An Irish woman's social, political and domestic commentary
Monday, August 09, 2004
Church on feminism
Issued just as Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" breaks all best selling records, the "LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON THE COLLABORATION OF MEN AND WOMEN IN THE CHURCH AND IN THE WORLD" is hilariously apt. There are some great chestnuts like its emphasis that men rule over women because that was Eve's punishment for tempting him in the Garden of Eden and that women who seek equality with men deliberately cause antagonism and homosexuality. Th whole documents seethes with arrogance and the most extraordinary assumptions. Still, it's hardly news that the church is down on feminism.
Nevertheless it does contain a basic thesis with which I agree; altho the conclusions I would draw from it are quite different than those Ratzinger does. He argues that it is wrong to suggest that the differences between men and women are simply a matter of gender conditioning but are in fact inherent to one's sex. That the ability of women to give birth, whether fulfilled or remaining potential, gives women a "capacity for the other" which makes them particularly reverent of human life, humble, faithful etc.
"It allows her to acquire maturity very quickly, and gives a sense of the seriousness of life and of its responsibilities. A sense and a respect for what is concrete develop in her, opposed to abstractions which are so often fatal for the existence of individuals and society. It is women, in the end, who even in very desperate situations, as attested by history past and present, possess a singular capacity to persevere in adversity, to keep life going even in extreme situations, to hold tenaciously to the future, and finally to remember with tears the value of every human life."
Germaine Greer, a hero of mine, in typically withering fashion, criticises the document in Thursday's Guardian. (In fact, her remarks on South America are more interesting than those on feminism). Greer, not always consistent, has however, a similiar thesis. That women are fundamentally different to men and this is connected with their ability to give and sustain life. I heard her interviewed some years ago in which she said something to the effect of:
"when the men are finished destroying the world, through violence and pollution, and the last few people are left, and in order for the human race to carry on, the carrot has to be got out of the ground and into the child's mouth: it will be a woman that does it".
That doesn't seem hugely different from what Ratzinger is saying. I pointed this out in a piece I did on Radio 1 on Friday. If you want to listen , fast forward into about 1h30s. posted by Sarah | 10:27 0 comments
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