September 30, 2011

Ungodly Rage

I’m re-reading Donna Steichen’s book Ungodly Rage: The Hidden Face of Catholic Feminism. I realized, recently, that this book was originally published in 1991 – right when I was an undergrad in a Catholic women’s college and focusing on Feminist Theology as part of my Theology minor. I’m not kidding.

It also recently occurred to me that it is too bad that I did not read Steichen’s book at the time it was published. Instead, I was reading Starhawk, Fiorenza and Ruether (the “trinity”) along with the latest from Timmerman (who was one of my profs, btw), Daly, Kyung, Hellwig. I read them because their books were required or optional reading for courses. In other words; they were the theology textbooks.

I never had the Catechism as a required text in any Theology courses. I had the Catholic Bible (NAB) as a required text in one Theology class. I recall doing a lot of exercises in the hermaneutic of suspicion against Biblical texts and encouraged to find evidence in Scripture that the Church put women down. Did I mention this was (still is) a nominally Catholic college?

Timmerman is a local author and, for that matter, so was Steichen at the time Ungodly Rage was published. You would think she would’ve had a place at the table in the Theology program reading. She has most of the things the school loved going for her: Woman (check), Theologian (check) Catholic (check) Magisterium (check). It was the check box in the Magisterium column that ensured she’d never get an invite to speak at the commencement ceremonies much less have her book read in a Theology class. I read Timmerman’s books in Timmerman’s class. I doubt Steichen would ever be invited to teach a course there so she could push her own agenda, uh, work.

It occurs to me to reflect and wonder, with the passing of 20 years, that the purpose of a liberal arts education is to create a well-informed, balanced, knowledgeable person. I ask myself now: where was the balance? Are you really well-informed and knowledgeable when you only know one viewpoint? When your entire program is built upon a theory of reactionism (i.e. we are reacting against something) and you present little to nothing of the other side of the argument; is that education or indoctrination?

Some would have us believe that the changes that ensued in Catholic education after the Land O Lakes Conference were put in place to create well-informed, balanced and knowledgeable people because the belief was that the Catholic school systems did not. Catholic schools only presented one point of view and that was wrong. Catholic schools did not educate, they indoctrinated. To which I say: Yeah, duh, read the mission and affiliation statements of the CATHOLIC institution! If you haven't, don't feel too bad, no President of the College I attended, since Mother Antonia has read it either - except to deconstruct it.

Catholic academics put in place a system of teaching that was completely reactive and without balance. Somewhere along the line, maybe day one, Catholics no longer had the core teachings to compare the new information to. Any illusion that the new Catholic academia was balanced was removed. I don’t know about you, but I sure didn’t learn about Catholicism in CCD. I went in to Catholic college as ignorant as any Southern Baptist regarding what Catholicism is or should be.

So, I fell for it. I went to feminist Catholic conferences (I was present at the first two Re-Imagining conferences), I led workgroups to change the patriarchal structure of the Church (you can see I failed!), I did rituals that even then I could barely keep a straight face thru. I dabbled in the occult.

I believed, as many feminists do, that if you are not with us you are not enlightened to the truth yet. Women who are not feminist activists have been nullified by the dominant patriarchal culture prevalent in the Catholic Church and in society. We, feminists, have to educate them so the light of (our) truth shines upon them and they are as angry as we are.

Feminists are really a sour and angry bunch. Ever been to a feminist party? Ever been to one where everyone is laughing and joking and having a good time? Me neither.

Somewhere along the line when I started teaching myself by reading books that I was discouraged from reading in College (well, not discouraged, they just were never mentioned) I realized that most of Feminist Theology is offensive to anyone: who has ever believed that being as God made you is something you can live with, who has, or has loved a family, who sacrifices themselves for others, who doesn’t think the natural world is God, who is a man.

Feminist Theologians will take what I listed above and turn it around. I’ll wait for them to comment or send me an email – because they will.

Speaking of turning things around. An event is happening this weekend that I find interesting. Interesting because it is a concept the feminist theologians love: re-claiming a term or an attitude and making it over. It is called: Slut Walk

There are have been Slut Walks around the country. This weekend the Sluts will parade thru Minneapolis near the river (Closing ceremonies will be, I kid you not, at Father Hennepin Bluffs Park. When Fr. Hennepin "discovered" St. Anthony Falls I wonder if he ever envisioned this day?!). The point of Slut Walk is, supposedly, to empower women by making a statement that says: I can dress like a prostitute and if some guy asks if I’m open for business I can slap him for his presumption based upon my appearance. How many guys are going to show up with cameras and complete lack of "custody of the eyes?" You know there will be. Is this a "victory" for either gender? Two dummies making a point?

You can tell I’m on board with the Slut's position, right?

In any case, I find it curious that feminists worked so hard for decades to empower women to think they were more than just their gender (the implication being that gender is a handicap to overcome) and the ultra-femmes worked so hard to counter the feminists by making it ok to look like a woman, that here is an event that is almost post-feminist, post-counter-feminist mashup resulting in women dressing like female prostitutes engaged in a protest against victimization based upon appearance. Got all that?

No word on if the working girls in downtown Minneapolis will now have to adopt long corduroy jumpers with high-necked and long sleeved white blouses and saddle shoes in order to differentiate themselves from the Sluts.


Blogger Adrienne said...

Right now I can't think of anything very intelligent to say other than, "Excellent, Cathy."

September 30, 2011 7:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. I could have written this article (but not as well as you have). Thank you for posting it, and I'm really glad both of us saw through it all at last. Thanks be to God.

October 02, 2011 12:59 AM  
Blogger ignorant redneck said...

This is so weird! I actually work for one of the women who helped gather the data for "Ungodly Rage", by getting into conferences and workshops--she lent me the book to read, BTW. She said to get into one, whe had to flirt with the lady on the desk, because it was for lesbians only.

Sister Gabriel Uhline is someone I once knew, before she was sister--she's mentioned in the book--and she took every opportunity to explain to me that Cardinal Krol was a shallow social climber. She also worked hard to get me to see that being Catholic was a curse to be born while working to make it less like the Church I joined.

This stuff basicly drove me fromt he Church--until i realized that there was a CCC, and that what I thought the Church taught, and then got taught--largely by nuns--wasn't so, Was So.

October 02, 2011 8:21 PM  
Anonymous Cathy C said...

My brother introduced me to your blog and I am so glad you are writing this perspective. It sounds like my experience. Now as a grown up former feminist, I have a daughter in a Catholic college who is fully engaged in the current feminista-lesbian rhetoric including the Slut Walk! What do you know about Slut Shaming? That was a new term for me! Anyway--keep on writing. It gives me hope that my daughter will come back to sanity soon.

October 10, 2011 10:19 PM  
Anonymous Micha Elyi said...

Slut Walk, meet Wolf Whistle.

October 17, 2011 3:02 AM  

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