Academic journal article Ave Maria Law Review

A Disordered View of Manhood and Its Effect on the Idea of Womanhood

Academic journal article Ave Maria Law Review

A Disordered View of Manhood and Its Effect on the Idea of Womanhood

Article excerpt

A child conceived in its mother's womb is never an unjust aggressor; it is a defenseless being that is waiting to be welcomed and helped.

It is necessary to recognize that, in this context, we are witnessing true human tragedies. Often the woman is the victim of male selfishness, in the sense that the man, who has contributed to the conception of the new life, does not want to be burdened with it and leaves the responsibility to the woman, as if it were "her fault" alone. So, precisely when the woman most needs the man's support, he proves to be a cynical egotist, capable of exploiting her affection or weakness, yet stubbornly resistant to any sense of responsibility for his own action....

Therefore, in firmly rejecting "pro choice" it is necessary to become courageously "pro woman, "promoting a choice that is truly in favor of women. It is precisely the woman, in fact, who pays the highest price, not only for her motherhood, but even more for its destruction, for the suppression of the life of the child who has been conceived. The only honest stance, in these cases, is that of radical solidarity with the woman. It is not right to leave her alone. (1)

~Pope John Paul II


In the passage above from his book Crossing the Threshold of Hope, Pope John Paul II implies that it is precisely the irresponsibility of men that creates a disordered perspective of manhood. Men take advantage of women's sensitivity and self-giving attitude, presenting women with a so-called "liberation" from their womanhood and motherhood through various physical and pharmaceutical contraceptive barriers and, if these measures fail, abortion. Some of the extremist branches of feminism have embraced this perspective, contending that women's true liberation is manifested in sexual freedom without natural consequences. In this way, these branches of feminism play into the hands of the disordered man. The result is devastating. Women, in many cases, cooperate with men in becoming sexual objects. This in turn leads to more subtle forms of exploitation, where women are promoted as sex objects and their more or less naked bodies become the main point of reference in advertising, fashion, sports, and other entertainment industries. It also opens the door to lucrative "industries" of exploitation: pornography, prostitution, and human trafficking. This Article explores the contemporary disordered view of manhood, its effects on women and on the contemporary view of womanhood, and the biblical parameters for restoring the proper view of manhood and womanhood according to the teaching of John Paul II in Mulieris Dignitatem.


John Paul II, in Mulieris Dignitatem, emphasizes that the woman is a subject who should never "become the "object" of "domination" and male "possession. "... Burdened by hereditary sinfulness, [man and woman] bear within themselves the constant 'inclination to sin," the tendency to go against the moral order which corresponds to the rational nature and dignity of man and woman as persons." (2)

The distorted vision of manhood, however, does just this: it promotes women as objects. There are many examples of this. In 1945, medical student Bernard Nathanson, funded by his father's five-hundred Canadian dollars, facilitated the abortion of his pregnant girlfriend, Ruth, who lived in Montreal at the time. (3) In the words of Nathanson--who became a famous abortionist--some fifty years later, "Thus was the first of my seventy-five thousand encounters with abortion." (4) The most striking aspect of the story is that young Nathanson and Ruth were very much in love, but they both accepted the father's proposal. Nathanson's vivid recollection of that particular day as he recounts it many years later clearly indicates that this event deeply marked him, and he is clearly sorry for facilitating the abortion of his child. (5) At Ruth's request, Nathanson did not even accompany her to undergo the abortion. …

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