Story by Elizabeth Schoof, Opinion Intern
A couple of months ago, I read an article on The Odyssey entitled I’m The Girl Who’d Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign . I wasn’t really sure what I was expecting to gain from reading the article, but it left me feeling very conflicted. I grew up in the Catholic Church. I know the prayers. I understand the doctrine and our traditions. My faith is something that has helped me get through every difficult time in my life. It is a part of me, but so is feminism. Articles like the one above used to leave me feeling lost and confused. Was I a real Catholic? Was I a feminist? Why couldn’t I be both?
The truth of the matter, is that Catholicism and feminism are not mutually exclusive. Even though there are aspects of feminism that don’t follow the beliefs of the Church, it’s okay! Being a feminist isn’t about supporting every single variation of the ideology. It’s about supporting the need for equality between women and men. At its most basic level, feminism is about supporting the need for equal rights and fair treatment for everyone. Why? Because the truth of the matter is that fighting for better rights or treatment for women doesn’t solve the issue of inequality if there are others who are experiencing that inequality too.
When you focus on this idea of solving inequality, it ties right in with the Great Commandment. “Love your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:36-40) My faith calls me to love all people regardless of what my personal beliefs might be. My beliefs as a feminist call me to be an advocate for acceptance and a support system for those who are experiencing injustice. Loving all people and supporting those who are experiencing injustice are two concepts that don’t conflict with one another. They both help to foster an open minded and kind society.
As I’ve stated before, feminism is about supporting the need for equal rights and fair treatment for everyone. A lot of people are under the misconception that if you’re a feminist you can’t identify as pro-life. That simply isn’t true. There are a lot of different interpretations of feminism which means I can see “supporting the need for equal rights” and include the right to life within that statement. This means that I’m going to advocate against abortion, because I believe life begins at conception.
It also means that I’m going to advocate for healthcare plans that provide people with affordable medical care even if it isn’t “fair” that I’m not directly benefiting from it. Everyone deserves their chance to heal. I’m going to advocate for gun control because everyone deserves the right to a quality education, and that can’t happen if students are afraid for their lives. I’m going to advocate against police brutality and the way that sexual assault victims are treated because people don’t deserve to be harassed or killed because of the way they looked or what they were wearing during an incident. All of the things I’m advocating for, I advocate for because I believe that lives should be respected. Because I believe that supporting the need for equal rights and fair treatment for everyone is a pretty darn good thing to believe in.
The final major misconception I want to address is that feminism shames women who choose to stay home and raise their families. A lot of people think that the Catholic Church calls the man to be the head of the household and calls his wife to be his support system. While that was the case thousands of years ago when the world relied on physical strength to survive, things have changed since then. The Catholic Church sees marriage as a partnership now. Both spouses are supposed to do what is necessary to provide for their households. Feminism is about working to provide men and women with the opportunities they need to raise a happy healthy family as well. If a couple should decide to have children, both of these belief systems allow them to make their own choices when it comes to raising their family. If a woman is willing and able to be a stay at home mom? That’s fine. If a she wants to manage a career and a family? That’s okay too. The important thing isn’t what the woman does, but that she is making the choice to do so.
My name is Elizabeth and I’m a proud Catholic feminist. Taking inspiration from the article that inspired my own: I am a capable woman who cries during horror movies and happens to be absolutely terrified of the dark and basements. That doesn’t make me weak. I am strong enough to accomplish anything I put my mind to. And I’m okay with that.
About the writer: Elizabeth Schoof is a sophomore at Aquinas studying English and Communications. She loves reading, writing, photography, and laughing at her own jokes