Social Justice and Gender Ideology: Part I (Radical Feminism)
April 03, 2020
Today I resume my series on social justice, the right order of human society. I have argued that there are two basic pillars of all human social order, right worship, which is the holy sacrifice of the Mass, given to us be God in Jesus Christ, and the right order of the family, the first and most fundamental form of human social life.
After writing about the right order of marriage and the family, based on Jesus’ words that direct us to the story of creation in Genesis, I began the grim but needed task of cataloguing the sins against the right order of the family. These are sins, involving disorders of sexual practice and attacks against human life at its most vulnerable stage, in the womb, are sins against social justice.
Since all manner of sexual promiscuity, cohabitation, contraception, abortion, and IVF have become so much part and parcel of the society we live in, often backed up by legislation and court rulings, we live in a society that, at its very core, has given way to a radical social injustice. We live in a society that far from upholding and promoting the right order of marriage and family life seeks rather to overturn and obliterate that order at every turn. The family that seeks to live in accord with God’s plan is now that target of attack (often legal) and shaming.
Alas, we are not yet done. With the societal promotion and protection of the family broken down, with the very meaning of male and female thrown into confusion, we are now being inundated with ‘gender ideology’, which subordinates ‘sex assigned at birth’ to a persons self-determined ‘gender identity’ and would require everyone else to recognize and honor that ‘gender identity.’.
Gender ideology actually has its roots in radical feminist ideology, even though some radical feminists, because they still define a woman by her body, are opposed to the transgender movement.
The radical feminism of the 60s and 70s, which has been very pervasive in its societal influence, was built on the premise that biological differences between male and female were insignificant, and that cultural paradigms of masculinity and femininity were purely ‘social constructs’. To put the matter simply, if little boys liked playing with toy soldiers and little girls like dressing up dolls, that is only because of societal expectations. The claim is that masculinity and femininity is all a manner nurture and not at all a question of nature. The further claim is that ‘nurture’ has been for the sake of keeping women in subjugation to patriarchal domination. The whole purpose of their argument was to free women from their biology (their physical weakness in comparison to men and their ability to get pregnant) so as to compete with men on equal terms in all realms of politics and economics.
This radical feminism has always been profoundly hostile to marriage and family (though it has not always been upfront about its hostility). If marriage and family has had any acceptance it has only been on the supposition of an equality of roles (men and women equally share cooking and cleaning) and equality of decision making. Children can only be allowed into the ‘arrangement’ if and when the woman so desires, otherwise she is to be absolute mistress of her fertility.
Still, radical feminism, even if it sought a radical equality between men and women, did not finally try to deny the male-female duality. The transgender movement, however, goes much further by rejecting “heteronormativity” and “gender binarism”.
We can get an idea of how radical the transgender movement is by comparison radical feminism if we consider Title IX of the federal Education Amendments Act of 1972, a classic piece of feminist legislation.
The key principle was, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
Among other things, this required equal funding for women’s sports programs in comparison with men’s sports programs, because it rejected any possibility that sports might be more important for the growth and development of boys into young men than it is in the development of girls into young women.
At the same time Title IX tacitly acknowledged a certain inequality, because women’s sports programs would remain separate from men’s programs. Here women were not expected to compete against men. They were just granted an equal right to compete among each other.
Title IX also recognized the need for different facilities (locker rooms and bathrooms) for men and women.
The Obama Administration embraced the transgender movement, opened up the military to transgenderism, and sought to reinterpret Title IX, unsuccessfully for the time being, replacing ‘sex’ with ‘gender’. This would have given men a ‘right’ to compete in women’s sports, so long as they claim to be women (which is already taking place anyway) and a ‘right’ to use women’s bathrooms, so long as they claim to be women (which is already taking place anyway). This reinterpretation throws out all the ways that Title IX still recognized the importance of some biological inequality and sought to protect women in their vulnerability. It thereby completely repurposes the whole legislation, turning it into a tool to eliminate sexual distinction from human life.
Fr. Joseph Levine graduated from Thomas Aquinas College and after a long journey was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Baker, Oregon. He currently serves as pastor of St. Peter Catholic Church in The Dalles on the Columbia River.