Friday, May 4, 2012

Essay on the Women's Liberation Movement

"My opinion is that the changes that resulted from the women's movement had both positive aspects and negative aspects. It is very difficult to say whether these changes were mostly for the good or for the bad, given that they are essentially changes to the functioning of our society as a whole, which gives the movement enormous depth and breadth, and also because the women's movement is relatively recent to us today. It is challenging to have good hindsight only a few decades after something occurs; future generations will have a far greater ability to really grapple with the aftershocks. Having prefaced with that, this much can be said with certainty: It was the least effective at getting positive results of all of the many rights movements that American society went through over the course of the twentieth century; in my opinion, it was also the one most plagued with destructive effects and irrational reasoning. I say that because, unlike other movements, such as the civil rights movement, there is an entirely different dynamic at play than something like discrimination on the basis of race. Certainly women were discriminated against in the twentieth century and in many different ages of the world to varying degrees of severity; there still remains, however, a fundamental and important distinction between race and gender that I believe was wrongly obfuscated. Many people within the movement went beyond simply attempting to right very obvious and glaring prejudice; many began to posit that only utter equality between masculine and feminine nature, in the sense of equating all roles in societal, familial, and other environments, constituted true justice. I think that it is fairly manifest that in our psychological perspectives, our human understandings of masculinity and femininity, even right down to biological factors, men and women have different perspectives, strengths and weaknesses, and different offerings to bring to society in different functions, equal in dignity of respect, worth, beauty, and intention of God, but existing in an equity that structures society in such a way as to preserve the essential differences between masculinity and femininity while maintaining equality of dignity and respect. I also believe that it is within the family that these different and equally dignified offerings of masculine and feminine nature complete and complement each other most profoundly, and that children benefit irreplaceably from this union of authentic masculinity and femininity.

Therefore, I am of the opinion that justice demands not complete and utter societal acquiescence to equality of role, perspective, office, strength and weakness. Rather, I posit that justice demands that both women and men be treated with equity and love according to that psychological, historical, and biological basic integrity of being that is woven into the very fabric of gender itself. I do not mean to include in that fabric any sort of irrational prejudice that has been the opinion of some throughout history; such nonsense is not based upon reasonable psychological and biological grounds, but is at heart, fable, and an injustice. Therefore, with that perspective, I see as positive within the women's movement that which, while respecting rational and healthy gender difference within human society, seeks to effect a change toward the prevention of abuse, the freedom of a woman to hold commerce, to seek elected office, to function independently in the world without needing a husband to be recognized as a human person of equal dignity, and other like goals. Changes that still need to take place to establish equality for women would be along the aforementioned lines of respect for intrinsic and healthy difference in societal and familial life and heritage, while working to uproot prejudice not based in Reason or Truth or the essentials of gender, and to increase the special inherent dignity and worth which men recognize in women as unalienable, as well as fostering a living out of these ideals in a tangible manner."

-Adapted and Expanded from a Critical Essay of the Women's Movement, the radical feminism that swept through the West in the 70's, 80, and 90's, written by Jonathan for a high school assignment

4 comments:

  1. Jonathan, while the "women's liberation" movement may be called in a loose and undefined way a "rights movement," it is not so in reality. Really and truly, the "women's lib" movement was all about unbridled license for women to do as they please with no legal or other societal/civil consequence (e.g., spousal abandonment, consumption of contraceptives, use of abortifacients, direct abortions, neglect of children born, the "choice" to pursue higher education and careers to the detriment of their families, etc.). Or in other words: "For this cause God delivered them up to shameful affections. For their women have changed the natural use into that use which is against nature. And, in like manner, the men also, leaving the natural use of the women, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men working that which is filthy, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due to their error. And as they liked not to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them up to a reprobate sense, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all iniquity, malice, fornication, avarice, wickedness, full of envy, murder, contention, deceit, malignity, whisperers, Detractors, hateful to God, contumelious, proud, haughty, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Foolish, dissolute, without affection, without fidelity, without mercy. Who, having known the justice of God, did not understand that they who do such things, are worthy of death; and not only they that do them, but they also that consent to them that do them." Romans 1:26-32

    Also, I do not know why you believe that women were discriminated against in the 20th century or ever, really. Society is hierarchical by nature; men are given faculties which women don't have, and even some men are bestowed, by nature, virtues which allow them to be separated above the rest in order to govern at various levels. This is not criminal treatment, this is reality! There is also a fact that seems most neglected these days which St. Teresa of Avila wrote about in regard to a bad situation with a friend of hers who was a priest. To my recollection, she stated in response to this situation that women are to be suspect in general since their leaning is to be deceived more easily in general.

    Are you suggesting here that it should be offered to a woman to seek public office? I don't see how that is within the true society of a woman, honestly. A woman, truly, should be recognized as a complete human being distinct and separate from her family, whether it is her father or husband, but this recognition shouldn't be a door opening a woman to licentious independence from her family. It is only because her family is dysfunctional and society is so perverted that a woman should have to work outside of the home or perhaps? seek higher education outside of the home.

    Women have such a hard time with this, but Our Lady did not seek life outside of the home and she is the perfect woman upon whom to model one's life upon as a woman.

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    1. It's a difficult matter indeed, and society is not as it ought to be in all areas. I agree with you regarding the women's lib movement, I only referred to it as a rights movement because it was a social studies assignment at the time and they referred to it as such. That doesn't mean I agree with it.

      The difficult thing is that it is very hard to discern the right thing with regard to society and women. I wish that society was not so corrupt, and I agree with you that the ideal is for a woman to live a vocation of family life in marriage and fidelity to supporting her family in the home. However, are there not legitimate exceptions to this? What of a non-Catholic woman who is single? She can hardly be made to marry against her will, she cannot join a convent (and in any case, I doubt a non-Catholic would want to). What of such a woman? Should society discriminate against her, and not grant her a place within it? I think that's rather unjust. The reality is that there are people within society that disagree with Catholics, and their worldview, and the reality is that not all women really do conform to what is the best scenario for society. The reality of a democratic republic is that you have to account for this variability, and you have to account for single, non-Catholic women who wish to work full-time. I agree with your points with regard to a true society of women, and with regard to proper office, but at the same time, this is Catholic Truth that is not followed by non-Catholics. If we want to have a truly, authentically, traditionally Catholic society, then pray for a return of a Catholic monarchy and a traditional society within that monarchy where Catholics can live this way. Short of that, I don't see how America can be made into a Catholic Kingdom.

      Also, I say all this with the notice that I am willing in humility to change my stance at any time. I am striving for orthodoxy and fidelity to the Truth in all things, and the reality is I will be wrong from time to time. That doesn't mean I won't take a stab at it, and learn from my mistakes.

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    2. In addition, sometimes women have a certain talent that might be expressed legitimately outside of being a wife and mother. It is not wrong for a Catholic woman to, for instance, be involved with EWTN to promote the Faith so long as it doesn't hinder her duty to family. Why would it be? Similarly, what of a woman who due to hard times is forced to work outside the home?

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  2. hehe...a few too many "upon"s in that last sentence!

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