Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Mission Statement of Sorts

I live in a world that tells me I cannot be a Feminist and Catholic.

When I am in discussion with Feminists, I am small minded and sexist. I am hateful for opposing abortion. I am treated as though my very core is anti-woman and perspective is part of a patriarchal point of view that has a singular purpose: destroying women. I am ridiculed for staying home with my children instead of exercising my right to work outside the home. The hounds are released and they do not stop until they draw blood. I am not treated with respect for my point of view or my beliefs. I am ignored, passed over and seen as some sort of joke. Though I have spent 24 years and counting studying the complexities of Catholic doctrine and faith and spent 6 of those years pursuing a liberal arts undergraduate degree as well as a masters degree in business administration, I am told I am uneducated and dense for believing in God and that both men and women have beautiful purpose and equality. When I say that men and women are different and equal and that those differences can be embraced, I am told that separate and equal doesn’t work. I am a religious zealot that does not belong this conversation.

When I am in discussion with conservative Catholic women, I am also a joke. I have been indoctrinated with liberal brain-washing that tells me women are better than men. I obviously do not know my place. I am absurd for believing women have a place outside the home if they so choose. I am rejecting church teaching by believing my strongest witness to my faith is in how I treat others instead of how I judge others. I am a hypocrite for not ensuring that every penny I spend does not indirectly end up supporting immoral actions. I am too secular for this discussion.

In both circles, I am a fool for expecting to be heard. I am guilty of bigotry before I open my mouth to speak. I am not an expert. I need to be “fixed” to join the unceasing debate.

Yet here I am. I was born and raised Catholic. My faith is as much who I am as my womanhood, motherhood and sisterhood. I believe that every human deserves a chance at life regardless of who their parents are or ability. I believe that every individual has hardships that help form who they are in life, and that those contributions are important. There is death, destruction, hate, and evil in this world and it is all ugly. It can’t be ignored but I choose to focus on how I can make it better. I believe I have a duty to focus on the good I can bring into this world. I believe that my Catholic identity is complex and beautiful. I believe there is room for feminism.

I was also born and raised a feminist. My parents taught me that women matter. I was allowed room to disagree, discuss and form my own conclusions for issues both simple and complex. I was taught to think for myself, to respect myself and to trust in my abilities, strengths, and even things that appear to be weaknesses. My interests were encouraged. I was raised to stand up for what I believed in and to love others.  I pursued a liberal arts degree and a master’s degree. Before (and after) becoming a mother, I pursued a career helping survivors of physical, mental and sexual violence. I believe there is room for Catholicism.

I will continue to live my life believing that my Feminist and Catholic identities are not mutually exclusive. I will continue to speak up even though others feel I need to be “fixed” or “educated” or “put in my place”. Use whatever vulgar language you need to in order to make yourself feel better. When you are ready for civil and respectful discussion, let me know. I believe that kind of discussion can lead to some pretty amazing things, and I look forward to a day where everyone really does have a seat at the table. I look forward to a day where we start recognizing and addressing the real problems instead of focusing on the resulting solutions that steal focus and divide.


  1. Blogs are a great way to work through "yourself". You can pick up other's ideas and views and use them to define or discard them. I am not defined by my "religious affiliation" rather than what I believe to be true. I have pushed very hard in my classrooms for my girls to be a part of the solution no matter if they choose to be a stay at home mom or master the universe. Support is everything. The feminism I grew up with was the baby steps to what it is today. Very radical and left a nasty taste in everyone's mouth but had to be that way. Today it is demonstrated by the "power" to use what they won but in a more loving way. Those who do not subscribe have the right also to be that way by the power granted. That in itself is feminism. I personally was taught to be very independent. It is seen as trouble making in some people's eyes but when the day is done - if I feel I have made good choices, I sleep well. When I have made bad choices, it is up to only me to fix it. I don't depend on others to clean up after me. My husband is my partner. I do defer to him at some points and he defers to me as well. He wanted a partner in crime I guess. :) Work it out baby girl. I am here for you also.

    1. Thank you- there are so many things that define who we are. I picked two to write about that seem in constant conflict in my own life, but there are women in my life such as yourself that have shown me through example the strength we could all have as a whole if we wanted it.

  2. The journeys you and I walked until today are quite different. But I could not agree more that my Faith and my Feminism are not mutually exclusive. That is the beauty of the wisdom behind both.

    While I have many encounters with women my age and older (I straddle the baby-boomers and generation x)who are hard pressed to relax and enjoy the victories they have won, I was rather surprised by the number of "conservative catholic women" who see you as indoctrinated by a liberal mindset.

    Surprised only because I have found so many who are joyful and express delight with being different yet equal and embrace all the choices women have as faithful catholics. But again, that may be my age! It is good to hear of the wonderful women you have in your life, like that, as well.

    I was a bit wary at first to use the link you posted in a comment in the ncregister since it used both catholic and feminism as part of the title. If I had thought about a few seconds more, I would have realized earlier you used "catholic" as the adjective, not feminist!

    I must say I'm glad I did, however. In your blog posts you articulate ideas many are too scared to hope for - "the strength we could all have as a whole if we wanted it."

    You go, girl!

    1. I am glad you clicked on my link as well! It has not been until recently that I have discovered a level of "acceptance" if you will. I think this is mostly because feminism has become such a loaded concept. I love the direction I am seeing the movement head now. I am glad you caught the emphasis in the name. When I was playing with titles, I simply could not have had my faith play second fiddle.

  3. I am so grateful to have found this blog! As a young woman in academics (specifically English) I feel that same out-of-placeness you're describing. I'm looking forward to reading your posts!

    1. I am glad you found it as well! Be sure to find us on Facebook as well. I try to have daily posts there. Welcome!

  4. Wow! Bravo! GREAT POST! I often feel this way as well. In college I was often told that I was setting women behind because I wanted to be a stay at home mom. (So women have a choice to do whatever they want as long as what they want to do is work outside the home?) And while I haven't heard it as often, I do get some Catholic riled up (I had a woman angrily stop following my blog because I had a Thirty-One giveaway and some of Thirty-One's money may, in a round about way, contribute to PP.) Sigh. I usually don't get lambasted for working outside the home because I have to financially, but if I did it by choice, I'm sure I wouldn't get any sympathy. I think you speak for a lot of women out there!

  5. This was such a wonderful post. I feel so much the same way you do, but I haven't worked everything out in my mind either. I know that a person can be both a feminist and a Catholic, because I feel I fit both of those, but I often feel the details of how a person can be both don't quite fit together. Thanks for this post and for reminding me that they are not mutually exclusive!


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