Saturday, July 7, 2012

The R word and the F word

This Cathofeminism project has changed some things for me in the short amount of time it has existed. I do not see myself to be the wishy-washy sort of person. I often have very passionate opinions and beliefs on any given subject. I enjoy a good debate or conversation always, though my intolerance for others willing to engage civilly and logically in said debates and conversations is what prompted the creation of this blog. Even if I do not have the intention of ever changing my mind, I enjoy challenging my beliefs and finding the sound facts to back up what makes sense in my head. I may not be wishy-washy, but I definitely have problems communicating my thoughts on certain topics (Catholicism and feminism in particular) with certain people. This project has pushed me to not only resume studying Catholicism, but to begin to flesh out some of the details of those certain topics. One way this has manifested itself is in deeper conversations with my closest of friends. Our trip back to Kansas was great for many reasons, but it helped remind me that I actually enjoy hearing my friends talk in addition to just reading about or stalking their lives on Facebook . Novel idea, I know.

 I haven’t really delved into anything too controversial here or seen any real negative responses to my project (unlike others I have seen). The support I have received has gently pushed me to open new and different conversations with others. I offer the following examples:

A friend and I (as I have mentioned previously), have some pretty hardcore discussions with issues as they relate to feminism. We talk about others things sometimes, but we are pretty much addicted to disagreeing with each other while finding some common ground in the process. For lack of better terminology, she is my liberal friend. There is always a little bit of religion thrown into the conversation, but the R word is one I have stayed away from on numerous occasions. I have always answered questions about my own faith of course, but never pressed further. I have become very good at compartmentalizing discussions for the sake of the cause. (i.e. abortion: In the eyes of many abortion supporters, if you are against abortion you must be a religious zealot that is condemning them to hell.) I should have known better than this; I don’t think we have found an off limit topic in our years of friendship. I was a tad hesitant to open the door at first for some reason, but recently we had a pretty fantastic sequence of emails on the subject of religion. So fantastic, that I will not hesitate to do so in the future.

I have another friend that you could call my conservative friend.  She is also a practicing Catholic. We have known each other for a long time, and we know we agree on many things but feminism is not a topic that comes up often. The F word was not banned or anything, but for a long time I saw it as more of a dirty word. I was convinced you could not be a feminist and be Catholic because I sincerely thought abortion was a given (among other “unCatholic” stances) to join the ranks of feminism. She and I recently took the time to talk about some of these feminist ideals together. It started as a phone call before our trip, and our talk made me miss her even more! To under sell it a bit, I was eager to continue the conversation.

With both of these friends, I had been hesitant to bring up certain topics. Not because I was afraid I was wrong or uninformed, but more that I did not want to risk a friendship over it. There is a great deal of commentary on these subjects on the World Wide Web, and most of it is insulting. I have read so many tirades, seen people defriended over the F word and the R word and these ladies are the best of the best. It would be unimaginable to lose either of them as friends. The past few weeks showed me how solid our friendships are and how important they are in my life. We challenge each other without insulting. We do not merely pause to think about what we want to say next, but we listen to one another.  We gently point out holes in one another’s arguments. We laugh, move on and talk about other things in our life as well. I am forever thankful for their friendship and love.

This is an election year. There are plenty of issues to think about and discuss besides the R and F words. Flesh out your perspective and what is important to you, and then vote accordingly. I encourage you to participate in these types of conversations with love, respect, civility and logical thought. Inform and educate yourself, rinse, repeat…

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