Authentic Feminine Strength and Power
The type of strength and power secular feminists advocate women to assert over men is deficient. Rather than separating men and women from one another in a struggle of ill-intentioned dominance and submission, a woman’s chastity and sexual fidelity to her husband evince a unique feminine strength that brings men and women together in mutual trust, respect, and sincerity. Especially today, in an age where it is the norm to do what feels right in sexual matters, it takes an incredible amount of fortitude to remain sexually committed to one’s spouse before marriage through sexual abstinence, and during marriage through sexual fidelity. It takes conviction, confidence, discipline and a forward-looking love to reserve this gift for that special relationship. The conviction, confidence, discipline and fortitude necessary for chastity are, in fact, all forms of strength. Does this sound strange? Do we not admire the strength of young men and women who undergo intense physical and psychological training in the military, and who, out of fidelity to their country put themselves in danger to defend their family and fellow citizens? Do we not admire the discipline of athletes and musicians who practice for hours each day in order to perfect their skills? Do we not admire the selfless commitment of a mother and a father when they sacrifice certain pleasures and comforts in order to give their children good education? There are myriads instances such as these when we do not hesitate to value the strong character of others. Why, then, would we hesitate to admire discipline and fidelity in matters of sexuality, especially when the benefits of chastity are so numerous? Chastity is more conducive to women’s health, happiness, and success than the sexual indulgence proposed by secular feminism. Chastity significantly minimises the threat of STDs, the emotional stress of sexual intimacy, the risk of future marital instability, and accentuates authentic union and lasting commitment. Chastity places sex within its proper marital context, where women are free to be vulnerable, free to be strong in their fidelity, and free to experience the full meaning and beauty of authentic sexual intimacy.
The True Power of Sexual Desire (Eros)
Feminists of the sexual revolution have also raised up sexual desire or eros as woman’s “divine power”. It is through a woman’s sexuality that she exerts her control over men, arousing in them a type of “madness that overpowers their reason – a type of feminine “intoxication”, they claim. But this use of sexuality is hardly liberating or exalting for women. Pope Benedict XVI debunks this form of sexuality in His encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, where he discussed the history and nature of eros. In the pre-Christian world, the Greeks understood eros as a “kind of intoxication, the overpowering of reason by a ‘divine madness.’” Eros was celebrated as a type of “divine power” and “fellowship with the Divine”. It is for this reason that fertility cults and “sacred” prostitution were popular during this time. The ecstatic pleasure experienced in sex was regarded as something supernatural – as something divine. The pope writes that the prostitutes of old who would arouse this sexual intoxication “were not treated as human beings and persons, but simply used as a means of arousing “divine madness”: far from being goddesses, they were human persons being exploited.” Has this not been the same effect with secular feminist approaches to sexuality? In using her sexuality to exert control over men, women have only made sex more available to men, exploiting themselves, and injuring their chance of authentic intimacy. Pope Benedict labels this a “counterfeit divinisation of eros” that “actually strips it of its dignity and dehumanises it.” Eros is corrupted when human desire is not selflessly turned toward another, but selfishly turned in on oneself, as is the case of casual sex, pornography, and masturbation. In the latter case, there is no other person at all. One reduces one’s own sexuality to a mere tool for pleasure, pleasure, disconnected from love.
A Pro-Woman Sexuality
The Catholic Church espouses a pro-woman sexuality. What is a pro-woman sexuality? A pro-woman sexuality is one that looks honestly at the female body and the female heart. It does not deny a woman’s natural desire for or response to sex, but instead recognises its beauty within the proper context. A pro-woman sexuality is one that honours both women and sex, and prescribe ways to safeguard their dignity and inherent value. The Church insists that that the responses to human desire as sexual revolution advocates are not at all liberating. Instead, they enslave the person in a type of addiction to sex, where one habitually submits to temptations and whimsical desires that do not serve the human good. Rather, they work actively against that which is best for the human person, and especially for women. If we come to understand what is “human” as that which is directed toward God’s good will for humanity, we will find that the Catholic vision for human love and sexuality is more fully human and more fulfilling.
In opposition to secular and some dissident Catholic feminist arguments, the Catholic Church does not encourage women’s chastity in order to subject her to male domination. The fact is, if women’s purity receives any more attention than men’s purity, it is out of an acknowledgement of the powerful influence women naturally have on men. Women have the profound ability to rouse both the best and the worst in the opposite sex. When women lose their concept of purity, men lose their motivation to be respectful. In contrast, when women maintain their purity with confidence, love, and faith, they inspire awe, respect, and admiration from their male counterparts. When women have high standards, men will respond accordingly.
The oral contraceptive pill liberated women from the fear of pregnancy, allowing them to engage in sex for pleasure. Single women could have sexual encounters without the threat of pregnancy. In fact, the new sexual permissiveness degrades women, leads to juvenile delinquency, and undermines the sanctity of marriage, and would ultimately unravel the fabric of the traditional, family-centred society. But the Church is there, as a Mother, always safeguarding the dignity of womanhood and always proclaiming the true meaning of human sexuality that is obviously pro-woman.