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04-11-2004, 09:06

Linking evil to feminism
By Eileen McNamara, Globe Columnist, 4/11/2004

Not content to wage war on the civil rights of homosexuals, some leaders of the Roman Catholic Church chose the most sacred week in the Christian calendar to launch an assault on another of their favorite targets: women.

In Boston, Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley identified "feminism" as one of the secular evils that make the United States "a hostile, alien environment" for Catholics. Feminism, the advocacy of equal social and political rights for women, lumped right in there during his homily with "the drug culture," "the sexual revolution," "hedonism," "consumerism," and "the culture of death."

In Atlanta, Archbishop John F. Donoghue banned women from participating in traditional Holy Thursday reenactments of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper, their inclusion in the symbolic ritual inappropriate, he said, because women cannot be "called to the priesthood." (O'Malley, too, restricted the ritual to men but issued no edict requiring others to do so.) Donoghue instituted a similar ban 15 years ago when he was the bishop of Charlotte, N.C. To their credit, many Georgia parishes canceled scheduled reenactments rather than restrict participation.

In Britain, Archbishop Peter Smith of Cardiff, Wales, applauded plans by a television outlet to broadcast an abortion procedure later this month. It would be educational, he said, "especially for women," the suggestion implicit that women have no idea what they are doing when they terminate a pregnancy.

Demonizing feminism and patronizing women is familiar enough to anyone who lived through the early stages of the women's liberation movement, when adherents were depicted as homely, man-hating harridans. But that was 35 years ago. Has the perception of women changed so little?

It has not changed at all in the Catholic Church. The prospect of female power is so threatening that the Vatican said last fall that it is weighing a proposal to limit the use of girls as altar servers. It seems that more girls than boys have been signing up since females were first allowed at the altar 10 years ago. What is so threatening? That those little girls might grow into women who demand an adult place at the altar beside their brothers? The way to preclude that possibility is to disenfranchise little girls from full participation in the rituals of their faith?

The dozens of demonstrators who protested Donoghue's foot-washing directive outside the Cathedral of Christ the King last Thursday were no more than buzzing gnats to the archbishop. "Does it benefit us to make this a pretext for protest?" he asked during the Mass. "Some would say yes, but I do not think so."

No surprise there. Didn't O'Malley, his counterpart in Boston, tell the hundreds of priests gathered for Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross last Tuesday that "the breakdown of authority" is one of the great cultural threats to the Catholic faith? That would be male, clerical authority, one presumes.

Beyond his contempt for feminism and his veneration of obedience, O'Malley displayed his disdain for an entire generation, "the boomers born between 1946 and 1966." (O'Malley was born in 1944.) "The most educated and affluent group in US history," he said, "are heirs to Woodstock, the drug culture, the sexual revolution, feminism, the breakdown of authority, and divorce. Typically, they are religious illiterates, but they are interested. Not big on dogmas. My karma ran over my dogma could be their motto."

Such a snide dismissal of the sometimes circuitous spiritual paths taken by men and women not much younger than himself does not become a thoughtful religious leader who claims to want to reach out to disaffected Catholics. Such characterizations will drive them further into the arms of the Unitarian-Universalists or Protestant denominations that are not intimidated by parishioners who ask questions or by women who are proud to identify themselves as feminists.

Eileen McNamara is a Globe columnist. She can be reached at

04-11-2004, 14:43
I am a recovering catholic.

How to answer the catholic church stance without getting myself in big trouble.....I can't. They're men, worshipping their male god, using a book written by ancient men who had no understanding of the world around them; power hungry men who gave themselves 'dominion' over the whole world, especially those evil women. And those same men will hide and cover up for each other while they diddle and assault children (I am posting from the Boston area, the hotbed of all the priest sexual abuse stuff for the moment). Our little boys and girls. They all make me sick.

And they wonder why the church services are so empty these days.

04-12-2004, 01:06
I don't think we women are evil, and I don't think we should be treated like property, or lesser people, or anything of that nature, but I will say this:

I truly believe that my place is with my children. I would love to have my own independent life (with the career, the independence, etc), but I can't do that and be a good mom at the same time. If more women COULD (and would) be home with their children, this world would be a better place. Truly, truly the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.

04-12-2004, 15:43
I was born Catholic, married at a Catholic Mass (by the way, the PRIEST was DRUNK -- had to TELL him to light the candles. At the end, as he was rambling on about his nephew in one of those friendly drunken conversations -- but this was while standing at the alter -- I said, "I've had enough of this", and turned to walk up the aisle. Husband followed, THEN the organist started playing -- the drunken fool was in mid-sentence).

I have little faith in many of those men. They really know little about life, know less about women.

The lack of any concern for children is currently in focus. But, it seems the agenda of the church is to turn the clock back at least 100 years.

As much as I deplore abortion, as much as I didn't see it as an option for ME, I will defend the RIGHT of a woman to control her own body. It is up to the individual woman to exercise her better judgement, her sense of morality when it comes to such things.

It is NOT up to some man (NOTE: If it's a married couple, it is a JOINT decision -- UNLESS your survival is in jeopardy -- and even then, MANY women choose to continue the pregnancy. In truth, many of us are stronger than anyone believes possible)

The dishonesty of the Catholic Church disgusts me. Here I am, a believer looking for a place to believe.

Tina Sokol

04-12-2004, 16:33
Interestingly enough there was an editorial in the Boston Globe today that kinda touches on this thread:

Rebalancing work and motherhood

By Cathy Young, 4/12/2004

THERE IS little doubt anymore that women have the ability to succeed in traditionally male fields of endeavor. The debate persists about the extent to which workplace discrimination is still holding women back. But few people would deny that the unequal division of labor in the home continues to be a major obstacle to equal achievement outside the home.

As an answer to this dilemma, many feminists want to see the state free women from the burden of child-rearing. In the March issue of The American Prospect, Brandeis University women's studies scholar Margaret Morganroth Gullette calls for "affordable, high-quality child-care and after-school programs, run by well-paid and well-trained and caring teachers." Others blame men for shirking responsibilities at home.

But does the feminist approach ignore many women's desire to care for their children? So says a new book by clinical psychologist Daphne de Marneffe, "Maternal Desire: On Children, Love, and the Inner Life." De Marneffe is no conservative calling women back to their traditional roles. She embraces much of the feminist heritage, and she writes powerfully about the happiness that can be gained in integrating work and motherhood. But her case for "maternal desire" is an important corrective to feminism and a must-read for anyone concerned with family and gender issues.

Full-time motherhood, de Marneffe writes, is often framed in terms of female self-sacrifice -- but such rhetoric ignores the pleasures of this way of life. "There is the sensual, physical pleasure of caring for small children; the satisfaction of spending most of our waking hours . . . with the people we love the most, taking care of their needs."

"Maternal Desire" does not paint a rosy, Hallmark-greeting-card picture of motherhood or shy away from its more frustrating aspects. But the author chafes at the not-uncommon feminist assumption that women who stay home have been merely guilt-tripped into giving up their own lives for domestic misery. Often, she points out, it's working women -- even ones who love their jobs -- who feel terrible when they have to leave their children.

De Marneffe, a mother of three, herself temporarily left her clinical practice when she realized that she was too torn between the demands of her profession and the need to mother her children. She writes movingly about the total immersion many women feel in the mother-child bond. To her credit, she does not downplay many women's need for professional accomplishment or their struggle to maintain an individuality separate from motherhood. But she also challenges the idea that only work outside the family is "real work." In de Marneffe's view, establishing an intimate connection with a child and tending to his or her development can be a rich form of personal expression.

De Marneffe's argument has its weaknesses. At times she seems to see the spontaneous rhythms of maternal life in almost mystical terms. She can also be overly negative toward Western culture's emphasis on autonomy and achievement, even turning a critical eye to mothers who focus on educational activities rather than emotional interaction with their children. She underestimates, I think, the pitfalls (for both mothers and children) of wallowing in emotions. But much in her account of "maternal desire" rings true.

"Many people," writes de Marneffe, "would rather put their money toward funding their own `high quality' care of their children than toward a publicly funded system." This simple fact, not the desire to keep women down or mistrust of government, is the primary reason for the lack of subsidized day care.

Unlike most writers on motherhood -- conservatives and feminists -- de Marneffe does not ignore or downplay fatherhood. In a passage sure to raise feminist hackles, she recognizes a man's willingness to shoulder the burden of breadwinning as a "gift" to his wife. But she also urges women to include men more fully in family life, to recognize and confront their resistance to sharing the power and pleasure of being the primary parent.

Yet de Marneffe notes that for now, child-rearing is done primarily by women -- and that is a reality our discussion of work and motherhood has to recognize, instead of imposing an abstraction of equality on everyone. Striving toward equality while recognizing reality, and seeking the best possible balance: That's a good prescription for change.

Cathy Young is a contributing editor at Reason magazine. Her column appears regularly in the Globe.
Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.
Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

04-12-2004, 16:39
Originally posted by Marzipan
I don't think we women are evil, and I don't think we should be treated like property, or lesser people, or anything of that nature, but I will say this:

I truly believe that my place is with my children. I would love to have my own independent life (with the career, the independence, etc), but I can't do that and be a good mom at the same time. If more women COULD (and would) be home with their children, this world would be a better place. Truly, truly the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world. I wanted to say that I agree with you 1000%. If I only knew when I was 24 what I know now, things would have been so different around here. I truly wish I had been home with my kids all along. I was fortunate to be able to work good mother's hours once they were in school so I was home afterwards, and they could get to their lessons or sports, etc. But I still worked, because that's what we were supposed to do ;g ;g ;g and I really didn't need to. Too much stress, it's too damned hard to have it all. I think things are starting to change now, though, my sister is a SAHM who left a high paid VP job at the big Boston bank to stay home with her kids. It's very hard for them financially because she made the most money, but they're doing it.

Suzy Cooke
04-12-2004, 21:13
[QUOTE]I am a recovering catholic.

Me too.. I stopped believing as a teenager way back 40 years ago.

Over the years I've come to realize I owe the Catholic Church a lot. As a hill billy mountain girl they gave me culture and art and introduced me to classical music. But they kept my mom in a really abusive relationship with teir anti divorce bit. She died way young because she listened to them and let my drunk of a father oppress her soul. The church saw to it she never knew happiness.

I stopped listening to them over birth control.

For years I didn't believe and then I came to realize I didn't need Catholicism to have Jesus in my heart and that there were other churches where they even had women ministers, where simple feminism wasn't a dirty word.

Then I find that those saintimonious priests couldn't keep their hipocritical hands off sexually abusing kids, mostly boys but girls too.

Who needs 'em? There are other places to worship.


04-13-2004, 02:08
Originally posted by Suzy Cooke
[QUOTE]Who needs 'em? There are other places to worship.

I agree. NEVER attend a church that teaches one thing and then does another. Hypocrisy is poison to a soul searching for the truth.

04-13-2004, 11:51
Originally posted by tinagrrl
But, it seems the agenda of the church is to turn the clock back at least 100 years.

Try 1000 years--when they actually controlled things like kings and governments. Brings new meaning to the phrase, "Father knows best...."

04-13-2004, 18:40
Re staying at home with the kids or not-I think it's got to be a woman's choice what to do based on her personal situation.

Being a stay-at-home mom/domestic engineer/goddess is a valid and excellent career choice. However, some of us kinda like it out in the wild, wonderful world. I like chasing thugs and drugs and I'd really miss it if I wasn't allowed to simply 'cos I'm a woman. I haven't kids of my own (no desire to-weird, huh) but I'm a 40-something stepmom-I love hubby's kids, but I'd really hate it if my getting married to a guy with kids (at least they're teenagers) dictated my career choices. That's a little more like life under the Taliban than America ^4 . It used to be like that when I was younger, especially in the small town I'm from, and I'd really hate to see it go back to that.

Re the Church-this is why I'm Anglican. We're Catholic Lite. All the liturgy and only 1/2 the guilt...bada-boom *crash*! ;f

Miao, Cat

04-13-2004, 20:06
A lot of women love their careers, and there's nothing wrong with it. Thing is, if you did have kids, then you'd feel the pull we all feel, and it would (and should) be up to you how you deal with it. It isn't when they're babies that I felt the pull, believe it or not, it was once they were in school, and I didn't want them to miss out on anything because mommy couldn't get them there. But that's my rant.

The big problem comes from the judgement. The working moms feel that the stay at home moms judge them as bad mothers, and the stay at home moms think the working moms consider them 'just a housewife'. That has got to stop. Most working women (that's an oxymoron, I know!!) work because they have to, a few because they want to, most stay at home moms do suffer some economic hardships, but feel they make up for it by being there for their families totally. Neither is wrong, and both deserve support.

However, none of this can be driven because 'that's what women are supposed to do'.
That's my rant for tonight, my eyes are closing!

04-13-2004, 21:41
Originally posted by reinbeau
Neither is wrong, and both deserve support.

absolutely. I totally understand that some moms HAVE to work. I DO think it is each woman's personal choice. My personal feelings are that I love seeing my baby girl learning to laugh, roll over, and sit up. I couldn't leave her for anything. Fortunately, my husband and I are in a situation where I don't have to, and I am SO thankful for that. I feel sorry for moms who CAN'T be with their kids, and I respect the ones who chose to pursue their independence. Everybody should just do what they gotta do, and be as happy as possible, whatever their situation may be.