By John Norton
As a father whose children include three daughters (now 10, 6 and 4), not to mention as a husband, I confess to worrying about how I'm going to raise girls who become strong, confident, happy women.
I know buying a shotgun, as the old cliche about dads seems to go, isn't going to be much help in this day and age. My problem is less external physical threats to "protect" them from, and more a need to make sure that they're guided to things that help them develop emotionally, spiritually and affectatively -- strength from the inside out.
So I have great personal interest in the new feminism movement that took off in the mid-1990s in response to a challenge by Pope John Paul II in his 1995 encyclical, Evangelium Vitae ("Gospel of Life").
The first few emergences of feminism, starting last century, had a disastrous effect on gender relations, families and society.
Nobody is more aware of that than a parent of young children; parenthood brings heightened awareness to potentially negative influences, whether temporary or permanent, in our children's environment.
And it is indisputable that the "old feminism" has done very little for today's next generation of women. A frightening number of girls I come across, whether directly or in pop culture media, seem torn in opposite directions, bouncing between a form of insensitive brashness (actually a negative male trait) and a kind of low esteem that leads to acceptance of behavior from men that cavewomen wouldn't have tolerated.
(Of course, as father of a son, I also know that the "old feminism" has also had a disastrous effect on the next generation of men, too. But that's a problem we'll have to take up in a future issue of the newsweekly.)
The "new feminism" continues to find fresh proponents and thinkers, including here in the United States. Be sure not to miss this week's In Focus overview of the movement, its development and what distinguishes it from all the other feminisms you've heard about (Pages 9-12).
The only problem with the movement is that it is so new that for the most part it has yet to find a way out of academia and into the lives of families, parishes and society.
That's why it is so encouraging, as the report notes, to see the founding of numerous Catholic women's groups around the country dedicated to engaging the vision and ideal with real and messy life.
That engagement can only bear fruit.
If you have an opinion you'd like to share about feminism, new or old, or advice for me on how to raise happy, healthy daughters, don't hesitate to write to me at the address below or at feedback@osvcom.
Please note: Comments left online may be considered for publication in the Letters to the Editor section of OSV Newsweekly.
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