Why Even Those Destined to be Barefoot and Pregnant Can go to College

This is my last post in the 7 post in 7 days challenge hosted by Jen at Conversion Diary.

For this post, I actually found an old draft that I think is still worth publishing.

When I read the article “6 Reasons to Not Send Your Daughter to College” I was furious. The worse part was that the author claimed to be a devout Catholic trying to plead with people to understand. As a college student, a girl, and a Catholic I knew I had to read it. And as I did, I knew I had to write something in response not just to this article but to this notion that it’s pointless for girls to go to college because they’re just going to get married. 

I should mention I found the article via Carrots for Michaelmas. If you don’t know Haley, go check her blog out. Her husband wrote a  satirical response to the article that you can find too.

Why Even Those Destined to be Barefoot and Pregnant Can Go To College | The Beginning of Wisdom

There’s so many things in the article that I could comment on. The author makes a lot of claims: that it will be impossible for a girl to stay pure, that she won’t learn skills that will help her as a wife and mother, that as a “responsible, organized, smart” woman she will attract the wrong sort of men. I wrote down about 20 quotes from the article that were especially frustrating. But let’s just take the basic premise: that women shouldn’t go to college because they’re going to get married and college doesn’t prepare them for that.

Now, let’s set aside the fact that many great Catholic couples met in college. Why should a God-fearing Catholic woman who knows God is calling her to marry, go to college?

I’m not sure where God is calling me, but for a moment let’s pretend that I know I’m going to get married, have children, and stay at home with them. (Sounds great to me. It’s a real possibility too.) So, if I know this is what I’m called to do with my life, why would I bother finishing college? I should just drop out now. Actually, maybe I should never have gone at all. Or as the article says, maybe my parents shouldn’t have “sent” me to college.

But the author fails to recognize what college is about. I am learning so much. Just look at this post from last May (after I’d finished only one year of college). I’d done so many things, received so much enrichment, made new friends, grown as a person (especially in terms of independence and assertiveness) and enjoyed every minute of it. Intellectually, I’ve challenged myself and developed even more as a thinker. I’ve read and analyzed some pertinent works in my literature classes, taken an entire class on Christian morality, read some of Aristotle’s work, been in a choir class, went two days without some technology as part of an ethnographic study, learned what the word ethnographic means, and generally been enriched.

One could argue this won’t teach me how to change a diaper or scrub the kitchen floor. But those are things I already knew how to do. Going to college means I’ll be better equipped to help my high schooler with their homework. I’ll be able to better articulate to my 4 year old the truths of morality. I’ll be able to have conversations with my husband about the merits of the 1818 text of Frankenstein over the later (highly edited) edition. I’ll know basic psychological principles (such as operant conditioning) that I could employ on my children. I’ll be a better citizen, a better wife, and a better person.

Of course, this is all supposing I willbe a stay at home wife and mother and that I’ll never have to work. But perhaps my husband can’t find a job. Perhaps he gets injured and can’t work for 18 months. Or maybe his income simply isn’t enough for our growing family and we have to do what we can until he can find a higher-paying job. It would be beneficial if I could go to work in these cases and help him and my family.

It’s ridiculous to me, especially now that my head has cleared, to think for one second that women shouldn’t go to college because it won’t benefit them as the future wives and mothers of the world. I think it will. You see I’ll be a person who must make moral, informed decisions regarding her children. I’ll be an educator for my children whether I homeschool them or not. I also won’t just be a wife a mother. I’ll be a thinker. A voter. A cultural critic. A Christian.

Knowledge is power. Don’t try and tell me otherwise. I’m not some radical feminist. I would love to stay home with my kids and take care of them. I respect all women who do that. That’s what my mom did for years and I benefitted so much from that. But a solid education can make you a more critical thinker and the college experience can shape and develop your character. I’m not saying you have to go to college to be a good mother or a good citizen or even to be a critical, intelligent thinker; but the experience of living on my own, the person I am becoming, and the opportunities I have had both inside and outside of the classroom are things I will never regret no matter what that article says.



I Think I Want a Chapel Veil…

I’ve been something of a traditionalist for a while. I mean in high school I raised my hands and listened to praise and worship music as much as the next girl whose youth minister graduated from Franciscan. But my traditionalist ways have been a part of me for a long time. Still these ways generally only extend so far as the occasional Latin Mass (but only within the last few years). And they certainly don’t include chapel veils.

Well, not yet.

No offense to anyone who wears them, but frankly I don’t get chapel veils. Ok sure, there’s the passage in the Bible about women covering their heads before God and so forth…but, honestly these veils we wear today seem more like adornments than coverings: a pretty thing with rose-patterned lace to put on your head. I admit my perception is probably skewed and I’m sure I’ve been guilty of projecting my own jealousy. But even setting that aside…what’s the point exactly of the veil?

Since being home I’ve gone to two Latin Masses including the Midnight Mass at my home parish which was a high Latin Mass this year. Additionally I’m falling in love with the liturgy of the hours. I’ve just been caught up in a wave of devout sentiment. By extension, my interest in veiling has resurfaced.

And how was I going to feel as it came time to go to midnight Mass but as if I needed a chapel veil? I felt a little better once I saw there were other women there without them. But in that moment, even when I didn’t understand them, I wanted one. Most likely this is simply because I didn’t want to be the odd one out. Even my mom and 15 year old sister had something on their heads. But…yesterday I found an etsy shop of chapel veils and was, well, browsing. I decided I wanted one that fell on my shoulders instead of always being tied back, and I also saw that they were a little expensive, but you know some weren’t so bad. And, yeah, I maybe got a little caught up. *guilty smile*The Veil

So, this whole rant is simply to say…maybe my mind is/has been slowly changing. As I think of the women I personally know who wear veils and a particular blog post about one woman’s foray into veil-wearing I can’t help feeling interested. I’m not up for it right now. I’m not convinced about veil-wearing. And yet…

There’s something about veils that attracts me to them. I can’t necessarily identify it because any attempt to do so my mind refutes with a counterexample. I’d say it’s humble but I struggle to reconcile that with the beautiful appearance of a veil. I’d say it helps people be less distracted but I feel as though I’d always be adjusting it.

I guess the only real solution would be to try a veil. As I said, though, I’m not there yet. Maybe it’s a phase, maybe I am just caught up in sentiment. But it’s not completely ridiculous to think that I might at some point start wearing a veil…at least to Latin Mass. 😉

I Live in Advent

I have come to the realization that my life right now is like Advent. Just like this season of the liturgical year this season in my life is a time of waiting and preparation. Advent prepares us for Jesus’ birth and my life right now is preparing me for my vocation. As the world waited for Christmas, I wait for the day when I will know God’s will for my life.

Advent WreathBut I’m not there yet. Just as we still have a few more days to go before Christmas, I have time to go before I discern what God has planned for my life (unless he decides to conk me over the head tomorrow and tell me what I’m supposed to do). And so I wait. However, Advent isn’t just about waiting; it’s also about preparing. In the same way that Advent prepares us to celebrate Christmas, so I should let this season of my life prepare me for my vocation.

The first and foremost way to do this, is through strengthening my relationship with God. Prayer plays a key role in this as do the sacraments, specifically Mass and Confession.  Sound familiar? In Advent aren’t we supposed to  “Prepare the Way”? So shouldn’t I also prepare the way for my vocation? Shouldn’t I be preparing myself as a Christian for whatever God asks of me? No matter where I’m called, a strong prayer life is essential and will help me discern.

While we return deeper to God, prepare our hearts, and wait with longing for the joy we want to experience, we must also acknowledge that God is with us, always. He never leaves. He knows what He’s doing. He knew exactly when and where He would come into the world. And He knows exactly when and where He will reveal our vocations to us.

In the mean time, we wait and we prepare and we contemplate. The Bible tells us how Mary contemplated what she experienced. We are told that when the angel Gabriel greeted her she “pondered” (Lk 1:29) what it could mean. After the shepherds visited “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Lk 2:19). In my experience, discernment requires contemplation. We ask ourselves “what does God want me to do?” “what are my strengths?” “how can I best serve?” Mary also teaches us that discernment doesn’t end simply because we discover our Vocation in life. After all, seeking His will in every moment is sanctity.We will always be learning more and more what is the will of God.

For many of us though, the big question right now is whether we are called to marriage, single life, or religious life.  Perhaps, like me, your Advent isn’t over yet. The liturgical season may be drawing to a close but this season of our lives may have some time left yet. That may sound frightening, but all it means is that we have more time to prepare for the great journey ahead. Christmas is the goal and celebration for Advent. Our vocation is a goal of our discernment but it’s our eventual goal of Heaven that is the most important. In that way, our whole lives are an Advent preparing us for the joy of Heaven.

Blood, Tears, and More Blood: My Journey to Charting my Menstrual Cycle

I announced last Friday that I was considering doing a post regarding cycles and charting. Then I found out that this week is national NFP awareness week (which is pretty awesome in and of itself). It also turns out that there’s a linkup over at NFP and Me for the occasion. So apparently, somebody up there wants me to write this post. And here I am.

I want to start off with a warning. If the title of the post hasn’t scared you off, here’s a heads-up. This is going to get personal. And maybe a little gross. So don’t say I didn’t warn you. Also, if this topic makes you uncomfortable feel free to move on. It’s really ok. You won’t offend me. Be warned that in this and other posts like it I might use words such as period, menstruation, ovulation, ovaries, luteal phase, uterus, libido, cervical mucus, sex, menstrual cycle, pads, and blood.

Whew! Got through it!

For anyone who’s still with me, here’s my story and why I plan to start charting my cycles.

charting with thermometer

I’m single. I’m not dating. I don’t plan on being sexually active until after marriage. I may, in fact, never get married. So why the heck do I want to start charting my cycles like those awesome people who use NFP do?

Towards the beginning of this summer, after I had just finished my freshman year of college, I had a conversation with my mom about my desire to chart. I had already begun taking note of when my period happened and now wanted to get more in depth. I had noticed that my cycles didn’t seem to follow the rules. One month it was 33 days long, another it was 39, the next month 28.

When I was younger I never paid much attention to my period. It was something that just “happened” every few weeks. My understanding was that it should be every 28 days. Even so, I generally didn’t bother to make sure that was when it was happening. Usually, I would think something to the effect of “well, I got it around the 20th last month, so it should come about then this month”. Besides being bad math, this method didn’t account for the fact that my cycle might be longer or shorter than 28 days (not every women’s cycle is the same). Using this method, I remember having what I considered late periods every now and then.

The sad thing is, I really didn’t know much. I could offer a number of excuses but the hard fact is I was never taught much about my fertility or cycles. All I knew from my mom came from one conversation about how the lining of my uterus (which she said nourished a baby when a woman was pregnant) would build up and then shed once a month. And I would bleed.

For the first few months after I got my period I kept track. And I distinctly remember, just a few months later, having one period follow on another within 2 weeks. I freaked out. What did this mean? It was my 5th period. Did that mean my fifth pregnancy would be a miscarriage? These were the thoughts that passed through my 12 year old brain. I wish I had understood that irregular and anovulatory periods weren’t that unusual for a girl who was just starting.

Anyways, after a few months more I wasn’t really keeping track of my cycles and had moved on to my “once a month” bad math. And I let it be that way for years. Eventually, I started reading pro-life news, learned more about how my body works, stumbled across the awesome NFP website 1Flesh and got more interested. At this time I headed off to college.

At school, I made some great girlfriends and we talked about NFP and charting. I came to realize that I should be keeping better track of my body and listening to what it was telling me. I knew by this point that I was seeing a connection between my mood and my cycle. I would often get really high-strung and anxious before my period. I also learned that brown spotting at the end of a period , which is something I had seen in myself,could be a bad sign. Eventually, I came around to my current decision to go all out with charting.

There’s a number of reasons I guess.

1) to know my body better and be empowered with that knowledge

2) to make sure there’s nothing wrong (my irregular cycles as well as brown flow might be cause for concern)

3) to monitor the correlation between the different parts of my cycle and my mood

4)–last but not least–to know when my period is coming

I’ve already signed up for a few different free online charting sites (I’ll see which one I prefer) and have done a little charting. I’ll hopefully be starting all the official monitoring, including temperature taking, soon. It’s actually kind of exciting. Hopefully I’ll be posting more about my adventures in charting in the weeks and months ahead. Would you be interested in joining me as I learn more about cycle charting and myself? Let me know what you think in the comments section below!

This post is linked up to the NFP and Me NFP week link up. Check it out for NFP-related posts from other bloggers.

A little disclaimer: I am only starting to chart and I am not using those charts as a form of NFP. If you are interested in that you should speak with an NFP teacher or practitioner. I’m not an expert.

Why “I Can Take Care of Myself” is Such a Blow to Men

I was recently watching a TV show and a male character was trying to explain to the girl he’s fallen for that his (perhaps) misguided decision was only made because he wanted to take care of her. Her angry response was the cliche, feminist, I am Woman Hear Me Roar “I can take care of myself!” (Though really she wasn’t as nasty as she was confused and hurt.) But it struck me just how rough that sentence must be for a guy to hear.

Men are wired to be caretakers, protectors. Just like women they want to feel needed. While we seek attention and affection as our means of validation men will strive to prove themselves in different ways. When we tell them that we don’t need them, that they aren’t important, that their protective instincts are wrong, I can only imagine what a punch in the gut that is.

Imagine if you, as a woman, tried to do something nice for your guy. Maybe you cook something for him, or get his car washed when it really needs it, or make sure to record college football. Now you present him with your soufflé, his shiny clean car, or the DVD of the game. And he says: “I didn’t need you to do that! I can do it myself!” How do you think you would feel?

Thing is men do have feelings (I think) and self-esteem. And they can be hurt just as we can. We shouldn’t bite their head off because they did something nice for us. We should thank them, if for no other reason than common courtesy. This extends to just about everything, including a man opening a door for us. If he holds open a door don’t turn your nose up or get mad because you can do that yourself. No. Thank him.

We can do a lot of things for ourselves. If a man doesn’t believe that then you can go ahead and yell at him. But don’t ever belittle his attempts to fulfill the calling God has placed in the very nature of his heart. Respect that he is made to be a protector. And accept his attempts as one of his ways of showing the affection your heart seeks.

Chivalry is dead, in large part, because feminism killed it. I know I’ve said this before but it’s more than worth repeating. Chivalry lives on in a few men, but if we continue to tell them “I can take care of myself” they may come to believe they aren’t needed and that their desire to be kind and protecting is wrong or misplaced. The world needs men to step up, one way this might happen is if we women step back and allow them to do nice things for us. Yes, we can do it ourselves but we can also let someone else be chivalrous enough to do it for us.

It occurred to me that there a few different things lately that have brought me to this post. One, which I’d like to share, is this status from Made in His Image’s Facebook page

“I held a door open for a woman on a date and she said, ‘You don’t have to do that because I’m a woman,’ and I said, ‘I didn’t; I held it open because I’m a man.'” #gentleman (Made in His Image on Facebook )

Review of “How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul”

This is the first review in my Summer Reading 2013 series. It’s a review/reflection on “How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul” by Jason and Crystalina Evert.

Summer Reading How To Find Your Soulmate

If you’re a Catholic girl or young woman you’ve probably sat through at least one awkward chastity talk. It might have been in CCD class, at youth group, in your catholic high school, or with your mom. At the very least you’re most likely familiar with the rigid idea of abstinence. You’ve heard it before: you shouldn’t do that before marriage, you have to be pure, you can’t do that, you have to do this.

But why? Why is chastity so darn important?

One word: love.

This is the main question Jason and Crystalina Evert deal with in their book How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul. This husband and wife team make a lot of good points about waiting for marriage, treating yourself right and being the woman God wants you to be. This book can be powerful if you let it.

Love is something we often don’t truly understand. But it’s a choice, something we decide to do. Every day we make choices: some are loving and some aren’t. Some show a love of ourselves but a contempt for others. Some show love for others but a contempt for ourselves. True chastity is a way of loving others and loving ourselves.

So, who does chastity love?

1) Ourselves. The truth is that hooking up, shacking up, or simply being nothing but physical are not good for us. As women we want to be shown love. I know this is true of myself beyond a doubt. But we often look for it in the wrong places or are willing to sacrifice anything for it. So, we give men what they want in the hopes they will give us what we want. The truth is though, that many men who get what they want don’t see the reason to give the woman what she wants. After all, if he’s getting “the one thing on his mind” why would he bother caring what we want? Why would he consider marrying us if he’s already getting his physical “needs” met without a commitment? We’re just a tool. And as soon as something better comes along he’ll have no issues with dumping you like a hot potato.

2) Your boyfriend. Yes, not giving somebody everything they may want can actually be very good for them. We need to teach men that they can’t expect to get everything they want. The lesson starts when we say “no”. This not only shows that we respect ourselves and our body but that we respect him. You can protect him from himself by refusing to go there. Don’t tempt him, but rather make him a better person. (By the way, if he refuses to live according to your standards you need to dump him like a hot potato.)

3) Your future husband. Someday, you might very well get married. If you’re actively dating, odds are marriage is something you want. When you find that perfect guy do you want to have to admit to him the mistakes you’ve made? Do you want to be comparing him to your former loves? Save something special for that special someone. Even if you’ve made mistakes in the past you can start over today and give your future husband every day between now and your wedding day.

Being chaste means that you have higher standards, that you respect your worth, that you recognize that your body is not meant for any guy to have and hold but that it and you are meant to give yourself only to the man you marry.

Soulmate is about a lot more than just chastity, however. It’s about respecting yourself as a woman and recognizing your dignity and beauty. It’s about being strong, having high standards, and trusting that God has someone very special in store for you.

One way to live these things out is to set guidelines. Make it clear to you and your boyfriend that there are certain things you just won’t do. Respect him too, and don’t force him to do anything he’s uncomfortable with. Another way you can set guidelines is discussed in the book. Crystalina recommends praying for your future husband, even though you may not have met him yet. She also talks about how she made a list of attributes she wanted her husband to have. A short while later she met Jason who embodied so many of her hopes and dreams for her perfect man.

As soon as I came to that part in the book, I took out a notebook and started to make my own list. For each woman, this list will be slightly different. We are all different and we work and get along well with different kinds of people. Here are just a few things from my list to get you thinking:

6) is a leader
16) he loves kids
29) is stereotypical chivalrous: opens doors etc.

I challenge you to make your own list. Trust that God will lead you to the life you’re meant to have. Trust that you don’t need to give yourself away or degrade your worth to receive love. Trust that chastity is love and that any man who doesn’t recognize that is not worth your love or your time. One chapter of Soulmate is called “Break Up, Even if He Smells Good” let me just echo the advice: if he doesn’t respect you, if he refuses to accept your “no”, if he doesn’t meet up to your standards of what a good husband should be then break up. Now.

It took me longer than I would have like to finish How to Find Your Soulmate but as I turned the last page I wanted more. For me, this was a very personal book. And I know it’s a book I haven’t fully absorbed. I borrowed this book from my friend Laura (she blogs over at My Drop in The Ocean) so I might just have to get my own copy to go through, highlight, and open up whenever I need a dose of encouragement.

Any young woman out there: get this book. I don’t care if you live a chaste life and don’t feel any of this applies to you. This book will remind you why you should be chaste and hopefully renew you for what’s ahead.

If you’d like to get your own copy, and I encourage any young woman out there to do so, you can find it here on Amazon or get it through their website. If you order through the last link you can the book for as low as $2 when you buy in bulk!

Remember, you are worth more. Act like it.
Keep your head high and your standards higher.

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 11)


— 1 —

Adventures in roofing! This week, I haven’t had as much time on my hands for blogging because my family has been busy redoing our roof. I did go up on the roof, though I didn’t think I would before. It was…not good, at first. It’s not that I’m afraid of heights it’s that I’m afraid of falling. But I got used to it and even survived getting on and off the ladder and onto the roof. A couple of my uncles came up to help and they and members of my family made up the work crew. We worked Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday a bit, then took Thursday off (it was wet that day). We worked Friday (which is when I first went up). And Saturday we finished. Now there’s a new roof above my head that supposed to last for 40 years. To celebrate a job well done we had homemade milkshakes. Yum!  Chocolate! 🙂

— 2 —

I knew this week would inspire me to get more scheduled. All this work and productivity was a proverbial kickstart. Now I just have to follow through. Writing this post actually reminds me that I intended to make up a schedule. So that’s certainly on my to do list this evening. There’s a number of things I want to include: exercise, prayer, math practice, tutoring my brother, job searching perhaps. And of course, I should include time for blogging.

— 3 —

What companies can I support? As a Catholic, I believe that there are certain things I can not support, maybe not even indirectly. This is something that’s come up again for me since I got home. What companies can I support? When does guilt become guilt by association? Does money have to be getting back to Planned Parenthood before we boycott a company? What if we’re just supporting a company that has ties to an organization that gives to Planned Parenthood or a similar organization? Or what if there aren’t any alternatives? I’ve been told that we shouldn’t be too zealous about this. But at the same time, we should be wise stewards of our money. So where’s the line? 

— 4 —

Patience is a virtue. A friend reminded me recently of this old saying. My mom used it on us as kids and I’ve heard it plenty. As I’m living at home, in this tightly-packed house with my parents and my 7 siblings, sharing my room with my sisters, and having to work with my mom’s schedule–it seems very appropriate.

— 5 —

Homeschooling enrollment is up according to this article. The article also debunks some of the myths around homeschooling, including that homeschoolers don’t get enough socialization for their own good. The article quotes from a report saying that homeschooled kids have “‘healthy social, psychological, and emotional development, and success into adulthood'”. As someone who was homeschooled I love to here positive things about that method of education and those who were educated that way. If you’d like to learn more about homeschooling myths (and potentially laugh) check out this video from Blimeycow:

— 6 —

I just read a great article about Sedevacantist nuns who returned to full communion with the Church. The article gives a depiction of Sedevacantism too and tells an engaging story. I guess I never realized that there’s a whole network of Sedevacantists. It’s intriguing to note that the article makes the Sedevacantists out to be an extreme form of Traditionalists. The so called “cult-like” practice of the organization are also mentioned. It’s great to hear stories of people recognizing the truth of the faith, these sisters were quite brave to leave all they had known for so long. Welcome home sisters!

— 7 —

I’ve been thinking about the direction of my blogging. Honestly, I haven’t determined anything. But one topic that interests me (so much that I recently gave it it’s own Pinterest board) is femininity. Alternately I could write on Catholicism, teaching, discernment, being a college student…or all of the above. I’m a Catholic, a woman, a college student, a future teacher, an on-and-off discerner, a sister, daughter…I guess there’s a few things to go off of. I’m thinking something with Catholicism and/or femininity probably. I guess I just need to figure out where exactly I should go. Any thoughts?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

International Women’s Day?! Say What?!

Did you know that today, March 8th 2013, is International Women’s Day? Neither did I until I saw it as Google’s logo-of-the-day. Then a couple posts came up on my newsfeed. And I figure, what the heck why not blog about it? Well I went back to Google and clicked on the logo which connected me to a search for “International Women’s Day” and to the International Women’s Day website. There I did a little digging.

First, their home page proudly displayed this banner:
Women's Day Banner

Personally, this kind of language always throws up the “danger leftwing jargon ahead!” warning flag. But hey, maybe “publishing a page” is a way I could share my blog post (once I actually finish it) and my thoughts with these lovely left-leaning ladies.

But no. It wasn’t. It was more like a list of their sponsors. One of the most prominent being WAGGS, the World Organization of Girl Scouts and Girl Guides, that is the Girl Scouts’ parent company. For those of you who don’t know WAGGS is quite the supporter of the International Planned Parenthood Federation. Yeah, that was not good news for me. I clicked through. Maybe WAGGS just puts on an event for this made up holiday(the website was kind of vague).

That’s when I saw something that made me sick (though it that point it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise). One of the very first lines about WAGGS on the International Women’s Day website said proudly that 50% of the website’s advertising revenue is donated to WAGGS annually.

I admit that International Women’s Day’s connection to Planned Parenthood and abortion is indirect but it’s enough to let me decide to never visit their website again. I certainly don’t need to be supporting that.

Then there’s the hypocrisy. I can see the appeal of donating to WAGGS and Girl Scouts. On the surface, their a lovely organization for young girls. However, scratch even a little at that surface and you start to see the truth. The notion that an organization that is supposedly so pro-woman (such as Girl Scouts or International Women’s Day) would support abortion which injures and kills so many women both born and unborn every year is truly hypocrisy.

Why is it that feminism and being pro-woman also means supporting things like abortion? It seems like so many organizations that claim to be pro-woman are pro-choice as well.

But I digress. In the grand scheme of things, International Women’s Day is just one day. One more misguided attempt to “empower” women. One more made up holiday. Why do women need a holiday anyways? Are we women so uncomfortable being women that we need a day to celebrate it, or are we just vain? According to the lovely banner above, one would suppose their fighting for women’s equality, which is a noble goal. Women around the world can often be treated as second-rate, even in America women aren’t treated equal in that they aren’t payed the same for the same job. But shouldn’t that be a year-round goal? Shouldn’t we be striving to make the world better for everyone all the time, and not just one day a year?

Modesty: Whose Fault Is It?

woman vs manI’ve heard it plenty of times: this argument about whose fault it is when a woman dresses provocatively and a man reacts to it. Is it her fault he reacted that way? Or is it his fault and she’s not to be blamed? I’ve heard people bash comments about rape being the woman’s fault because she dressed that way. I’ve seen women tell themselves they’re not guilty when a man uses them, even though they were dressed inappropriately.

Take this scenario for example.

A woman wearing a skimpy outfit walks down the street. A man across the street sees her and thinks of her as an object.
Who’s fault is it?

One side  (A) says: it’s the woman’s fault! She dressed like that in front of him, tempted him. How else was he supposed to react?

While the other side (B) argues: the woman had nothing to do with it! It wasn’t her fault. Stopping blaming her for something like that.

But I think both sides have it wrong.

Side A does a disservice to the man, actually. In their reasoning, he is equated to a beast who can not control his impulses. This is simply false.

Side B refuses to acknowledge the connection between what the woman wore and how the man reacted. Again, there seems to be some false thinking.

Well, here’s what I think: both the man and the woman are at fault.

I was thinking about this and modesty last night and brought in some ideas from the theological morality class I’m taking. Now, each individual is responsible for their own actions right? So clearly the man is responsible for his actions, thoughts, whatever they may be. He is not a beast. The thoughts may come easy but that is because the man has a vice. It is not because he has absolutely no control over himself but because it is especially difficult for him to control himself in this area as he is enslaved to this vice he has developed.

But that doesn’t mean the woman’s off the hook. Ladies, what’s one of the chief reasons, besides respecting ourselves and our own dignity as human beings, that we are often given for why we should be modest? That’s right. Because we don’t want to be a source of temptation for men. We don’t want them to be overcome by lust just because of what we’re wearing. But that’s what women who dress that way are doing. We must acknowledge that the way we dress can make it harder or easier for a man to avoid sin. We must also acknowledge that tempting someone is wrong. Whether or not we are then culpable for the man’s sin I’ll leave to the theologians, or at least someone with a couple more Theology classes under their belt.

The way I see it there are two sins to be guilty for and no one is blameless in this situation: the woman is (at least) guilty of dressing inappropriately, the man of his thoughts/actions. The two are not necessarily dependent. A woman might dress that way and cause no one to fall (though odds are she’d tempt a few), or she might dress ultra-conservatively and still there’d be a man ogling her. However these aren’t unrelated. I think we can all agree that odds are the way she’s dressing is not completely separate from the way he’s thinking.

So my answer to the argument of who’s at fault for the sin? Depends on which sin we’re talking about. But really, in this scenario, they’re both at fault for something.

Leah Darrow: You Were Made for Greatness…This isn’t it

Leah Darrow quote1
A quote from Leah. Though she didn’t say this in her talk I think it speaks of her story and message well.

This is a post I wrote last week (with just a few small tweaks) but didn’t get around to posting before I left for the March for Life. (More on that in my next post!) Enjoy!

I love going to Benedictine College! We have too much fun. We also have great speakers who visit. A few days ago Leah Darrow, who was once on America’s Next Top Model, came and told her amazing story.

As a little girl, Leah told us, she had experienced an epiphany one day concerning her future. She ran to her mom and told her she was going to do something, something big and great. Her mom asked her what this thing was. And Leah said “I don’t know. But it’s going to be great!”

Many years later, Leah was a contestant on America’s Next Top Model. But I don’t think this was quite the sort of greatness her childhood self had in mind. She didn’t wind up winning but Leah kept modeling and living a lifestyle that did nothing but hurt her in the long run. Then, one day, something happened. Leah had accepted a photo shoot modeling revealing clothes. Contrary to what you may be thinking, Leah had actually been raised religious. Her family were Catholics, they went to Mass every Sunday, and were overall pretty devout. Yet, at age 15 Leah lost her virginity. After that she had a string of relationships that involved giving herself to men who didn’t really care about her. Then of course, she got involved in modeling, wound up on “reality” TV, and after found herself at this photo shoot. That was where her reconversion (or reversion) happened.

I suppose we often think conversions happen during emotional and intimate conversations with super-holy people or maybe at a church or a park. But for Leah it was at that photo shoot. In what she described in terms of a vision, Leah was filled with the knowledge and the sense that this was not the greatness she had wanted when she was a child. God said to her: she was made for greatness…and this wasn’t it.

She told everyone she had to leave, she just had to. People told her she couldn’t just go and that she needed this for her portfolio. Leah got changed and was making for the door. The people kept talking, telling her she needed this for her career. They told her if she left she’d be a nobody. Then Leah turned and said in a voice that must have been so earnest and so desperate, “do you promise?” She wanted to be a nobody to these people. She didn’t want anyone to offer her these kind of jobs again. She wanted out.

Later that day she called her parents. And told her dad right off “if you don’t come get me I’m going to lose my soul.” Well, you can bet her dad came to get her! But before they left New York he said they should go to confession. She hadn’t been in a long time and tried to wriggle out of it: “oh, that’s a great idea, and you know dad we will go…when we get home.” But her dad saw right through that.

Now, for those of you who aren’t Catholic, I know there’s a lot of misunderstanding on what confession is. So, let me offer my I’m-not-a-theologian-but-I-know-something explanation. Basically, when a Catholic goes to confession, they start beforehand by looking at their life and seeing where they have failed and where they can do better. We call this an examination of conscience and it can be very humbling and very helpful. Then we enter the confessional and speak to the priest. However, he’s not just a priest. In confession, the priest represents Jesus; it is as if we are speaking to Him. We say how long its been since our last confession and tell our sins. Seems simple doesn’t that? (We’ll get back to it.) Then the priest may offer some advice or ask us to express our contrition for our sins in prayer. He tells us what penance we are to do for our sins. Most often it’s some form of prayer. For example: “say 3 our fathers” or “say a decade of the rosary while you meditate on ___” . Or it may be “apologize to that person you said you insulted” or what have you. Then the priest gives us absolution. By God’s power he forgives us of our sins. They are gone. Forever wiped away. Erased totally. And we begin afresh.

So, that may be a longer explanation of confession than you ever wanted to hear, but there it is. When Leah went into confession what she started by saying was to the effect of “I don’t want to be here.” But the priest helped her through it and in what I can imagine to be a very powerful experience she freely confessed her sins. It’s not always easy to do that, especially when you have some big ‘uns to confess or when you’ve been away from confession for a while. I know from experience. But I also know, and I’m confident Leah would agree, confession is powerful and healing. That’s why Jesus started it. Yeah, we could go pray privately and admit we’ve done wrong but there’s just something about having to look at yourself honestly and then say out loud to another person what it is you’ve done. It challenges you and heals you. The promiscuous lifestyle Leah led and what she told us in her talk were only “the tip of the iceberg” of everything she had done. But she was forgiven of all of it and all was forgotten.

Leah mentioned a quote in her talk and it’s a quote I love.

“The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness” -Pope Benedict XVI

Leah realized that the life she was living was not what God intended for her. It was not greatness. And the relationships she had, those were not greatness either. She was made for better. And so are all of us. We were all made for greatness and we need to stop settling, stop lying to ourselves, and stop accepting comfort from a world that doesn’t care a wink about us.

The life she lived in the reality TV/modeling world did give Leah some amazing insights that she shared. Firstly, reality TV is anything but real. A person is followed 24/7 (on Top Model there weren’t even doors on the bathrooms or curtains on the showers) for 7-10 days and then they take 45 ish minutes of that (and of course its the most drama-filled 45 minutes they can find out of all those days). And that’s what you see and what you judge people based on. Don’t fool yourselves you do judge. And so do I, sadly. Leah also gave some interesting statistics about modeling. Firstly, in women’s magazines 100% of the images of women are edited or enhanced in some way in post-production. In men’s magazines 63% (I may be mis- remembering by a percent) of the pictures of women are computer-generated. So, none of its real. Those models in women’s magazines don’t even look like that and a majority of the women in men’s magazines don’t even exist. Leah saw firsthand how living a lifestyle of hook-ups, revealing clothes, and selling yourself for other’s enjoyment damages a person. She also saw up-close and personal the methods industries use to sell their products and perpetuate this harmful lifestyle.

Surely we were made for more than this? For more than these doctored images, for more than accepting something fake as our standard of beauty. Greatness isn’t about physical appearance anyways. Look at Mother Teresa. She was an amazing, saintly, woman who never wore makeup any of those times you saw her on TV or in newspapers helping the poorest of the poor. But, because of her faith and trust in God she was able to do amazing and great things by following Him.

The dating culture of today, the hook-up culture–it doesn’t help anyone. It is not greatness. All those relationships Leah had when she was younger, that was not greatness. After that one fateful night when she was 15 Leah went into the bathroom and cried because she knew something was very wrong with what had just happened.

I think there’s a lot we can take away from Leah’s story about what is wrong with our culture and about who we are to be. But more than that we can see the power of forgiveness and see right before our eyes the truth that people do change, that a person leading that life doesn’t always have to lead that life. They can get out, just like Leah did and they can go on to live that greatness to which they are called.

For more information about Leah Darrow visit her website’s about page here.