If in the name of peace men are being taught to renounce their masculinity, then we could say that in the name of justice women are being taught to reject their femininity. Archbishop Fulton Sheet tells us that in the modern world: “Woman has been made equal with man… She has been ‘emancipated,’ like a pendulum removed from a clock and now no longer free to swing, or like a flower which has been emancipated from its roots.” There are indeed many jobs that both men and women are equally capable of performing. Indeed, it’s just as easy for a woman to pick up a handgun and shoot someone in war as it is for a man. But let us not confuse what someone can do with what someone is – the word sex, for example, means what you are not what you do.
In other words, we must realize that God created us male and female and gave each gender its own unique dignity. Sheen also says that “equality is wrong when it reduces the woman to a poor imitation of a man” – and this is apparent among both liberals and conservatives. Just recently a FOXNews reporter came back from maternity leave and conservative commentators spent the day asking why women should get maternity leave at all since there no longer is anything different between men and women. Or, as some have also said, why does a man have to pay for a date when men and women are equal? The fact is, the dignity of masculinity and the dignity of femininity must be re-presented anew. To quote Sheen further, he says:
The problem of a woman is whether certain God-given qualities, which are specifically hers, are given adequate and full expression. These qualities are principally devotion, sacrifice, and love. They need not necessarily be expressed in a family, nor even in a convent. They can find an outlet in the social world, in the care of the sick, the poor, the ignorant – in the seven corporal works of mercy.Thus when a woman seeking to join a combat unit is simply told, “No,” it is not a matter of equality, but rather a matter of dignity. This work does not befit her dignity. It is below her. I find it odd when I hear people on the Left insult janitors when they say that America needs immigrants because the work immigrants do is beneath the standards of an American. In this sense, we have re-defined dignity to social status or to the amount of money people of certain races or backgrounds should make. But the fact is that no man, immigrant or otherwise, should be ashamed of his work if that work furthers the needs of the common good, the city, and the nation.
A woman, on the other hand, should ask herself if her work befits her dignity as a woman. Does it allow her to nurture others? Love others? Care for others? Be devoted to the good of others? As a school teacher who works with many women, I see in their work a job that befits their dignity as women and allows them to grow in their own femininity. The culture of our society is becoming more and more difficult for men, as authentic masculinity is becoming more and more overlooked by clergy who teach men to embrace the feminine characteristics mentioned above by Sheen. Men, seeking manhood, have succumbed to the perversion of masculinity offered by an increasingly materialist and atheist culture. Nature abhors a vacuum – and if we do not begin to recognize the intrinsic (and very different) dignity of male and female, then our men will imitate the culture’s counterfeit masculinity because at least it has some sort of masculinity in it to begin with.