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The forsaken feminine.

The following commentary on contemporary feminism was presented as part of the Sanctuary Series of lectures held in London, Ontario, in the spring and fall of 1997. Paula Adamick, a regular columnist for Catholic Insight and a publisher of Canada Post, a newspaper for Canadians living in England, now resides in London, England. She is a graduate of St Joseph's High School and the oldest of the ten children of Deacon St. Clair McEvenue (also a contributor to Catholic Insight) and his wife, Marjorie. Paula is married to Dennis Adamick, a banking administrator, and is the mother of two adult children, one of whom lives in England and assists part-time with the paper. Paula Adamick has a degree in journalism from Western Univeristy and a masters in journalism from the London School of Journalism in England. Her experience includes 10 years as London, ON, correspondent for the Toronto Star, as well as many years as a freelance writer. She was a columnist for Scene, an art and culture magazine in London, ON. She fo unded Canada Post in London, England about two years ago and it's been a runaway success, commanding much of her time and energy.

"What do women want?" Sigmund Freud warned to know. Most men want to know.

What Freud was really asking was this: What makes women happy? Well, I'm here to tell you that, as it stands today, many women are not engaged in the things that make them truly happy. They are precisely those things that contemporary feminists ignore completely: the feminine and the feminine arts.

While I know that I have often been branded as heretical, even inimical to the cause of women, I don't care. I am a woman, too, with plenty of experience, some of it painful, but all of it essential.

In my opinion, women have largely lost the plot and the point of life. And they are well on their way to losing their purpose entirely.

Nor is any amount of wishful or wrongful thinking going to put any of this right until we face facts and get back on the rails bound for the life that was intended for us, the one from which we have allowed ourselves to be derailed.

Barefoot and pregnant, you're thinking?

No, not barefoot.

As for pregnant, well, I'll return to that later.

The fact of the matter is that many women these days are deeply unhappy. We all know women like this; and many of us have been deeply unhappy ourselves at times. Why is this?

If feminism is working, if feminists are right about women and what they want and need, then why are so many women miserable?

Ladies and gentlemen, many women are miserable because those of us who don't live in a cloister and who are not brain dead have tried feminism out. Some of us have even swallowed the propaganda whole--and, amazingly, many of us haven't yet figured out what's wrong.

What's wrong? It doesn't work.

Why doesn't it work? Because, although it claims to speak for women, for women's rights and for women's happiness, it's got nothing whatsoever to do with what makes women happy.

Call me radical, but in order for a woman to be truly happy, she must purge her mind of all orthodox feminist thinking and start thinking for herself again. When she does, she will be forced to acknowledge that her deepest womanly longings have nothing to do with neurosis and everything to do with being a woman.

What are her deepest longings? A career? Shattering the corporate glass ceiling?

No. Her deepest longings are marriage, motherhood and homemaking. These are the things that a woman longs for, the things that can fulfill her, thereby leaving her to think that God is in his heaven and she is right with the world.

That is not to say, of course, that a career can't be satisfying. It can. But it requires single-minded dedication and freedom from other responsibilties. For most women, however, if they're really telling the truth, a career can never be as important or as fulfilling as a happy marriage, children and making a happy home. For most women, the job, the career, is what we do to pad the family coffers; it's what we do while we're waiting for our real life to begin, i.e., marriage to the man of our dreams.

TV models

But you wouldn't know it from the propaganda out there.

Let's take a look. Who are the icons these days? Oprah Winfrey? Roseanne Barr, maybe? Ally McBeal? Gloria Steinem? Who, it must be said, is a very intelligent woman who had no childhood of her own, no father, and was left at a very young age to look after her depressive mother. Virtually every day of her adolescent life, young Gloria came home to a dark, cold house to cook supper for herself and her Mom.

To me, her feminist views are honest and perfectly understandable. But that doesn't mean they're right or true.

Here we are in 1998, after thirty-five years of taking the pill, aborting our babies, having serial affairs, listening to Dr. Ruth and spending time in therapy, and what have we got? Bridget Jones.

Have you read her diary? Let me read you a passage in which she thinks she's pregnant by her alcoholic friend Daniel, who isn't a bit interested in her other than physically:

"On the one hand I was all nesty and gooey about Daniel, smug about being a real woman--so irrepressibly fecund--and imagining fluffy pink baby skin, a tiny creature to love and darling little Ralph Lauren baby outfits. On the other, I was thinking, O my God! life is over. Daniel is a mad alcoholic and will kill me then chuck me when he finds out. No more nights out with the girls, shopping, flirting, bottles of wine, and fags. Instead I am going to turn into a hideous bag no one will fancy and who will not fit into my Agnes B jeans. This confusion, I guess, is the price I must pay for becoming a modern woman instead of following the course of nature intended by marrying Abner Rimmington off the Northampton bus when I was eighteen."

Oh sure, Bridget is a fictional character but her diary has sold millions because she's so real. She's every self-indulgent, self-obsessed neurotic we've ever known.

I am woman, hear me whine.

Bridget is nice enough, all right, but at the age of thirty-something, she simply can't get her life together. As editor of a British publication with a degree in English literature, she can't even spell. Ever desperate to lose 15 pounds, she measures her life by the calories she takes in that day. And while she desperately wants a decent boyfriend, she's dating her philandering boss instead. She wants financial security but invests in lottery tickets. She wants to develop inner poise but she smokes like a chimney, she drinks to excess, and constantly checks her answering machine in the hope that some man who isn't a cad will call.

In many ways, she's like Ally McBeal, the young TV lawyer who spends far more time in the washroom gossiping with her girlfriends and in the office hallways flirting with her latest love interest than she does in the courtroom. Like Bridget, she is fey and flirtatious, glamorous but ultimately silly, a lightweight.

Of course, no discussion about the new woman would be complete without mentioning Elaine on Seinfeld, the show about nothing. Like the show, Elaine's life has no purpose and no point except to make you laugh at life. Well, not at life exactly, because none of the Seinfeld characters has a life. In fact, Elaine, like all the other characters, is a complete failure, less in touch with her inner child than her outer vacuum. Yet this is the most popular comedy in TV history.

It seems that all the whiny and feckless Bridgets, Allys and Elaines out there are not quite the daughters that seventies' feminists were hoping for when they marched on Washington and burned their bras.

Yet, uneasy as these modern young feminists may make their forbears, their appearance was entirely predictable.

Funny they may be. But they're also pathetic. The appropriate word is thwarted.

Yes, thwarted.

All the richness and forwardness of life that should be in these perverse role models, has been twisted and turned inside. As gorgeous young twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings, these women should be pregnant with their first, second, third, fourth child. Their brains, bodies, emotions and energies should be turned outward towards something real, something demanding and worthwhile, something worthy of them--children.

Instead, they waste themselves in serial, uncommitted, unfulfilling, basically pointless, stupid and fruitless relationships.

And I can show you the self-help books to prove it. You know the ones I mean. Every book store is full of them: Women Who Love Too Much; Men Are From Mars, Women are from Venus; Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives. And my personal favourite, If You Can't Live Without Me Then Why Aren't You Dead Yet?

Do men read this stuff? What man would lower himself? What are these books really about then? What do they say about the premillennial woman?

Well, it's this: women are not getting the love they need. They're absolutely desperate for it and they haven't a clue how to get it because they've been given a lot of terrible advice.

It seems that since the sexual revolution and the rise of feminism overthrew the rules for proper male/female behaviour, people don't know how to behave anymore. I blame the pill. The little tablet that severed sex from responsibility and (while no one was looking) from love, depriving both men and women of true emotional, physical and spiritual, yes, spiritual satisfaction.

At the heart of each of these books (and there are hundreds of them) are two complaints. "I thought he loved me. So I slept (moved in) with him. And now he won't marry me," is one. "I married him but he won't be faithful (or he drinks and is just plain mean)," is the other.

Drs. Laura Schlesinger, Susan Forward and Barbara DeAngelis to the rescue. "You need a backbone transplant," these author/therapists chirp in unison. "Throw the bum out!" "Oh, but I need him, I love him, I can't live without him," their patients (and readers) whine.

So, to hold their man, they put up with beatings, drunkenness, infidelity and risking their children's lives even to the point of aborting them.

How intelligent is this? Even their therapists are amazed. "Get a life. Stop being so dependent on a man. Get a career. Get therapy. Get happy," they advise.

To me, the fascinating thing is how consistently these therapists miss the point. And how many of them are arch feminists who, despite all their professed smarts, refuse to admit that none of this is working?

Love is weakness

For one thing, virtually one hundred percent of the time, psychologists regard a woman's deep need for love and affection as a weakness, even a sickness, which must be overcome by something they call "self-esteem"-whatever that means.

They also refuse to take a woman's physical yearning for children seriously. For this I blame feminism and its disastrous thinking.

Feminism, despite its pretty words and protestations to the contrary, never, ever took motherhood seriously--unless, of course, it is the result of artificial insemination. And their blanket solution for absolutely everything is day care. Gotta kid? Day Care! He's sick a lot? He needs better day care!

When did you ever hear a serious feminist talk about children like they were real, like they had real needs, like they had a right to be here?

But we shouldn't be surprised. After all, any woman who can advocate and defend abortion as a solution to anything, doesn't like children much. She couldn't possibly.

Feminists also counsel women to pursue a career (particularly if she has a husband and children) without ever taking into consideration the real costs and the real consequences. They also encourage women to be sexually and contraceptively active and to abort accidental children if necessary. Then they wonder why men won't commit.

Turns Out, though they hate to admit it even to themselves, the Allys, Bridgets and Elaines of this world want desperately to get married but probably never will because, truth be told, what putz would want any of them?

But perhaps I'm being too harsh. After all, these unfortunate young women are merely the victims of the feminist culture they were born into and the rant and cant that raised them.

The Pill, and Sylvia Plath

While feminism is not new, it has dominated Western thinking since the 1960s. But like any movement, it did not come out of thin air. After women largely returned to hearth and home after World War II, a whole new generation was quickly born, schooled and indulged. For the two decades that followed, women got on with their lives as wives and mothers, not perfectly perhaps, but with society's approval nevertheless.

Then smack, dab, in the middle of all this, two pivotal events occurred. The advent of the birth control pill was one. The so-called sexual liberation, in which former beliefs in the necessity and wisdom of chastity were trashed as oppressive, repressive and depressive, was the other.

While many will think me simplistic for saying so, in my view both of these developments not only unleashed the noxious variety of feminism we have today, but they co-authored the anti-life mentality of this generation. Ever read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath? It's an autobiographical novel about a brilliant young woman who spends her life wrestling with depression and outright madness, "breathing in and out her own stinking air," as she puts it.

Of course, we all know what happened to Plath in real life. Sadly, in 1963, a few years after marrying the British poet Ted Hughes with whom she had two children, she stuck her head in her gas oven and died at the early age of 31.

Why? Ostensibly because her husband was having an affair and their marriage had gone terribly wrong. At least that's the reason always given and the one for which the late Hughes is still demonised by feminists today.

I've read pretty much everything that's been written by and about Plath. To be sure, she was a superb poet even if her stuff is even more glacial than Atwood and more morbid than Poe.

Yet I'm a woman, too, who has had children and knows what it's like. Even though what I'm about to say may be considered callous, it's my view that Plath killed herself because she hated housework. Sure, she was depressed. But, to me, Sylvia Plath epitomises postwar feminine angst and dissatisfaction like no other. Mind you, she had several equally suicidal sisters.

Had Plath been able to turn her incredible rage outwards, it is easy to suppose that she would have burned her bra and written radical tracts against "the problem with no name" which Betty Friedan identified in her book The Feminine Mystique. Other commentators called this peculiar women's problem "the Split-level trap", that indefinable spirit of feminine discontent and depression caused by living in isolation at home with young children and probably with a neglectful or abusive husband baffled by his wife.

In my opinion, it was this particular problem, coupled with the naive and romantic belief that infertility and a career were the answer, that gave rise to the Women's Movement of the 1960s.

Underlying all this was the pernicious belief that chastity was not only ridiculously old-fashioned, but it was impossible, unhealthy, leaving any of its aspirants bitter, twisted and probably with facial tics.

This view was fuelled, of course, by Alfred Kinsey, whose dodgy research supported the notions of Sigmund Freud, who was wrong about sex.

Not long after, abortion legislation in Britain, Canada, and the United States--all based on a huge lie--opened the floodgates of abortion.

Thirty years later, are women any happier? They are not. What's more, with unchastity now the norm, it seems to me that it is precisely this widely accepted behaviour that is largely responsible for making men and women unmarriageable. Is it just me who's noticed that the sexual revolution has led not to freedom and satisfaction, but to bunches of silly looking people in leather bars talking inanely about how much fun they're having?

Reaction to injustice?

I can remember my mother telling me that she thought everything changed for women with the pill. As it began to be used, a subtle but definite disrespect for women began to creep into social thinking like imperceptible doses of cyanide in the water.

Pope John Paul II expressed a similar observation in his book Crossing the Threshold of Hope.

"If our century has been characterised in liberal societies by a growing feminism, it might be said that this trend is a reaction to the lack of respect accorded each woman. ... I think that a certain contemporary feminism finds its roots in the absence of true respect for woman. Revealed truth teaches us something different. Respect for woman, amazement at the mystery of womanhood, and finally the nuptial love of God Himself and of Christ, as expressed in the Redemption, are all elements that have never been completely absent in the faith and life of the Church. This can be seen in a rich tradition of customs and practices that, regrettably, is nowadays being eroded. In our civilisation woman has become, above all else, an object of pleasure."

And women are putting up with it, even fostering it. Why? Because stupidly, they hope that by doing so, they'll get the love they so desperately want.

Sadly, the opposite happens.

What has fostered the abuse and disrespect of women even more than the pill? Feminism and the pro-abortion mentality it supports. In my opinion, they are all related, all part of a campaign to disempower women, damage their children, and turn them into exhausted slaves trying to balance the demands of family and career.

The results of such thinking have been very damaging. And they can be summed up in a single word: fruitlessness.

By separating the sexual act from its primary purpose--procreation--human sexuality becomes thwarted. Its truly creative energy becomes destructive, however subtly. Pleasure then becomes the single and sole purpose of the sexual act, draining it of all meaning and consequence apart from its own pleasure which, over time, becomes increasingly less gratifying and empty.

The new attitude towards sex was said to be very liberating. Sexual liberation promised to untwist repressed personalities and make men and women closer.

If a woman accidentally became pregnant, well, no worries; she could simply have an abortion, the new retroactive form of birth control which was her right because--with feminism--no woman should be forced to live with the consequences of her sexual behaviour.

The bottom line was that everybody was supposed to have more and better sex and live happily ever after. But that's not what happened.

Instead, the victims of the sexual liberation ended up in therapy where they were told the same lies about sex and about the nature of men and women. In therapy, the true nature of male/female relations is not revealed because it is no longer known or understood. The real nature of women is fruitful; most women in their heart of hearts, indeed deep in their bodies, long to bear and nurture children; for the mother-child relationship to thrive, both mother and child need to be secure in the protection of a loving, responsible man.

I acknowledge that not all marriages are good ones and not all men are the husbands and fathers they should be (the same is true for some women and mothers), but the failure of some marriages is not a failure of the sacrament.

Males commit to women they can love and honour, women they are at home with, women who desire to have their children, women who don't shut them out or off with contraception. By and large, men do not commit to women who do not commit to womanhood and all that that means, including children.

But you wouldn't know it from the lies we've been told and the lies we continue to tell.

One of the biggest lies of our generation is that human sexual behaviour was designed for momentary pleasure alone and that lust can be cultivated or satiated without consequence.

In Washington right now, Congress must decide whether the President of the United States, Bill Clinton, should be impeached for inappropriate sexual behaviour with a young woman. Out of this scandal have come some ironies that would be hilarious if they weren't so grotesque.

One of these ironies is that American feminists--who might ordinarily be expected to castigate the president for allegedly exploiting and sexually harrassing women--defend him instead because of his pro-abortion stance.

Bill Clinton, it must be remembered, vetoed a ban on the gruesome practice of partial birth abortion. Which means that feminists, on a descending scale of immorality, must condone the embarrassing sexual behaviour of a world leader because he condones something they see as a good thing.

Talk about hypocrisy. Recently, House Judiciary Committee chairman Henry Hyde--the man who will lead Congress through the impeachment maze--pulled out one of those horrific abortion pictures from his desk, pointed his cigar at it and said: "How...can someone be in favour of this?" Every time I take a long, hard look at feminism, it always takes me to the same place. Murder. It's inescapable.

A century of campaigning for women's liberation and women's rights and what have we got? Ally McBeal and the right to butcher our children. This is achievement?

Empowered victims

Another great irony of feminism is how it promises to empower women--don't you just love that word?--while at the same time making all of us victims. In the feminist world, no woman is responsible for anything bad that happens to her. She's a victim instead. Men might be forgiven for thinking that, typical women, we want it both ways.

A beautiful example of this is Sarah Ferguson's new talk show Sarah, Surviving Life. One look at Fergie's show and I was in deep shock.

There she was, feeling her guest's pain and performing her own touchy-feely conflation of therapy, counselling, crystals, comparative religion and New Age healing. Yet there was one person on the Duchess's soft sofa who got the cold shoulder when she suggested to the group that blaming others for the problems and damage in their lives was childish. Responsibility for just and ethical human behaviour should weigh heavily on human shoulders, the guest said problems were no excuse.

Sadly, the message we take from Sarah, Bridget, Ally, Elaine and Oprah is that life is not about joy, purpose, and fulfilling the lives God intended for us. It's about...trauma management.

What a message. Basically, what these women are saying is that life is so painful and so awful that it is something to be survived rather than enjoyed.

Well, I'm here to suggest to you that the awfulness and the pain of life that all these women talk about, whine about and make lame jokes about is the result of waywardness. It's the result of following a way of life that is not the way at all, even though they're so convinced it is. Contrary to popular and ignorant opinion, such pain, such awfulness, such trauma does not come from God. It comes instead as the direct result of living contrary to the rules of life, of living contrary to true female nature and from straying far from God. It comes, perversely, from believing that the cause of much of our pain-feminism--is our solution. Talk about dysfunctional!

We are here tonight in celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the papacy of John Paul II. What an inspired pope he has been. And what a man! During his reign, we have seen the disintegrating parchment of communism collapse--due in no small part to his grace, his wisdom and his understanding of the real enemy underlying that most dysfunctional of world views.

We have also seen him stand firm against an onslaught of feminist demands including the demand for women priests and a demand for a relaxation of the Church's teaching against contraception. He has stood firm because he cannot do otherwise. He cannot turn a lie into truth. What this pope has understood--and most of the world has not, including therapists who merely support contemporary waywardness--is the true nature of male/female relationships.

His Holiness writes: "The media have conditioned society to listen to what it wants to hear. An even worse situation occurs when theologians and, especially moralists, ally themselves with the media, which obviously pay a great deal of attention to what they have to say when it opposes 'sound doctrine'."

The Pope doesn't preach against contraception because he's a cantankerous old man who doesn't know what he's talking about. No. He has understood that yearning and sexual satisfaction most people crave has its natural expression and fulfillment in children. He understands that contraception thwarts rather than enhances the sexual act which is emotionally secure only in marriage.

Extramarital and contracepted sex is, strictly speaking, perverse, leading not to love but to lust, self-indulgence and, for some, to degenerate sexual activity which is by definition fruitless, depressing, joyless, and ultimately debasing, no matter what anyone says on Oprah. This is what feminists fail to realise. And why most of their thinking is so profoundly wrong. And why so many contemporary relationships are serial, uncommitted, purposeless and essentially sad, even heartbreaking. Without marriage, sexual relationships quickly become dull, boring and, yes, pointless. No wonder they end. Over and over again. The truth is that men and women have not changed; do not change. A woman wants to get married, regardless of what she says publicly; a man does not commit to a woman he does not respect and love; no man can respect and love a woman who is not committed to the fullness of womanhood--husband, children, the home.

Now to the second consequence of feminism and the contraceptive mentality: homelessness.

A woman as wife and as mother is the heart of any home. Home is what men seek; it's what children seek; it's where everyone wants to go. It is where trust is built, where personalities develop, where souls become strong enough to go out into the world and carry out the tasks that God gave them to do.

With feminism, we have seen a perpendicular rise in abortion, divorce, serial cohabitation and single motherhood wherein young women with children are without the protection and support of a loving man. The young mother must provide not only a home for herself and her children but the income to support it, which means she is taken physically away from the very home she and her children so desperately need to be happy and grow.

The streets of London are full of homeless men, many alcoholics who have been thrown out by women who couldn't take another day. Even so, homelessness (mainly of men) says that something is out of order here. So what makes women happy? A good marriage. Children. Homemaking.

While Jesus chided Martha for working so hard in the kitchen, Martha was conscientious nevertheless. She wanted to please her Lord by laying an impressive table. A woman's touch is important. Men and boys appreciate it even if they don't say so.

Men's work and women's work

For men and boys to do women's work is out of the order of things, just as women and girls doing men's work is out of the order of things. What is women's work? I don't have to answer that question because everyone knows. Yes they do. Everyone knows what pregnancy means; so it is with women's work. Everyone who's telling the truth can tell you what women's work is; it is the natural order of things. It is the woman who nests and nurtures, the man who provides and in turn is nurtured by his family.

What is men's work? I don't have to answer that question either because everyone knows. Yes they do. Everyone knows what providing and protecting means. It is men's work.

It's only feminism that purposefully and willfully confuses women's work and men's work, women's roles and men's roles.

It is only feminism that teaches that roles are merely patriarchal and societal constructs.

It is only feminism that teaches women to show public contempt for their true role, the one that God designed, the one that makes most women happy even when life is fraught and difficult.

It is only feminism that preaches that a woman's natural and noble work is somehow less valid, less valuable than that of a man.

But this is nonsense. Nonsense on stilts, as Dr. Johnson would say.

I'll go further and say it's downright mischievous.

Work is work, great and small, public and private. It is only pride that tries to turn it into something other than what it is. It is only pride that says: "I will not serve".

Pride says there is no joy in performing humble tasks such as changing a diaper or polishing the silver. So leave them for someone else to do, preferably a man. It's no big deal anyway.

But it is a big deal, a terribly big deal because nobody can do these things as beautifully and as artfully as a woman. No one can nest like a woman; no one can arrange a home like a woman; no home smells wonderful unless there's a woman at its heart. Again, home is what everyone wants and where everyone wants to go.

This is the natural way, the grand design.

I am not troubled by women who can't find the joy in these things. I am not troubled by immature men who will not assume their responsibilities.

Why? Because marring God's grand design with sin, selfishness and plain old human frailty, cannot alter its fundamental beauty and its fundamental order.

Mother Teresa, probably better than anybody, showed that if you want to be effective in life, if you want to do something worthwhile, forget rights and do what's right. Roll up your sleeves, feed the hungry, tend the needy, do what's in front of you to do...but for God's sake, do it. And take your ego out of it.

And, you know what? Hallelujah, you'll be happy. Just by doing the right thing and not getting in God's way.

Which is what's wrong with feminism. Basically, it's angry, it's unhappy, it's got n chip on its shoulder, it's got an agenda, it prefers the unnatural to the natural, it gets in God's way.

The result? It is fruitless, thwarting and ultimately stupid. It does not rejoice in children. It does not rejoice in the truth. No good can come from it. For me, Jesus gave the single greatest piece of advice in history: "By their fruits you shall know them."

Apply this to feminism. Consider its fruitless fruits. They're all around you, rotting. If you can think of one good fruit of feminism - just one - I want to hear about it.

My message to you tonight is this--the tenets of feminism are inconsistent with Catholic womanhood. In fact they are inconsistent with true womanhood. Therefore feminism must be resisted and rejected outright.

If you agree, then as intelligent, knowledgable, experienced women, you must hold fast your view and speak out. What you must say - loudly, consistently and fearlessly if you believe this to be true - is this: I am NOT a feminist. I am a woman. And, believe me, that is enough.
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Title Annotation:commentary on feminism
Author:ADAMICK, PAULA
Publication:Catholic Insight
Geographic Code:00WOR
Date:Jan 1, 1999
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