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Dr. Pia Francesca De Solenni Offers Much Food For Thought On Feminism

Philippe de Champaigne. The Annunciation.
(Philippe de Champaigne. The Annunciation. [Source])

By Mrs. Doris Gagnon (née Germain). Posted originally on her blog: Sentinelle de l'invisible.

In the past week, I have attended two events, which on the surface seem to be diametrically opposed, but in fact share a common thread. The first of the two was the Dec. 5th meeting whereby the Carleton University Students' Association (CUSA) passed a motion to refuse recognition, funding and space to groups engaging in what they call "anti-choice actions". The second, was a talk given by Dr. Pia Francesca de Solenni, sponsored by the Cosmas and Damian Society for Medical Ethics & The Ottawa Catholic Physician's Guild, entitled: "The True Meaning of Human Sexuality: Being vs. Doing."

At the CUSA meeting, in the course of making her point, a young feminist argued that the fetus is a parasite. Those who are familiar with the abortion debate will quickly recognize this argument as belonging to the most radical strand of feminism. Seen in this light, the fetus becomes an enemy and abortion becomes a woman's right. This argument, however, betrays a profoundly flawed conception of men, both the unborn and women.

This is where Dr. de Solenni's talk comes in. She makes a clear and coherent case showing that Church teaching provides the right anthropology, one that sees women as bearers of the Imago Dei. According to Dr. de Solenni, who has extensively studied feminism in light of Thomistic anthropology and theology, one of the fruits of the feminist movement lies in having brought us to the point where we find ourselves in the rut of putting doing in the place of being. We need to learn to recognize our essentiality as souls with bodies. These bodies are either male or female, determined from the very moment of conception. Our femaleness or maleness is something we bring into our doing. St. Joan of Arc was no less feminine for having led an army, St. Augustine was not effeminate for speaking about the heart.(Note: If I am misrepresenting Dr. de Solenni's talk, I would gladly be corrected. I am writing this some 48 hours after having heard it. In any case, there is an interview which is sort of a teaser to what she has to offer [Interview with Dr. de Solenni].)

The implications of this "new feminism"

Disclaimer: I actually dislike using any "ism" to refer to the truth about men, since truth is universal. I do recognize, though, that there is a need to address the ravages of feminist ideology and Dr. Solenni does just that.

Hearing Dr. Pia de Solenni's talk got me thinking about the abortion debate. I believe this Thomistic anthropology is often overlooked and that it is an important aspect to bring into the discussion.

At its most basic, abortion is about personhood, most would say about the personhood of the unborn, and I agree, but it is also about womanhood. (It was interesting, at the CUSA meeting when a student brought up the issue of abortion for the purpose of gender selection, which discriminates against women, the pro-choicers/feminists had a difficult time coming up with an answer.)

Pro-lifers do well to argue for the recognition of the unborn as a man, but as long as people hold on to the feminist anthropology, which denies woman's essential characteristic as a bearer of life, there will be people willing to put women's rights in opposition to the rights of the unborn. We may succeed at convincing a woman that the fetus is a human person, but she may still feel it is her right to dispose of it, especially if she adheres to the more radical trend in feminism where everything is looked at through the lens of the class struggle between the sexes (and by extension, between women and their offspring). When a woman asserts that the life beginning in her womb is a parasite [Fetus is a parasite], she is in fact denying her womanhood. Seeing herself as a bearer of the Imago Dei frees a woman from that struggle, enabling her to embrace her very essence.

What is crucial about driving this point home to the pro-choicers is that as long as they continue to deny what is essential to being a woman (i.e. XX chromosomes - her femaleness right from conception), then it will be just as easy to deny the personhood of her unborn child. Also, as long as she fails to see that she is created in the image of God, she will behave in ways that will lead to unwanted pregnancy, and leave her vulnerable to the abortionist vultures.

It basically comes down to an identity crisis, and usually, the arguments brought forth by the pro-choicers are about affirming their identity, their right to their body. This comes from the fact that having adopted a view of man which denies their most basic essence (by claiming that gender is nothing but a social construct), they are left grasping at the straws of vague self-esteem and self-empowerment, all the while riding on a wave of self-victimization that sees even an embryo as an enemy.

Dr. Pia de Solenni's doctoral Thesis, Towards an Understanding of Woman as Imago Dei, was awarded the Pontifical Prize of the Academies by Pope John Paul II. It is published by Edizioni Universita Della Santa Croce (2003) ISBN:8883330838

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