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catholicism and feminism

This is a guest post by Heather Befort of Dappled Grey Adventures for PinkSaltRiot.com.

Feminism and Catholicism are two terms people rarely use in the same sentence – why? Today’s world has distorted the idea of feminism to the point that when most people hear the term, it brings up an image of the radical feminists.  Today, hearing “feminism” evokes the image of those who believe that motherhood is a burden instead of a gift; that a woman cannot live to her full potential if she is juggling a successful career and motherhood. Radical feminism is those who believe a woman is not truly free if she loves a man in some way, whether through dating or marriage. However, there are several Catholic women, myself included, working to change this perception.

Regardless of how well it’s understood, feminism and Catholicism are quite complementary; both advocate for the recognition of human dignity.  The women’s movement was originally pro-family, prior to joining the sexual revolution. FemCatholic recently published a post about this specific topic. Feminism is essentially about fighting to change society so that women’s dignity is recognized and they are treated as equals of  men. This involves fighting for equal pay, and for letting a woman choose whether she wants to be a stay at home mom, or pursuing a career and motherhood. It is fighting to make sure a woman can choose her path, and that she has the same opportunities as men. It is about combating the objectification of women and our society’s tendency to degrade women.

Even though we fight this battle here in the U.S., feminism encompasses women’s rights not just in this country, but all around the globe. In some societies, women are considered property, and the respect they are given is barely above what is shown to livestock. (PSA, read about Robot Sophia in Saudi Arabia that’s “complex” enough that it’s a citizen whereas women are barely allowed to drive……. )

Wives are seen as servants to husbands, and are often not allowed to work outside the home. Because of this, education for girls is frowned upon. In some countries, if a girl tries to pursue an education, she is either severely beaten or even killed for it. In other countries, it is made known to girls that they are unwanted all because in the society, boys are preferred over girls.

Even now, in the 21st century, numerous Catholics shy away from the idea of feminism, but it is extremely important that we now fight to recognize the dignity of women. If we can win this fight here in the U.S., maybe other countries will see that and follow our example. l Now, is the time to take a stand for our rights, as women.

Reaching our goal of recognizing our human dignity as women will be much more difficult to achieve if we constantly compare ourselves to each other. Even in the secular feminist movement, this is happening. In the feminist movement, they portray themselves as this image of women who are “tomboy” and not “feminine”. For women who are more feminine and enjoy feminine activities, the secular feminists see them as below them or as “unworthy” to be considered a feminist. They are acting just like those who believe women are inferior to men; they are the very thing they are fighting.

We need to be celebrating our differences instead of tearing each other down for them. God made us each to be unique and individual. If He wanted us all to be the same, He would have made us that way. Instead, He gave us each our own unique personalities to suit His plan for each of our lives.

Emily Wilson-Hussem has an entire chapter about this in her book, Go Bravely, and honestly it has changed how I view myself and how I view other women. If we are to successfully advocate for our equality, we must stop tearing each other down,  start recognizing we are all created in God’s image, and start lifting each other up. We’re all fighting the same fight; so it is time to stop fighting against each other, and start fighting with each other.

Feminism and Catholicism truly do go hand in hand. They both are fighting for the recognition of the human dignity of women. No matter who we are or what our dreams are, we are in this together as daughters of God, and are all equals. Hopefully, one day very soon, we will make the world realize this too.

This is a guest post by Heather Befort of Dappled Grey Adventures, a pre-vet student at Fort Hays State University. In her free time she can be found spending time with her horse, pursuing different hobbies, and spending time with friends and family. Connect with her on Instagram here.