by Dale O'Leary
July 1, 1994
Before we begin to talk about feminism we need to lay a
foundation of repentance. I have given many talks on the this subject
and no matter how careful I am, I find that when I am finished one or
two women in the audience will be terribly offended by my talk. The
interesting thing is that they are usually offended by something I
didn't say. I tried to explain the points that disturbed people more
carefully, but frankly to no avail.
Since you may face the same problem, let me explain what I think
happens. There has been injustice toward women by men. This should be
no surprise to us. The book of Genesis tells us that the first fruits
of original sin were the disruption in the relationship between men
The question is not: Have women suffered? We all agree they
have. The question is: Why and what should we do about it? To agree
that women have suffered does not force one to agree with the
feminist analysis of what causes that suffering and what should be
done about it. The problem is that suffering creates bitterness and
envy. And feminism breeds in bitterness and envy. This is why when we
challenge feminist analysis of causes and solutions some women react
defensively, feeling that we are denying our suffering.
Unless each of you repents personally of the sins of envy and
resentment, I can tell you quite frankly that you will not be able to
hear what I am saying.
Scripture says "Envy thou not the oppressor", (Prov. 3:31). Envy
is a serious sin because when we envy we question the perfect wisdom
of God's plan for our lives; we think that He denied us some good to
which we are entitled, particularly if we, as women, envy men, or
say, heaven forbid, "I wish that I had been born a man." God made us
male and female. To be displeased with His decision, challenges God's
goodness. Therefore, if you have ever said, "I wish I were a man"
repent of it and ask God for the grace to accept the gift of your
Second, we must repent of all bitterness, resentment and
unforgiveness. We must forgive everyone who has injured us in any
way. There are no exceptions. Every time we recite the rosary, six
times we say, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who
trespass against us". These are not idle words, If we don't not
forgive, we are asking God to hold our sins. Jesus said, when he
taught the Lord's prayer, "If you do not forgive others, neither will
your heavenly father, forgive you."
People have strange ideas about forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn't
mean that you have not been harmed; on the contrary, it means the
exact opposite, it acknowledges the reality of the harm. Forgiveness
is isn't letting the other person off, its letting yourself off.
Resentment is re-feeling. You are continually refeeling the hurt.
There are no exceptions, no hurts that can't be forgiven. If you
are as innocent as Jesus, if the nails are still in your hands, if
your persecutors are still standing around jeering at you, you must
still say "Father forgive them."
How to do it? Forgiveness isn't an emotion, it is an act of the
will. Make a list of all the people who have injured you in any way,
and take it to confession, and out loud make an act of forgiveness.
It may also be good to talk about the pain with someone who
understands. Women, in particular, must forgive the men who have hurt
them: fathers, brothers, cousins, boyfriends, husbands, sons,
teachers, employers, every one who has injured them.
Having done all that we can begin to talk about the feminist
challenge to the faith.
I'd like to give you a little background about how I came to be
interested in this subject. About 15 years ago I became involved in
the prolife movement. Our opposition calls itself feminist and claims
to be the defenders of women. I had just written a series of articles
on the negative effects of abortion on women, and I really believed
that the information I had uncovered would show these feminists that
abortion was terrible for women. However, when I went out to debate,
I found that my information had absolutely no effect on them. In
fact, they knew about all the negative effects of abortion. They knew
it better than I did because they knew more women who had abortions.
They didn't want to talk about the effects of abortion on women.
They didn't want to talk about the baby. They wanted to talk about
the liberation of women. I thought to myself, "Am I missing something
here?" So I embarked upon a two year study of feminism, trying to
understand where these women were coming from.
I discovered I didn't understand feminism? I had thought that
feminism was about equality for women, equal treatment under the law,
equal education, equal opportunity, equal dignity and respect. Things
which I supported and which I am sure you all support, which the
church supports. To my surprise I discovered that this philosophy of
liberal - equality based - feminism had been almost totally
superseded by the ideology of radical feminism.
This is what had happened. In the 1960's women had joined the
radical Marxist based movements of revolution, and been treated
terribly by the radical men. They had been denied a voice, relegated
to menial tasks, and used sexually. Around 1970 a group of radical
women split off from the men and formed their own groups. They
applied the radical Marxist ideas they had learned to the
relationship between men and women.
The most influential of this women was Shulamith Firestone who
wrote the feminist classic . You probably have
heard of Simone de Beauvoir, Betty Friedan, and Gloria Steinem, but
the real founder of radical feminism was Shulamith Firestone. The
feminists have kept Shulamith in the academic closet because she was
so radical. She advocated the destruction of the family, and
marriage, total sexual liberation including the acceptance of
child/adult sex and incest, and finding a technological replacement
Firestone applied the philosophy of Marx and Engels,
particularly the ideas found in a book by Engels entitled , to the situation of
women. Engels and Marx had argued that all history is the history of
class struggle - the oppressor against the oppressed, the owner
against the worker, and the man against the woman. Classic Marxism
holds that originally there was a classless society without property
or family. According to this theory which is totally without
foundation, in the beginning, in the Marxist garden of Eden, men
didn't know they were fathers. They didn't associated intercourse
with child birth and therefore there were no fatherheaded families
and no inheritance of property through the male line. All goods
passed from the mother and her family to the children. But then the
great evil occurred, the Marxist original sin, men discovered that
they were fathers and they claimed their right to their children and
the right to pass their property on to their children. Men enslaved
women in marriage, so that they could be sure who their children
were, and this caused private property and all the evils of
For the classic Marxist, these evils can be eliminated only when
private property is eliminated. The elimination of property must be
combined with laws that make divorce easy. Women wouldn't need
husbands, the state would provide. All women would work outside the
home, the state would provide 24 hour free day care. Illegitimacy
would be acceptable since the state would provide for children.
Religioun would be eliminated, since religion promoted the family.
Once this was accomplished the great and wonderful classless society
would emerge, and people would finally be free. Of course, no Marxist
society ever succeeded in creating a classless society. They have all
The radical feminists were not deterred by the failures of
classic Marxism or the failures of Communist states. They felt that
they understood the cause of those failures. The Marxist had focused
on the economic issues, but according to Marxist theory, the first
oppression was caused by marriage. Women were the true oppressed
class. Therefore, to eliminate oppression and suffering it would be
necessary not to have an economic class revolution but a sex class
revolution. Firestone writes:
So that just as to assure elimination of economic classes
requires the revolt of the underclass (the proletariat) and in a
temporary dictatorship, their seizure of the means of
production, so to assure the elimination of sexual classes
requires the revolt of the underclass (women) and the seizure of
control of reproduction: the restoration to women of ownership
of their own bodies, as well as feminine control of human
fertility, including both the new technology and all the social
institutions of childbearing and childrearing. And just as the
end goal of socialist revolution was not only the elimination of
the economic class but of the economic class
itself, so the end goal of feminist revolution
must be, unlike that of the first feminist movement, not just
the elimination of male but of the sex
itself: genital differences between human beings would no longer
(Now listen to the rest of this)
polymorphous perversity would probably supersede hetero-, homo-,
The reproduction of the species by one sex for the benefit of
both would be replaced by at least the option of artificial
reproduction. Children would be born to both sexes equally or
The dependence of the child on the mother and vice versa would
give way to a greatly shortened dependence on a small group of
others in general and any remaining inferiority to adults in
physical strength would be compensated for culturally.
The tyranny of the biological family would be broken.
The feminist movement has the essential mission of creating
cultural acceptance of the new ecological balance necessary for
the survival of the human race in the twentieth century.
The goal is clear - Man becomes (and here she quotes Engels) The
Lord of Nature, master of his own social organization.
Feminism is a war against - from the word Pater,
the Greek for father. While we are all opposed to abuse of
fatherhood, the failure of fathers to imitate God the father, while
it is important to call men to repentance, to call them to imitate
the loving merciful fatherhood of God. That is not the feminist
goal. The feminists want to eliminate fatherheaded families and every
institution were men accept responsibility for protecting and
providing for women.
Scripture says "I bend my knee before the Father from whom every
fatherhood (patria - family) in heaven and on earth takes its name."
All fatherhood, all family is rooted in God's fatherhood, as the Holy
Father has pointed out in and in his recent
letter to families. Fatherhood is men laying down their lives for
women and children. This society doesn't suffer from too much
fatherhood; it suffers from too little. The evils come not from the
fatherhood of men, but when men failed to act as true fathers.
The feminist analysis is nonsense. Women aren't going to be
better off when there are no families. There is no evidence that any
of this will work. From the beginning the goals of feminism were
clear: destruction of patriarchy; control of reproduction including
contraception, abortion, and reproductive technologies; destruction
of the fatherheaded family with divorce and illegitimacy made normal;
all women in the workforce, no man able to support his family and
free 24 hour day care; destruction of all-male institutions; total
sexual liberation including sex for children, homosexuality, and
bisexuality; destruction of worship of God as father.
From 1970 to the present day the feminist movement has worked to
achieve these goals. Radical feminists are firmly entrenched in the
universities, in the media and now in the government. Liberal
feminists and non-feminists have been driven out. The radical
feminists have collaborated with sexual liberationists, with
populationists, with haters of religion, political liberals. They
have hidden their purposes and worked stealthily always keeping their
goal in mind. The latest battle is being fought over the Cairo
Conference of population. Joycelyn Elders is a spokeswoman for the
When I first came upon all this I was afraid that I might to
exaggerating the feminist point of view, so I went to several
campuses, Columbia, Notre Dame, Washington U. and discussed the
issues with students. I found that they denied none of what I charged
and, in fact, had gone beyond . I was given
by a confused student at Salve Regina. It is also being used at
Brown. While the book is written in almost undecipherable
deconstructed language, after one learns the language, one discovers
that this book teaches is: the categories of sex are social
constructions designed by men to oppress women and that we have to
get rid of them and of compulsory heterosexuality. In other words,
they are teaching our children that men made up the idea that
humanity is divided into males and females. What they want to
deconstruct is sexual identity. They want the ultimate choice: to
choose whether they are male or female or something else or nothing
This is an all out war on reality and on the God of reality. We
are the enemy. They have no desire for compromise. They want to
destroy everything that we believe in family, faith, even our
identity as men and women. They work by playing on resentment. If you
read feminist literature, you will find the books follow a set plan.
The opening chapter lays out the feminist agenda, usually quoting
Engels and Firestone, the concluding chapter lays out their agenda
for change, and the middle is devoted to cataloguing all the evils
that men have done to women. I will tell you frankly after reading
these catalogues of complaint, you have to have heroic virtue not to
give in to resentment. Of course, none of the sins of women against
men are mentioned. This is why at the beginning I explained how
necessary it is that the sin of resentment have no place in us. If we
harbor our own personal resentments, these catalogues will remind us
of our own sufferings and we will not be able to see how we are being
I happen to have been a history major and as I read these
litanies of sins against women, I could see the distortions of
history, the total inability of these writers to understand the lives
and characters of women different from themselves, women like you and
I, who loved God, family, service. But to those without historical
background the inventory of offenses is very convincing. I could fill
volumes correcting the errors promoted by feminists which have been
transformed into contemporary myths. The most common, and I am sure
you have all heard it, is the idea that the Church didn't ordain
women in the first centuries because it was contrary to the accepted
practice of the times, but now the times have changed and we should
ordain women. The fact are totally different: every religion of the
period had priestesses except Judaism. When the church broke with
Judaism and moved out into the Greek world, nothing would have been
more simple than to adopt the pagan practice of priestesses. There
were heretical cults which sprang up which ordained women, and these
were condemned by the Church, part of the evidence against them, that
they had ordained women.
Mother goddesses and female deities, were common during Biblical
times. Many feminist theologians have praised these religions as
validating women's experience. But these goddess religions were
hardly pro-woman. Their rituals included male and female temple
prostitution and the sacrifice of living children. These societies
accepted polygamy and the mistreatment of women.
The feminists work from within, by infiltrating the bureaucracy
of the churches. A few months ago Protestant feminists held a
conference. They denied the fatherhood of God and the atonement.
Feminist theologian, Mary Hunt, who spoke at the conference has said,
"Christianity is an abusive theology that glorifies suffering. Is it
any wonder that there is so much abuse in modern society when the
dominant image of theology of the culture is of 'divine child abuse'
- God the father demanding and carrying out the suffering and death
of his own son.? If Christianity is to be liberating for the
oppressed, it must itself be liberated from this theology." And "I
believe that life pleasure and justice are to be valued equally, that
the God of creation is at the same time the Goddess of pleasure, and
the spirit of justice."
What are we to do? First, lead women to repent of envy and
unforgiveness. This is the soil in which these ideas take root.
Second, we must study the scriptures and the teachings of the Church,
particularly the writings of the present Holy Father on these issues
and conform our minds to the mind of God. As it says in Paul's letter
to the Philippians, "Have this mind in you which was in Christ Jesus
who did not think equality with God a thing to be grasped but humbled
himself and became obedient even unto death death on the cross." The
letters of Paul are not some mistake. They are the word of God
inspired by the Spirit. We can't read the Bible with feminist
scissors; we must read it as the word of God.
I really encourage all of you to learn to read Greek. It isn't
all that difficult. I know you may have had difficulty with language
in school, but reading a language is only one fifth of what you had
to learn in school. You don't have to learn to speak it or understand
it when it is spoken. You aren't going to be holding a conversation
with any first century Greeks, and you aren't going to be writing
them letters. Biblical Greek is much simpler than classic Greek and
half the nouns are cognates. If you are going to know the Word of
God, it is helpful to know what the words really mean.
Take for example the question of submission, "Wives submit to
your husbands". The word in Greek is hupotasso. It is primarily a
military term "to rank under". It isn't about being a wimpy weak
woman. It has the feel of a Marine salute. It doesn't imply
inferiority, but order. I have argued with feminists about this.
"Why," they ask, "should women submit?" Consider, I reply. the other
possibilities: that the family would have no head. This would result
in confusion and crossed purposes, two people can't solve things by a
vote. Give the children a vote, and the parents would have to lobby
the children. Without a clear head, we don't have equality but
tyranny of the most stubborn, the most selfish, the one who won't
give. "Well", my feminist opponents retort, "Why should it be the
man? Aren't some women more capable then their husbands?" To this I
agree, some women are more capable of leadership than their husbands.
Men are not given headship because they have merited it, it is their
assignment. We wouldn't want a contest in every marriage to determine
who was a better head. Who would be the judge?
Furthermore, every Christian must submit - stand under - someone
else. Who are married women to stand under, someone else's husband,
another woman? The alternatives are terrible. Headship is resisted
is because headship has been abused. We need to attack the abuse.
Feminists say its about power, but they do not understand where
power comes from. In Greek three words are translated power. Kratos -
God's mighty arm, power and strength. Dunamis - power or the
manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Exousia - power or authority. Now
feminists can hardly be coveting kratos, we aren't going to compete
with God or even men in arm strength. Dunamis which is the root for
the word dynamite, has always been equally available to men and
women, therefore they must be looking for exousia - authority power.
But where does authority power come from. The story of the centurion
gives us a clear explanation of exousia. The centurion says to Jesus,
"Lord I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof but
speak the word only and my servant shall be healed for I am a man
under authority (exousia), having soldiers under me and I say to this
one Go and he goeth and to another come and he cometh and to my
servant do this and he does it."
What did the centurion understand that he had greater faith than
Jesus had found in all Israel. He understood that authority power
comes from obedience to higher authority. He wasn't obeyed because of
his might arm or his wining personality, he was obeyed because Caesar
sat in Rome. True authority comes from obedience to those God has put
over us and all authority power ultimately comes from God. My son is
a Marine officer and he has explained to me that the officer doesn't
use those under him. He is responsible for their protection. His
power is not a personal fiefdom, it is service.
A woman needs to submit, because she needs a source for her own
authority, she needs to be part of the chain of command. A woman says
to her children, "Do it because your father says so." She says to the
plumber "Do it right because my husband is very particular". She
doesn't stand alone, she has authority. She stands under and
therefore someone is standing behind her, backing up her words
protecting her. For the wife in the home, there is no other source of
authority, but her own husband.
Of course, if the husband abuses the wife, he is in the same
position as an officer who issues illegal orders, he doesn't have to
be obeyed. If a man who tells his wife to get an abortion, the
Christian wife should have no problem saying "No way". It is those
who do not understand obedience and authority, who have no higher
power to appeal to and get trapped in abusive relationships.
Feminist theology is not only a liberation theology, it is also
Modernist. It denies revelation. Feminists do not believe that God
has spoken. They believe that the scriptures and teachings of the
Church are things which men made up to oppress women and if women
were priests or bishops they would make up different things -religion
is just a social construct. For them we aren't made in God's image
and likeness, men made God father in their image and likeness and now
the feminists want to reimage God as mother. For feminists liberation
is freedom from imaging God, the ultimate rebellion.
We must respond to this by accepting the true human vocation to
live as images and likeness of God our father. For myself I never had
any problem with a father God or Jesus as son, I can sing faith of my
fathers and read about the sons of God without feeling the least bit
excluded. All human beings image God, his fatherhood includes human
fatherhood and motherhood. But women are called in a special way to
be a sign of the Church as virgin, bride, and mother.
Now we can see why the Marian movement is so important in these
last days, because here is the answer, Mary the perfect woman, Mary a
sign in the heavens, Mary, ever Virgin, Mother of God, Mother of the
Virginity is not just about never having sex. The virgin is an
escatalogical sign - she is the woman waiting for her husband,
keeping herself pure for him, as the Church waits for the coming of
Christ. Every human bride is like the New Jerusalem who descends from
heaven arrayed like a bride for her husband.
The whole songs of songs is a celebration of the love between
the bridegroom and the bride, the symbol of Christ's love for the
church the mystical union of the soul with God. If human love is to
image God's love, it must be procreative that is why contraception is
so alien to the marital union, why abortion is such an abomination.
The love of God, of which human love between husband and wife is the
And once life has been conceived it must be nurtured and feed.
The mother in the home is an image of the Church. The Mother's
everyday actions are the pattern and preparation for the sacramental
life of the Church. She washes the child, feeds him, confirms his
vocation, forgives his sins, heals his hurts. Women are the constant
and everyday sign of the church.
And those women called to celibacy are even more a sign of the
church, as virgin and bride and as spiritual mothers. Barren women
are a sign of the Church who though barren becomes the mother of
many. Even the deserted wife is a sign of the Church as the prophet
Isaiah says. "For he who has become your husband is your Maker, his
name is the LORD of hosts, the LORD calls you back like a wife
forsaken and grieved in spirit, a wife married in youth and then cast
Every woman is called to a sign of the love of God manifest in
world as the church, for the church is not an organization, but a
woman, a virgin, a bride, a mother.
It is not enough for us to come here and cling to Mary like
frightened children in the midst of great a storm. Just as she is the
sign for this age, we must be a sign and image of God's love made