23 Ways Society Lies to Catholic Women

 

Society tries so hard to feed women lies about our self-worth. What makes it worse is that the comments directed to Catholic women aren’t just a stab at our womanhood, but the Faith we profess and strive to live each day. Oftentimes, I find myself in casual conversation with other Catholic women and how the message society sends to women is often demeaning to those who choose any path that’s different than what society has defined as “successful.” As a result, I find there to be varying levels and degrees of inadequacy that women may experience as a result. We have sometimes unknowingly bought the lie that any of the following must be true for us to fit the mold of that perfect female in society. Among the many women who I asked what lies they had heard over the years, it was refreshing to see a common thread that more and more women are catching on to those lies and seeing them for what they are. Here are just a few of those lies:

  • Birth control will solve all your problems.
  • Teen moms always fail. Teens can’t be good parents. Kids ruin your life. Your career and/or education is the most important thing in your life.
  • You don’t need a man. Men are the enemy.
  • Women’s issues translate to people touting free birth control or abortion access instead of issues we actually care about like jobs and security.
  • Instead of focusing on why women are different and amazing creatures… we should be trying to constantly prove how we can do anything men can do 
  • Being a mom isn’t a job. That everything has to be perfect all of the time. That if you stay at home, your husband won’t respect you because you don’t bring in money. That all men are pigs. That all men only want one thing, and you should be ok with that because we are all “sexual beings” and it’s ok to experiment. That he won’t buy the cow if he hasn’t had the milk (lol). How much times have changed… we went from “if you have sex with him, he’ll never marry you”, to “if you don’t have sex with him, he won’t ever commit to you” – Good Lord, help us.
  • Children don’t need fathers.
  • Wanting to be a stay at home mom (or even a mom at all) is proof that you’re oppressed (and, usually, have “internalized” and accepted that oppression as normal).
  • A “real woman” can “have it all” and successfully balance being a mom and having a full-time job. Thus proving that if you feel like a failure when you try to do both, that you’re just not good enough.
  • Sex without commitment and consequences (and by extension, birth control and abortion) is good for women.
  • Women are better than men.
  • That your worth comes from achievements and productivity.
  • If your toddler is attached to you, you have trouble letting your children grow up.
  • Children are inconvenient. 
  • There’s nothing wrong with sleeping around if you aren’t going to get married. Virginity is a “waste”. Women can do anything men can do and vice versa.
  • A Catholic woman’s stance on serving her husband is lowering the intelligence and worth of women because we should all be feminist who think men are objects or something, right?
  • Children are super expensive. For us, children have been a bigger “line item” than we ever anticipated😉
    The message then for me is that children are not *worth* the expense. 
  • Sort of the same line of thought, though not so much a message for/about women: kids don’t naturally like/welcome younger siblings, sibling rivalry is the natural way and you always need to go out of your way to prevent it and make them at least “okay” with being “replaced” as the youngest.
  • It’s normal, acceptable, and good for men to look at porn and you are a horrible, controlling spouse/partner if you don’t want your SO to watch porn/go to strip clubs/masturbate.
  • If you stay at home, you have it so easy. Everything should be done perfectly all the time. Homemade birthday cakes, clean house, obedient children. It’s not like you have an actual job.
  • Oh, and you can’t spend money on yourself because you didn’t earn it. And you made this choice, so you’d better not complain or show signs of having difficulties with it.
  • As a Catholic woman: There is only one way to be feminine. Whether it’s the traddie version of the Stepford wife or the Proverbs 31 superwoman, there is only one ideal. And you don’t even come close.
  • Your beauty is external. I would add that, no matter your accomplishments as a woman, you are not good enough/less than/uninteresting unless you are sexually attractive. Your value comes from your external appeal.
  • As Catholic woman we are oppressed, too. There is no place in the Church for women if we can’t be priests.

Do you recognize any of these?

Perhaps you have heard your own.

What do you wish society understood about you, a Catholic woman?

5 comments
  • SarahOctober 30, 2016 - 8:13 am

    This article was interesting to me, as many of these I feel ring true, however others I simply can’t agree with. There seems to be a lot of hate around feminism in the online Catholic community, and while I understand that there ARE feminists out there that proclaim things like “women are better than men”, “men are objects”, and “all men are pigs” (especially on the internet), but that is simply not what most feminists believe and I wouldn’t go so far as to say that these are lies society tells us. Perhaps they are lies that radical parts of feminism try to tell us, but it definitely isn’t the majority.

    I consider myself a Catholic Pro-life Feminist. I’m a stay-at-home mom, and have been fortunate enough to surround myself with other women and men (all feminists), who follow the prescription that feminism is really about a woman being able to choose whether she works or stays home and that both of those objects are valid and valuable (in my perspective, a woman should discern this through prayer to determine her vocation). I would really like to see more discourse within the Church on feminism and what it looks like for Catholic women. I don’t think rejecting feminism outright is something we should do (not saying you all are rejecting feminism outright, just a statement on the Church in general). There are things in secular feminism that will never be compatible with the Church, and those ideas, of course, would not fit into our interpretation of feminism

    However, some of the points in this article really hit home. “Children are inconvenient” is one of the biggest lies society tells us and that I struggled with. Yes, my daughter makes life harder, but not inconvenient, and certainly she makes it more joyful.

    “Your value comes from your external appeal”: this is a real struggle for me. I want to be that put-together mom who keeps the house clean and my appearance flawless, but I just have to accept I’m not that person, and yes, I am trying to improve my skills as a SAHM, but I have to accept that I will not be perfect and that growth takes time. The beauty in my home comes from the love we have for each other and the Lord, not how neat my home or appearance is.

    “It’s normal, acceptable, and good for men to look at porn and you are a horrible, controlling spouse/partner if you don’t want your SO to watch porn/go to strip clubs/masturbate.”

    This point I agree with absolutely. Society has tried to normalize things that are harmful, and of course when we reject these teachings society does everything to tell us how horrible we are. Just watch tv for an hour and you see this ideology being spread. I worry about our youth being raised on these lies and feeling that they should be “okay” with these things. I certainly am not okay with them. There is so much pain and hurt in marriages today because of these lies, and my heart hurts for those who have found themselves in these situations.

    “That your worth comes from achievements and productivity.” This one is probably what I struggle with most. I have always been an “over-achiever” if I am not going something productive then I must be wasting my time. I’m a chronic multi-tasker, I think it hurts my relationship with God, myself, and others. I have lost the ability to sit and simply “be”. This lie teaches us that “we” are more important than God, that what “we” do is more important than what “God” can do. Thank you for helping me to dwell on this point today.

    I think this is article will spark an interesting discussion. I am interested to hear what others have to say, and I make my points with nothing but respect and interest in dialogue.ReplyCancel

    • Martina KreitzerNovember 1, 2016 - 10:09 am

      Sarah,
      Thanks for your thoughts! The goal of the post was to share and highlight real comments that Catholic women have received from the secular world, not really emphasizing what feminists say. Those would be two totally different posts!ReplyCancel

      • SarahNovember 1, 2016 - 10:10 am

        Oh of course! I really appreciate this article being written and peoples thoughts getting out there. Thanks for all the great work! I love reading.ReplyCancel

    • AliciaNovember 2, 2016 - 7:43 am

      Thank you, Sarah, for the respectful and honest response that I think many of us would like to have so eloquently stated! Just wanted to put a “My thoughts exactly,” out there…and I know Martina mentioned the feminism issue would be a whole other topic, but it does play into many of the above lies. The interwoven conflict of valuing the female vs the modern label of feminism creates havoc internally for many of us. Having attended an all girl’s high school that was academically advanced, many messages were difficult for my young mind to accept as both Catholic AND feminist. More dialogue on that, so I may help my daughter work through these issues better than I did, would be greatly appreciated in the future. These posts are always worth my time and I value both the contributors and the responders! Thanks, again!ReplyCancel

  • ArianaDecember 13, 2016 - 8:07 pm

    So true. The idea of “Lean In” still amazes me. Having a child is a responsibility and an honor. Having a job/career is a means to an end. I don’t want to spend all my energy there.ReplyCancel