I have always been confused by the term feminism. Images of dark, dangerous, and deadly women wielding rusted scissors coming do violence to my manhood come to mind but so does the image of man and woman getting paid the same for doing the same work. If the latter is feminism then certainly I am one. It seems silly to suggest that a woman should be paid less for her work on the basis of her sex. That isn’t to say she should work for a salary in the first place. How I come at this issue I’m not certain. Often I have a double impulse one traditional and the other more liberalizing. I am prone to agreeing with Christopher Hitchens: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8WSpFuMByo If a woman wants to work then by all means work. If a woman wants to be a ‘full-time mom’ then so be it, no judgement. I believe there are virtues associated with both options and that the ‘full-time mom’ is able, by virtue of time, to provide more hominess to the home and her children’s experience of it. That is not to say that she loves her children more or that the working mother loves her children less.
But what of the male role in this equation? Mary Daly is very clear, and I think rightly so, in pointing out the churches (only the Catholic Church, it would seem) negative role in propagating the ‘back-seat’ (or even ‘out-of-the-car-entirely’!) position of the father. What of his responsibilities and care for his children? Should they really end solely at the office? I suppose it makes sense, given the unavoidable ignorance of scientific reproduction, that many/most/nearly all church Fathers and theologians assumed woman was merely the passive agent procreation. The male plants his seed within the waiting receptacle of woman who incubates and births his progeny. But, in the end, it does take two and let’s not forget that “It’s Different for Women”: Male/female relations starts to very much look like a power structure with women taking an early lead which men quickly stole in ‘civilization’. That might be a slight too cynical (and simplistic) but after awhile the whole thing starts to look like a self fulfilling statement. “Women shouldn’t be educated. Why shouldn’t they? Well, because it isn’t in their nature. Oh, are you sure; have you bothered to teach them? Well, no but that’s because they couldn’t learn since it’s in their nature.” Our best example presently to bust this notion is simply the many thoughtful, competent, and educated women around us today who have made and make the world a better place.
How does feminism (whatever it’s definition is) apply to organized religion? Clearly this is a point of great debate today withing many Protestant churches and among many Catholics. Churches are not established public institutions but ideally institutions for the public. So, in effect, this is not an issue to which they are legally required to acquiesce. Certainly, social pressures and those working within to change the system itself might act to influence the institution but there exists no legal injunction commanding obedience. That isn’t to say such a law will never be passed but the odds do seem slim and might not that law be taking things too far? There are, however, laws which prohibit discrimination based on disability and race (I assume they apply to private businesses and the like) so why not sex? In short, yes or no to female ordination in churches and is this an issue the state should even be pressing? In light of all this controversy, I am prone to asking the old, cliched, sort of cheesy question of WWJD. So, What Would Jesus Do (or What Did Jesus (already) Say)?