Women in Christ: Toward a New Feminism

Women in Christ: Toward a New Feminism

Women in Christ: Toward a New Feminism

Women in Christ: Toward a New Feminism

Excerpt

The challenge of founding and articulating a new feminism has barely been taken up, at least not in a theoretical way, since it was first launched by Pope John Paul II in his 1995 encyclical Evangelium vitae: “In transforming culture so that it supports life, women occupy a place, in thought and action, which is unique and decisive. It depends on them to promote a ‘new feminism’ which rejects the temptation of imitating models of ‘male domination,’ in order to acknowledge and affirm the true genius of women in every aspect of the life of society, and overcome all discrimination, violence and exploitation.” In this goal of overcoming the discrimination, violence, and exploitation of women, a new feminism is not unlike the “old” brand of feminism, which I refer to as “traditional” or mainstream feminism, although I am thereby referring to the more recent forms of feminism—those associated with the women’s liberation movement— and not necessarily those of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It must furthermore must be admitted that there are an almost endless number of different strands of feminism today. The difference between these old “feminisms” and

1. Encyclical letter on the gospel of life, Evangelium vitae (March 25, 1995), #99. For the
sake of accuracy, it is worth noting that the term “new feminism” was already employed in 1975
by Mary Aquin O’Neill (“Toward a Renewed Anthropology,” Theological Studies 36 [December
1975]: 725–36) with reference to the women’s liberation movement (for clarification of the con
nection, see Margaret A. Farley’s article in the same issue: “New Patterns of Relationship: Begin
nings of a Moral Revolution,” pp. 627–46) and by Les cahiers protestants in their December 1979
issue entitled “Vers un nouveau féminisme.” O’Neill in particular makes an important correla
tion between this “new” feminism and an adequate theological anthropology, noting most espe
cially that sexual differentiation “demands that the perspective of each sex, with all the experi
ence, history, insight, and imagination which is its own, contribute to the description of [the]
human being and of God which grounds a theological anthropology” (p. 725).

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