Saturday, October 18, 2008

On Authentic Feminism

This year I will have the privilege of voting in my 8th presidential election. Over the years I have understood the importance of voting for candidates who display what Stephen Covey calls "principle-centered leadership". To use my vote to support a single promised act by any individual is myopic and imprudent. Integrity is by definition the state of being entirely whole. To live with integrity means that there is a harmony between what one thinks, says and does. I have found this to be the best test for any candidate seeking my vote.

As the November 4 election draws near, I would like to highlight an issue that in my opinion is at the heart of the "culture wars". It is reflected in the words, demeanor and record of both parties, but in opposing ways. It is at the core of the family and society; and until we get this right the peace we all long for will never be possible. The topic that generates heated and polemic responses from people is feminism. The resolution can be found in what I suggest should properly be called "authentic feminism". Since words do have meaning and power; it is important that the language we choose be clear and a true representation of the ideas being conveyed.

So what do I mean by "authentic" feminism? Feminism is concerned with the rights and equality of women. The reason that humanism does not suffice is that there are natural differences found in human males and females. Consequently, it is necessary to address this reality in a more precise way. If we also look at the word authentic the dictionary says "entitled to acceptance or belief because of agreement with known facts or experiences". With these words defined I propose that the reason that [non-authentic] feminism is so divisive is that it attempts to deny what nature insists humankind embrace. Often feminism is used as a pawn for political ideologies, rather than for true good. After all, isn't that the purpose of definitively stating rights that are intrinsic to the human person (ex: The Declaration of Independence and the World Declaration of Human Rights).

Keeping these thoughts in mind, let me give a thumbnail sketch of what "authentic feminism" looks like. It begins with the understanding that respect, dignity and equality are due to all human beings, male and female alike. It recognizes that women are equal, but different intellectually, physically, spiritually and emotionally. These natural differences are recognized and affirmed as essential to a complete and prosperous humanity. Feminism that is genuine will acknowledge, accept and accommodate the fundamental nature of woman. It will seek to protect and promote the good that is inherent in her very being.

Let us now take a look at "counterfeit feminism". Feminism that is false will renounce, reject and repudiate the traits inherent to women. It will seek to replace and even destroy the very essence of what it means to be a woman- in the guise of defending her "rights". These so-called rights are not rights at all because their object is the eradication of what is most intimately and uniquely connected to the female human person. It is here, in the depth of her being physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually that the assault begins. As long as woman is attacked at this most basic level, true and lasting peace is never possible. The refusal to acquiesce to the innate attributes nature deems essential can only result in a rift that tears apart humanity at its nucleus. The most fundamental attribute of woman is to be the bearer of life. The abnegation of this prerogative unleashes nature’s disciplinary consequences. Mother Nature will not be duped! There are natural consequences to the decisions we make. We are free to choose our actions, but not the ramifications of them. The natural world is an unsympathetic teacher! As modern as we are, as long as we pretend that we can impose our desires upon the laws of nature, then I suspect we are not too far removed from our "cave" ancestors! It is time we recognize that we cannot manipulate the order of nature without dire effects for all of humanity.

True feminism celebrates the essence of woman and seeks to appreciate and work in accordance with her nature. In so doing, it offers the woman, the family and society the opportunity to face challenges and hardships with an acceptance of who she is as female. Only this will begin to reverse the devastating impact of choices made which begin the cycle of war, not peace. The seeds of conflict in our world are sown every time a woman is encouraged to turn her back on the most basic characteristic of her being. Nature chose her to be the bearer and nurturer of new life, not the executioner of it. “Authentic feminism” understands this and seeks to find solutions to difficult circumstances while respecting her role as life giver.

As we go to the polls this November, may we take the time to support those candidates that lead with conviction and principle. Let us look beyond the narrow lens of our pocketbooks to elect those who are committed to the common good!


Therese said...

I am glad you posted this. I am posting a link on my blog.

Frizzy and Bird said...

I am here from Therese's blog and have been here before thanks to her. Thank you for these thoughts and for giving me something to think about not just during the election but every day.

Phyllis said...

I will be passing this to on to my friends. It is refreshing to read something so clearly stated about these issues.

Cathy Adamkiewicz said...

What an intelligent, inspired post!
You have eloquently stated a powerful truth.
I am constantly seeking to achieve the balance of an authentic feminism in my life. You have put into words so well the ideals that we need to embrace!
Thank you!

dougandcheryl said...

This is an amazing post. It is so true. Thank you for this.