I had the interesting opportunity this past week to have dinner with Kathy Sloan. Kathy is from N.O.W. – yes that is the National Organization for Woman. Kathy is on the board of directors and is the U.N. representative for N.O.W. We normally would be on different sides of the table, but Kathy is here in Minnesota lobbying with the Minnesota Catholic Conference against the bills legitimizing surrogacy. I finally understand that phrase “Politics makes strange bedfellows.” It seems we agree on some things – Surrogacy is bad for women is one, but I found durring my dinner conversation that we agreed on a few other things as well. If you would like to know more about the Surrogacy issue – check out the Article by Katheryn Mollen from the Minnesota Catholic Conference: http://www.mncc.org/catholic-spirit-wombs-rent-industry-now-legal-minnesota/
Katheryn Mollen was the one who arraigned the meeting between Kathy and I. It was at my request because my 21 year old daughter is involved with her feminist club on her college campus. To get this meeting for my daughter made me the “rock star” in her eyes. Yes we are a diverse family with a lot of different ways in which we approach things and I support her in her efforts even if occasionally she gets it wrong, but the jury isn’t out on her yet! She is a strong independent young woman and I am proud of her.
Back to my meeting with Kathy. I have to say, I was a little anxious about meeting, as I wondered what we would talk about or if it would be adversarial. Driving to dinner I reflected on my own journey in life and my thoughts on the feminist movement. I reflected that I have much to be thankful for from the feminist movement. I am a product of the advances made by Gloria Steinem and others who fought to get equal pay for equal work and I greatly benefited from Title IX that allowed me to participate in High School and intercollegiate sports. When I am talking to young women athletes now – they can’t even imagine that less than 35 years ago there were practically no sports programs for women and if there was a program, it was not funded.
As we conversed over dinner I found out that Kathy was a fan of the music of Hildegard of Bingen (Catholic Saint) and has been working with Catholic bioethicists on the issue of donor eggs and surrogacy. Her reasoning that she is against legitimizing commercial surrogacy, (and feminists are split on this) is that it makes “women nothing more than objects … an oven… something to be used.”
Hmmm… It seems I have heard something like that before…
“Man is a person, man and woman equally so, since both were created in the image and likeness of the personal God.” Pope John Paul II
This was an opening to express my difficulty with the traditional feminist movement and its stance on reproductive rights. It was… an opening to evangelize. I said, “As long as the feminist movement focuses on reproductive rights, it will keep women, and men, viewed as objects whose purpose is primarily sexual pleasure.”
From there I started speaking of the new feminism and Pope John Paul II’s writings. I can’t say she became a convert or revert right there, but she asked a lot of questions about this new feminism. I gave her a book of writings by Edith Stien and promised to send her a copy of MULIERIS DIGNITATEM.
Yes, it seemed I had more in common with this feminist from N.O.W. than I ever thought I would. I love building bridges and I have always purported that we can’t evangelize if we never meet people who are different than us.
On a side note… my daughter thinks I am a “rock star!”