Today we would like to present a guest author who will be making a brief comment about this video. Given how polemic and diffused feminism is in today’s culture, we hope to offer some clear criteria that can help us to understand better.
Our author, Ana Cristina Villa, is a consecrated laywoman and is currently in charge of the women’s section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. We recommend that you see the video before proceeding to the article:
We find ourselves faced with another attempt, with the help of attractive and attention-grabbing celebrities, to make feminism trendy and acceptable by all. We have already seen Emma Watson in front of the ONU, and now it’s Bollywood’s turn, represented by Deepika Padukone. I believe this has become a sensation for various reason, but especially because of the sad fact that many women in India are often suffering grave violations against their dignity. It is a country that is going through deep economic and cultural changes. A strong secular culture is forming. Simultaneously, a sense for the dignity of the human person, especially for that of women, is generating tension with traditional practices in a non-Christian society, a society where not all have the same dignity. Let us remember too that traditionally India’s population was separated into castes in which the inferior members are worth less. Women too are usually considered inferior. In this context, violations such as forced marriages, selective abortion of girls, the assassination of the widow after the death of her husband, are tolerated practices. With this in mind, one can understand how the video’s producers have taken advantage of this context to launch their message. Still, they have had only limited success, given the number of responses and critiques that have arisen against what is seen as a simplistic response to the dramatic situation of women in India.
Let’s analyze this piece by piece: what exactly is being proposed here? How do they suggest that women re-discover their dignity? They want to convert “my choice” into the new categorical imperative, that is, into the new maximum moral rule according to which anything is “okay” because it is “my choice”. The ridiculous nature of such a proposal is evident enough, yet it becomes even more so when the same is applied to men (see the video below). Obviously, when a man starts to behave according to the “my choice” rule, we don’t really believe any sane person would consider this “ok”? Of course not. That’s why the producers of the second video respond: it’s better that we respect all, both women and men.
There are a lot of “feminisms” in our world. As with all “isms,” they treat a partial truth as if it were an absolute one. Thus becoming ideologies, in the process they end up causing great harm to those whom they confuse. Feminism, in this case, is based on the idea of autonomy. Its proposal for women is the ideal of a life that is completely independent, free from needing anyone.
Albeit autonomy is certainly a value, it becomes problematic when people argue that it should become the defining criteria of human dignity. What can we say about those who are not autonomous, about the sick and the old? Even as adults, we are not fully autonomous, we always rely on others and need to know that at least one person in the world loves and cares for us. And all of this without mentioning our dependency on God!
Taken on its own, autonomy is a sad aspiration for human dignity. What is Vogue going to tell women when they are feeling lonely and empty because they have been living according to the “my choice” criteria? What are they going to tell them when they realize that the want someone in their lives that they can love, be loved by, and depend upon.
On the contrary, human beings are created to love and be loved. We are created to love everyone, men and women. In fact, our lives have meaning only in so far as we give ourselves to others. How important is it that we as Christians always remember that the human being:
While it is true that cultural prejudices can be like cages that keep us locked it, taking them down without doing harm to the authentic identity of the human being is a delicate task. It can’t be done in a simplistic way; it requires precision and reverence. I doubt that Vogue is up to the challenge. Now, it is certainly true that each one of us must choose our destiny – both men and women. But when this destination is not oriented by a deeper decision to love and give of ourselves to others, then our “choice”, our option, will never lead us towards true freedom.
The church, “expert in humanity,” has much to say to today’s world! I am convinced that the Church’s mission is becoming more and more that of protecting the memory of what it is to be human. For this reason, she will continue to help men and woman in our time to remember that the vocation to be men and woman is truly a beautiful one and that giving our lives for love –following the example of our Crucified and Resurrected Lord– is worth it, no matter the cost. I hope that each one us, according to each one’s characteristics, can participate and contribute in this sublime mission that the Lord has entrusted us with.
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