Yes, I’m a Feminist. Why Aren’t You a Feminist Too?

Yes, I’m a Feminist. Why Aren’t You a Feminist Too? February 15, 2017

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Jay
Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Jay

I’ve received a few jibes lately from Catholics, claiming that I must be a feminist. These comments are usually full to the brim with what are either implications or direct claims that I can’t possibly be a good Catholic, since I am … you know … the culture wars f word.

Truth told, I am a feminist. I’ve written about it, and, indeed, made whole speeches about it in many public forums. I don’t hide it. I’m proud of it.

In fact, I have a question for those of you who think being a feminist is such a terrible thing:

In a world with widespread and endemic rape,

In a world with female genital mutiliation,

In a world where women constantly suffer degrading name-calling,

In a world where many men consider it their right to beat and batter women,

In a world where baby girls, both before and after they are born, are routinely murdered, simply because they are baby girls,

In a world where the President of the United States calls women pigs and dogs, hints at incest, puts his own wife in a porn photo shoot (which pretty much answers the question, Does he love her? with a big fat “no.”) and is a serial sexual predator who sexually assaults women and brags about it in what he calls “locker room talk,”

In that world, why aren’t you a feminist too? 

I wrote about this last week for the National Catholic Register.

Here is what I said:

Pope Francis recently made a few remarks about women in which he tried to describe the phenomena that I observed over and again when I was a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

He talked about women’s ability to bring “harmony” to the world. That isn’t how I describe it, but I think we are talking about the same thing.

The House District that I represented for 18 years had a large number of illegal immigrants. I refereed the arguments between them and the Anglos of my district on a daily basis. I was the one both sides called to settle disputes, help them with their problems, and often, just to listen to their gripes.

They taught me a lot of things, these magnificently good constituents of mine. They are wonderful, wonderful people, all of them. The hardest thing about leaving public office was worrying about who would take care of them when I was not there to do it.

One thing they taught me in a clear-cut way was the civilizing power of the female.

It is inaccurate to refer to the human race as “he,” or as “man.” Because the human race is not male.

The human race is also not female. It would be just as inaccurate to refer to all humanity as “her,” or “woman.”

The human race is not “man,” and it is not “woman.” The human race is men and women, male and female, together.

Take us apart, and we die. Literally. We go back to the half-humanity uselessness that is man or woman without the other.

I saw this in real-time among the illegal immigrants in my house district. Young men would wend their way across the border to find work. They were young, really just boys, and they were in a strange world with strange customs and a language they didn’t speak. They would rent a house and hole up together;  even 15 young men sleeping on floors and existing to work.

 They went out and stood on the corners or went to the right employment agencies and were hired as day laborers by the local businesses. There was no lack of work from businesses who wanted to pay slave wages. Then they came back, with money in their pockets and nothing much to do.It is to their credit that these young men didn’t usually do anything really violent. But they were trouble. All kinds of trouble. Because a group of men without women cannot function. They descend rapidly to the lowest form of their sex. If they hadn’t been believing and sincere Christians, it would have been much more difficult for me to manage the problems they caused, and they might have done much worse things.

Over time, they were joined by women, and as soon as that happened, everything changed. Men, without women, are a mess. They are dangerous, including dangerous to themselves. Their thinking runs along nutty lines of violence and swagger. They are destructive.

Women, without men hiss and spit and turn in circles.

But when you put them together, it’s almost like a science experiment when you combine hydrogen and oxygen to get water. Put men and women together and you get life. You get men who use their strength, aggression, and physical courage to protect, provide and build. You get women who use their incredible moral strength, intuition and insight to nurture and sustain.

Together, men and women are the creative force that has built all the good we call culture, society and civilization. Take them apart, and you get ultimate and uncaring destructiveness.

That is why we need both men and women in our government. (Read the rest here.)


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81 responses to “Yes, I’m a Feminist. Why Aren’t You a Feminist Too?”

  1. How is it that some can’t understand that you can be a Catholic AND a feminist? I taught with many wonderful women who were strong Catholics and feminists too. I consider myself a feminist—-how could I not be?

  2. Some people will claim you are not feminist enough for not being pro-choice or some will say you are not Christian since you are a feminist. I have to say if you want to look up to someone as an example of how a man should act it would be Pope Francis. And I agree, you are a feminist if you don’t like the way Trump treats women or talks to them.

  3. The argument against female clerics in the Church are typically based on the situation at the time of Jesus. The apostles were all men, but not all of the disciples were men. The apostles were few in number with a security role. At that time and place it would not have been appropriate to have women in that kind of role, but that does not mean that women should always be excluded from the apostolic structure.

  4. There’s a new and bitter dynamic in the world, mi amiga. People are moving away from community and toward tribalism. I can’t stress too much how much damage this election and the man we’ve elected has done to people emotionally and psychologically.

  5. In the eight years of Obama’s rule, how much was the decrease in the things you highlighted –
    widespread and endemic rape, female genital mutiliation, degrading
    name-calling, beating and battering of women, sex-selective (anti-female) abortions ?

  6. I totally agree with you on the damage this election and its “winner” has done to people. This is the first president that I have totally NOT been able to accept as the occupant of the Oval Office. Mentally I do not have a president right now. Up until now I have never been very political except to vote—now I have participated in 2 protest marches. My children and their spouses are liberal and so we get along fine politically and religiously. Understanding the “other side”, those that like DT and what he is doing is not possible for me at this point. A friend of long standing (doesn’t live in my state) and I do not see eye to eye at all on DT, so we have agreed to disagree—I value her friendship. Somehow we will get through all this—right? Take care, My Friend.

  7. I knew this was going to be bad, no matter which person won the election. No matter which one won, we were going to lose.

  8. It’s never going to change until people, all people, including men, decide that violence against women is wrong. There is a deep moral chasm when it comes to women’s rights. As for comparing the two presidents’ performance on these things, I haven’t done the research. The “but Obama” excuse for Trump’s moral depravity has worn all the way through to nonsense.

    Your boy is a serial sexual predator who put his own wife in a porn photo shoot, yaps about wanting to “date” his own daughter, calls women names and was on the cover of Playboy. It’s kind of hard to take a meaningful moral stand on much of anything if you’re blindly supporting him.

  9. I’ve been reluctant to call myself a feminist (because people associate that term with being pro-choice), but give me a card to carry, because I sure am one now! Trump was the last straw.

    I recently read a definition of feminism that I can certainly be on board with: Feminism is the idea that women are owed the same dignity, rights, and autonomy as men.

  10. That’s it exactly Leah Joy. I call myself a Jesus-loving, Pope-following, Church-believing, cancer-surviving, pro-life feminist. (Who also happens to be a Grandma.:-) )

  11. I didn’t know that about you and undocumented Mexicans. I’ve told it, but many years ago, when I worked at the homeless shelter, our guys got up at 4 am, worked (and we’re paid) like slaves), all day, then came in at night and stayed quietly. They would go together and get a cheap room and beer for the weekend, but most of the money went to Mexico to their families. I sometimes say in the only person in favor of illegal immigration. Many, of course, bring their families here and establish lives.

    On feminism, it sends to me the issue falls into basic justice issues like equal pay for equal work, violence (I know you got sidetracked, but that book still needs finishing! ), and the other things you mention. Then there is the layer of abortion and “reproductive rights”. A third layer had to do with sexual identity. A friend who was an ardent feminist left NOW because she got tired of being hit on, and the expectation that she should not be offended. Of course, not all lesbians are like that, but she stayed away from movement feminism for that reason. And that’s my take on feminism. Personally, I prefer to be known as a (not secular) humanist. But I’m a guy

    Now about that book…

  12. Well said Ken. You’re right about the book. I’ve been thinking the same thing. I need to get back to it.

  13. Most people (and most men) think violence against women is wrong. That decision, as you put it, has already been made. I don’t know what you mean by “deep moral chasm” with regards to women’s rights, but it seems to me that women have all the rights that men have, plus some more.

  14. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!!! That’s me in the stands, cheering as hard as I can for you and this article.

  15. Here is a quote by the author that shows the hypocrisy of feminism. >>”Together, men and women are the creative force that has built all the good we call culture, society and civilization. Take them apart, and you get ultimate and uncaring destructiveness.”<<
    This is completely contrary to feminist patriarchal theory and that theory is the foundation of feminism. If the author believes in the quote and believe men and women should be equal, she is actually a Men's Rights Activist.

  16. The right to life is the most important and basic of all. It supersedes insulting comments. Trump is the most pro-life President ever. Yet all you can dwell on is comments made ages ago that were never meant to be made public. Not very Catholic of you is it. You are not so much of a feminist as you are a relativist…

  17. I’m not a feminist because the Church Patriarchy is literally the last group actually working against these evils. The Women’s March proved to me, once and for all, that feminism isn’t about eliminating these evils, but rather, enhancing them.

    Equal pay for equal work has been the law of the land for 30 years now. Why do women, on average, still earn only 70% of what a man does? Because they only do 70% of the work a man does.

    The rest of what women are fighting for seems to be the right to dress up like a vagina and appear naked on TV. Or worse yet, do it to their daughters. Also fight for the right to free birth control so that their pimps can work them harder. Abortion and contraception are purely for the enjoyment of immoral men, they do more damage to women than help.

    We need both men and women in our government, and in our world. But feminism isn’t about that anymore. Feminism is about the power of sexual abuse today. And that, I simply can no longer get behind.

  18. Interesting. And Ironic. I’ve been thinking for a long time that what we are dealing with here is the moral relativism of the right; i.e., moral depravity doesn’t matter so long as it’s done by a Republican.

    I don’t think President Trump is particularly pro life, although he appears to be keeping his pro life promises, which, in the final analysis, is all that matters.

    However, being pro life does not rescind the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, and the Beatitudes. It does not abrogate all the rest of 2,000 years of Christian teaching. You cannot say that if someone is anti-abortion, then that’s a free pass to break every other commandment. It is a blot on American Christianity that may end up costing it most of its prophetic and moral voice that it blithely and blindly makes the claim you are making — that there is no sin except abortion, and no righteousness other than that found in politics.

    As for me being a feminist, I’ve been told over and again that I’m not a feminist because I’m pro life. Now, I’m being told that I’m not a Catholic because I give not quarter to sexual assault, misogyny and race-baiting. Lay it on. I’ll offer it up.

  19. How can you say that women only do 70% of the work that a man does? Do you really believe that, Theodore? Also I don’t understand your comment that feminism is about the power of sexual abuse? Honestly, what does that mean? As for your other statements about the Women’s March, which I am proud to say I participated in, I agree there were extremes of outfits in some cases, but the different reasons for the march were legit. Birth control needs to be affordable, so perhaps there would be no reason for having to think about an abortion. With the attitude of the man in the Oval Office, feminists are even more important. DT has no respect for women except using them for his own pleasure, IMO.

  20. Many of DT’s statements were made in public—-regarding grabbing women, his attitude towards his daughter etc. That and many other statements are who that man is—–As to his pro-life stance? I personally do not think he cares one way or the other about anything unless it gets him what he wants.

  21. I’d post the link, but Rebecca doesn’t like links. Hour for hour, women earn the same as men. But on average, they earn 77 cents over the course of the year for every dollar a man earns. The only possible conclusion is that they are working less.

    The only reason for the Women’s March was to make birth control free so that pimps could keep sexual slaves working longer. The feminist movement is a fraud. And the concentration on birth control and abortion is extremely bad considering the serial-adulterer-and-rapist-in-chief.

    This entire culture has gone down the drain, and is worthless.

  22. I totally disagree with you about the Women’s March. Believe me, I marched for more than free birth control. However birth control is very important, because without it the possible rate of abortions could go up. I’m sorry your outlook on our culture is so sad. The travesty of this presidency is going to be marked with more and more peaceful protests/resistance. As for feminism? Only going to get stronger. As for the money inequality—-don’t know.

  23. The pay differiential is about choices women make about career that are often different then men make. A male and a female teacher with the same qualifications and experience may make the same salary, but over time pregnancy and family needs may pull her from work. My sister, a master’s level teacher, took several years off from full time teaching when her kids are born, pulling a couple of junior college classes each semester until the kids started school. So over time, her salary average is lower, although she has always made more money than me.

  24. There’s nothing “blind” about that one Ted. I could go on and on and on and on and on and on and on with examples of rank and disgusting misogyny from our president.

  25. Yes, I’m sure you could. But the point is, it blinds you to everything else he does- including some stuff that is far more dangerous. Fixating on one aspect of his personality blinds you to the rest of the story.

  26. Yeah, right. The March was sponsored by a whole cadre of pro-eugenics, human-hating organizations.

    Feminism and its utter hatred of men and children is one of the big reasons a scum bucket like Trump got elected to begin with. The more hatred you show for him, the stronger he gets.

  27. “However birth control is very important, because without it the possible rate of abortions could go up.”

    Statistics indicate that this belief is wrong.

    Birth control increases the number of abortions.

  28. “Feminism is the idea that women are owed the same dignity, rights, and autonomy as men.”

    That’s not feminism. That’s Christianity.

    That said, “feminism” seems to be a reference in search of a referent.

  29. Ted, watch your language please, and don’t call whole groups of people names. As for President Trump, I think you’re right that his followers won’t listen to anything except hosannas about him. Many of them put following Trump ahead of everything they ever said they believed. That’s terrible for them … and for this country. It’s also not so good for President Trump, as it only encourages him to be more of a bullying, hectoring, lying, bragging, threatening mess than he already is.

  30. It probably seems that way, but I am aware of the other things he does and has done. The trouble is, there’s so much of it, it’s impossible to write about it. One reason I focus on his misogyny and amorality is that it offends me to the core that so many Christians have so little genuine Christianity in themselves they it doesn’t bother them a bit. It offends me, and it concerns me, because I know that other will judge Christ by them and their worship of this bad man.

  31. Try to remember that No Creature So Accursed Can Be, that some Good a Loving Eye Can See. If you only focus on the negative, then all people will ever see is the negative. Be part of the solution rather than just another cog in the problem.

    I just realized how much pre-Vatican II Charity I have learned since becoming a Knight. President Trump will spend many years in purgatory or an eternity in hell for his sins surtounding women, but like it or not, he is the President of the United States. Is it really worth destroying your own community to protest a man who at most, will be in our lives for only 8 years? I said the same about Obama to Tea Partiers, though they were never this violent.

  32. Were you at one of the Marches? Did you interview those that were participating? Those that you accuse of being sponsors is incorrect. I won’t convince you to change your mind—but rest assured if what you said was true, I wouldn’t have participated. DT needs to continue to be reminded, peacefully, that he isn’t the “winner” he continues to tell himself he is. BTW, I most certainly do not hate men—–believe me.

  33. Oh, that is not being blind at all—that is a horrible reality that has been proven time and time again.

  34. In your opinion, was there actually a heavy emphasis on birth control and abortion over other issues at the March, or was it over-emphasized by the media reporting, to the exclusion of other issues women were marching for? We’re very distant from DC and I’m never sure if the scope of reporting is broad enough.

  35. I don’t know anything about the march in Washington. I do know that a number of pro life women that I personally know went to the march here in Oklahoma, and they were welcomed. I pm’d the organizer of the march here in Oklahoma and asked her if pro life women like me were welcome. I have been personally attacked by feminists in the past, including, much to my amusement, an article on Jezebel deriding me when I was in the House. When my pro life friends told me they were going to the march, I told them I thought it was just about abortion.
    My pm asked if pro life women welcome, and if we could all work together on issues where we agree, such as violence against women, equal pay and child care. They reply was a big yes! I then began a discussion online with these women and a number of pro life women stepped forward and said they wanted to participate.

    I’m going to write about this more in a day or so. But I am accustomed to working with people in the areas where we agree and then opposing their actions in areas where we don’t agree. That’s what I did for a living for 18 years in the Oklahoma House. It’s how I’m going to approach this.

    If there was Christian support for opposition to President Trump’s attacks on women, I would probably never have gone this route. But organized pro life Christians have gone so much in the bag for President Trump that there is no evil he can commit that they will call evil. They are salt without savor.

  36. I’ll let it pass Ted. There is no doubt that cable news and blogging outlets are one-sided. I have no idea what the HuffPo wrote, but they don’t even claim to be a news outlet in the traditional sense, but a compendium of opinion. As for more traditional news, people choose their news based on which viewpoint they themselves hold and which news outlet supports that viewpoint. Fox News has a guy on there who actively and publicly worked in President Trump’s political campaign and who was on the air while he was doing it. On the other side, we have networks who only report negatively about the Prez. It was the same for President Obama, only the networks were flipped in their support/criticisms. No one even pretends that these cable news networks are journalism. Not even them.

  37. Are you speaking of me, or of the “resistance?” If it’s the resistance, I agree. They are negativity without a positive plan. The talk of removing the duly elected president from office as a goal in itself is just wanton destructiveness. It’s advocating a kind of coup. But remember, when they do this, they are just aping the fools who yapped about impeaching President Obama for 8 years. If it turns out that President Trump was in league with the Russians, or if he continues down this road of using his office to further his business and his family’s business enterprises, then there is certainly grounds for impeachment. But not these vicious calls to impeach him just because you don’t agree with him.

  38. It goes deeper though than just the choose your news (I love that analogy, like the old Choose Your Adventure books). We are literally living in very different worldviews, you and I. I hear Feminism- and all I can think of these days is mass murder. You went from pro-choice to pro-life, so you know what I’m talking about. The same thing happens on the other side- a “rigid” white male Catholic like me who supports the idea of one heterosexual monogamous marriage for a lifetime is just an evil bigot to be taken out by a bullet at the first chance.

    I don’t know how to breach the deep chasm between these worldviews, but I know *both* are poisonous to any hope of unity. The United States is now going the way Europe has already trod, and even the Church is beginning to sink into the quagmire of moral relativism.

  39. In my observation during the March, there were many women’s issues represented—including birth control and the right to a legal abortion, as well as a few pro-life folks. All were welcome, there were no angry confrontations very peaceful, as it should have been. As mentioned below, by Rebecca, other things were also represented—child care, equal pay etc. Much of it was the disgust for the man in office who feels it was his “right” as a man to fondle women at will etc. Did that answer your inquiry?

  40. What I wrote is not a different world view from Christianity Ted. It affirms Christianity.
    Words can become symbols. That is what you are describing. But when that happens, the emotions are inside us, not the words. Feminism has become just a pro abortion movement. But that is not feminism. It is the word feminism applied to a political position that is, at core, anti-feminism. I certainly don’t think that a heterosexual, monograms marriage is evil. Have you read what I’ve written these past years? I’m am half of a monogamous, heterosexual marriage myself.

    The only thing that is truly poisonous is any worldview that does not place Christ at its center. The moment people try to live without Christ, things veer into harm. (I’m not going to entertain atheist jibes being inserted into this conversation. They will be deleted.)

    If Jesus is at the center of your life, and if following Him is your goal, then no matter what your inclination about politics, you will end up rejecting ideas that harm people, and looking for policies and actions that help people. But if you try to go off on your own and if, instead of following Christ, you shape your politics and your actions to fit the world and then mutilate the Gospels so that they agree with your politics and actions instead of shaping your actions to the Gospels, then you will always — no matter how much you say you are a Christian — you will ALWAYS end up doing great harm to other people.

    That is my worldview Ted. I am a follower of Christ. I know that Jesus does not hate half the people He made. He loves all His children, including women and hispanics. Our current President has made misogyny acceptable. He has also made racism and race-baiting acceptable. And Christians have validated this cruelty rather than standing against it. That is their first sin in this political climate. It flows from the much more serious sin (and racism and misogyny are grave sins) of basing their following a man, in this case the President, the way they should be following Jesus.

  41. Heterosexual monogamous marriage agrees with Christ. Does not agree with Pope Francis so much anymore, and certainly doesn’t agree with the likes of Trump (which is why he’s been married three times). Such rigid thinking certainly does not fit the world or the times. Being Christian- being truly Christian, means being rigid in a love that always seeks the good of the other and never the evil.

    There are far worse misogynists out there than Trump. There are still many countries in this world where a girl is not allowed an education, not allowed to vote, and where the standard response to domestic abuse complaints is an execution- of the victim.

    The very people that Donald Trump is trying hard to keep out of this country- have that ethical system. The countries on his list- and many others- start with the assumption that a woman is property and her worth based in her virginity.

    Trump’s a piker in comparison to that, bad as he is. Yes, he’s misogynistic by western standards, but his actions suggest that there’s still a bit of chivalry hidden in there somewhere.

    Chivalry should not be seen as misogynistic. And the reaction I got at a KofC breakfast to the recruiting slogan “It is a Man’s Job to help his wife and children get to heaven” really should not have occurred- would not have occurred if feminism had not become more about power than equality.

  42. I know there are far worse misogynists out there. But he’s the President of the United States, which makes HIS misogyny my business, and the business of every American.

  43. Nothing we do, after 7 decades of acting like this, is going to change President Trump’s behavior in this regard. At all. He’s set in his ways- as the atheist Scott Adams put it in that link above, that’s just Trump being Trump.

    If anything, hammering on it is going to cause a certain group of people who would NOT have voted for him otherwise to vote for him. And cause great damage to places where feminism should make a difference, like possibly helping Trump to keep cultural Jihadi Shariah Law out of the United States.

  44. To a certain extent I agree—as I know they aren’t always reliable. However, I’d rather have them available then not used at all.

  45. Theodore, I’m a feminist and I do not and never have “hated” men or children–what a stupid, bigoted thing to say! As for “human-hating”–YOU came up with that one, it tells me all I need to know about YOUR attitude towards other humans. I hear a lot of rage and yes, hatred towards women expressed by you–take a good long look in the mirror before calling other ppl names.

  46. So you believe in slavery? Do you have a serious problem with living in a democratic republic like the US? Without automony, we aren’t even human.

  47. Agreed. Look at Mary Magdalene–the Orthodox Church calls her “Apostle to the Apostles”–she was the first witness to the Resurrection. (Think that happened by chance?) Also St. Paul refers to numerous women of influence whom he admired, including the DEACONESS Phoebe.

  48. The idea that women are paid less because they “work less” is absolutely wrong–this has been proven repeatedly. When a female co-worker of my mother discovered that she was being paid less than men for the same job (and same number of hours) she asked for an explanation. Their boss told her, in all seriousness, “But honey, you can always get married–the men have more responsibilities [marriage, children etc] than you do!” THAT was his reason for paying her less. And he was overall a very nice guy–he was just stuck somewhere in the 16th century.

  49. Wait, am I reading this correctly? You actually think it is up to a MAN to “help” his wife and children “get to heaven”?? Don’t wives and children have minds and souls of their own–do you really mean they need “help”–from a mortal man–to save their souls? Can’t they decide for themselves? Are you saying they need a man to think and make decisions regarding their immortal souls? I can only imagine the reaction you got from the other men at the KofC breakfast–why are you blaming women when other MEN didn’t like your “slogan”?? I get that you’re bitter about that reaction, but you’re blaming the wrong people altogether.

  50. I so agree–Trump is all over the map about pretty much everything, including veering from being “pro-choice” to now being (supposedly) “pro-life”. Who knows when this weathervane of a man will switch positions again? He really seems to have no moral core–just whatever will bring the loudest cheers. If anyone is looking to Trump for “moral” leadership, well, God help them.

  51. I gather that you are a man. Because any woman with half a brain knows we most definitely do not have MORE RIGHTS than men. But this is the old tired argument that men aggrieved by the existence of feminism always level against feminists–is there some kind of anti-feminist handbook these men all memorize? Because it all sounds sooo familiar.

  52. Yes, thank you! I don’t know anyone personally who went, and we are so far out in the boondocks, we have to rely on national media. I wanted to be sure that the media focus and the marchers’ focus was the same. I can certainly support marching against Trump and his attitude toward women. And every time there’s a rape case that makes national headlines, there’s ample proof that we need feminism.

  53. I think that heaven will not be heaven for a man unless his wife and children are there- and yes, we all need help from each other to save our souls. NONE of us can do it alone.

    All of the reactions were from women, not men.

  54. So you believe in slavery
    Well,yes,he does.He ,as any religious person has a slave mentality.The slave hates freedom ,autonomy and independence and loves restraint.

  55. Do you have a serious problem with living in a democratic republic like the US?
    Yes,he would like to live in a theocracy.