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Preserving Femininity: Navigating the Boundaries of Political Engagement

Written by Ann Burns

April 23, 2024

When the Villains are Beautiful

“We may witness shameless intrusion on the privacy of well-known people under the slogan: ‘Everyone is entitled to know everything.’ But this is a false slogan of a false era; far greater in value is the forfeited right of people not to know, not to have their divine souls stuffed with gossip, nonsense, vain talk. A person who works and leads a meaningful life has no need for this excessive and burdening flow of information.”

— Alexandr Solzhinetsyn’s address to Harvard, “A World Split Apart”

We live in an age of constant information.  

Videos explaining a celebrity’s diet circulate our news feed, and  vignettes breaking down world problems are shared through our phones.  Arguments shift from policies to a pundit’s personal life — a life we feel privy to.  Going to the movies is often not as interesting as the sensationalism and gossip punctuating our political discussions.  

Remember earlier this year when the  question (and panic) that surrounded Kate Middleton’s whereabouts popped up?  This mass obsession was a prime example of how locked in we are when it comes to keeping tabs on any public person’s life. 

Before we know it, we have gorged our minds on a colossal feast of all kinds of information– factual, to mythical, to mere idle musings. Of course, we tell ourselves that this is good, perhaps even expected of us. After all,  we must be “in the know.”  

But for all of this onslaught of information, in a time where anyone can have a platform, are we really “in the know”?

Our minds have become so clogged with noise, that maybe it’s time to question “what is it all for?”

It is in another presidential election year.  

And again, it is the “most crucial election yet.” Our phones ding with incessant political ads, as the mailman drops off another “why you shouldn’t vote for that lying so-and-so” flier. 

‘Tis the season of door-knocking, emotionally charged social media posts, and coming to blows with Great Uncle Rufus over dinner.  

Is it the end of the world?  Are we all doomed? Or are we all just far too weak to even bother? 

While, yes, we have a moral obligation to vote (CCC 2240) and contribute to the good of society (CCC 2239),  our overwhelming access to information doesn’t always lead us to wisdom, sometimes it merely brews anxiety. 

Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene writes in Divine Intimacy

“Those who rush headlong into action, without taking precautions, will soon lose their calm, become agitated, unable to recollect themselves, and their activity will become ever more and more absorbing and demanding.  Jesus chided Martha, not because she gave herself to activity, but because she was too anxious about it: ‘Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things.’ (Luke 10:41).  God wants activity, but not anxiety, for even in activity, the soul should attend to the one thing necessary, that is, union with Him.”

The words of Father Gabriel chide us away from being overly consumed with the world, as he brings our eyes back to Christ.  When we engage with the world around us only to find that our soul’s interior calm has crumbled, perhaps even doubting God’s Providence, it’s crucial that we remove ourselves and seek out our Heavenly Father in silence. 

We are on earth first and foremost to serve God, and if the day’s trouble gives us reason to forget that, we must pause.

St. Teresa Margaret said, “I will never do anything with haste or agitation.”  And it is a resolution we would benefit from as well. Culture and politics have become increasingly more and more reactionary; one merely has to look at the comments on any given article for proof. 

It is necessary for Catholics to engage in political discourse, but keeping our emotions in check and Faith front and centered is paramount. Because again, the question we must ask is what is it all for

For women, there is a unique importance on placing boundaries around political engagement.  While this may seem like a backwards sentiment, it’s precisely the contrary.  For one, if we believe that the political realm must prioritize the good and flourishing of society, then we recognize that politics is not an end in itself.  

Government is not God. And no matter how corrupt things are, as Catholics we are still morally obligated to live in the light of eternity. 

When women engage in politics and find that it has robbed them of their interior peace and ability to seek union with Christ, the repercussions immediately impact the home, which is her sacred domain.  Her anxiety becomes palpable to spouse and children, as she prioritizes the fears of the outside world over the precious hidden life of the domestic Church, which she has been tasked with to nurture. 

What we don’t address enough is that men and women, absolutely dependent upon each other, cannot thrive if one party is suffering.  

All the same, many women know that, if in some dire situation, they could do the work of their husband — be it chopping the wood or shooting the proverbial bear.  Yes, extreme circumstances bring about great feats, but we should ask if there is any cost?

Recently, Lauren Southern in an interview with Tammy Peterson answered the question: “I completely and utterly lost my feminine energy as soon as I became a single mother; I believe that feminine energy very much comes from a place of feeling protected.”   She added that it is in the fragility of femininity that we find its power.  “Femininity can rebuild men’s souls, it can nurture children, it can do all of these things, but when you have to be the one who goes out with a shotgun because there is a bear, you have to get rid of that feminine energy.  You have to kill it. To be in the masculine position makes it really difficult for the feminine to thrive.” 

While we praise women for entering into more masculine fields, we need to remember it cannot come at the cost of her femininity. In doing so, we forfeit far too much. We deny the vital importance of the feminine.

Women are stewards of the hidden life– pouring time and energy into attending to the needs of the family, carrying babies, and nourishing each member of the household from husband to infant. 

Restoring beauty, creating homes, and cultivating the “eternal in the everyday,” women are the heart.  

Women are called to live out the maternal, a role of receptivity and generosity, regardless of her situation. 

Lauren is right, our femininity, while it can do so much, is also fragile and needs to be protected.  Hence why women need to acknowledge the necessary external role of the masculine and uphold healthy boundaries when entering into what are traditionally considered male spheres. 

While so much of our lives, due to technology and media, have become public, women need to be more and more vigilant in cherishing the hidden life, the life that all these fiery political charges are meant to serve. 

If women reject their role of sustaining life — the role that reminds men that the battles and dragons they face are for something more — then the answer to the question regarding politics “what is it all for” is bleak indeed. 

The problems of the world will always exist, and yes we must do what we can.  But that also includes attending the duties of our roles and vocations. If our own homes are consumed by worry and agitation, we’ve lost sight of what really matters. 

Perhaps it is time to turn off the news, teach our children to read good books, cultivate our minds, plant a garden, and grow in hope– all while we women do the quiet and necessary work of preserving the hidden life. 

 

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