How to be a Catholic woman in a world that HATES you.

How to be a Woman in a World that HATES You

We are not telling you how to think, we are telling you that you are not thinking enough.

Women are not the Same as Men

The Biblical and historical ideal of genuine, beautiful femininity—a mixture of noble character, a determined spirit, wise discernment in running a household, charitably volunteering, and feeding and clothing those she is responsible for (to name a few aspects of true femininity[1])—is under attack.

So-called ‘advocates’ for ‘reclaiming’ genuine femininity do not focus on what it means to be a virtuous woman. Instead, they focus on the lie that true equality and success only occurs when men and women regularly perform the same role in society.

Though men and women share a common human dignity:

“Being in the image of God the human individual possesses the dignity of a person, who is not just something, but someone. He [and she] is capable of self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving himself and entering into communion with other persons. And he is called by grace to a covenant with his Creator, to offer him a response of faith and love that no other creature can give in his stead […] man and woman possess an inalienable dignity which comes to them immediately from God their Creator.” [2]

Men and women are not the same:

“Man and woman were made ‘for each other’ - not that God left them half-made and incomplete: he created them to be a communion of persons, in which each can be ‘helpmate’ to the other, for they are equal as persons (‘bone of my bones. . .’) and complementary as masculine and feminine.” [bold added, 3]

In fact, the Catechism of Trent (following St. Paul’s teaching [4]) clearly defines the most common role of a woman, being a wife, as subject to her husband:

“the duties of a wife are thus summed up by the Prince of the Apostles: Let wives be subject to their husbands that if any believe not the word, they may be won without the word by the conversation of their wives […] To train their children in the practice of virtue and to pay particular attention to their domestic concerns should also be especial objects of their attention.” [5]

So how does a woman surrounded by differing opinions of how to live her life figure out what in the world is right?

*Note: Whatever stage a woman is at in her vocational discernment (single or married/religious life), she has been the wife of Christ since her baptism. If you’re a single woman, I encourage you to connect the duties discussed in this article that a wife has to her spouse to the duties you have to those who need your help right now.*

This article debunks the plenitude of incorrect assumptions and pressures society places on women and discusses how women can instead nurture a genuine femininity and embrace the beautiful role for which God created women.

Logical Fallacies…oh Joy

Let’s get this out of the way first. For those who discredit this article or topic because it is a ‘patriarchal construct’ or because the men who run Catholic Late Night, Patrick and John, ‘can’t have an opinion on what women should do,’ I urge you to think about the last time you told any man in your life what to do.

Arguing that the Truth is reality only when a person of the ‘oppressed’ sex discusses it is an example of the Identity Fallacy. “In this fallacy, valid opposing evidence and arguments are brushed aside or “othered” without comment or consideration as simply not worth arguing about solely because of the lack of proper background or ethos of the person making the argument, or because the one arguing does not self-identify as a member of the ‘in-group.’” [6]

For Example…

A Catholic wife: ‘You can’t get a vasectomy simply because you want to. It isn’t for medical reasons and it’s against our faith.’

Her Catholic husband: ‘It doesn’t matter if that’s our faith. You can’t have an opinion on that, because you’re not a man.’

Above is a clearly immoral and problematic marital argument. It is made worse by the husband’s inability to make a logical argument for getting a vasectomy. And yes, the rationality of arguments does matter. Logical fallacies ruin nations.

Again, the Catholic Late Night motto comes to mind here: We are not telling you how to think, we are telling you that you are not thinking enough.

Patrick and John are in fact men. And they’re going to debunk what society says about women and talk about the role women really have!

Let’s get to it!

How Does Society Define Femininity?

Spoiler alert: some pretty rotten stuff

  1. Your physical appearance affects your value. Are you a 10 or a 4?
  2. Women are baby killers. Women’s marches and feminists declare that abortion is a ‘Human Right,’ implying (and often stating) that women (and men) who fight to protect unborn babies are patriarchal, dangerous, and oppressive. [7]
  3. Men and women are the same. Men aren’t even necessary for society.
  4. Women make better sandwiches than men. This one is purposefully derogatory (and oftentimes untrue—my husband prides himself on his toasted club).

These are some of the expectations and ideologies being pushed on 21st-century women. In order to discuss how a woman should act, we must make it clear how women are different from men! So what is one obvious thing that only women have in common? Their biological makeup!

How are Women Different from Men?

While even this is being called into question by our corrupt postmodern society, logical people guided by the Truth will always accept this reality: a woman has two ‘X’ chromosomes and most of the time (barring rare genetic defects, injuries, etc) has the sexual organs naturally occurring in females (vagina, ovaries, and uterus to name a few).

Another biological difference between men and women is how our brains function. Though scientific research is ongoing and, realistically, not a whole lot is known about our ability to think, perform tasks, etc., anecdotal evidence suggests many differences between men and women.

Some Examples:

  • There is widespread acceptance that women are better at organization and multi-tasking, whereas men are more single-task oriented. Though there are exceptions and gray area for different personality types of both of the sexes (lofty women and detail-oriented men), it is commonly understood by the sexes that if a man wants to do something, he is probably focusing on that one task.
  • Women are often less aggressive. They overwhelmingly choose work fields in which they help and care for other people—mothers, nurses/doctors, teachers, and lawyers.
  • The book Guys Are Waffles, Girls Are Spaghetti by Chad Eastham and Bill & Pam Farrel has plenty of other examples of the differences in decision-making/tendencies between boys and girls. [8]

The norms for the ways men and women’s brains function are not always the rule. They are important to contemplate, however, because when one acknowledges the differences between men and women, one gets closer to understanding that men and women are complementary.

God did not create humans man and woman simply so that they could procreate.

God created Eve as a helpmate for Adam, a woman who would embrace her femininity and the gifts God gave her in order to unify herself to her husband and their mutual cause—caring for the garden and each other!

Why is knowing why and how the sexes are different important?

When you understand how the opposite sex functions, it helps you to understand how to lovingly and effectively interact with your parents, friends, colleagues, fellow parishioners, and your (future or current) spouse!

Women’s Sexuality

Women’s bodies are amazing and very sexual in nature. Just ask Jim Gaffigan:

Jim Gaffigan

He talks about the awesomeness inherent in the female body’s ability (and purpose) to house and grow a life. Men are only involved (biologically) for minutes in the creation of a child, but women’s bodies are designed to house the conception of a human life, to grow that life, to give birth to him/her, and then to nourish that life with the milk their body creates!

It’s an incredible privilege that God allows the location where an eternal life is created to be inside the body of a woman (even though much of society treats bearing a child as an unmentionable burden—brainwashing children and adults alike that ‘unprotected’ sex is ‘unsafe’ as if becoming pregnant in wedlock is going to ruin the spouses’ life!)

Another aspect of feminine sexuality is a woman’s natural receptivity to men.

For married couples, the conjugal embrace (having sex) is a physical posture of the husband giving his gift of himself and the wife receiving that gift.

On the romantic side of things, a husband’s sex drive is highly effective at encouraging him to pursue the wife. In a complementary way, a woman’s sex drive often naturally increases during her fertile times and is open to being wooed and chased.

Modern society would have you believe that men are naturally overly-sexual, but their role in chasing the wife is important! In this interplay between men and women, most of the time the man is driving the boat—making it obvious that he is interested—and the woman will (in a moral, healthy scenario) either follow along or give a legitimate reason why she does not wish to have sex.

It really is a win-win for both parties.

Let’s Get Physical! Feminine Physicality

The “Golden Ratio” of phi proportionality in women’s faces and their hip to waist ratio affects men’s attraction to them [9]. Although there are many other factors involved in a man measuring a women’s attractiveness to him (her soul, societal expectations, and his personal experiences to name a few), there is one thing we don’t need scientists to prove to us: men enjoy appreciating women’s bodies!

There is nothing wrong with a husband appreciating his wife’s body. The science of attraction is complicated, but in the end, it doesn’t really matter…if God creates somebody to be married, they will find somebody who loves the way they look.

The Golden Ratio is helpful when examining art and the ideals of physical beauty over time mainly because it is interesting in its socio-economic context. For example, many works of art and fashion deemed beautiful in the 17th century look atrocious to modern, untrained eyes.

As previously stated, women’s bodies are not only beautiful and useful as a house for their intellect and will but also as a means of procreating and sustaining life. A dramatic difference between men and women comes in her ability to grow a child in her womb and nurturing the child once it is born.

Mary Bagot

Mary Bagot, Countess of Falmouth and Dorset.

The natural process her body begins at conception continues throughout the child’s life—women’s bodies were created by God to best fulfill the role of mothering. Men’s bodies were created to be strong enough to protect their wives and to work every day to support their families.

It is not an inherently evil thing that men see women as beautiful. Jesus does warn men to be vigilant that they do not sin in their appreciation of women:

28 But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart. [10]

Women are called to support men in their chaste and modest respect of them by wearing modest clothing (but that is another topic!)

So, let’s get to answering the million dollar question:

Who is the Best Example of Genuine Femininity?

The ideal of womanhood is the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Catechism of Trent (1566) clearly declares that Mary is “the instrument of The divine goodness in bringing life and benediction to the human race.” Mary played a crucial role in our salvation and is often called the ‘new Eve.’ Sounds like a pretty good role model to me.

Just as “the Apostle sometimes calls Jesus Christ the second Adam, and compares Him to the first Adam; for as in the first all men die, so in the second all are made alive”

so too

“the Virgin Mother we may also compare to Eve […] from Mary we have received Jesus Christ, and through Him are regenerated children of grace.” [11]

Because Jesus was made incarnate in the Virgin Mary’s womb, the world received salvation.

When searching for what it means to be a woman, look no further than Mary’s perfect example [12]. Through God’s grace in Mary’s Immaculate Conception, she was saved from the stain of all sin (not even original sin!) so she could physically carry and give her DNA to the Christ Incarnate, fully God fully man.

Mary was a devoted wife, mother, and apostle of Jesus Christ. Her humility in obeying God is exemplified in her own words, the Magnificat:

46 My soul doth magnify the Lord. 47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 48 Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 49 Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him.

51 He hath shewed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. 52 He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. 53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. 54 He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy: 55 As he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever.” [13]

Now let’s get into some specifics of Mary’s example as a trusting wife.

Perfect Mother and Spouse: The Holy Family

Mary and Joseph’s decision-making process in the Bible serves as a wonderful example of married couples’ roles. Joseph respected Mary before they were wed and did not wish to publicly shame her when he heard she was pregnant (which could have resulted in her being stoned to death).

He faithfully trusted St Gabriel when the angel told Joseph that Mary’s child is God. Joseph found them shelter in Bethlehem when Mary was going to give birth. Mary trusted Joseph that they needed to flee to Egypt with the young baby Jesus. [14]

Mary trusted that Joseph would provide for her. The point isn’t that Mary or women nowadays are incapable of fending for themselves or making decisions.

The point is that Joseph allowed Mary to focus on the health and nourishment of their child while he figured out where they would stay or how to get to Egypt. He trusted God and led his family wherever they would be most safe. They divided responsibilities effectively.

The Holy Family

The Holy Family

Keep in mind: Most Catholic men and women are called to marriage. Vocational options are marriage, the priesthood, or entering the religious life. (Contrary to popular opinion, the single life is not a vocation [unless specifically consecrated, which usually means the spiritual life] [15].) If a woman discerns that marriage is the vocation God is calling her to, when she enters into a dating relationship, it must be God-oriented and headed toward marriage.

Just as Mary and Joseph’s marriage centered on God’s salvific plan, so too are modern couples called to discern whether they are ready to vow their devotion to the other following the Church’s teaching on submission and sacrifice in the household.

By marrying a man, a woman trusts God that her husband is the man God has given her and allows him to lead her through life.

Leadership is not dictatorship! A husband’s leadership must be sacrificial.

In Ephesians 5, St Paul lays out how wives should be subject to their husbands. A woman should be subject to her husband, not because she has complete faith that his intellect and will is perfect, but because she trusts God to guide his decisions.

How Should a Woman Live in this World?

A woman is the center of the family’s home life. Remember that men and women’s roles are complementary. While men are leading the family in faith and providing for their needs, women are running the household; including, but not limited to, cooking and cleaning, creating children in their body, creating other beautiful things, doing hobbies they enjoy, while also able to educate children in the faith, and ensuring they are nourished.

(I’m not saying that it is only the wife’s responsibility to cook or clean. It’s a lovely gift when my husband cooks a meal for me after I’ve battled through the aisles of Walmart to gather our food. Since the husband is the head of his household, he is ultimately responsible for providing for his wife and leading her in what she does. If she is unable to cook dinner because she is sick or plain exhausted, it is the husband’s responsibility to help his wife and make sure they all get to eat! As I mentioned earlier, you should use the Blessed Virgin Mary as your example of perfect womanhood. Joseph and Mary were a team when raising Jesus. God led Joseph who led Mary who was diligent in everything she needed to do to support their family because of the support and leadership from God and Joseph!)

Through women’s efforts, the home is a wonderful place. Don’t believe me? Go compare female and male college dorm rooms and tell me which ones feel more like a home.

Many women are gifted with the drive to make wherever they are living more comfortable and hospitable. Healthy men are driven to provide for their families and make sure they are physically, spiritually, and financially safe.

A Real-Life Example

A great example of a woman’s role in raising a family, comes from one of Catholic Late Night’s hosts, John, discussing his parent’s division of responsibilities and understandings about their respective roles.

“My mom taught me to trust in God because of how she trusted my dad. My mom and dad basically made a commitment at the beginning of their marriage that my mom was gonna be a stay-at-home mom no matter what.

And sometimes that meant my dad had to do some crazy stuff to pay the bills.

BUT he did it, and my mom didn’t work and she stayed home with the kids and because of [my dad working] it was a great thing for our family.

My dad prayed to God that God would bless his work. My dad actively trusted God that He would give him the money for the work that my dad was doing to take care of my family. My mom passively trusted God that He would lead my dad and provide for the family.

My mom wasn’t working because that wasn’t her role. Her role was to trust God and my dad. [To trust] that God would lead my dad and my dad would let himself be led by God.”

John’s story beautifully articulates the roles of a husband and wife. The familial model all Catholic families should follow is that of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Joseph, Terror of Demons.

The husband sacrifices himself by being willing to provide for his family, undertaking that burden of their safety, and by working for a living.

A wife self-sacrifices primarily in childbirth—one of the most painful things in life—and by raising the children and running the household.

Catholic Femininity: The Stay-at-Home Mom

In our society, stay-at-home moms are often treated as pariahs: some working women are jealous that they get to spend so much time with their children, other working women believe it is weak and foolish for a woman not to get a full-time job, still others feel forced by financial struggles to continue working outside the home.

The idea that women need to ‘establish a career before getting married’ runs rampant in Western civilization, but is misguided.

There is nothing wrong with continuing education and having goals for oneself as long as they are consistent with the doors God has open for you. That being said, it’s usually best not to push discerning your big Vocation (marriage / religious life) off until you’re 55 (I’m sure there are exceptions to this rule, God’s will be done!).

In fact, it is a great blessing to be called by God not to go to work. It is the curse of Adam that he must toil in the fields. If out of financial necessity a woman needs to work (she is unmarried and needs to support herself, her husband loses his job, financial strain, etc), the Church says it is acceptable for her to do so as long as it does not interfere with her primary obligations—loving God and her family.

Whatever situation a family is in, the ideal is this: women raising their children in a stable home as a guide, educator in the faith, and nurturer.

This post does not condemn women who work outside of the home and have children. On the contrary, the purpose of this section is to point out that mothering in conjunction with a 9 to 5 is not the ideal situation. Many married/unmarried, working women with children would agree that if they could have stayed home with their children raising them and pursuing their hobbies and passions on the side, they would have preferred it.

In our non-ideal world, many women are forced to take on a job to maintain a financially safe household. The two-income household is a plague on our society, and it has become an unfortunate necessity in many families’ lives.

*Note: I think there is certainly something to be said about women volunteering / working part-time outside of the home. It is definitely not a sin to do so. I work part-time virtually. In fact, all men and women are called to be charitable with their time and energy.

The key question in this “should women work” debacle is this: is your work / volunteering / hobby hurting or depriving your children or your spouse of their mother or wife? Remember, there is a difference between a secular daycare and letting your children’s grandparents or another loving caretaker care for them. The Catholic Church leaves it up to every Catholic couple to discern where God is calling them to give their time. BUT they must make sure they are prioritizing the promises made in their marital vows: put God first, spouse second, children third, then whatever else the Lord calls you to do.

A Two-Income Family Scenario

If you remain unconvinced that a woman cannot have a full-time job and properly catechize and raise her children without a lot of difficulties, picture this scenario:

A 1st-grader goes to elementary school from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. His mother has a 9 to 5 and his father is a firefighter (on-call), so that child goes straight from school to daycare or an after-school program. His mother finally makes it back into town after rush hour traffic around 6:15 p.m. and picks up the kid.

She gets home just a little after her husband does (he has been working all night putting out fire call after fire call), and he has started on dinner. They give their kid a snack and turn on the T.V. to keep him busy while they cook. It is now 7:30 p.m. and dinner is ready, but the father is called back into work. The mom and kid talk about their days and she gets him ready for bedtime at 9 p.m.

Rinse and repeat Monday through Friday.

Sound familiar? During her workweek, she will only see her child for an hour as he gets ready for school and about three and a half hours after she gets home from work.

It’s heartbreaking that so many women are forced to be away from their children for so long every day. It’s no coincidence that the phrase ‘what are they teaching in school these days’ has become so commonplace.

Not only do parents have less say in the education (academic and moral) of their children but they also do not have much time to counteract the immoral and even dangerous beliefs or lifestyles their kids encounter.

Children are ever-increasingly not being raised by moms and dads, but by strangers.

How to Live in Genuine Femininity

The idea has been sold to women that they are less than men if they are not doing the same things as men. Society tells us that a woman going to an incredibly time-consuming job (and becoming dependent on that job for income) is somehow better or more meaningful than having the care of a human being (that they brought into existence with their body), fostering that life, and watching it grow into an adult with an eternal soul.

G.K. Chesterton (utilizing Birth Control as an example of the dangers of women losing their femininity to militant anti-patriarchal-ism) puts it best:

”[Birth Control] is mixed up with a muddled idea that women are free when they serve their employers but slaves when they help their husbands.” [16]

As if making money is more important than being with your family. Again, I understand that there are extenuating circumstances, but there are (especially right now) thousands of jobs that can be completed from home or part-time without sacrificing necessary income or your child’s well-being.

Here is another topical quote from Archbishop Fulton Sheen:

“When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, and goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.” [17]

Basically, women’s ability to demand more from men (charitably) is a natural role that women have to craft a world with higher standards.

That’s why when a woman settles for a mediocre or low-effort boyfriend, she is actively enabling more men to get away with treating women in a mediocre way! Just look at the ‘sexual liberation’ in our society:

Many feminists simultaneously want men to treat them as humans with respect and dignity (morally sound) and pay for their drinks in exchange for a one night stand (morally deadly).

If every girl agreed not to talk to or put up with loser guys, men would be forced to step up! Men would have to take care of the women they are interested in. Isn’t that the standard women should hold men to (and men to women)?

Genuine femininity means understanding the balance between having standards for the men and your life and submitting to their God-given leadership role. I am not saying that women should defend oppression, evil, or suppress their unique personalities.

Women should and must embrace their beauty, personality, role, and God-given talents.

The reality is, men and women need each other. God created Eve as a helpmate for Adam which is clearly exemplified through women’s physical abilities, sexual drive, emotional strengths, and so much more. Only when both sexes embrace God’s true plan for the order of our world will men and women find any fulfillment and peace on this earth.

Otherwise, women will forever be demanding more and more from men (feminism), but never holding men (or themselves) accountable for their standards of virtue and dependence on God.

Action Item!

If you’re a woman, discern and accept your God-given role as a wife or in the spiritual life. If you have not yet made vows in a vocation, seek guidance from sisters or married Catholics whom you can trust and learn from. (And check out this post about being a single woman).

Hold the men in your life to a high standard of leadership, sacrifice, and courage without undermining their God-given authority. Appreciate the things men do for you and your family and encourage them to achieve the highest form of masculinity. Regain the willing submission to men in your life so that they can sacrifice themselves for you!

If you’re a man, you need to regain your masculinity. What aspect of your life do you need to incorporate/work on to attain the ideal of masculinity and holiness for the women in your life? Be the man that God has created you to be. Stand up for the Truth of the Catholic faith and let go of addictions that prevent you from becoming the man that you are supposed to be.

How to be a Catholic woman in a world that HATES you.
➡️ https://youtu.be/FNQcwWgo4cM

🎵 Find this episode on Spotify or 🎧 Listen on to it on iTunes

Subscribe to OvertTV

Grace Brown Profile

The Author

Grace Brown, convert from Anglicanism to Catholicism, military wife, and jazz singer is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a Bachelor’s in English, minor in Performance Studies. She has written and researched extensively how Catholic theology relates to works written by authors such as Charlotte Brontë, Aphra Behn, and Mary Shelley, culminating in her Senior Research Thesis entitled “On Miltonic Hierarchy in the Paradisal Marriage of Adam and Eve.” Today, she is a full-time writer and supportive wife to her Marine Corps husband, currently stationed in Virginia. Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi.

Further Reading

The Privilege of Being a Woman by Alice von Hildebrand

Love and Responsibility — Karol Wojtyła (more commonly known as Saint Pope John Paul II)

Works Cited:

[1-3] Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992)

[4] Ephesians 5:21-33

[5] The Roman Catechism, online page 216; http://www.saintsbooks.net/books/The Roman Catechism.pdf

[6] #64 http://utminers.utep.edu/omwilliamson/ENGL1311/fallacies.htm

[7] https://womensmarch.com/mission-and-principles

[8] https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/guys-are-waffles-girls-are-spaghetti-chad-eastham/1100326159

[9] https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0001201

[10] Matthew 5:28

[11] The Roman Catechism, online page 50; http://www.saintsbooks.net/books/The Roman Catechism.pdf

[12] http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07674d.htm

[13] Luke 1:46-55

[14] Matthew 1:18-25; Matthew 2:13-15

[15] https://aleteia.org/2016/05/04/is-the-single-life-a-vocation/

[16] http://www.gkc.org.uk/gkc/books/Social_Reform_B.C.html

[17] The Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen