I Am a Feminist and I Have a Wish List for Pope Francis

Kathy Schiffer, who writes at Seasons of Grace, published a post today about one feminist’s list of things she’d like to see Pope Francis do.

Kathy does a fine job of critiquing this To Do List — which was written by Angela Bonavoglia — from the viewpoint of a faithful Catholic.

Predictably, there was not one thing on this list that would help, or that even addresses, the real problems that endemic misogyny foists on real woman in the real world.

The list was all about demands that the Catholic Church change its hierarchy, appoint a woman cardinal and, oh yes, do away with the celibate priesthood. There was a call to “leave behind the Virgin Birth,” and the predictable demand that the Church get its head right about abortion and contraception.

The only thing on the list that I agree with is that the Vatican should have women on the panels when it discusses women. That’s what you might call a no-brainer. I’ll go a step further and say that the Church should have women on its advisory panels on most topics. We are, after all, half the human race.

I am aware that virtually all of today’s “official” feminists do not consider me much of a woman, much less a feminist, due to my support for the sanctity of human life. Abortion has become the qualifier for what is a feminist in their minds. This is a tragedy, both for feminism and for the women of the world who are in such desperate need of a movement that will speak for them and to them.

The author of the Pope Francis To Do List left out the two fundamental human rights that are denied women in every corner of this globe. She didn’t mention the basic and absolutely essential right to life for female babies and little girls. She also ignored the human right of all people — including women — to live without fear of being bought, sold, raped, beaten, tortured or murdered.

Think about this for a minute.

Girls right here in America are regularly cautioned not to drink from open containers at parties for fear their drink might be drugged and they will end up gang raped by the men at the party. Girls in college dorms are cautioned about this before going to fraternity parties. These fraternities and their behavior are that well known. But the college administration does nothing about it except to caution the girls to be careful.

Here’s a thought Mr or Ms College President: If you can’t trust a fraternity not to drug and gang rape their guests, maybe you should close the fraternity.

Women all over the world know that they cannot go outside alone in certain areas, that they may not wear certain types of clothes, all for fear of violent attack.

Certain cultures here in America and whole cultures elsewhere tolerate husbands who routinely rape their wives, because she “belongs to him.”

Women are bought and sold like chattel on on-line porn sites, on the streets and byways, and in the offices of medical doctors. Egg harvesters run ads on college campuses to entice young girls to endanger their lives and their future fertility by allowing their bodies to be brutalized by massive doses of hormones, then subjected to totally unnecessary surgeries in order to harvest eggs. Women are used in an international surrogacy industry that leaves many of them, especially in other countries, dead.

Women and children of both sexes are trafficked all over the globe in an international sex trafficking industry. This industry could not exist without men who are willing to buy women and children and use them as if they were things.

Sex tourism is a major contributor to the economies of a number of small countries, including island nations in the Caribbean. Again, this could not happen without customers who come from more affluent places to buy human beings and use them without regard for their humanity.

This leads me to an admission.

I have a wish list for Pope Francis of my own.

It’s the same wish list I’ve had for every pope since I converted to Catholicism. It will be my wish list until I either go home to the Lord, or a pope finally grants it.

I want to see a full-scale Encyclical condemning the wholesale, endemic and historic violence against women that is the shame of the human race. I have written previous popes letters, asking them to do this. I haven’t written Pope Francis about it yet, but I must. I will.

I can not describe what such an encyclical would mean to the women of the world. It is so needed — and so long overdue.

As for the feminist woman and her list of things she wants Pope Francis to do, my advice is for her to stop making her feminism about her grudge fights with the Church and start making it about the needs of women who are faced with virulent, degrading and often fatal misogyny.

  • AnneG

    The more I learn about the trafficking of women the worse it is. Pope Francis may be just the one to denounce this disgusting, horrendous practice.

    • oregon nurse

      He already has, multiple times. And he speaks of all forms of trafficking not just of sex trafficking. Here is just one article I Googled on the subject.
      http://www.ecumenicalnews.com/article/pope-francis-use-pulpit-to-condemn-human-trafficking-22237

      • hamiltonr

        I know, but what I want is a full Encyclical on the issue of violence against women.

        • oregon nurse

          I’m pretty sure I understand what you mean and why you want it. But I think that it is unlikely because it would open too large a can of worms that the Church would not want to address. You can’t address violence and injustice against women without addressing all the institutional supports throughout all cultures (can’t just blame individual bad actors like the abuse crisis) and that would just hit too close to home for the patriarchal Church both now and historically. I say that without implying an intention by the Pope to ignore or agree with the institutional supports just an understandable unwillingness to face the charges of hypocrisy it would bring.

          There are also biological realities of being female that are always going to leave us at the mercy of male violence in a way that men are just not as susceptible to and we females need to accept that and act accordingly – not blame male dominated society. We’re never going to be able to walk down dark alleys as safely as a big burly dude so why waste time lamenting it, weak skinny little men are at risk too! It’s not about violence against females as much as it is about the stronger preying on the weaker (rape is about power not sex). The last thing I want as a woman is to be given greater ‘strength’ or power to prey on men as an attempt to confer some kind of ‘equality’ and since we can’t make all men act lovingly toward women where else can attempts at equality realistically take us?

          Feminism must stop defining itself against men and male ‘privilege’ or it will never be authentically about helping women to be the best women they can be. Some of the greatest ‘violence’ that has been done to women has been perpetrated against us in the name of a feminism that sought to make us more like men. Feminism needs to be shouting about the glories of being female as only a female can be.

          • hamiltonr

            That’s pretty hard to do with a broken jaw.

            “Feminism needs to be shouting about the glories of being female as only a female can be.”

            • oregon nurse

              That is poetic but I honestly don’t know how that relates to this conversation. Do you think there is anyone out there likely to be influenced by a papal encyclical that doesn’t already know that’s wrong?

              • hamiltonr

                Yes. A whole world full of them.

                And by the way, to say that being against violence against women is an attack on men, is a a terrible insult to men. I was raised by a man who taught me that any man who raised his hand to a woman is not a man at all; he’s a worthless coward.

                Decent men — which is most men — are women’s allies in the fight to end violence against women. They always have been. I can attest to that as someone who has worked on this issue for decades. My most stalwart allies have been men.

                If you’ll notice, many of the best suggestions relating to this post are coming from men.

                However, whether or not to write an encyclical about this isn’t your decision or mine. It rests with the Pope.

                • oregon nurse

                  “And by the way, to say that being against violence against women is an attack on men, is a a terrible insult to men.”

                  I have no idea where you got that idea from anything I wrote. I absolutely believe men are our allies which is why I say that feminism needs to stop trying to turn us into competitors with men and glory in our differences. I think men ‘get’ that better than women do.

                  • hamiltonr

                    I’m sorry. I must have misunderstood you. I apologize, Oregon Nurse.

                    • oregon nurse

                      Apology accepted and thank you. We really do want the same things but I think we just have different opinions about how to go about getting them.

                    • hamiltonr

                      :-)

          • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

            A screed worthy of Susan B Anthony herself!

            This goes right along with a book I just finished reading. Online Life’s _Abortion: The ultimate exploitation of women, and what men can do about it_

        • FW Ken

          The pope has spoken of his desire to articulate a theology of women, and such an encyclical could be an intrinsic element of such a theology. I say write the letter, not only to the pope, but to the American cardinals as well. Maybe to the newspaper as well.

          • hamiltonr

            Good ideas Ken. I’ll follow through.

            • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

              I saw an article about the small office that reads the Pope’s mail. I think there is a decent chance that your letter will be read by somebody who *can* influence the Pope towards such an encyclical being discussed at the synod of Family and Married Life.

              The most powerful encyclicals come out of Synods and Councils- when the Pope is acting in his role in the office of Peter, repeating the common infallible teaching of the Magisterium.

          • irena mangone

            Write to every priest in the whole entire world bombard hem all many sit in self satisfied complacency it is2014 not the dark ages

    • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

      Don’t know why they’d pay any more attention to him than Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II, or Benedict XVI denounced that disgusting, horrendous practice.

  • Mystica

    BOOM. Fantastic article. I’m female, and I don’t call myself a feminist because the word has become a euphemism for far-leftist twaddle. Nice to see a respectable feminism for a change in the world, from this author, Rebecca Hamilton.

    • hamiltonr

      Thank you Mystica.

    • Joeglocken Rightjustice

      When I see a comment like yours Mystica that conveys an uncompromising reality in such few words ” euphemism for far-leftist twaddle” ,proves thee word “Truth” . There is so much power in five truthful words which can discredit pages of false deceptive misleading speeches promoting agendas, for ulterior motives. Radical,extremism, Right or Left ,promote hatred as liberating justice and equality .

  • Almario Javier

    It always gets me that the feminists who scream loudest about birth control and abortion, to the excusion, it seems, of anything else, are always in the First World, and always from the perspective of the super-assimilated upper-middle-class. It betrays a savor of classism and Eurocentrism. But of course, that is the same perspective of the so-called “quality papers” and the corporate broadcasters in this country. Something only becomes an issue for women if the Right Sort of women experience it, and it doesn’t threaten the corporate hegemony.

    • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

      An excellent remark by the Marxist journalist Maire Nic Suibhne: “Remember that behind every successful woman there is another woman – cleaning her floor.” Anyone who does not realize that what passes for feminism today is about an ultra-entitled top one per cent of society has missed its point altogether. What, after all, is it obsessed with? Apart, of course, from abortion? With the so-called glass ceiling: more posts for women on boards and governing bodies, higher wages (under the guise of wage equality, supposedly not yet achieved), more facilities for women to have their children expensively taken care of by other women. This is the agenda of a tiny fraction of women at the top; except for childcare, it has nothing to offer to the women who work in shops, call centres, factories, or cubicle-wasteland offices – and the economics of childcare dictate that the more it is made available to such women, the more it itself, as an industry, will rely on exploited and underpaid women. Child carers can only be paid a proper wage if their employers are rich. In other words, the ideal society of the modern feminist is a thick bunch of women at the top, hobnobbing with men of their own rank in places like Davos, and served by armies of invisible and poorly paid women below. And you wonder why they don’t give a damn about the abuse of lower-class women in things like egg plunder or prostitution? Those women are the same class of invisible women whose drudgery keeps the artificial structure of feminist success in place.

      But then, that is part of the flattening of politics and other features of the modern world on the concerns, needs and interests of the top one per cent. We are the first generation since the days of the Republic of Venice to discover that there are businesses that are “too big to fail”, that is, that even where men (and the occasional woman) have carried on their business with criminal idiocy, the size of the business itself is such that we don’t dare let them be punished as they deserve. In other words, they escape punishment by reason of their rank, like aristocrats used to in the old days. But at least then the law clearly said that that would be the case.

      • hamiltonr

        Exactly Fabio. Thank you.

      • Almario Javier

        What wage inequality is is the fact that more women are poorer, and used as much as their male counterparts to fuel the excesses of the Davos set. The true solution to wage inequity is to address the concerns of lower-class women, not to funnel even more money towards the masters of the universe. The upper-class woman has near the same wages as her male counterpart. But should it be our mission to instill the the equal right of rich men and women to prey upon the rest of society, whose destitute state accounts for most, I wager, of the wage disparity?

        • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

          Amen. (But I think you lost a word or more in your first sentence.)

  • http://leelusplace.blogspot.com/ leelu

    Excellent! Teeny nit – add “mutilation” to the horror list. Just for completeness.

    • hamiltonr

      Good point.

  • Madzi

    As long as women themselves buy into the feminist claptrap by writers like Schiffer, the violence will continue. I’m not blaming women for “dressing to entice” or saying that their behavior excuses male on female violence BUT… as long as women refuse to see how bamboozled and lied to and USED they have permitted themselves to be, this will continue, encyclical or not.
    That said, I agree that Francis has a golden opportunity here. Write the letter. As for signatures and you’ll get them. I personally will copy your letter and take it to local parishes for more signatures.
    Your recent (and others’) blog entry about the hypocrisy of those who “celebrate” the likes of Woody Allen and Roman Polanski? Rebecca, if women —as you mentioned, HALF the population— stood up and yelled, “ENOUGH!” they would be as ostracized as they deserve to be.
    Mothers: raise your daughters to value themselves…and your sons to value them as well. Mothers are the most potentially powerful force in the universe. It’s about time we embraced that. And it starts with recognizing it as FACT.

    • hamiltonr

      Madzi, I evidently didn’t make it clear and I apologize for that. I will re-write it to clarify. Kathy Schiffer was criticizing a piece written by another writer. The other writer was the one who came up with the “feminist” to do list for the Holy Father.

      I muddied things because I didn’t really want to link to the lady who wrote the insulting list. Apologies.

      • hamiltonr

        I went back and added a couple of sentences. I hope it’s less confusing now. Thank you for your excellent comment Madzi!

        • Madzi

          You are most welcome, as is your clarity of thought and stellar expression. My bad for not getting the name right. I actually read the article itself yesterday, as it was posted by Catholic Vote. Sloppy skimming on my part.
          One excellent point that CV made is that, while the writer chastises the Holy Father for having the audacity to continue to “talk” about the “role of women in the Church,” since, “they’ve been there all along,” she herself does exactly that and has in the past. So it’s a case of “I can do this–but YOU, Francis, may not.” Again, hypocrisy runs amok.

  • Joeglocken Rightjustice

    There are so many injustices occurring that it creates an emotional hopelessness by seemingly little appropriate forms of action undertaken or instigated.Political or Diplomatic pressure seem lacking due to other worldwide crisis.

    I stand with the Catholic Church but avoid certain issues as Im not qualified nor possess much relevant knowledge. Sometimes I express an opinion based on my perceptions and possible relative reasons concerning a certain issue. Your wish to see a full-scale Encyclical regarding women is a very noble ,sincere and worthy request.However with due respect ,are you coming from a place of overwhelming appreciation by women worldwide or unsure upon their overall reaction ?.
    I fully support with admiration your proposed request as many of us men experienced or witnessed our mother`s,grandmother`s etc being victims from various abusive sources. Social attitudes, and Civil Authorities acceptance were in my opinion a major contributing factor.
    The Clerical inaction could possibly be defended as they were not involved ,compared to their incriminating actions,abuses upon innocent children etc.
    The Pope expressed, shame, sorrow humiliation and apologized to victims of these unspeakable crimes.
    The Pope apologized for historical Church sanctioned,endorsed actions of Crusades Inquisition, Orthodox ,and Oceania etc. The pope`s apology to Jews and Israel seemed more of a Political Diplomatic nature.
    Im in total agreement and support your comments on the past present, exploitation abuses etc of women ,young girls .The rights, needs of women being addressed etc
    Could it be a more precautionary measure , the Pope may not honor your request .?
    For example in my opinion, if contraception were allowed, a major weakness would result against defending , the Right to life, Euthanasia etc. What would a request like a full-scale Encyclical regarding women endanger
    I believe there are two powers trying to destroy the catholic Church. They are using different rights groups ,Political sources to attack ,undermine ,destabilize the Rock.
    Its so Ironic that these countries where unbelievable abuses against women, young girls ,boys etc are politically aligned with many human rights groups but against the Right to life.
    Thats just an observation which I hope does not effect your request for is ,creating awareness on protection, equality, respectful appreciation to women
    Our Celtic Race honored women for most battles were among Clans led by warrior Queens. like An Bhanrion Méadhbh.

    God bless
    Joe

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    That’s a really good idea for an encyclical.

  • irena mangone

    I like your idea but do you think the MEN who are obnoxious child and women Sex procurers will stop immediately when the Pope speaks . There are women who help the men to procure children will they stop, God gave us the Ten Commandments and do we listen , you in America even have in your constitution something along the lines GOD given right to bear arms. Excuse me where does God give you the right to have weapons. All these MAN made rules. Use what the they want and how they want and if you are a women or child tough so it will take a miracle for MEN to listen to our Pope I guess we women need to bombard heaven with our prayers, and yes there are many good MEN. they need to be heard .

  • CrazyFor Kate

    I’m pro-choice and far-left, but totally agree with you that Pope Francis needs to issue some sort of declaration on violence against women – and that society in general must re-examine the way such violence is treated. The church has been not only male-dominated, but also male-oriented for far too long. Time to speak up, right?

  • Fabio Paolo Barbieri
    • hamiltonr

      Thank you Fabio! You’re right. She is my kind of nun.


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