Few movements are able to achieve either the notoriety of modern feminism, or its famous level of fragmentation. Many of us would undoubtedly like to erase from our memories mortifying images of January’s Women’s March on D.C. where, notably, organizers rejected any pro-life feminist representation. (No surprise there – after all, Planned Parenthood was the “Exclusive Premier Sponsor”). Pro-life groups were rejected in spite of the March’s official Mission Statement which vowed “We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.”
Considering how little agreement exists amongst even the poster-women of the feminist movement, division defines feminism almost as much as anything else, crippling the sorority from the inside.
There are many celebrity proponents of a certain brand of feminism, and one particularly notable example is Emma Watson. Like most feminists, Miss Watson offers ill-defined terms and zero guidelines as working orders, and division surrounds her. Since her 2014 appointment as a United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador, she has plowed ahead as a bold, beautiful, but ultimately blind advocate for women everywhere.
Miss Watson presents more of an intellectual, classy vision of feminism than many of her peers, which explains the general shock caused by a recent partially nude photo in Vanity Fair. None seemed more shocked by the negative reaction than Watson herself. She somehow fails to see the connection between the physical reality of a woman’s body, and the feminist ideals of equality and respect. When Julia Hartley-Brewer, British writer and radio personality, quipped accurately (if a bit crudely): “Emma Watson: ‘Feminism, feminism . . . gender wage gap . . . why oh why am I not taken seriously . . . feminism . . . oh, and here are my t*ts!’” a confused Watson finally responded: “It just always reveals to me how many misconceptions and what a misunderstanding that there is [sic] about what feminism is. Feminism is about giving women choice. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with [sic]. It’s about freedom, it’s about liberation, it’s about equality. I really don’t know what my t*ts have to do with it.” Freedom, liberation, and equality sound very nice indeed, but these terms require clarification. This is not Watson’s first squabble regarding the identity of feminism.
In 2014, Emma Watson famously criticized fellow feminist Beyoncé’s sexualized music – she tried to backpedal, but that critique came back to bite her recently after her own sexualized photo shoot. Watson’s is not the only reprimand Beyoncé has received from a feminist comrade. Gloria Jean Watkins (also known by her pen name, bell hooks) unabashedly took Beyoncé to task for the singer’s 2016 hit, “Lemonade”, though not because it was hyper sexualized (which it was).
Rather, what Gloria Watkins took issue with was the promotion of violence in the music video: “Contrary to misguided notions of gender equality, women do not and will not seize power and create self-love and self-esteem through violent acts. Female violence is no more liberatory than male violence. And when violence is made to look sexy and eroticized, as in the Lemonade sexy-dress street scene, it does not serve to undercut the prevailing cultural sentiment that it is acceptable to use violence to reinforce domination, especially in relations between men and women. Violence does not create positive change.”
However, Watkins’ own feminism harbors its share of inconsistencies. She is a defender of the one tenet celebrity feminists seem to all agree upon: the right for a mother to kill her child. Planned Parenthood may be the only unifying factor these feminists unconditionally support (“Planned Parenthood, they’re the best,” says Emma Watson). Bell hooks herself claimed: “one cannot be anti-choice and be feminist.” There may be nothing more violent than abortion’s dual brutality, which not only kills a child, but also strives to destroy the nature of woman at its root. Yet, violence cannot create positive change. An organization riddled with so many contradictions will never succeed.
Any authentic understanding of the feminine must embrace the whole reality of woman. And at the heart of every woman’s identity is the potential for motherhood. This is part of the nature and essence of womanhood. In his inestimable book, God or Nothing, Robert Cardinal Sarah states, “Following God’s plan, the woman is mother and the man is father. Women ought to fight so that their bodies, which are sacred, will not be utilized and commercialized, because they are God’s temple and the sanctuary of new life.” Any promotion of women which attacks the very nature of womanhood cannot truly do any good for women. Ever rich in wisdom, Cardinal Sarah admonishes: “Women’s dignity is a noble, important cause to fight for, but it is not achieved by murdering unborn children.” Such an approach inevitably brings about the inconsistencies, failures and fractions prevalent among Western feminists.
Cardinal Sarah’s insights are fascinating, considering with what condescension the First World gazes upon his impoverished home. For, despite a very real understanding of Africa’s own crises, including those regarding women’s rights, Cardinal Sarah finds the Western approach to women’s rights horrifying: “In a hyper-eroticized society, which tries to convince people that man is fulfilled only through unbridled sexuality, it seems to me that women’s dignity has had major setbacks. The West is the continent that most shamefully humiliates and despises women by publicly stripping them naked and utilizing them for hedonistic commercial purposes.” Imagine that: while Western feminists fight for government funded contraception, and the “right” to abortion, as well as promoting these notions in Third World nations, women of Third World countries desire education, medicine, and freedom from true oppression in many cases.
The difference in values ought to shock women of the West into reality. In harmony with Cardinal Sarah, Jenny Uebbing, author of the blog Mama Needs Coffee asserted recently,
As Catholic women, it is our high calling to offer ourselves to the world in a way that is rooted in reality and the eternal truth of what we are. We are not powerful when we take our clothes off and offer our bodies to be exploited and used; we are powerful when we say to the world, “no, look up here, in my eyes. See me. Listen to what I have to offer.” We are not powerful when we reject the high calling of motherhood, whether expressly through the brutality of abortion or more subtly through the denigration of the smaller, weaker “other.” We are powerful when we cast of the shackles of calculation and cost analysis, refusing to reduce the grandeur of a single human soul to an equation in which he could come up short.
Women have a right to respect, to education, to work, to choose their spouse, and to freedom based upon the reality of human dignity. But no laws or social mores can make it right to exhibit one’s body shamelessly, nor to take the life of a child in the womb.
These mainstream celebrity feminists do not stand for women. On the contrary, they attack the very nature of womanhood. They do not stand for human rights, so long as they advocate for the ability to kill children in the womb, who cannot stand up for their own rights. They do not stand for freedom, truly, except for the freedom to revolt against nature through consequence-free promiscuity, which is ultimately slavery, and not freedom. And the invulnerable promiscuity for which they stand will always drive people apart, as sin by its nature destroys harmony.
The feminist movement finds itself rank with inconsistencies, due to the failure of its members to ground feminism in objective reality, which must embrace motherhood – not attack it. What Miss Watson and other feminists like her must learn is that making bad choices more available will not bring freedom, but rather debilitating servitude of the oldest kind. Until feminism embraces the reality of womanhood, it will continue to be a fractioned, confused movement, unable to accomplish much beyond making an ugly splash.
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