Beyond that I do not feel confident to write. Just as we watch the ground break open between factions within the Anglican Church threatening to cause the two movements to part company and go in their respective directions, so does it seem that there will be inevitable breaks in the common ground in feminism.
A woman was telling me of a conversation that she was having with her grandmother earlier this week (if you are reading this, I hope this is a fair reporting of that conversation) in which she stated her rejection of the modern feminist movement. The grandmother was aghast and emphasized how much life was better for women and indeed people in general now because of the work of the feminist movement. But that was countered with the notion that the feminist movement of today bears little resemblance to the movement of her grandmother's day which also focused on and protected the family.
Indeed there has been a shift. For example, consider what an early pioneer of the feminist movement, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, had to say about abortion, "When you consider that women have been treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." Compare that to NOW's (the National Organization of Women) statement. "NOW affirms that reproductive rights are issues of life and death for women, not mere matters of choice. NOW fully supports access to safe and legal abortion, to effective birth control and emergency contraception, to reproductive health services and education for all women. We oppose attempts to restrict these rights through legislation, regulation or Constitutional amendment."
So where does that leave the faithful Catholic who also believes in the advocacy of the political and socioeconomic equality of men and women, the hallmark of the feminist movement? It causes a deepening abyss within feminism leaving many to redefine for themselves what feminism is. Whatever this new definition is, it will grow out of the ashes that we wear today. It begins, to borrow from Sheldon Vanauken, with the realization that this God who made the universe came to live in the world and was killed by the world and the proof of this is His resurrection. And that if this is true, this is simply the only really important truth. For all other supposed truths will come to an end. This one lasts for eternity. And we need to conform our lives to it. In the end what is truly good about feminism will reflect what is good about faith and the meaning of the human person in relation to and relationship with God.
I still will not pretend to know how to finish the above dictionary entry, but Colleen Caroll Cambell is willing to start the ball rolling. She is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a former White House speechwriter, and author of The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy. (Perhaps next time she could get Dawn Eden to help her with a snazzier title.) She has an international television talk show, "Faith and Culture," on EWTN, writes for a number of publications and speaks to audiences across the Unites States.
This Sunday, February 25th, she will be speaking at St. Mary Church in Hudson at 7:15 on The New Feminism: An Authentic Catholic Vision of Woman. I hope to get there myself if parish duties permit. Perhaps a tectonic shift is taking place and instead of feeling left apart, here will be discovered a new place to stand with feminism.