Archive for April, 2005
As this spring brings buds and blossoms galore, it’s clear that those trees, plants, and flowers want to burst onto the stage with all their beautiful glory. It is also quite evident that a new and exciting social change is springing forth for women as well.
Issues of gender equality come in so many forms; professional, relational, spiritual, intellectual, and yes, even sexual. Traditional Western thought demands that women scorn their sexuality, one of the most vital and enjoyable parts of life.
If you asked a woman in 1905, just one hundred years ago, if she was as sexually satisfied as her partner, there would have no doubt been a variety of possible responses. If she was taught that such talk was not “ladylike,” she may have shied from an answer or stormed off in a pious huff. However, if you could coax an honest reply, it would have probably entailed the required deference to the needs of her husband.
However, there is a new season springing to life in America. With women now in powerful positions in the media, new programs and commercials have a distinctively feminine flare – the kind that can only be attributed to a strong woman who knows what she wants and knows how to get it.
One example of this phenomenon is a recent McDonald’s commercial with a woman who says that when she is eating her McGriddle and drinking some McDonald’s coffee, she feels anything is possible and dreams of hiring a pool boy – though she has no pool. How wonderfully scandalous! This commercial brilliantly hits home with every woman because yes, we think about those types of things too.
I consider this commercial pioneering material. To have a man say such things is traditionally acceptable, after all men do enjoy sex. But to have a woman say such things breaks all social decorum, yet opens the doors of flagrant sexuality on one of the last places to accept the woman in her real beauty – commercial marketing.
Commercial marketing has always portrayed the woman as either a sex object for men or a Betty Crocker type, prompting several generations of women to constantly reach for unachievable perfection projected by one delusional image or the other. This medium has been slow to recognize the woman for her true self. I applaud McDonald’s for this bold move. In my opinion, this single commercial has shattered the 50s prototype and the sex object image into tiny fragments. My hope is this commercial will set the precedence for future marketing.
One more very popular example of the changes taking place in the media concerning women is the new hit show Desperate Housewives. This show is about reality. When I watch this show I think to myself, “This is how real women are.” Sure, it goes to extremes at times, as any television drama does. But it also portrays women who are strong and intelligent.
One of the latest episodes for Desperate Housewives has a scene where Terri Hatcher’s character wants to give certain man another chance but decides she can’t bring herself to trust him enough to work things out. I didn’t expect that ending at all. I was shocked that she didn’t go running back to those strong male arms, as is oft the ending in most romantic dramas in America. But no, she was strong, she was brave and she was intelligent. She was not needy, insecure or “desperate.” It made me proud to be a woman.
Like this television character, women no longer wait to be told how they should feel or what they should want. They are finally free to find out for themselves. For these women, fulfillment comes in a variety of ways – be it through sexual, intellectual, religious, political, or social pursuits. Today’s woman has many dimensions and I applaud the media for finally catching up to those of us who have embraced our many sides to find completion through exploring all that life has to offer.
It is high time the media targeted the women who are comfortable in our own skins. Maybe this change is because they finally realize we are too intelligent to buy into the absurd notion that we need to be recreated into some 18-year-old anorexic to be beautiful. More likely, women are the ones calling the shots behind that camera. Either way, a new season has definitely started and it promises the sweet ripening of the woman.
In ancient Rome, the cradle of democracy, women had no rights. Their place was in the home under the custody and control of the master of the house, which would often be the husband or father. Her job was to take care of the house and family. She had no vote, could not govern, nor even conduct her own affairs without the oversight of a man. These are actions viewed as crude and uncivilized by today’s standards.
However, even during these primitive times of democracy women were still allowed to be priestesses in Rome. The Vestal Virgins were honored and revered by men and women alike for their years of sacrifice and service to the Goddess Vesta. So how is it that over two thousand years later, the Catholic Church still refuses to ordain women for service in the Church as priests?
Admittedly, it has been only very recently that most of humanity has decided to allow women the privilege of being acknowledge as an equal with men. In fact, it is only within the last century that American women have been allowed to vote or hold a political position. However, during this time women’s rights have made significant advances. Women now work outside the house, hold political office – even at a national level, have ready access to equal education, and yes, they even conduct religious services in many religions.
Even Jewish congregations have women serving as rabbis. In fact, a woman was recently selected to replace the retiring male rabbi of a conservative congregation with over 500 families. This is a first for Conservative Judaism, which ordained its first female rabbi in 1985.
I have the utmost respect for Scripture and its importance in society, so I do recognize the passage from the Apostle Paul requiring women to be silent in churches and saying it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in church. Paul instructs the women to wait till they get home to ask their husbands any questions they may have about the service. (1 Corinthians 14:33-35)
Having acknowledged the importance of Scripture, my reverence for the Bible, and my knowledge of Paul’s teaching; I now admit that I vehemently disagree with the sexism of this passage.
I think it is important to recognize the culture from which Paul is speaking. In fact, Paul was a Roman citizen. He was raised in the type of backward culture we have already acknowledged as crude and uncivilized by today’s standards and his remarks on this subject are no doubt a result of his cultural upbringing.
The Church has always accommodated change as humanity has grown and matured. Even Pope John Paul II, who passed this week, met with the leaders of countries who were far from Christian. He met with Islamic leaders, Jewish leaders, and even rock stars like Bono from U2. These are all people the Church would have condemned or even burned at the stake for their heretical beliefs or ungodly actions during The Middle Ages.
Likewise, it is time for the Catholic Church to mature to the level of accepting that women are equally viable as a candidate for priesthood as men. The times of believing women are on a lesser plane – whether intellectually, socially, or spiritually – are long over and the Vatican would do well to acknowledge this fact.
The Church’s churlish remarks on women serving in the role of a priest are dated and a clear demonstration of the need for a more progressive Pope that will be more responsive to the changing times and to the disenfranchised women of the Catholic Church, whose ministerial participation has dropped significantly over the last few decades.
I pray the soul of Pope John Paul II finds peace and comfort in the Kingdom of Heaven. He deserves so much for his sacrifice and service to the Church and to God,
I also pray the next Pope will override John Paul II’s remarks on women in the priesthood and allow the Church step into the 21st century. If this happens, perhaps one day we will have a female Pope. Now that would be something to praise God about.