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.