I have noticed several previous posts discuss the relationship between religion and women, covering topics from Mary to female sexuality. I want to preface this post by stating that I consider myself a Christian and somewhat a feminist; however, these roles often seem at odds with each other. This is why I believe it is vital to scrutinize religious groups, practices, and texts, such as this post and previous ones have done.
In September a Catholic fringe group called Fix the Family released a blog post and video entitled “6 Reasons to NOT Send Your Daughter to College.” The group later added two reasons “just in case 6 weren’t enough.” Here are a few of the post’s highlights:
Reason 1: “She will attract the wrong types of men. I share the common concern addressed to us, again mainly by angry women, that there are so many lazy men in our society […] those lazy men who are looking for a mother-figure in a wife are very attracted to this responsible, organized, smart woman who has it all together along with a steady paying job with benefits.” – – Oh yes, because the “right” types of men only want uneducated women who are financially dependent upon them. And women should dumb themselves down for fear of being taken advantage of. This clearly makes sense.
Reason 2: “She will be in a near occasion of sin. […] Is a degree worth the loss of your daughter’s purity, dignity, and soul?” – – Your daughter’s purity, etc. is of your concern, not hers. Don’t trust her with it or to make her own decisions. What about your son? Ehh, he can do whatever.
Reason 3: “She will not learn to be a wife and mother. Nothing that is taught in a college curriculum is geared toward domestic homemaking. On the contrary, it is training in a very masculine role of a professional career.” – – Serving men and having children should be the first concern for your daughter…and professional women don’t make good wives and mothers? Yeah, okay.
You can view Fix the Family’s full blog post here.
As you can probably guess, the blog post offended many (including myself). I have a daughter and cannot imagine forcing these viewpoints on her. The Huffington Post and the International Business Times are some examples of media that critiqued the group.
It is important to note that Fix the Family is in fact a fringe group, and cannot be wholly representative of Catholicism. But as much as many of us would like to write this group off as some extremist population because of how preposterous their viewpoints seem, there is some support in the Christian faith for their sexist ideals. I first realized this when I heard my father tell my stepmother that she had to listen to him because the Bible said so. He was referring to Ephesians 5:22, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” Many other similar verses exist in the Bible. For example, 1Timothy 2:12 where St. Paul says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, she must be silent.” This particular verse has been used to justify the objection to female priests.
I didn’t think it was right when I heard my father utter those words, and I still don’t believe it is after reading the scripture. In short, it seems as though Christianity and feminism never have gone well together. One can only hope that such antiquated ideas will be left out of modern day religions.
Steven Kuhn 2010-002