It couldn't have been more than a month or two ago that I was debating the use of the term feminist with a friend. I whole-heartedly rejected the idea that a Catholic woman would need or want to embrace the term. Why would she when she has a beautiful, whole, and healthy identity in the person of Jesus Christ? Even if we can reconcile the term with the faith (a huge stretch), why is it necessary?
And then I wrote this...
So... life humbles. And I've done a flip-flop of sorts. I still entirely reject the secular mainstream feminism -- which is simply an extension of an anti-life, anti-family, narcissistic worldview -- but now embrace a new use of the term. Not a "reclaiming" as some would like to do (I don't believe it was ever truly ours)... but a redefining. A takeover.
If you ask me if I am a feminist, I will now answer yes, but then I'll give you an earful about why I don't mean what you think I mean. The depth and joy of Catholic femininity can't be contained in a label or slogan. I use any reluctantly. But at this moment in history, I can see the value of a deliberate defiance of the culture.
I refuse to let mainstream feminists speak for me. And my purpose in resurrecting such a word in my life at all is to bear active witness. It is poking the hornets' nest. It is forcing a conversation that must be had in order to fight injustice.
There's a place for activism on behalf of the natural rights and dignity of women, especially in a world that increasingly devalues what is good and beautiful about womanhood. As Catholic women, we need to take that place. We may be secure in our rock-solid-awesome Catholic families and parishes, but I assure you that there are women out there who desperately need our hand and our voice.
So, can a Catholic be a feminist? If you define feminist by the terms of the world, then I shout a resounding NO. The possibility can only exist in a "New Feminism" ... and I invite you to read more here at The Guiding Star Project.