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November 19 2003

What Women Want. According to this article in a Catholic magazine, Buffy and Pope John Paul II share a lot in common when it comes to "new feminism".

Zachsmind, if you're lurking I wouldn't mind reading your take on this.

Oh Lord, "the popeís new feminism", give me a break.

Jean-Paul II has declared that homosexuality is "evil". He's about as far from being a fan of the philosophy espoused by Joss & Co in BtVS as it's possible to be!

The latest wheeze from the Catholic Church is to tell Africans that condoms are laced with HIV/permeable to human sperm - effectively the Pope would rather that people die of AIDS than wear a condom because to do so would violate the church's dictum that "every sperm is sacred" (c) Monty Python.

I would further say that the general line of BtVS is textbook opposition to arguments from authority (remember Buffy and the Watchers' Council, Riley's exit from the Initiative?), whereas the first book of Genesis is an explicit exposition of such a position: Eve, pesky Eve, decides she doesn't want to be separated from "knowledge of the good" and gets trashed by a god who simply doesn't want humans to become "god-like". Jealous much?

IMHO the character of Buffy is way, way closer to the mind-of-her-own, investigative Eve than to that of the Virgin Mary as the article tries to suggest.

I rest my case.

[ edited by c lake on 2003-11-20 02:40 ]
A big fat word on that, c lake.
Religion often seems to bring out the worst even in the best of us, unfortunately. I found Kaveny's article to be quite worthwhile. It's not a wholesale endorsement, per se, of the pope's views (whatever they may be--I'm not a Roman Catholic, myself), but more an encouragement that both the pope and the so-called "new feminists" could learn something from Buffy as a role model for women whose "independence and strength of character do not undermine [their] ability to nurture; in fact, they support it in difficult situations" (Kaveny 24). Read it before dismissing it.

[ edited by Maeve on 2003-11-20 17:55 ]
The popeís feminism celebrates the advances women have made in the economic and political spheres even as it promotes traditional ideas about the nature and vocation of women, which are rooted in his conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the perfect exemplar of the "feminine genius" so desperately needed to humanize the world today.

I guess I just don't buy into the premise that the pope is capable of any sort of feminism, new or old, given the particular tradition he espouses.

What exactly is the pope selling here? Women have made the economic and political advances they have without the help of the Catholic Church. It still doesn't even consider them to be fitted for the role of priest. Why exactly do you have to have a dick to do that job? Beats me. Do you know the story about how the pope on inauguration has to be passed over the heads of the bishops without his underwear on so they can all verify he has one? Pope Joan started that one off!

Loving partnerships without marriage, premarital sex, contraception, divorce and abortion - women should steer clear of all of these if they're going to emulate the BVM, the pope's number one gal, according to the Catholic Church.

Yet even in a culturally Catholic country like Italy women now want to have the opportunity to avail themselves of these things should the need arise - and the birth rate there is already one of the lowest in Europe (around 1.4 if I remember correctly), so I guess there's quite a lot of availing going on, one way or another. But not if the pope had his way.

If I choose to take advice from someone on an issue, say about positive role models for women, I tend to check out their positions on other issues as well, to get a sense of what's going on.

As outlined in my previous post, IMHO what Jean-Paul II has to say about homosexuality is not sound, it's hateful.

His position on HIV/AIDS prevention stinks so high I'd go as far to call it genocidal given how it's likely to affect the spread of HIV/AIDS in culturally Catholic regions such as Latin America that have a chance not to sink into the desperate state that Africa is in if only they can follow the excellent prevention strategies devised by the Brazilians (now heading up WHO AIDS work), and not be undermined.

That's two strikes, so what of the pope's choice on female role models? BVM embodies virginity for a start (how much "theology of the body" do you need to understand what that implies?) and offers a version of motherhood that's long on passive suffering, and little else. I can't even remember if she actually speaks in the Bible.

Buffy's uniqueness as a creation is that she combines any number of non-gender-specific traits such as love, courage, wisdom, application, thoughtfulness, loyalty (to her friends and mother and sister, if not so much to authority figures in general) with kick-ass fighting and problem-solving skills not historically associated with women in Christian cultures. I don't get a hint of BVM, it's got to be said.

Nevertheless, there is a Biblical woman that IS a good role model for women (for her intellectual curiousity). That's Eve, but she's been given rather short shrift by Christian churches over the years and I doubt she's going to be appearing on the pope's top ten list anytime soon.

Just not buying the whole "traditional ideas about the nature and vocation of women" wrapped up in a shiny new package, that's all. I don't think Jean-Paul II's made it into the 20th century yet, let alone the 21st.
Wow I was about to write a pretty angry piece on here after that ludicrous "Pope as a feminist" article, but..........well, C lake, you've pretty much said it all.

And better than I would have. So, let me just rest with a bow, a 'hat's off', and a "EXACTLY!" to your posts.
I'm still not convinced that anyone has actually read the article itself. "c lake" seems to be simply ranting on about the pope, who is not, in fact, the primary subject of the article, an article which does not endorse "traditional ideas about the nature and vocation of women." The article suggests that Buffy would be a better role model in some ways than the BVM for modern women. But since this is a BtVS weblog, I don't see much point in trying to carry on this off-topic discussion.

[ edited by Maeve on 2003-11-21 17:47 ]

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