It is difficult to be a woman in our society. It’s no wonder a Catholic woman is especially confused about who she is. The Church boldly declares feminine traits are part of a woman’s core identity, deeply rooted in their souls, not just apparent in their physical appearance. Saint John Paul II, in his letter On the Dignity and Vocation of Women, explains God created women to be different but equal to men as complementary partners, be it as married or religious/consecrated or single women.
Our contemporary culture opposes this view as misogynistic. Some feminists promote the idea that women are born as blank slates with exactly the same traits as men, dismissing femininity as simply learned behaviour. If this were not confusing enough, society now toys with the idea of a blending of genders. We have somehow lost the truth about how great being a woman actually is.
Nature Versus Nurture
As for this whole nature versus nurture controversy, I tried to raise my children without imposing gender stereotypes on them. However, as almost every mother will tell you, even as babies, little boys are intrinsically different than little girls. Since I grew up with only one sister, my son’s behaviour constantly surprised me. I remember stopping in mid-stride, frozen with my mouth hanging open when I observed my twelve-month-old son pushing a toy car back and forth on the Chesterfield while he studied the rolling wheels. My boys were boisterous and physical. Even though I tried to hide the existence of guns from them, they made their own swords and guns out of sticks. Their spatial thinking was amazing and their obsession with Lego equally baffling.
Don’t get me wrong; I put effort into drawing out the feminine side of my sons. One day when Mark was about four, he asked for his sister’s waterproof doll while in the bathtub. I was so please, I almost raised a fist in triumph as I thought,“Yes! I have raised a son with nurturing instincts!” When I came back into the bathroom, the head was off the doll and he was holding the rubber tubing connecting the doll’s mouth to its bottom. Mark was making loud machine noises as he lowered the head into the water, filled it, then lifted the swinging head to pour water into a plastic pail. Rather than mothering this plastic baby, my son had transformed it into a piece of machinery.
I started to laugh at my son, laugh in the face of the whole nature versus nurture controversy, and laugh at my failure to change nature. Children are not born as a blank slate. Women are different than men.
A Catholic Woman
“Each vocation is a vocation, to maternity: physical, spiritual, moral maternity, because God has placed in us the instinct of life”.- Saint Gianna
People of faith who want to understand their identity as men and women must look deeper than answers provided by our ever-vacillating culture because we want to live in eternal truth and in reality, not play roles written for us by a society which will only change their opinion in a few years. Let’s celebrate the natural, inborn differences between men and women and say with joy,”Vive la différence.”
Copyright 2017 Melanie Jean Juneau