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Sr. Helena Burns: Five solutions to feminism gone wrong

  • March 17, 2021

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Five solutions to feminism gone wrong

Sr. Helena Burns, FSP

“Feminism” is not a dirty word. At its most basic level, I define feminism as “the protection and promotion of women.” “Radical feminism” denies any significant differences between men and women beyond a few reproductive body parts, which, of course, is patently false, unscientific and demeaning. I was a radical feminist for a good portion of my life until I discovered John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.

Historically, second wave feminism (1960s and ’70s) made some fundamental and fatal mistakes, as did third (1990s) and fourth wave feminism (now). I’m going to outline five of these errors and offer five Theology of the Body solutions.

1. For a woman to say: “I can be as good as a man” is a false admission of inferiority. Think about it. You’re saying that you’re starting out as something “less than” and must aspire to be “as good as.” A woman can’t be as good as a man (because something that is not something else can never be as good as the thing in itself already is and can be). A man can’t be as good as a woman, either. There is no such thing as a generic human being. Feminists mistakenly thought there was only one way to be human, adopted the male paradigm in all things, and unwittingly obliterated the feminine. Men and women are equal in dignity, but hardly identical.
Solution: A woman should aspire to be the best woman she can be, as a woman. Even better: Rejoice in what you are!

2. Women chose to imitate bad men. In their quest to be “as good as a man,” many women chose to model themselves on bad men: players, cads; heartless, uncaring, selfish, impersonal, utilitarian men.
Solution: If we insist on imitating men, we can at least imitate good men. (But why would we?)

3. Women tried to leave their bodies behind, embracing contraception and abortion. Believing their bodies were the problem, women tried to distance and divorce themselves from their very bodies — especially trying to live like men who can have sex and never get pregnant. Modern contraception and its back-up, abortion, seemed to be just the “liberation” women were looking for. But women hadn’t bargained for all the negative physical, spiritual and relational side effects of contraception/abortion, and it left them more empty and depressed than ever. It also asked nothing of men (e.g., self-control, virtue, respect and appreciation for women). In fact, it signalled to men that women were even more available to be objectified and used.
Solution: We don’t “have” bodies, we “are” bodies. Love thy body, love thyself. Embrace the fullness of your glorious womanhood!

4. Women tried to leave men behind. Women need men and men need women. We’re in this together. God created the “complementarity of the sexes.” We are interdependent. The masculine and feminine fall or rise together.
Solution: 1 Corinthians 11:11.

5. Some feminists embraced “intersectional feminism.” Intersectional feminism accepts biological males who “identify” as females in women-only spaces: women’s sports, dressing rooms, bathrooms, shelters, etc., thus putting the final nail in the coffin of completely erasing and cancelling ourselves.
Solution: Being a woman isn’t a feeling. It’s biological and theological. Embrace Theology of the Body feminism.

I will tirelessly deconstruct and dismantle radical feminism whenever I can. Cardinal Gerald Lacroix of Quebec actually came out and said not too long ago: “Radical feminism in the Church is a heresy.” Thank you, Your Eminence! That’s not offensive in the least! It’s clarifying and restorative. The teachings of radical feminism are at odds with the teachings of Holy Mother Church. Even while I bucked the Catholic Church, I still wanted to understand why the Church drew the lines in the sand that she did. If I had heard as clear a statement as that of Cardinal Lacroix years ago, who knows how much quicker my inner turmoil as a radical feminist could have been resolved?

When I drank the Kool-Aid of radical feminism, it was so damaging to my self-perception, self-worth and relationships. It caused a constant simmering anger, defensiveness and inability to appreciate human diversity, beauty and solidarity. It also made the Catholic Church look like one of the most oppressive institutions towards women. Satan loves it when his lie can make the exact opposite of the truth seem true, because the Catholic Church is actually one of the only entities in the world that upholds and appreciates woman in her fullest dignity, the totality of her soul and body, fertility and all.

(Sr. Helena, fsp, is a Daughter of St. Paul. She holds a Masters in Media Literacy Education and studied screenwriting at UCLA.  Twitter: @srhelenaburns)

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