Posts Tagged 'Feminism'

How Can Women Stay Catholic?

I’m sorry about the rare posting lately, July has proven to be a crazy month. I bought a house so I’m packing up the apartment, looking for new tenants for our old place, I’m also in a wedding party for a wedding next week, going camping with the fam soon and getting ready for a trip to Europe next month. So I think I’m excused for my poor attendance on my blog lately!

What prompted me to write today was a post on Friendly Atheist. You may have heard about this recent news out of the Catholic Church:

The Vatican today made the “attempted ordination” of women one of the gravest crimes under church law, putting it in the same category as clerical sex abuse of minors, heresy and schism.

The new rules, which have been sent to bishops around the world, apply equally to Catholic women who agree to a ceremony of ordination and to the bishop who conducts it. Both would be excommunicated. Since the Vatican does not accept that women can become priests, it does not recognise the outcome of any such ceremony.

I want to talk about the question (more like a questatement) that Hemant Mehta posed on his blog post in regards to this news:  “I really want to know why any self-respecting women would remain in a Church that treats them so poorly.”

It’s an interesting thing to think about, and I’m sure a lot of atheists would have a hard time seeing why any person would remain in the Catholic Church even before these new rules came out. I know I express all the time my incredulity at anyone who stays in any religion. But really, for most of my life I was religious, and there are billions of people out there who have no problem belonging to religions that tell them they’re worthless without their god of choice.

So why is it that people will go on believing in a religion that has so little respect for them?

Here’s the comment I posted on the Friendly Atheist post:

When I was a Catholic I accepted that as a woman I was inherently inferior to men due to Eve’s mistake. Stupid, I know…but if other Catholic women think like I did then they’re not self-respecting women, so the Church’s declaration would probably just be swallowed like all the other bullshit the Church dishes out.

I want to elaborate a little on that because it got me thinking back into the mindset I had when I had no problem accepting such a harsh doctrine.

Growing up my parents never pigeonholed us into gender roles. My brother played with Barbies and I played with Hot Wheels and they never discouraged us from doing non-girly or non-boyish things. So where did this idea come from that I’m inherently inferior to men? I think it started when I was in highschool and I became friends with a couple of evangelical Christians. We had our spares together, and my friend would bring her Bible and we would discuss various topics of interest to Christians. I only had a passive interest in my Bible until she started telling me about this and that inspirational story, and that’s when I started really looking at the thing (of course I looked selectively like a true Christian would, see the post on my childhood Bible).

I think that once you allow yourself to be immersed in the culture of Christianity it’s only natural to start to believe things like abortion is always wrong, homosexuality is a sin, women should stay in their place, etc. I believed that the Bible was true, and I believed that God was good and loving. I also bought into that crap about humans being sinners who need to repent. I believed that all humans had to pay for the mistakes of Adam and Eve, and somehow it didn’t cross my mind that God was at fault for putting the apple in the garden to begin with. And of course, I believed that Jesus would save me from my sinful ways.

I remember once telling someone…I can’t remember who it was, or what we were discussing…I think I was telling someone why I believed feminism is stupid, and my reasoning was Eve ate the apple and that’s why women have the joy of menstruation and that’s why our job is to serve men. Women have to pay for her mistake, too bad, so sad. I have no idea if that’s really what the Bible said, but it was enough that it seemed like something that the Bible would say, because it was nice to have a pat answer.

Christianity was easy. It had black and white responses for almost everything. Rather than delving into the complicated ethics of abortion, I could just refer back to “thou shalt not kill.” I think that’s a large part of what drew me to the religion. I thought I had all the answers, and I felt like I was in on the secret to everlasting life in heaven. It’s a nice feeling provided your thoughts don’t drift to those poor souls who haven’t heard the good news.

Okay I’d better get back to the topic, which is why Catholic women stay in a church that treats them like second-class citizens. When you’re a part of a church you generally buy into the idea that you’re a sinner, and that this church has the answers you need to gain entry to heaven. The problems that exist in the world are caused by the evils of humans rather than of God. You trust the church leaders because they speak with authority, they’ve studied the religion all their lives, they must know what God wants you to do.

Once you’ve accepted this then it’s in your best interest to act how your church wants you to act. When I went to church on a regular basis with my family, I revered our priest. I felt like when he shook my hand or handed me the sacrament that I was getting a special gift from a holy person. I trusted that what he taught was the truth, and I thought that all churches were probably like mine because what I was being taught just seemed to make sense.

It’s hard for outsiders to see why someone would associate themselves with an organization that, it seems, is always in the news for the horrible things it says and does. But when you’re indoctrinated to believe that you’re a worthless sinner, you don’t have self-respect, and you go along with what the Church wants you to do because that’s the way to be saved from your horrible self. Although it may seem from the outside that women shouldn’t belong to an organization that has so little respect for them, that’s just the harsh reality that the believer accepts. You believe that the Church has your best interests at heart, and that when they say something like “the ordination of women is a crime,” they’re really just trying to save the souls of would-be female priests.

Enlightning Bolts – 07.05.2010 – Female Bloggers Edition

I recently posted a list of skeptical female bloggers (and websites, podcasts, etc.) and have been slowly making my way through them reading what they have to say. So I thought I would make a special Enlightning Bolts to highlight some of the posts I’ve been enjoying…

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Rachael posted a positive story about how kids’ perceptions of scientists changed after they met some scientists.

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Angie the Anti-Theist has an interesting multi-part piece on her experience with Alcoholics Anonymous. Here’s Part 1.

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Doubtful Daughter has written about how much more she questions things now that she’s not a “believer”…it might as well have been written by me!

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Apparently it’s Relocate Religious Books Month! I’ve never moved a book from its spot in the bookstore if it’s in the wrong section, I tend to think that’s just making the employees’ jobs harder, but I have mentioned to staff that certain books shouldn’t be in the Science section and gotten results. I also sometimes move Skeptic Magazine over so that it’s covering the woo-ish UFO and Biblical Archeology magazines – they’re in the same section so I don’t feel bad about doing that!

Women and Skepticism

If you’ve ever been to a meeting of skeptics, chances are you’ve noticed a big gap between the number of men and the number of women in attendance. When I started this blog I remember trying to think of what would set my point of view apart from the thousands of other skeptical blogs out there. All I could think of was that it might be interesting that I was formerly a believer of many of the things I now criticize, but it took some comments on my gender to make me realize that being a female skeptical blogger is actually pretty rare.

I’ve never gone and counted, but in my anecdotal experience most skeptical, atheist, and science-related blogs are written by men. So why is this? Skeptifem recently blogged about this, and her thinking was that it’s because women are busier, as we are generally tasked with looking after the kids or the home. I have no doubt that this contributes to the lack of ladies at skeptical gatherings, but I think there has to be more to it than that, otherwise we should expect women to also be underrepresented at things like Mind, Body, Spirit Festivals and in Church activities, no? Thankfully, PZ Myers recently posed the question on his blog:

So I’m going to try something a little different. Instead of telling you my opinion, I’m going to forgo the essential principle of blogging (which is “Me! Me!”) and just ask people, especially women, to leave links to their godless/skeptical feminist blog or make suggestions or gripe or tell me what these stupid male-dominated conventions have to do to correct the imbalance.

There was a lot of interesting discussion, so I recommend looking at the comments. Personally, I think it largely has to do with it being less socially acceptable for a woman to be outspoken, confrontational, and intellectual. I’m not sure what the solution is to this issue, maybe you can post your suggestions in the comments, but I think that promoting female skeptics is a good place to start. If more women are seen to be participating in skepticism at least online, then maybe we won’t be seen as a novelty simply by virtue of our gender.

So I’ve gone through the comments on that thread on Pharyngula and compiled this list of skeptical blogs/podcasts/websites that happen to be created by women (hopefully I didn’t miss any, there were over 600 comments). Enjoy!

Feel free to add more links in the comments!

I also want to take this opportunity to say that I’ve been wanting to find other contributors to this blog since my posts are so sporatic, and this whole topic of women in skepticism has made me think that it would be great to get some other women posting on my blog. If you’re interested (even if you want to cross-post from your own blog), shoot me an email through my contact page.

The Manhattan Declaration

I don’t get on Twitter very often, but today I decided to check it out today, and thanks to Dave the Happy Singer‘s tweets, found out about this disgusting document called the Manhattan Declaration.

The subtitle of this document is “A Call of Christian Conscience”. If this document is any indication of the Christian conscience, well…I’m speechless.

Here are some exerpts from the declaration, but I suggest you read it yourself to get a glimpse into the mind of some of these people who are opposing gay marriage and womens’ rights to abortions, as well as trying to insert their religious beliefs into America’s secular government:

[…]the institution of marriage, already buffeted by promiscuity, infidelity and divorce, is in jeopardy of being redefined to accommodate fashionable ideologies; that freedom of religion and the rights of conscience are gravely jeopardized by those who would use the instruments of coercion to compel persons of faith to compromise their deepest convictions.

Allowing gay marriage does not compel any person of faith to do anything. It’s as if they think that providing this right to someone else is tantamount to forcing them to marry someone of the same sex. Nobody is asking you to be gay! You don’t even have to like gay people, just let them have their rights and keep your nose out of their business.

For example, human embryo-destructive research and its public funding are promoted in the name of science and in the cause of developing treatments and cures for diseases and injuries.

Hmm, are they taking about stem-cell research? Honestly…if you’re going to oppose something, at least makes sure you understand what it is. Stem-cells used for research aren’t, and will never be, babies. And using them to develop treatments and cures, they say that like it’s a bad thing! I thought they were pro-life, yet they don’t want to allow for potentially life-saving research?

Oh dear FSM…they go on to equate stem-cell research with assisted suicide:

Eugenic notions such as the doctrine of lebensunwertes Leben (“life unworthy of life”) were first advanced in the 1920s by intellectuals in the elite salons of America and Europe. Long buried in ignominy after the horrors of the mid-20th century, they have returned from the grave. The only difference is that now the doctrines of the eugenicists are dressed up in the language of “liberty,” “autonomy,” and “choice.”

Wow, there are some parts of this document that I won’t even copy over to my blog, it’s gross.

Vast human experience confirms that marriage is the original and most important institution for sustaining the health, education, and welfare of all persons in a society.

Does all persons include women? Because maybe they didn’t read about the possible lifting of the ban on spousal rape in the Bahamas, or maybe they missed the Islamic guide to beating your wife without leaving marks? The document talks about how we need to stop the spread of AIDS, do they think marriage does this? I guess they haven’t heard about unfaithful husbands in Africa bringing spreading AIDS to their wives. But I suppose they would say these people aren’t Christians…well the document quotes Ephesians 5:32-33. Did they happen to notice Ephesians 5:22-23? The part where it says that womens should submit to their husbands? I suppose that’s for their welfare. (barf).

At least they admit that they aren’t doing so well when it comes to marriages:

We confess with sadness that Christians and our institutions have too often scandalously failed to uphold the institution of marriage and to model for the world the true meaning of marriage. Insofar as we have too easily embraced the culture of divorce and remained silent about social practices that undermine the dignity of marriage we repent, and call upon all Christians to do the same.

Maybe they’ll be able to model the true meaning of marriage by focusing on their own damn families, and by not worrying about what gay people are doing.

No one has a civil right to have a non-marital relationship treated as a marriage. Marriage is an objective reality—a covenantal union of husband and wife—that it is the duty of the law to recognize and support for the sake of justice and the common good. If it fails to do so, genuine social harms follow.

 #$&*%^$@#%$@%%#$*!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have no more words. I want to believe that most of the purported 333,642 people who have signed so far just got bored after the first paragraph and signed not realizing what it actually said, but give the United States’ record on gay rights, I doubt it.

[Note: Hopefully this hasn’t been too incoherent…I’ve been listening to anti-atheist podcasts all day and now this, my brain is turning to mush]


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