After I finished yesterday’s post on the curiously woman-free plenary assembly on “women’s cultures” (see https://extraecclesiamestlibertas.wordpress.com/2015/02/04/womens-culture-as-defined-by-men/) I thought some more about the second theme of the conference, “‘Generativity’ as a symbolic code,” and decided that this section deserved its own post.
Generativity is defined as, “Except, The physicality of women – which makes the world alive, long-living, able to extend itself – finds in the womb its greatest expression.” In other words, the uterus is the most important part of a woman’s body. Not her brain, the organ that allows a woman to think, feel, and experience the world, but her uterus. Well, I guess that explains the photo of that Man Ray sculpture; if the uterus is the “greatest expression” of a woman, she clearly doesn’t need a head or limbs.
In the next section of the second theme, the document talks about a peculiar concept called “generative liberty,” which is presumably a conservotrad Catholic version of reproductive rights, much like how the “feminine genius” is supposed to be a Catholic version of feminism. Unlike secular reproductive rights, which includes the right for a woman not be pregnant either through abortion or the use of contraception, “generative liberty” appear to be the freedom for a woman to express genetivity in every aspect of her life. The document doesn’t state that women should be barefoot and pregnant as Pius XI did in “Casti Connubii” but it does does say that the good society should enable women to exercise the generativity that is “natural” to their sex:
This can happen in many contexts, from the family to places of education, care, information and business. Women executives and managers, for example, who develop managerial processes based on respect, welcoming, making the most of differences and skills, generate and protect life expressing fecundity. Such processes are at the basis of a future that isfully human, safeguarding against an involution of the human species, a risk that is possible where the logic of competition and power are cultivated in a disharmonic fashion.
priests, which according to statistics is not something that women want.” I find this hard to believe, because the statistics that I’ve seen indicate that a sizable majority of Catholics in the West want women priests:There is no discussion here of women
The Washington Post article, which is more current that the first link and contains data from a number of countries in the developed and developing world, indicates that only 30 percent of European Catholics and 36 percent of American Catholics agree with the ban on female priests. While Catholics in the developing world are overwhelmingly for the all-male priesthood, the status of women in many of these countries is already low, so I doubt they could conceive of a woman holding religious power and influence. Thus, if we take the “Church Militant” as a whole, then it is probably true that most would be opposed to women’s ordination, but a substantial minority would also be for it. However, the issues brought up in the working paper seem to be focused primarily on the issues faced by Western women who are falling away from the church precisely because they didn’t feel like they had a say in religious affairs, and if we focus simply on Western women, then most of them would be in favor of woman priests. My question is how the writers of the working document concluded that most women don’t want to be priests. Did they hire a respectable survey company and engage in multi-nation research? Or did they just ask their housekeepers?
As with many aspects of Vatican policy, the members of the plenary assembly on “women’s cultures” are starting their inquiry with a stereotypical notion of how women are or should be, which means that all of their conclusions will be made with the intention of reinforcing the essentialist notions that they already felt to be true. The working document plaintively asks why women are abandoning the church without considering that it is the offensive, out-dated notions about a woman’s “natural place” is what is driving them away in the first place. If you operate from the assumption that the most important part of a woman’s body is her uterus, chances are you don’t really care what women are thinking, since the brain isn’t what counts.