Her Way: Young Women Remake the Sexual Revolution

By Paula Kamen | Go to book overview

9. Redefining Religion and Morality: Overcoming
Traditional Male Authority

i found god in myself/ & i loved her/ i loved her fiercely.

—Ntozake Shange, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide /
When the Rainbow Is Enuf, 1976

I am not petrified of sex, consumed with guilt, or convinced that gays
and atheists will go to hell. I don't think the Pope is perfect, and I find
nothing wrong with birth control, as long as it works.

—Tish Durkin, quoted in “Why I Am a Catholic: What's a 20th-Century Girl
Like Me Doing in a Church Like This?” Mademoiselle, March 1995

As a single mother, Ivy was seeking spiritual support. Her marriage had fallen apart after almost four years of constant financial and family health crises. After her divorce, her husband, stationed in Germany with the U.S. military, had stopped paying child support. Ivy's mobile home and all her belongings in Kileen, Texas, had been repossessed. Not able to pay all the bills with her waitress and then telemarketing jobs, she sent her two children to live with her family in Puerto Rico. She said that she felt she could no longer turn to Catholicism—the religion of her family and her Hispanic culture—because of its opposition to divorce. So she switched to an evangelical Protestant church, which, contrary to stereotype, allowed her to be herself.

“I'm pretty lucky with the people I have met, because I'm not being judged,” explained Ivy, a small woman whose worn face ages her beyond her 25 years. “I'm being accepted for who I am … I go to church and I'm a totally different person, because I'm free of my sins.” In broken English, she voiced her criticism of the Catholic religion by recounting a story from the Bible, of God creating Adam and then making Eve from his rib, signifying a woman's second-class status. “I believe that 30 years ago…that's the way

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