Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Has the Women’s Movement Decreased Happiness?

Hey, ladies, it’s August 26, Equality Day!  Woo-hoo!  How’s it going so far?  In case you are not in the loop, Women’s Equality Day commemorates August 26, 1920 when the right for women to vote became official.  But equality has not rained down happiness on women. 
        A few years ago, a Time Magazine report on the happiness of women concluded: “Among the most confounding changes of all is the evidence, tracked by numerous surveys, that as women have gained more freedom, more education and more economic power, they have become less happy. No tidy theory explains the trend.”  Who needs a theory?  The numbers tell the story.
  40 percent of women are the primary breadwinners.
  Among 3.3 million married couples, the wife is the sole earner.
  Only about 30 percent of kids grow up with a stay-at-home parent.
  39 percent of all births are to unmarried mothers.

Not good. I believe that the spirit of rebellion of Catholic Church teaching is the problem. It was such rebellion that launched the sexual revolution of the Sixties, the birth-control pill, and then finally abortion.

 Women are now more pressured and expected to have sex before marriage.  Before, there was a sacredness and respect given to those who waited.   And if they relent and get pregnant, the babies are viewed as their choice, their problem.  Half of women who have abortions, report that they do so because they do not want to be single mothers or because their partners do not want the babies.

Then, somewhere on the way to gaining rights, marriages fell apart in a big way.  No-fault divorce meant no-strings-attached; no alimony for stay-at-home moms. Today, even if there are small children involved, divorced women are pushed to work or called lazy.  But the face of poverty is still largely a female head of family. That seems to be something the women’s movement just cannot get at.
If I had been alive during the Suffrage Movement, I would have fought for the right to vote. But the methods used in fighting for Women’s equality must be evaluated according to the dignity of woman in the light of the word of God.
On the Dignity of Women
Pope John Paul II expressed this desire of the Church in 1995 when he wrote his Apostolic Letter titled Mulieris Dignitatem On the Vocation and Dignity of Women to address the eternal measure of feminine dignity as part of God's great work. He agreed that women’s dignity has not always been acknowledged which resulted in a spiritual impoverishment of humanity. “When it comes to setting women free from every kind of exploitation and domination, the Gospel contains an ever relevant message which goes back to the attitude of Jesus Christ himself,” he wrote.  Transcending the established norms of his own culture, Jesus treated women with openness, respect, acceptance, and tenderness. In this way he honored the dignity which women have always possessed according to God’s plan and in his love.”

Pope JP II stood behind real equality in every area such as equal pay for equal work and fairness in career advancements but he always upheld morality and respect for life and stopped short of encouraging women to do everything that men do.  Referring to the Book of Genesis, he said that we are then told that, from the very beginning, man has been created "male and female" (Gen 1:27). "Woman complements man, just as man complements woman: men and women are complementary. Womanhood expresses the "human" as much as manhood does, but in a different and complementary way.”
So an authentic women’s movement should be more about dignity and serving others in Christ rather than being free to do whatever one wishes — such as ending a pregnancy, becoming a priest, or engaging in licentious behavior. Such supposed freedoms, end up as slavery. It is here that we have a paradox, for the more we submit to God, as St. Paul calls it the “obedience of faith” (Rom. 1:5) the more free we will be. 
We are of infinite value and dignity. Our God-given gifts are meant to be used to enrich the world along paths God has chosen for us.  This is where our strength, beauty and equality lie. And, I believe, our true happiness.
For more inspiration, check out Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories From Everyday Families. Your children will laugh while learning big spiritual lessons with Dear God, I Don't Get It! and Dear God, You Can't Be Serious. 

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