I went to an all-girls Catholic High School. I can attest to the fact that we received a fully developed, well-rounded sex-education. We read through Matthew Kelly’s “The Good News About Sex and Marriage” and accompanied the reading with a thorough discussion about the benefits and repercussions of having sex before marriage as well as the health and moral consequences of contraception. As we discussed sexual morality, it was clear that the best way to raise a child was within the loving support of a family unit. Having a child was presented to us not as a burden but rather as a joy to be welcomed. All of these teachings correlate with the Catholic Church’s beliefs in marriage, family and sexual ethics. I left high school feeling that I had a developed and comprehensive idea of sexual ethics and family.
When I went onto college, it was a rude awakening to the prejudice that people held against Catholic teachings on reproduction and family. When the subject of dating or sex came up among friends, most reactions to my own Catholic faith was the misconception that Catholics believed sex to be intrinsically “evil” or “bad”. It was made a joke several times that Catholics taught: “If you have sex, you’ll die.” I have found that this attitude towards the Catholic Church’s teaching on sexuality to prevail over society. Obviously, these views were incorrect as the Catholic Church fully supports the goodness of the matrimonial embrace (check out JPII’s “Theology of the Body” if you haven’t already).
On September 26, 2012, the website, “RH Reality Check”, released a video entitled “A Little Commercial Reminder of Why Contraception Is So Important for Women”. The 30-second clip begins with a single shot of a young man innocently kissing the cheek of a young woman at a party. The screen then splits and shows the same girl in two different situations. On the left, is the scenario that the girl did take contraception and continues on with her life as a student. The right side shows an opposing scenario that shows the girl pregnant, implying that she did not take birth control. The next 20 seconds of the video shows both scenarios contrasted against one another. On the right, the girl is wearing bright colors, is constantly smiling, studying and talking with friends. On the right hand side the girl is miserable. She is shown as always alone, sleeping with her child instead of a teddy bear and wears dark clothing.
There is something completely wrong with this picture. If the Catholic Church has been stigmatized as supposedly deeming sex and children as “bad”, then what in the world is this video depicting? The underlying message of the video is: “Get pregnant and your life is OVER”. Excuse me? I’m sorry, I didn’t know that having a child would ruin my life. Instead, the Catholic Church and many others believe that bearing and raising children actually ENHANCES your life. Ok, I am not oblivious to the fact that it is DIFFICULT to raise a child. Believe me, I have heard the arguments of “Do you know how much a child actually costs”? and “Do you know how much time a child consumes of your life?” I get it. It’s expensive. It takes hard work. Sacrifice. Blood. Tears. But does it drive away your friends? Never allow you to smile? Constantly drive you into a state of depression and unhappiness? According to this video, pregnancy and child rearing apparently does just that.
I have several friends from high school who have gone through the same dilemma as the girl in the video, becoming pregnant out of wedlock while still in school. But you know what? I know that they would not trade the experience of parenting for the world. They see their child as an absolute gift. Yes, they have to work through school, take night classes, balance breast-feeding and homework. But they are happy. Tired, but happy.
There are other options other than birth control. How about abstinence? NFP? Adoption? None of these alternatives are presented in the video. At all. Rather, it portrays women as quite weak. We could even say it is anti-women. It is telling us that if you have an unplanned child you must choose between independence and motherhood, school and motherhood, friends and motherhood, happiness and motherhood. Why must these goods be pulled apart and the connection between them presented as unreasonable? Women are not that weak.
This video my friends, showcases the real war on women. The war is against an enemy who constantly whispers a lie into the hearts of millions of vulnerable women each year. The lie is that the very essence of womanhood, her ability to nurture and give life, is a curse and a burden, something to be avoided at all costs. How are we to promote and embrace true womanhood if the very core of its nature, its life-giving beauty, is under attack?
My hope is that women will start waking up to the fact that the picture of womanhood advocated by the majority of our society is false. Motherhood is not for weak women! It is for strong, powerful women who embrace their God-given gift of fertility. Real women do not choose between motherhood, happiness, education or having a fruitful life. There is a balance, an order to all things. And even if an unexpected little miracle throws off that order, it’s still a miracle. Now, I’ll excuse myself now as I go have my cake and eat it too.
“The war of the sexes was on. Those who fell into the traps of feminism wanted to become like men in all things and sold their birthright for a mess of pottage. They became blind to the fact that men and women, though equal in ontological dignity, were made different by God’s choice: Male and female he made them. Different and complementary.”-Dr. Alice von Hildebrand