Since Cummings tells us that she is a Catholic as well as a feminist, I infer that she rejects the final three "feminisms" described above, because they are radically incompatible with Catholicism. [...] feminists seek to accommodate innate sexual difference (that is, biological differences between men and women) but to dismantle historically contingent, and thus inessential, differences of gender (defined as the meaning that society attaches to biological differences). [...] feminists recognize that oppression based on gender is intertwined with other forms of oppression, such as those based on race or class.
Letters Founded in 1924 Editor Paul Baumann Managing Editor Patrick Jordan Associate Editors Grant Gallicho, Matthew Boudway, Mollie Wilson O’Reilly Feminism explained; achievements sung Production Editor & Webmaster Tiina Aleman What brand of feminism? on the definition of feminism I accept and Copy Editor Kathleen Sprows Cummings has written use, which I touch on in my essay but do Susanne Washburn a very entertaining essay on the tensions not state explicitly. Editorial Assistant Christopher Cimorelli and compatibilities between feminism My definition of feminism is taken from Business Manager and Catholicism (“Do Women Have Stanford professor Estelle Freedman’s Sandra J. Taylor Souls?” September 11). The only problem well-regarded No Turning Back: The Histo- Development is that she neglected to tell us what she ry of Feminism and the Future of Women. Christa A. Kerber means by “feminism.” When somebody Feminism has three components: First, Poetry says, “I am a feminist,” and leaves it at feminists believe that men and women Rosemary Deen that, what she (or he) means is anything are inherently of equal worth. Second, Screen Richard Alleva, Rand Richards Cooper but clear. feminists seek to accommodate innate Stage/Media It is a word that needs specification, sexual difference (that is, biological dif- Celia Wren since there are at least four species of ferences between men and women) but Columnists feminism: egalitarian feminism, which to dismantle historically contingent, and E. J. Dionne Jr., John Garvey, holds that all opportunities—occupa- thus inessential, differences of gender Melinda Henneberger, Cathleen Kaveny, Jo McGowan, William Pfaff tional, educational, athletic, etc.—that are (defined as the meaning that society at- Marketing Coordinator open to boys/men should also be open to taches to biological differences). Third, Colleen Gibson girls/women; sexual libertarian feminism, feminists recognize that oppression based Advertising Manager which holds that women have a right to on gender is intertwined with other forms Roth Advertising sexual freedom and abortion; antimale of oppression, such as those based on Commonweal, [ISSN 0010-3330] A Review of feminism, which holds that men have race or class. Public Affairs, Religion, Literature, and the Arts, always been—and still are—the enemy Everything contained or implied in is published biweekly except Christmas/New Year; and monthly July and August, by Commonweal of women, and that women should parts one and three of this definition is Foundation, 475 Riverside Drive, Rm. 405, New therefore adopt an attitude of recipro- fully consonant with Catholic teachings York, NY 10115. Telephone: (212) 662-4200. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. cal enmity toward men; finally, there is about the dignity of every human being. Toll-free: 888-495-6755. Fax: (212) 662-4183. quasi-religious feminism, which, rejecting Indeed, it was primarily because of those Advertising correspondence should be sent to Roth Advertising, Inc., P.O. Box 93, Sea Cliff, New all traditional religions, draws from active teachings that I became so sympathetic York, NY 11579 (516) 674-8603. postmaster: send membership in the feminist movement to feminism. Part two is a different story, address changes to Commonweal, P.O. Box 3000, Denville, NJ 07834-9982. many of the moral and psychological sat- though, and most of the myths, miscon- isfactions that most people draw from a ceptions, and controversies about femi- Publications mail agreement no. 40609667. Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Express traditional religion. nism derive from it. There is a tremendous
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