#MeToo: A Catholic Response

The hashtag #MeToo has gone viral since last Sunday. Twitter reported Tuesday it has been used 825,000 times. In less than 24 hours, Facebook said “4.7 million people around the world have engaged” in it with “more than 45% of people in the United States” having friends who posted the hashtag. I can’t help but think of Mel Gibson’s rallying cry in the movie, The Patriot: “Freedom!”. Like Alice running from the Queen of Hearts, though, we must work to keep our heads.

Pope St. John Paul II said in his encyclical, Evangelium Vitae:

In transforming culture so that it supports life, women occupy a place, in thought and action, which is unique and decisive. It depends on them to promote a ‘new feminism’ which rejects the temptation of imitating models of ‘male domination’, in order to acknowledge and affirm the true genius of women in every aspect of the life of society, and overcome all discrimination, violence and exploitation.

He implies if a society increases its support of life, it will lessen discrimination, violence and exploitation from ‘male domination,’ the exact fount from which this #MeToo rally cry explodes.

Three Female Revolutions

Three female revolutions occurred last century, building momentum one off the other, and branded themselves into our culture. Two were necessary and the third led to demise.

Women fought for the right to vote in the first female revolution. They proved themselves equal counterparts to men. In the second, women fought for the right to work, ultimately allowing me to be a career woman today. With the third, women fought for the right to physically imitate men by use of contraception.

Contraception enabled their female bodies to act like a man’s after sex. It is only 99% effective, though, so some women still got pregnant. Since abortion was legalized over 60 million babies have been aborted – yet one more tool that has been utilized so that having sex had “no consequences”.

Prediction of #MeToo

Pope Bl. Paul VI predicted the #MeToo hashtag in his encyclical, Humanae Vitae:

“[He] argued that ‘the man’ will lose respect for ‘the woman’ and ‘no longer (care) for her physical and psychological equilibrium’ and will come to ‘the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment and no longer as his respected and beloved companion.’ …

The Pope realized that the Church’s teaching on contraception is designed to protect the good of conjugal love. When spouses violate this good, they do not act in accord with their innate dignity and thus they endanger their own happiness. Treating their bodies as mechanical instruments to be manipulated for their own purposes, they risk treating each other as objects of pleasure.”

Contracepting turns sex into a game of pleasure. Two can argue they are in love and sex is an expression of their love, but expressions are supposed to be actualized concretely in the material world. If one of the two bodies is not allowed to wholly function during this union, then it is not an expression of love. It is merely the desire for self and the other to experience pleasure. It is nice to please the one you love, but it is greater to give yourself entirely to them.

Sex as Game

If sex is a game then Tinder and pornography make sense. In Tinder, you play the game. In pornography, you watch it. The same goes for the rampant molestation and rape in our culture. In games, you are always pushing your limits to see how far you can go. Men used to not be able to curse in front of ladies and ladies used to not be allowed to wear anything revealing out of respect for men.

Today the limits have been pushed so far that women experience molestation and ‘sometimes rape’ from men as commonalities, and yet they walk around wearing undergarments in see-through shirts and too-short shorts. Culturally, even sayings point to this sex-as-game philosophy, “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.”

#MeToo has been the consequence of a female revolution and the ones who caused the trouble should fix it. According to Dove, 2% of women think they are beautiful but when they analyze another woman, their focus is on her good features. Women compete with each other but come to the battle having already defeated themselves.

It is time for a rally cry that unites women in humility, recognizing our recent history and the choices women have made to bring about this demeaning culture. As Nia says in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, “The man may be the head of the household. But the woman is the neck, and she can turn the head whichever way she pleases.” It is time for women to turn our society back to its proper order.

Our Shining Light

The deepest qualities of womanhood are virginity and maternity. Mary, the Mother of God and our adopted mother, is the exemplar of both.

Her virginal qualities brought forth the fruit of living her life in patient expectancy with an openness and receptivity to God and His plan. Mary was able to say yes to the Archangel Gabriel when he announced the good news because there was no need to discern whether he was from God. She simply knew because her heart had been open and waiting.

Her maternal qualities gave her the ability to spend her life in self-forgetful giving to the Christ-child after He was conceived in her womb by the Holy Spirit. She was then able to give up her Son on the Cross for the sake of our salvation because she was in perfect union with God’s will. God’s will was for His only beloved Son to give Himself, body, blood, soul and divinity, for us on the Cross. This is why we give ourselves, whole and entire, not contracepted, in the conjugal act of sex.

The Fallacy

Therefore, love is not contracepted sex. It is sacrifice and gift of self. If women want a culture to start treating them with respect, they must learn to sacrifice their immediate gratification and be true to who they truly are with a whole and entire, not contracepted, female body. Yes, this does mean returning to the archaic but accurate notion that sex is meant to occur only within a committed marital relationship; one that is open to having children. But one that also respects the women, whole and entire, as she is.

Contraception was a fallacy that made men and women believe they can control and dominate the natural bodies of women when in actuality those bodies are the women that were being controlled and dominated. And, as with any control and domination over a human person, abuse which turns to slavery manifests from it. #MeToo is reacting to a culture where ‘common molestation’ (abuse) is normalized, but soon it will have ‘common rape’ (slavery) if we do not turn this ship around.

Our Lady of Purity, Queen of Heaven, pray for us.

afoxAshley Sheridan Fox is Director of Religious Education and Director of Safe Environment Awareness and Certification for the Diocese of Venice in Florida. She received a Masters in Theology and Christian Ministry from Franciscan University of Steubenville where she specialized in Catechetics. Her Bachelors in English Literature is from the University of Connecticut. She writes as a guest blogger for CatholicVote and The Catechetical Review: Communicating Christ for a New Evangelization. 
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