While it’s actually the end of Women’s Month and I have just caught it by the skin of my teeth, let me contribute my two-centavos worth. I will not concern myself with women as a potent force for economic development for now. I would prefer at this time to focus on Woman herself – her dignity and vocation.
Women’s beliefs, their faith, and their cultural and traditional inclinations have been tauntingly termed as medieval impositions on unenlightened women. Likewise, feminists have charged that Judaism and Christianity are sexist religions with a male God and traditions of male leadership that legitimize the superiority of men in family and society.
Not so. In the name of “liberation from male domination,” women must not appropriate for themselves male characteristics contrary to their own feminine “originality.” The truth is that the dignity and vocation of Woman results from the specific diversity and personal originality of man and woman.
In Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter, Muliaris Dignitatem, he noted that the personal resources of femininity are no less than the resources of masculinity – they are merely different. Hence a woman must understand her “fulfilment” as a person, her dignity and vocation, on the basis of these resources, according to the richness of the femininity which she receives on the day of creation and which she inherits as an expression of the “image and likeness of God,” that is specifically hers. For whenever a man is responsible for offending a woman’s personal dignity and vocation, he himself acts contrary to his own personal dignity and vocation.
Moreover, in his Letter, he warned that the contemporary focus of feminist ideology is more destructive than constructive. Indeed, the Catholic faith has always been the first to defend the rights of woman and of her unique quality as a partner of man and not as someone inferior to him.
John Paul II in his Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae used the term “new feminism” (which term I must say has been “word-napped” by the feminists who took his words out of context, using it for their own purposes) to explain that it is the “genius of woman” who is gifted with a special sense for the concrete person, i.e., that she looks at persons with her heart, seeing them independently of political or ideological systems. In fact, he condemned the failure of many societies and cultures that have failed to fully integrate women socially, politically and economically.
“Feminine genius” is a concept that revolves around the idea that the feminine character contributes to and enlightens society. The term includes qualities such as that of receptivity, emphasis on the person, empathy, protection of life, modesty and sanctity. Each of these qualities serves to strengthen and enliven the feminine character, and should serve to inspire and uplift. It is precisely the “feminine genius” that the Pope calls on to defend the right and dignity of women today, and sees this “feminine genius” as the answer to the “culture of death” that is inherent in society’s penchant for revisionist solutions such as contraception, abortion, euthanasia, divorce, same sex marriage and the death penalty.
The Holy Father emphasized the genius of woman, not only as regards the great accomplished women leaders, but also the ordinary women who have contributed so much to the spirit of service, attributing this to the ability of women, more than men, to be able to acknowledge the human person, and to help them, regardless of ideology and politics.
Let us then allow this unique capacity of women to uphold the primacy of love in human life, whose physiology provides “room for another,” and their innate sensitivity to the goodness of the human person.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of FINEX. FINEX Files is a rotating column of members of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines appearing every Friday in Manila Times, business column section. firstname.lastname@example.org