Warning: Some Wonder Woman movie spoilers below.
I know I’m a bit late to the game. A lot of the hype around Wonder Woman seems to have died down. But the mark of a good story is that it endures. It’s not just fun and new, but it’s also compelling because it speaks truths to us. It draws you back again and again, and it’s always relevant.
Just a little background and recap before I dive right in: Diana, princess and warrior of the Amazon women, has been training (and dreaming) for the day when she would fight Ares, the god of war. Ares has made it his mission to corrupt mankind, sowing discord and hatred. One day, an American soldier named Steve Trevor essentially crashlands off the coast of her home, bringing news of the Great War (World War I) that has been raging for the past several years. Diana realizes that this Great War must be the work of Ares, and she sets off with Steve, intent on defeating Ares once and for all.
Now, Diana has been raised by women her whole life. Not only that, she had never even met a man until Steve shows up. So when he brings her to London, to the war, it’s quite a culture shock for her – and not just because the clothing is different, or because she’s never tried ice cream before, or because people don’t carry swords. She is thrown into a society that is dominated by men. Dominated politically, yes, but in so many other subtle ways that even the most self-aware feminists are still trying to discern.
Though I was raised Catholic, the Virgin Mary has been a figure I have wrestled with throughout my life. Experiences of hurt and certain secular feminist perspectives caused me to question and even resent who I thought Mary was. Experiences of healing, prayer, and reflection ultimately revealed more about Mary, and led to a deep friendship with her and greater peace within myself.
In order to explain the progression in my relationship with Mary, I need to share a bit of my own story. When I was a sophomore in high school, my mom and dad split up after my dad came forward about being unfaithful. Eventually, my dad moved out of state while I was still in high school and was financially unstable and inconsistent with any kind of support to my mom. My mom was a single parent, breadwinner, sole caretaker for my little sister and I, yet she was also going through her own anguish which I often bore the brunt of. My dad fell from the pedestal I’d placed him on, and my mom simultaneously modeled that she didn’t need a man (or couldn’t rely on one) and yet often shifted the responsibility (unwittingly) onto me to pick up her broken pieces.
Understandably as a result of this, I learned to bottle up my emotions in order to be strong for others. I learned not to trust others to be there for you, especially men, and that women need to be strong for themselves. Both my maternal grandmother, and great grandmother were also single mothers with failed marriages. I come from a line of women who are independent, strong, stubborn, resilient, gritty, and unorthodox. I also learned to downplay my femininity because it seemed to be so associated with a lot of negative stereotypes about women such as being less capable, less intelligent, and weak or easy to manipulate. In my desire to be treated as equal I felt I needed to embody more masculine qualities, and I resented my femininity and seeing others who displayed it.
Yet, deep down, I longed for someone to support me, to be loved by a man in the ways my dad failed to love my mom and me. This longing was often manifested in unhealthy and codependent ways. I longed to not repress my femininity. So when I saw it so openly and freely expressed in others, my resentment was rooted partly in my own longing to be more feminine, partly in feelings of inadequacy – that I would never be feminine enough – that I could never embody all that consists of being the perfect, ideal woman.
The other day, I started another rant while my husband listened. (It’s ok. He’s used it.) As with most of my rants, this one fell under the broad category of “why can’t everyone live their lives as I think they should.” And, as with most of my rants, he responded to this one with an amused smile.
This particular rant, however, took me in a direction I didn’t expect.
It started out as a complaint about the pressure that some Catholic women feel to conform to some sort of imagined “ideal” of domesticity.
Why do women feel that they must good homemakers to be good wives?
Why is all of the pressure on women to be the nurturers?
Doesn’t this ideal overlook the truth that not all women are good at cooking and cleaning? What about men? Shouldn’t they help out with the domestic duties?
On and on I went until I unveiled my secret weapon: Proverbs 31. (Let’s pause here and agree not to talk about the fact that I used the Bible as a weapon…)
“I get so frustrated by women who try to become ‘Proverbs 31’ women. I mean, is anyone really like that? This ideal is just setting women up to fail! And what women with jobs? Listen to this!”
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.
Read the original question here.
One of the beautiful revelations for me of reading St. John Paul II’s Letter to Women, was discovering the Catholic church upheld women working. Up unto then, I thought the only way to be a true woman was to be a SAHM. Being present in the workplace as a woman balances the workplace environment.
God perhaps has withheld imparting the desire for biological maternity to spare you the agony of wanting something that is not yet attainable in your life because you are single. You can live what is called spiritual motherhood.
Spiritual motherhood is a beautiful gift. I witnessed this in a profound way on a mission trip to Haiti. I was with a group of college students, priests, and consecrated women. We were ministering in the wound clinic. The wounds were severe and very painful. A consecrated woman knelt down at the feet of a woman with a severe toe wound. Very lovingly, gently and so Christ like she soothed the women as the consecrated debrided her foot – without pain meds. This consecrated woman was ministering Christ present in the Haitian woman. Such a profound beauty of spiritual motherhood. Also on the trip, I witnessed these consecrated women rock babies, feed babies, and lovingly hold them. Again, another way to care for others in our femininity in lieu of biological motherhood.
I started this blog to help women like myself.
Women who may not have always felt like they fit within the Church, or fit the image of a “good Catholic woman.”
Women who have been attracted to feminism, but who want to know how to reconcile it with their Catholic faith.
Women who have a sense that the strength, power, and influence of women is untapped — both in the Church and in the world.
Did you see that Mother Mary is making an appearance in the press this month?