I, like many other twenty-four-year-old women this summer, devoted some hours to reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. As I read, I became interested in Atwood’s vision of how a power-hungry group could manipulate the Bible to support their oppressive regime. I was particularly troubled by the relationship between Commanders—men in authoritative positions—and their wives. Although their union did not look like a Christian marriage, the theonomic military dictatorship governing the Republic of Gilead insisted that this was the society that God had envisioned.
This claim raises an important question: what does a Christian marriage look like? Atwood appears to suggest that Christianity supports a society in which women are inferior to men, and slaves to their husbands. I want to address Atwood’s vision of Christian marriage, and grapple with one of the most troubling Bible verses for feminists, in which Paul instructs a wife to be subordinate or submissive to her husband.
So, let’s dive right in. In his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul explicitly defines the role of wives: “Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord” (Eph. 5:22, NABRE). Other translations of the Bible use the word “submissive.” Before we go on to look at his instruction to husbands, let’s first draw attention to what Paul did not say.
In 1995, Pope John Paul II started a conversation.
You’ve probably heard of it – his Letter to Women.
Now, over twenty years later, Chloe Langr is continuing that conversation. Chloe runs the Letters to Women podcast, and she invited me to chat with her for the latest episode “A Letter to the Woman Wondering about Feminism.”
Here’s a few of the things we talked about in this episode:
- Why feminism always resonated with me, wanting to be “part of the boys club,” and how it led me to start FemCatholic
- Mythbusting on what it means to be a “good catholic woman”
- Differences between modern secular feminists and catholic feminists – what modern feminists get right about equality, and the advantage catholic feminists have
- Should you call yourself a feminist, or does “catholic” already cover everything?
- Virginity and it’s history of empowering women
- Being a new mom myself, I talk about why feminism needs to support moms in the culture and the workplace
- NFP and birth control (from a feminist perspective, of course 😉)
- Seeing woman’s body as a burden – even in marriage
- What you need to know about how modern feminism has impacted men – and what to do about it
- What I want to tell you if you disagree with church teaching
Listen to our entire conversation on iTunes or online.
Keep chatting with me on Facebook Live! – this Tuesday, Sept. 26th @ 1pm CST
I had SO much fun talking to Chloe about feminism, and now I want to talk with all of YOU!
These are really important, and tough, topics. There’s a lot we need to discuss.
Here’s how to join:
- Join the Facebook event.
- Before Tuesday, download the episode and listen to it.
- Tell me what resonated with you, and what rubbed you the wrong way. Send me your questions!
Talk to you soon! 🙂
Samantha Povlock is the Founder + Creative Director of FemCatholic. You can learn more about her here.
When I first read the “anti-diversity” memo from a (now former) Google employee, I just tweeted a little and wanted to move on. However, as a female in a STEM field, I’ve been feeling pulled to talk about it.
I was actually ⅔ of the way done writing a defense of the memo (while acknowledging some of the flaws), but it just didn’t feel like the right direction. There are plenty of arguments on both sides – either claiming it is a hugely sexist piece, or people praising him as a martyr for conservative thought – neither of which is really an accurate analysis.
I don’t want to talk about the pros and cons of his memo in this post (although we can certainly discuss it if you’d like). Instead, I want to discuss an aspect of the memo that triggered a lot of outrage: the idea that men and women are different.