miscarriage (1)  Motherhood (58)  Movies (2)  Music (5)  Natural Family Planning (2)  Nutrition (4)  Parenting (44)  Personal Growth (105)  Politics (4)  Pope Francis (1)  Pornography (3)  Prayer (33)  Pro-Life (27)  Psychology (1)  Reflections (6)  Relationships (44)  Religious freedom (11)  Saints (11)  Scripture (7)  Service (8)  Sexuality (19)  Single years (4)  Social justice (1)  Social Networking (5)  Special Needs (3)  Spirituality (2)  Suffering (14)  Suicide (1)  Travel (11)  United Nations (1)  Welcome (1)  Women in the Church (4)  Women's Health (20)  Workplace (12)  Writings of the Saints (10)  Young Women (40) 

Jul
25

Liturgical Calendar

July 25, 2014

Saint James, Apostle

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Featured Videos

Dedicating art to San Juan de la Cruz
Dedicating art to San Juan de la Cruz
A state without territory elects new government
The renewal of the Legionaries of Christ
Presentation of the book "The Pastor"
Synod on the Family October 2014
Preferential option for the poor
God is alive, even in sport
'A forbidden God' named Best Film at the International Catholic Film Festival
Vatican backs a 'Pause for Peace' during World Cup final
The effects of religious violence in Sarajevo 
The origin of Corpus Christi 
Corpus Christi at the Vatican 
Homage to an Indian Cardinal
Train of the Child's Light
New book explaining gestures of the Mass
Encounter between Pope Francis and the Charismatic Renewal in the Spirit Movement.
Religious tensions subside amid Balkan floods
John Paul II Center for Studies on Marriage and Family
Saint John Paul II on cartoon
Syrian Christian refugees

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 20:20-28

Gospel
Date
07/25/14
07/24/14
07/23/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: 2 Cor 4: 7-15
Gospel:: Mt 20: 20-28

Saint of the Day

St. James »

Saint
Date
07/25/14
07/23/14

Homily of the Day

Mt 20:20-28

Homily
Date
07/25/14
07/24/14
07/23/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: