Saturday, February 18, 2012

Contraception, Catholicism, and feminism

One of the central tenets of the Catholic faith (and indeed, of pretty much every major religion) is the primacy of human dignity: a deep and abiding respect for the full humanity and intrinsic value of every person on this Earth.  That reverence for human dignity, which truly is at the center of Church doctrine, is one of my guiding principles.  It is one of the main things my faith has taught me.

And when I say a reverence for human dignity, I mean a reverence for the full humanity of every person.  Applied to women, this means a respect for the dignity of their uteruses.  It also means a respect for the dignity of their minds, their mouths, their hands, and their feet.  It means respecting women as fully human on every level, and as such both valuing them and engaging with them.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Frustrations: the bishops and birth control, grad school and Good Friday

Most of the time, I don't find it much of a struggle to be both liberal and Catholic.  My conscience is clear.  Both identities affirm my values and challenge me to grow as a person.  Both push me to look beyond myself and to care for the world around me.  Neither is easy, but both are personally rewarding.  Internally, I am at peace with the allegiances I have chosen--enough so that I am comfortable recognizing them as allegiances.

But maintaining both identities can be frustrating on occasion.  I am lucky enough to have a large group of friends who share both my political religious values (whether specifically as Catholics, or simply as people who belong to an organized religion and try to live according to their faith).  But sometimes I feel caught between a secular world with a fierce concern for social justice and an deep skepticism of organized religion, and a religious world with an equally deep and abiding skepticism of the broad goals of social equality that my liberal friends take for granted.

Right now I feel caught in the middle.  Caught between a Church that seems to be proud of trumpeting its utterly gothic attitudes about women and a secular world that has little room or respect for religious practice.

Friday, February 10, 2012

"It'll put hair on your chests"

In my graduate program, men outnumber women by a 2:1 ratio, more or less.  Women make up 30% of my class, which is pretty normal, both in my department and in economics graduate programs generally.  There are a few programs where the gender ratios are even more skewed (Maryland comes to mind), but that's generally how it goes.  And I will say, the schools are thinking about it.  Most of them want a higher proportion of women, though they vary in what/how much they're willing to do to attract them.  It may not be seen as super-high priority, but it's an issue that departments are well-aware of and that they take fairly seriously.

My department's faculty is similarly skewed, except somewhat worse.  Again, this is the case in almost every economics department, not a particular feature of my school.  In fact, my program is notable for having a couple of very high-profile women faculty (though sadly one of them just left).

Honestly, most of the time I don't notice that I'm surrounded by men.