Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fr. Corapi on femininity

Fr. Corapi, in one of his EWTN episodes (I don't know which one -- I was listening to the audio version on a Catholic radio station) claimed that he was a true Catholic feminist, in that he affirmed the value of femininity and its difference from masculinity, and recognized that men and women have differences which impact their lives (and vocations). I don't know if he was using the Von Hildebrands as a source, but he went on to explain that women are by their nature "receptive." (I mention the Von Hildebrands, especially Alice Von Hildebrand, because the first time I heard someone talk about receptivity it was from Alice Von Hildebrand, who was contradistinguishing it from passivity.) As a result, they are more receptive to the divine -- hence, there were more women to be seen in Church.

It seems to me that the complete definition of female must refer to the male, even if only implicitly, since male and female are complementary with respect to the sex act, first of all. It also seems to me that all other roles and differences are founded upon this fundamental difference in function.

Women are receptive with respect to the activity of men (specifically their husbands, but also with respect to their fathers) -- being led and reassured, and so on. Women also reach out to others, including their husbands, but not quite in the same way. Women have both active potentialities and passive potentialities in their relationships with men, but in a healthy relationship they are not the same or identical to the potentialities that men have. (When men and women have the same set of potentialities, or if they are reversed, with women having what is proper to men and vice versa, problems arise.)

I think it is problematic to say that women are "receptive" by their very nature, as if other creatures are not receptive -- after all, all creatures have some potentiality, and all intellectual creatures have the obediential potency to the Beatific Vision. Angels are receptive just as human beings are, in this respect. Men are just as receptive as women to grace and the infused gifts. Men can be as "spritual" as women, since all are dependent upon God.

Is yin-yang "theory" wrong, abstracting what belongs to male and female, essentializing these characteristics, turn then into cosmic principles? While there may be opposition in the universe, even opposition that is reducible to a fundamental pair of forces or elements, it seems to me that yin-yang theory is too univocal in ascribing to everything shares in a "masculine" and a "feminine" principle. Is it possible that even asexual things can be called "masculine" or "feminine" by analogy?

Now with respect to the spiritual life and Christian education, are girls more docile than boys? Are they able to benefit more from guidance by others, the frail human instruments of God's Providence? Is it the case that boys cannot be taught as well, or that men do not benefit as much from religious education when they are young and undisciplined and have not learned how to master their energy? Are there other obstacles to the spiritual formation of men that are not present for women generally? (For example, bad liturgical music and a lot of emphasis on feelings in spirituality and worship?)

Begun on September 15, 2009.

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