Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Catholic Feminist? Reconciling the Irreconcilable

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.


  1. Thanks so much for sharing this! Feminism has always been an intriguing subject to me, since the appeal to justice is their claimed objective, yet their means in carrying it out never fulfills them. I actually wrote my senior thesis on it, coming to the conclusion that authentic femininity (as described by JP2) was a far better option than the typical feminism we know today. Your article made me think that resurrecting a new definition of feminism would be great; it would be, as you said, a witness to what really lies in store for women within the teachings of our amazing faith. Hopefully, this new definition will become more popular that our current understanding of "old, angry women" feminism will be forgotten and replaced with the new liberating justice that only God provides. Thanks again!

    1. Is your thesis published somewhere online, Samantha? I'd love to read it. I know that isn't the common response to the words "senior thesis" but I'm a word nerd. ;) I still balk at the idea of "feminism" as it exists culturally but with each passing day my desire to rise up and over comes stronger and stronger. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment... God bless!

  2. This is a wonderful post. I also do NOT identify with mainstream feminism, and did not even before I was Catholic. One of the most frequently clicked and searched posts on my blog is one I wrote about why I'm NOT a feminist, but lately I have been thinking about that post and wondering if I should revisit my stance on the issue. Not because I have changed my views about mainstream feminism, but because, as its very core, feminism could be so wonderful and uplifting, if it were defined a little differently. Or a lot differently :) I've been thinking about writing a follow up to that post for many months. Maybe now I will :)


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