Yes, we still need feminism.

I used to wonder why any 21st-century woman would call herself a feminist.

Feminism has become something utterly toxic. Maybe the word once stood for something useful and good, but feminism today means abortion on demand and without apology; now it means contempt for virginity, contempt for children, contempt for motherhood. Why would any right-thinking woman even want to use that name, when it puts you in such dreadful company?

And anyway, why do we even need feminism anymore?  Aren’t we done?  There once was a real need for the movement. Long ago, women truly had to fight for basic freedoms. But now we can vote, now we can own property, now we have as much as a men do in the way our lives go. We can go to school where we want, work where we want, wear what we want, travel where we want — and if we want to stay home and raise babies, assisted by female doctors and respected by our enlightened husbands, then feminism has won that right for us, too. It’s a golden post-feminist age, if we play our cards right.

In the past, when someone questioned the need for feminism, I would think of my mother, my grandmothers, my great-grandmothers, the way they lived and how they struggled.  My mother tells me of how she was suffering through a difficult labor. The male doctor, irritated, responded by strapping her down and injecting her, without her consent, with a drug that left her pain intact, but made her unable to cry out. “She feels better now,” she heard the doctor say, and she couldn’t argue with him, because she couldn’t form words.

So that’s why we needed feminism. Because unless someone told them otherwise, there would always be men who treated women like vessels, like nuisances, like inferiors, like property — and women, because they are the vessels of life, needed to fight back against this treatment. They needed to demand justice.

But no more, right?  The women’s movement was necessary, but it’s done its work.  Thank you for your efforts, suffragettes. And now we can rest, because we are all set.

Well, think again. I’m 39 years old, and feeling it. I read the blogs and comments of younger women, and I know that they’re living in a different world. Now, when I wonder if there is still a need for feminism, I look to the future of women, not the past.

When I was in college, there were a few cads and perverts on campus. But there was no such thing as nonstop porn — violent porn, available for free, 24 hours a day, on tiny devices that could be carried in your pocket.  There was no such thing as generation of men who thought of themselves as decent guys, and who expected their girlfriends to act out that porn which is normal normal normal.  There was no such things as websites dedicated to teaching guys how to drug their dates into submission, or how to trick their reluctant girlfriends into getting an abortion. There was no such thing as mainstream retailers like Target ads featuring a girl whose entire vulva was Photoshopped away, to make her trendy thigh gap gappier. There was no such thing as feminist who vehemently defended sex-selective abortion. No such thing as women live-blogging their abortions, gleefully posting pictures of their bloody baby’s remains and calling it liberation. No such thing as women selling eggs to get through college — selling their bodies to make it through college. No such thing, at least, as these things happening and progressive people calling it . . . empowering.

This is why we need feminism. Because someone needs to fight back, to tell these people, men and women: STOP. This is not what women are for. This is now how it’s supposed to go. This is not how life gets carried on. This is no life, for women or for men.

And if you think these outrages only exist in the godless secular world, you are sheltered indeed. Men and women in some Catholic circles believe that marital rape is impossible, because the marriage debt means that women never have the right to say “no.” They believe that if men use porn, it’s the woman’s fault for not being compliant or submissive enough. I know a woman whose priest told her that it’s a mortal sin to refuse her husband sex even one time, for any reason.  I know women who’ve gotten an annulment after enduring years of rape and physical and emotional abuse, and the congregation shuns . . . the woman. And her children. Because marriage is sacred.

This is why we need feminism — yes, still. This is why we need it more than we needed it twenty years ago.  Yes, the movement went astray. Yes, some evil people call themselves feminists, and do dreadful things in the name of feminism. So what?  People do dreadful things in the name of democracy, and people do dreadful things in the name of beauty. People do dreadful things in the name of Christ our savior. That doesn’t mean we abandon the name. That means we rescue it, we rectify the misuse.

When I call myself a feminist, I don’t mean that I break out in a cold sweat when McDonald’s asks me if I want a boy toy or a girl toy in my kid’s happy meal. Some people use “feminism” to mean “being upset all the time” or “getting revenge on men” or “stamping out everything that makes women seem feminine.”  So what? I don’t use it that way. Neither did John Paul II.

Yes, we still need feminism. A lot has changed in the world, but there is much more that never will change. Women will always need men in a particular way — just as men will always need women in a particular way. Barbara Valencia said it well in a recent Facebook conversation:

Left to their own devices, human beings will always drift back into oppressing and abusing one another. The strong will dominate the weak, the weak will in turn manipulate the strong. It’s like a bad wheel on a stroller that will always send the thing veering off the sidewalk into traffic if an extra counter force is not applied in the opposite direction. Christianity is supposed to be that counter force, so is feminism. Indeed, the reason why JPII’s theology is so compelling is because it uses feminist ideas and “completes” them.

It’s not about men or women being more important than the other; it’s about learning how to work in harmony. Ever hear a choir practice? Constant tuning, constant correction.

Maybe sometime in the future, we will be able to retire the word “feminism.” Maybe there will no longer be any need to struggle against injustices that men (and women!) perpetrate against the feminine. But that time is not now. That time is not coming soon. We need feminism. Yes, still.

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  • Julie Dienno-Demarest

    Well said. I especially love “People do dreadful things in the name of Christ our savior. That doesn’t mean we abandon the name. That means we rescue it, we rectify the misuse.”

  • victor

    This needs to be branded as anything other than “feminism” then. That term is burnt.

    • Barbara Fryman

      Once upon a time I agreed with you. Then my daughter was born with Down syndrome. There was once a time when the medical community used the term “mongoloid” which was an inherently racist term derived from the word “Mongolian”. It was used because of the history of British rule in that area of the world and the beleif that “those people” were simple minded and needed the British.

      “Mongoloid” was traded up for “retardation” because it was a more accurate word derived from the Latin “retardare”, which means inhibited or slowed. Now, because middleschool children and ingorant pundits use it as a noun rather than an adjective or diagnosis, there is a campaign to “End the ‘R’ Word”. Now we use terms like “developmentally delayed” and “intellecutally disabled” which are cumbersome terms that will eventually be used by Ann Coulter types who think they are witty ways to insult. So my daughter, who has a hard enough time with language, will have her diagnosis changed over time thanks to the lexicon being determined by jerks. No thank you. I choose acuracy over emotion. I am a feminist.

  • Theresa A Henderson

    Here by Detroit there is a night called “Take Back the Night”.
    I know there is a Catholic group of women out there trying to take back the word feminism. As Julie quoted , I agree. Take back the word.

    • LisaTwaronite

      Instead of responding to individual “Take back the word” comments, maybe I should just get tee-shirts printed up that say, “Sorry, you can’t have it.”
      Feminism belongs to no one – and therefore, to everyone.

  • Susan Windley-Daoust

    Feminists for Life rock. JP II’s “the new feminism” rocks. Heck, even some third wave feminists rock. All these combat a real sin, and that’s sexism. I don’t know if the word is retreivable from the pro-abortion movement, but I’d like to think so. As the Feminists for Life group says, we had the term first. Susan B Anthony (and many other early feminists) were pro-life.

  • Damien Fisher

    Checking in here for … later.

    • CS

      I can see you shadow-boxing in the corner…

  • MC. D.

    Why not abandon the name “feminism”, victor asks? Because we cannot allow those in the wrong to claim, unopposed, that their cause is the way for the female. Because their arguments are rooted in the argument that they are doing what is best for women, and we need to be clear in our correction of that. Because a name matters, and a name so closely rooted to the very idea of womanhood should never belong to those whose goals ignore and pervert the beauty of the feminine.

    • LisaTwaronite

      The name “belongs” to no one. Everyone of us — yes, even those of us who reject traditional womanhood — are feminists.
      Can anyone really claim that ANY cause is “the way for the female?” There is no single way — one size does NOT fit all, and accommodating the differences is part of (what I believe) feminism is about.

      • Theodore Seeber

        That scares me more than anything else- because there is One Way, One Truth, and One Life- and nobody, nobody, lives a complete life without Him.

        Multiculturalism is dangerous.

        • LisaTwaronite

          Multiculturalism is reality — the world is a very big place. Sure, it’s scary in some places, but it’s pretty wonderful, overall. And it’s our differences that make it so.

          • Theodore Seeber

            It is our differences that cause ethnic strife, murder, and war.

          • Lydia

            Not really. There are good differences and bad differences. The problems set in when people look at different and see evil.

          • Theodore Seeber

            When I look at women who deny motherhood, and men who ignore fatherhood and neglect the family, I don’t see very much good at all.

            We’ve had 2000 years of research into the one correct way to live. When we ignore that research, we do so at our own peril.

          • Lydia

            Those are evils, but they are not the fruit of the fact that there are lots of cultures in the world. The Church has a tradition of cherry picking the good stuff from different cultures and baptizing them (Easter eggs, anyone?). Cultural differences in themselves are not the problem. There are cultural differences from state to state in the US. The problem arises when one cultural group declares itself to be better and then starts oppressing people who aren’t evil but different. That, actually is one of the things feminism can address in a good way when that tendency is acted upon towards women. Christian women in Pakistan and now also in Syria are routinely subjected to grave humiliation and violation by Muslim men because they can, because the women aren’t Muslim. There is an example of a truly horrendous cultural evil, acted out in a misogynist way, based in looking at a different culture and a different sex and seeing subhuman.

          • Lydia

            It’s important for Catholics (and anyone, really-there are lots of super liberal types who live in a ghetto of the mind) to beware of the ghetto mentality that can creep in. It’s one thing to get fed up with people’s stupidity and to maintain a close circle of people who agree and can build you up, but it’s another entirely to want everything to be the same and sort of Orwellian.

          • Theodore Seeber

            We aren’t even allowed to have a close circle of people who agree and can build us up anymore- such groups get attacked constantly by the dictatorship of relativism.

          • Lydia

            Really? I have a set of friends like that. I think most people do. No one has ever got in my way of hanging out with those I want to hang out with.

          • Theodore Seeber

            You haven’t had friends escorted out of a school building and fired by the school board for espousing a pro-life view? Been attacked at Church for daring to say that we shouldn’t pay for the genocide of abortion with our taxes?

          • Theodore Seeber

            Which is why Islam is among “The Way of Death”.

          • LisaTwaronite

            “One correct way to live?” And what about those of us who don’t want to live this particular way — or those of us who seek out different cultures, different races, and revel in the differences? What you’re saying goes beyond feminism. You can certainly surround yourself with people who are just like you — who look like you, and share all of your values — but not all of us want that. Nor should we.

          • Theodore Seeber

            Jesus Christ is The Way, the Truth, and the Life. Ignoring that is The Way of Death. The entire purpose of Catholicism has always been about this.

          • LisaTwaronite

            There are countless millions of people who live perfectly dignified, civilized, constructive lives without the benefit of religion. And getting back to feminism — I don’t recall Jesus setting forth any rigid gender roles. Some of his followers were happy to do that later, though.

          • Theodore Seeber

            “There are countless millions of people who live perfectly dignified, civilized, constructive lives without the benefit of religion.”

            No, in fact, they don’t. The lack of religion in and of itself is undignified.

            “And getting back to feminism — I don’t recall Jesus setting forth any rigid gender roles.”

            Yeah, and I bet you don’t understand the doctrine of Immaculate Conception either.

            My point is that your version of feminism is uncivilized and undignified – in and of itself. By denying gender, you’ve denied humanity.

          • LisaTwaronite

            Well, I do deny gender — I believe in physical differences of the sexes, of course, but I tried to raise my kids as gender-free as I possibly could, free from society’s expectations of what they’re supposed to be like.

            And I wish I could introduce you to some of the dignified, civilized folks I’m privileged to know over here, in my non-Christian country.

            I’m almost afraid to ask, but…..what ever does the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception (which I do in fact understand) have to do with feminism/gender roles?

          • LisaTwaronite

            No. The way some people act on differences is what causes ethnic strife, murder and war.
            Do you really want to live in a world where everyone is exactly alike?

          • Theodore Seeber

            Yes. I do. After seeing what liberals and libertarians have done with liberty, after seeing freedom redefined as the license to treat your neighbor worse than you would treat a dog, I don’t have much hope left for “diversity” being anything more than a code word for “Let me sin in my way and I’ll let you sin in yours”.

          • Erin Evans

            I don’t think you know what diversity is. The Catholic Church is diverse, but holds universal truths at the same time. People live and worship in different ways (do you know how many rites there are that are still in union with Rome) We eat different foods Wear different clothes Speak die tent languages, Colors and symbols mean different things in our cultures, and at the same time there is a Universal truth that connects all.

          • Theodore Seeber

            Postmodernists deny the existence of universal truth, and liberty is now nothing more than the license to do whatever one wishes.

        • CS

          Ted, there is a multiculturalism that is imposed/imposable, and then there is a reality of human diversity that cannot be defined by the current word for the same. True “diversity” is that which is described by the Body of Christ: a diversity of person, charism, and unique identity in the eyes of the Creator.

          • Theodore Seeber

            WITHIN the body of Christ there has always been a diversity of culture.

            But that isn’t what the postmodernist means by diversity.

          • CS

            “that isn’t what the postmodernist means by diversity.”

            I totally agree. It is a narrow-minded view that dominates curently; one that assesses the data on people and attempts to quantify them thereby. Diversity = qualities a, b, c, d, and e all in the same place.


  • Mimi Trammell

    Thank you so much. I hate when I can’t formulate in non-ragetastic words why we *do* need feminism..Bookmarking this for future references!

  • mithril1971

    Excellent. THANK YOU. I wanted to blog this too..
    And can we PLEASE recognize the middle class white American perspectives of all this fuss? That is to say, women have the vote – yes- here in America. Women can go to school and work – yes- here in America. In much of the world (and in the US) women disproportionately shoulder poverty, 180 girls were kidnapped in Nigeria and no one is helping, baby girls in China are murdered every year in the thousands, in Egypt and the Middle East women are being gang raped every day, and bear the brunt of conflict unlike their male counterparts. Women are created equal but not treated equally or with dignity around the world, and a tiny global perspective is what lets us all share in the opening words of our Catholic pastoral constitution “the hopes and joys, the GRIEFS and ANXIETIES of all who suffer and the hopes and joys, griefs and anxieties of the people of God. We have a responsibility to be feminist, to protect all women and not to turn our heads because the word has been absconded by political groups or makes some men feel less comfortable sitting around feeling more equal and more dignified by ignoring the griefs and anxieties of women all over the world.

    • CS

      Yes, indeed. Privileged women, especially white women, love to talk about what feminism is and whether we need it anymore but we can ONLY do that because of our privilege! When we can take anything for granted — ability to walk the street alone in safety, ability to make any choices about career and marriage, ability to go to school unimpeded by poverty or terrorists — we are enjoying the fruits of feminism and privilege. And we cannot forget that this is not the case for millions of women in the world.

  • Jennifer

    This post is wonderful. I call myself a feminist, even though I am a SAHM who homeschools and spends most of my time barefoot and pregnant. A true feminist knows that you don’t have to be like a man to be accepted into society. A true feminist knows that her body deserves respect. A true feminist knows that God made the genders completely equal… yet different.

  • Suzanna

    BOOM. ::drops the mic::

    But in all seriousness, I used to cringe at the word ‘feminism’, but now use it in a reclaimed context. The examples you give are real. I’ve witnessed many of them. Experienced only a few, thanks be to God.

  • Debbie M.

    I think we thank Matt Walsh for inspiring this article, right? ;)

  • Super_Red

    This sums up my feelings in so many beautiful ways. THANK YOU. I would add that this video is well worth watching:

    I’ve started telling people I’m proud to be a pro-life feminist even though in recent days I would have been quick to shun the phrasing. I do not agree with anything radical feminism stands for. I’m *so* thankful you mentioned the mcdonalds hullaballo because in a world where unborn women are torn to shreds for the crime of being a female, “feminists” hold up McDonalds no longer asking “would you like the girl toy or the boy toy” as some sort of great feminist victory.

    I love the idea of “genderist” (see the video) and I love love love everything you wrote here. THANK YOU.

  • Diana Calliou

    Well done, Simcha! Feminism: It’s not about men or women being more important than the other; it’s
    about learning how to work in harmony.

  • Julie

    I agree with everything you say. But it is so difficult for me to think of those goals as feminism. When you have to qualify your feminism with things like “for life” or “new-wave” you put yourself at an immediate, semantic disadvantage. Taking back the word and changing the conversation means taking on the entire sexual revolution and the preceding sexual oppression with a term that isn’t just loaded, but loaded with ideology that is the exact polar opposite of what you stand for, and goals that actively harm women and enable the worst instincts in men. I can’t think of any other issue that has that hard a hill to climb. I don’t even know where to begin.

    • LisaTwaronite

      You don’t have to “take back the word” — nobody owns it. Just concentrate on what we all have in common, rather than what we don’t.

  • LisaTwaronite

    I suppose many here would consider me among the “evil people [who] call themselves feminists, and do dreadful things in the name of feminism,” (since I’m pro-contraception/abortion, and honestly not a great believer in traditional marriage), but oddly enough….I think we’re mostly on the same page.

    • Sadie Peterson

      I can’t speak for everyone but I wouldn’t call you evil. I don’t know you. But I would call things like abortion evil. It’s being used to control women, not empower them, it’s being used to hide sexual abuse and their predators. If I had to guess, you and I would probably agree on what needs to change in order to make abortion, for example, a thing of the past. Women need support, love, and respect. But so do men. I don’t know what I’m trying to say. People need to start having real discussions and those don’t happen in the comments section of a blog.

      • LisaTwaronite

        Agreed — and I even agree that abortion, in some circumstances, can indeed be used as you say. I also believe it’s possible to be a feminist and not support abortion at all. To me, at least, feminism is about equal opportunities and treatment, based not on sex but on individual preferences and abilities — which is a very broad definition.

        • donttouchme

          Unless you’re a baby under an arbitrarily designated age, in which case you have no rights and your mother has a right to murder you. Rights to equal opportunity and treatment I mean.

          • LisaTwaronite

            Right — my choice trumped my babies’ rights to life. But that has nothing to do with feminism — separate issue.

    • CS

      Personally, having been in conversation with you for all these years, I don’t think it’s odd that “we’re mostly on the same page.” (If I can insert myself into the “we”, in agreement with Simcha on this,)

      We agree on the problems but not necessarily the solutions

      • LisaTwaronite

        True — and sometimes, not all of us can even agree on problems.

    • argent

      I’m also probably one of the “evil ones” (LGBTQ-positive, sex-positive). I break from mainstream modern feminism in what I see as their failure to recognize the underprivileged status of children both born and unborn–something that Catholic and Christian feminists often do a better job of addressing.

      When I read articles like this, I tend to think that people like Simcha are doing the same work as I am within a different framework, and that’s something I can tentatively get behind. And even if I totally disagreed with them, there needs to be space for all kinds of non-traditional feminists, if only to destroy the black-and-white thinking that isolates people from one another and allows people to be abused by their ideologies.

      • LisaTwaronite

        I think there are plenty of modern mainstream feminists who recognize the underprivileged status of children — and some who are also pro-life.
        And AMEN to your final sentence!

      • Rachel

        Good point! I am tired of the black/white thinking. It does take all kinds and ideologies can be so easily abused.

  • Tony

    I find it interesting that you describe today’s abuses such as non stop porn and claim that we need “feminism” to combat it, when these behaviors are the fruits of feminism.

    • Renee

      Disagree. Feminism use to be very much against pornography!

  • Jeanne Grunert

    We need a new word. The word feminism has too much ugly baggage right now.

  • CS

    Some still-disorganised thoughts on this:
    Christianity is a more encompassing counter-force, in the sense that it offers a world view that begins with an affirmative (a creed) and goes from there to suggest solutions to problems of existence. Feminism is a critique, primarily, although it is often catchily described as coming from a “creed” that “women and men are equal human beings” and etc.

    As far as the word itself, I think confusion usually comes because some use it to mean that position of interrogation that stands apart from comfortable culture, while others primarily see it as (or believe it to be) a fixed set of ideas about how to solve problems. Disagreeing with the ideas means you “disagree” with “feminism”

  • Faustina Fournier Konkal

    Thank you thank you thank you. As a 36 year old wife, mother, woman who is just starting her university studies and has chosen Women’s and Gender Studies as her major, I whole heartedly agree. I’m not a feminist and studying feminism because I want to ‘be radicalized’ as some of my friends and acquaintances have assumed. I am doing it because I see that women are still not valued as men are. Their experience isn’t given the same credence as mens, nor is their reproductive work valued because no money changes hands. I’m doing it because patriarchy is oppressive to everyone, to all difference and to anyone who is marginalized. I’m doing it because my son was once told he was too beautiful to be a boy, because 200 girls were just kidnapped and are certainly being rape and abused as we speak as a tool of war, and because an 18 year old student at a local Catholic high school who suffered from mental illness just killed his own mother.

    I’m doing it because the legacy of soon to be Saint John Paul the Great, demands nothing less.

  • Mary Schreiner

    Well, you’ve officially made me terrified for my daughters’ futures. :( Maybe I’m having a depressive day. I – recently – made it out of college but through the Grace of God, I cannot imagine what it will be like when they grow up with the pressures they already have on them as children. :(

    • CS

      If you just got out of college, I hope that by the time your daughters and sons get there, more people will be on the other swing of the pendulum. Many Catholic parents are teaching their children to be wise and conversant in the ways of the world, and to know how and why they don’t have to buy in to certain ideas to be free; in fact, freedom is NOT found there.

      I don’t have any girls yet but I am teaching my boys to reject ideas that treat people as things, with special awareness of how this happens about gender and sexuality. I am really proud of my 12 yo son who told off another boy at camp for repeating the name of a girl they all knew, over and over in a sing-song and suggestive way. The girl wasn’t even around, just the boy started it at night when they were all in bed and other boys joined in. He told him “That is the same thing bullies do and it doesn’t matter if she’s not around. She doesn’t like that name AND you shouldn’t talk about girls like that.” It gives me hope that telling your children that we must not use people for our own amusement — even when they don’t know we are doing it — will sink in and bear fruit.

  • velvet

    “Yes, we still need feminism.”

    Please, no. I say abandon the word and never speak it again. It’s working definition is “control freak on a power trip”. All the things you mentioned in your piece are of course horrifying, but to make the mistake that women are somehow morally superior and blessed with a heightened sense of anything more than estrogen is a grievous and potentially tragic error. We can – if anecdotes are indeed data – go point for point over the abuses men have suffered at the hands of women, often with the Church looking on in deafening silence. We – humans, male and female alike – are capable of great depravity, and it is historically inaccurate to suggest that complementarianism – which is actually what was engendered by the dread patriarchy – was somehow intrinsically oppressive to women and created all the woes of the world.

    The problem, as I see it, comes when we conflate “feminism” with “common decency”, as if all men are thugs, Rapey McRapsters, and drooling knuckle draggers, but for the superior morality and angelic influence of their better sisters (wives, daughters, girlfriends, mothers, etc). Sorry, that makes me itchy, because it simply isn’t true, and entirely unfair the the majority of men who advocate – by their life’s blood, not just lip service – for the health and well being of women. Just because a boy or man doesn’t play the “girl way or the highway” game, doesn’t mean he’s indecent or harboring violent intentions towards women or a porn freak, it means he’s a male. Different from a female, but no less capable of wrong – or right – than his female counterpart.

    Most women who withhold sex from their husbands do so as their right. Most women who have abortions do so by their own decision as their right. Most women who use porn (and we can go there, about what constitutes porn and how women are huge consumers of it) themselves, do so as their right. I don’t see any moral superiority there, at all, only a surfeit of indecency. That so often occurs when we stand on our “rights”, rather than doing what is right.

    We need Christ. Lots of Christ, if equality, is in fact what we have in mind, Feminism is necessarily a subjugation of the masculine to the feminine, and more important than my run on sentences and personal preferences, I find no legitimate theological argument for such.

    • LisaTwaronite

      Where exactly did you form your definition of feminism? I’m genuinely curious because I’m a feminist, and I don’t want to live in the world you just described, nor do I seek in any way to subjugate men.

    • Beadgirl

      I agree with Lisa. The feminism you describe is nothing like the feminism I know; in fact, what you describe is, in my experience, really a caricature of feminism, a viewpoint that is not held by any normal, sane person I know.

    • Lydia

      I can’t help but think this misses the major point of this post, namely,
      that women are human and deserve to be treated the same under the law,
      given the same opportunities in the world, and not treated like chattel.
      Which, legally speaking, is what has been the case for pretty much
      ever. Historically, in Christian civilizations women could not own
      property, were limited in what they could and could not do depending on
      which class they belonged to and expected to have the good old double
      standard of marital chastity applied to them. Now, this is not the fault
      of Christianity-rather, it is the fault of flawed people. The fact is
      that people are people and do horrible things. We DO need Christ to
      truly change people, but how do we reach people to encourage a better,
      more Christian understanding of women? You need a method and, for lack
      of a better terminology, that method is called feminism. Women’s dignity
      is not just making babies and being nuns and being complementary.
      That’s very simplistic and really only works in a very particular
      Christian subculture where people understand the nature, both
      metaphysical and physical, of women and are living lives of holiness.
      And that is not most of the world. What about the women in poor
      countries who can’t go to school? Or are sterilized because they’re the
      wrong sort? Or can’t earn a living because of cultural restrictions?
      What about the women in Pakistan who are raped and then killed for the
      sin of being raped? Or, heaven help us, the wives of men in our religion
      who look down on their abilities and abuse them? Saying that these
      evils exist does not mean that men suck. It’s stating a reality. Reality
      can be ugly, but it doesn’t mean anyone is ganging up on men. Certainly
      not in this forum.

      • velvet

        And that is not most of the world. What about the women in poor
        countries who can’t go to school? Or are sterilized because they’re the
        wrong sort? Or can’t earn a living because of cultural restrictions?
        What about the women in Pakistan who are raped and then killed for the
        sin of being raped? Or, heaven help us, the wives of men in our religion
        who look down on their abilities and abuse them?

        Yes, what about them? Let’s remember, first of all, that it is largely Western MEN who are assigned or volunteer for the task of implementing our high minded initiatives in the third world, while we continue in our cultural cognitive dissonance and hedonistic “my body, my turn!” mindset, born, ironically, of Feminism. We cannot get to where we want to go by this vehicle. It’s simply not going to happen. Who can take us seriously, after all?

        it doesn’t mean anyone is ganging up on men

        Why is it necessarily ‘feminism” that is required to engender human decency (I realize that term is something of an oxymoron in itself)? My argument isn’t against women being treated with dignity, far from it. My argument is that it’s inaccurate to assign lack of decency as “masculinism”, because that’s what calling everything good and edifying “feminism” amounts to. Decency has no gender. It is that simple. There’s nothing particularly mystical or holy about it.

        • Lydia

          Feminism is, when you get down to it, a term that has been highjacked and corrupted by bad people. I think that is where we get derailed. Sadly, in a fallen world, people respond more to movements than to a basic cry for decency, unless that cry for decency is a part of a movement. And I certainly am not saying that a lack of decency is a masculine trait at all. Bad people come in both sexes. What I’m saying is that it is a reality that women are treated badly all over the world, including in the US, and using the term feminism, is helpful to draw attention to the plight of women.

          Also, I certainly never implied that western men do nothing to help, though many of the “high minded initiatives” sponsored by western governments are not exactly pro-woman (sterilization policies and condoms before vaccines in Africa come to mind). There is absolutely a cognitive dissonance in the west-it is truly messed up. I disagree that it was born of feminism. All those nasty sins were there long before feminism took hold. Abortion, infanticide, the objectification of women, pornography have been a part of reality since the fall. Radicals took those sins and made them a part of feminism. Feminism didn’t invent them.

          Finally, just because you are for basic decency, as we all are, doesn’t mean that it’s bad to focus on one aspect of how that works out in the world. Some people focus on poverty, some on abortion, some on human trafficking, some on women, some on men. It’s helpful to have a term that is descriptive.

      • velvet

        Actually, women have had property rights, have worked, and have enjoyed a good deal of freedom afforded frankly, by the physical protection and sacrifice of men, for a good deal of history. I have a friend who writes quite well on the subject, thoroughly researched and referenced. It’s quite enlightening (talk about a word we need to take back) – I don’t know if disqus (or Mrs. Fisher) allows links, but I’ll try to provide a couple.

        • CS

          There is nothing so indicative of how male-centric (instead of balanced) thought STILL is for some people than the way a discussion with the word feminism becomes about some people who call themselves feminists being man-haters and MEN ARE AWESOME !!!!! And that seems to be all the farther it can go in some minds.

          • velvet

            Funny, I grew up in a feminist household and considered myself a feminist until I realized how chaotic and destructive it is, particularly the second wave variety, and particularly for women. I am for a Christ-centric, Bible driven complementarian operating system, with a lot of Magisterium on hand. I don’t see how that is “male-centric”, so much as well-ordered.

          • CS

            Yep. I knew it was you.

          • CS

            And I am sure you keep LOTS of Magesterium on hand for those ego-heavy sessions.

          • velvet


        • Lydia

          It would be more accurate to say some women have had these things. Not most. I’m always looking for a good read, though, so link away.

        • Theodore Seeber

          Links are allowed, just copy and paste from your browser address bar.

    • Mimi Trammell

      First off…Did you really put saying no to sex within a marriage in the same category as abortion and consumption of pornography? Yeesh.

      I think you may be a bit out of touch of what feminism is about.
      Feminism is less about believing that all men are knuckle dragging Raper McRapester, and more trying to make people aware that women oftentimes have to operate on that belief for their own SAFETY.

      The belief that so many men think feminism means we want men to be subservient is, frankly, bullshit Yes, there are some misandrists out there who *do* operate with that belief. But the majority of feminists truly do not.

      And, while christianity and catholicism *DO* solve these issues in a more complete way than feminism could ever hope to… feminism has an advantage in being approachable even by those people who have been hurt, whether intentionally or no, by the church or people who represent the church.

      If I can say “Yes, I am a feminist….especially because I’m Catholic…” I can only hope that might make someone rethink their perception of the Church as backwards, evil, and oppressive of women.

      • velvet

        Did you really put saying no to sex within a marriage in the same category as abortion and consumption of pornography? Yeesh.

        All day long. And I am just as perplexed at men who withhold from their wives. People aren’t very good at being married.

        • CS


        • Lydia

          Really? Wow. I didn’t realize that it was a mortal sin to say “not tonight, honey.”

          • velvet

            It’s a matter of “one flesh”. No, I don’t think it’s murder, I think it’s among the most counter-intuitive “rights” women exercise on a regular and abusive and manipulative basis – not at all unlike abortion and porn use, in that regard. If women want to be understood, they could do a little understanding of their own. (and I’m talking the average middle class marriage bed here – no extreme examples necessary)

          • LisaTwaronite

            Wait, are you really a man? Whose wife refuses to sleep with him? Just a guess……

          • velvet

            No, I’m not a man. Every woman who rejects feminism is not a man. I’m not sure why that’s the feminist default, but it amounts to lazy thinking and lack of a valid argument, in my experience.

          • CS

            Please do not give people like this a platform to keep going on and on. Seriously. There is no way to argue with someone who believes that the sacrament of marriage is a magical trick that fuses you into a single flesh without free will and women are the ones who abuse their magical obligations on a regular basis. ALSO everything is abortion-bad.

          • velvet

            People like who? People who base their arguments on the Bible and church teaching rather than personal preference and a void of compassion for even those who they call family? Yeah, okay, that’s working so well for the world.

  • Stasa

    No but thank you. We don’t need another thousand years of flawed secular movement that resulted in problems you’re listing. Women are free, it’s done. You may not like what being free means to some women but that’s what happens when people come up with grand ideas without God. No movement or law has ever changed human nature, God has. You’re talking about changing people and their morals….telling a man he shouldn’t be abusive, telling a woman she shouldn’t have her half naked picture on a target wall, telling preast not to teach falsehood. …these things can’t be changed by a movement.
    I don’t want to take feminism, I don’t want to rename it, rebrand it, make it my own or attach it to the name of my church. I only need one teacher Jesus the Christ. Everything else will ultimately lead to another evil no matter what it was set out to do originally.

    • Lydia

      I don’t agree, and here’s why. God gave us reason. He expects and wants us to use it by applying our brains to the task of justice and evangelization. The two really ought to go hand in hand. I agree that feminism as popularly understood by Americans is a blight on the philosophical landscape, but really, what it actually means is that women ought to be treated with dignity. It got highjacked by radicals, and maybe that’s what you dislike so much about it. But pretty much anything can be highjacked by radicals, even the name of Christ.

      • Stasa

        Every human being needs to be treated with dignity. She is addressing the issues of sin which by the way are already covered in the bible. Yes God gave me brains to seek Him and follow Him, not to reinvent His teaching, relabel it and call it my own. If you claim that your teaching is not different from what God teaches us then you don’t get to call it anything but God’s teaching. All those women in porn movies and on the wall of target, do it of their own free will, they are fee to do it feminism gave them that. If you want to teach them morals and teach men why they shouldn’t look at pornography. ….for that you need God.
        If God gave you enough brains to discern the issues of morals and dignity on your own, he wouldn’t give you the church too.

  • Theodore Seeber

    What we need is a counterbalancing chivalry. What we need is MOTHERHOOD and FATHERHOOD. What we need is a new respect for a heteronormative society.

    Until we have that, feminism is doomed to go off the rails- precisely because of men acting so badly.

    • LisaTwaronite

      Chivalry should not be bound by gender. And civility & responsibility are for everyone.

      • Theodore Seeber

        You can’t have civility and responsibility, let alone civilization, without first agreeing on a set of foundation principles. We no longer have that in America at all, we’ve replaced it with a tyrannical attempt at “diversity”, in which we are no longer allowed to have right and wrong, virtue and sin, good and evil.

        Because Chivalry requires belief in absolute good and evil, it is utterly denied by postmodern society.

        • LisaTwaronite

          I guess I would reject your Chivalry, then. And I don’t know, because I chose to leave America, but the last time I visited, it didn’t seem “tyrannical” to me. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    • Renee

      We don’t need to utilize hetero-normative terminology, that is playing into gender stereotypes

      How about masculinity and femininity instead, not all individuals are parents and masculinity or femininity can be expressed in many forms?

      • Theodore Seeber

        Gender stereotypes exist for a reason, they point to evolved structures in the human brain that are different between the genders.

        It is impossible to be feminist without being misandrist. It is impossible to be masculinist without being misogynist. The denial of parenthood is the cause of all evil.

        • CS

          Oh, Ted. You are sinking into pronouncements again.

          • Theodore Seeber

            Those who fail to speak the Truth when challenged are not following Christ.

        • LisaTwaronite

          Yeah, well, sorry to tell you, it’s possible to be a feminist and still LOVE men. So much for that.
          What do you mean by “the denial of parenthood?”

          • Theodore Seeber

            Divorce, Contraception, Sterilization, Abortion, and Homosexuality is the denial of parenthood. It removes the heteronormative structure of society, removes procreation as a value, and attacks even the few intact families that are left. Denial of gender roles is denial of the right of men to be men and women to be women.

          • LisaTwaronite

            Got it — yes, I support all five of those. But how does this “attack even the few intact families that are left?” I see more than “a few” intact families, and I see no one — not even me! — attacking them.

  • DeirdreMundy

    I’m still not convinced that we need to reclaim the word feminism, BUT I can see the case for it…

    In that, so many of the millennials who are hurting and don’t know why think that, in order to advocate for the equality of women, one must ALSO accept porn, promiscuity, abortion, scanty clothing, etc. So they’re miserable and broken, but if you start the conversation by putting down feminism, they just shut you out.

    So, by reclaiming feminism, I guess we could start some conversations with people who otherwise would just turn away….

    So that they can see that they DON’T have to watch porn with their boyfriend in order to be ‘emancipated’– that part of being free and equal is being free to say “no, actually I don’t feel comfortable sleeping with a guy I just met, I want a real relationship,” or “You know, I just really prefer porn-free monogamy, and THAT’S OK.”

    Or even “Maybe women care about other issues besides birth control. Like the tax code. Or international relations. Or the price of gas…”

  • Anne Cardozo Costa

    I have been thinking about this for a while now. We need women to understand their true strength, to claim it and champion it in a world that will always depersonalize, dehumanize and otherwise devalue the gifts of the feminine genius. Real empowerment will only come once we embrace the truth of our selves and work toward a radical revision in the hearts and minds of women based on that truth.
    PS: And part of that radicalization is to reclaim the word feminism for a positive ideology that advances a life-affirming political, social cultural, and spiritual agenda that benefits all human persons.