Called to Be is a series of blog posts on the vocation of marriage, written by Melanie Jean Juneau. Our guest blogger – who is is the administrator of the Association of Catholic Women Bloggers, Editor in Chief for Catholic Stand, and regularly posts on joy of nine9 – shares with us her story and reflections. Catch up with the first article, Advice for People Who Are Dating and stay tuned for the next ones!
It is difficult to be a woman today, especially a Christian woman. It’s no wonder Catholics are confused about who they are.
The Church boldly declares feminine traits are part of a woman’s core identity, deeply rooted in their souls, not just apparent in their physical appearance. Pope Saint John Paul II, in his letter On the Dignity and Vocation of Women, explains God created women to be different but equal to men as complementary partners.
Our contemporary culture opposes this view as misogynistic. Some feminists promote the idea that women are born as blank slates with exactly the same traits as men, dismissing femininity as simply learned behaviour. If this were not confusing enough, society now toys with the idea of a blending of genders. We have somehow lost the truth about how great being a woman actually is.
As for this whole nature versus nurture controversy, I tried to raise my children without imposing gender stereotypes on them. However, as almost every mother will tell you, even as babies, little boys are intrinsically different than little girls. Since I grew up with only one sister, my son’s behaviour constantly surprised me.
I remember stopping in mid-stride, frozen with my mouth hanging open when I observed my twelve-month-old son pushing a toy car back and forth on the Chesterfield while he studied the rolling wheels. My boys were boisterous and physical. Even though I tried to hide the existence of guns from them, they made their own swords and guns out of sticks.
Don’t get me wrong; I put effort into drawing out the feminine side of my sons. One day when Mark was about four, he asked for his sister’s waterproof doll while in the bathtub. I was so pleased, I almost raised a fist in triumph as I thought,“Yes! I have raised a son with nurturing instincts!” When I came back into the bathroom, the head was off the doll and he was holding the rubber tubing connecting the doll’s mouth to its bottom. Mark was making loud machine noises as he lowered the head into the water, filled it, then lifted the swinging head to pour water into a plastic pail. Rather than mothering this plastic baby, my son had transformed it into a piece of machinery. I started to laugh at my son, laugh in the face of the whole nature versus nurture controversy, and laugh at my failure to change nature.
Many feminists choose to develop masculine behaviours, thinking they must act like men if they want to succeed. They try to free themselves from the constraints of pregnancy and childcare. A woman’s inner life often crumbles to ashes, sacrificed on the altar of success. Motherhood, religious and a single state are choices women should feel free to make without feeling ostracised by a society which is building a false narrative by looking down on women’s unique gifts.
If women want to discover what it really means to be a woman, they must look deeper than answers provided by our ever vacillating culture. If women settle for passive submission to current whims, they will end up playing a role in a play written by modern society simply by default.
Beloved – An essential spiritual companion for married and engaged couples