Guiding Star lights the way to a new view of Feminism
10 Comments

The Author

Julia is a Floridian beach girl who may have ended up in Central Texas reluctantly, but in a way that can only be described as divine intervention. She graduated from Sam Houston State University with a degree in Psychology/English where she met her pen pal, a College Station native, who plays a mean fiddle and makes a miraculous meatloaf. She moved to Aggieland to work for St. Mary's Catholic Center of Texas A&M University as a director of Social Ministries and married her aforementioned pen pal, Bronius. Julia loves independent films, road trips, dark chocolate, rainy days and run on sentences. They live happily with their three young sons and hope to help each other get a step closer to heaven each day and love and serve their community. Julia is a freelance writer and has written for a local publication in Bryan/College Station called AbouTown Press and also blogs at www.mama-jules.blogspot.com and www.beata-vita.blogspot.com.

Leah Jacobson

 

The Brazos Valley in Central Texas is going to be the home of a new center devoted to pregnancy resources and women’s health. The center is called the Guiding Star of the Brazos Valley, and I spoke with its foundress Leah Jacobson about her vision of the center and her hopes for the New Feminism movement.

 

 

 

1) What does the New Feminism movement mean in our society today?  How does it contrast with other interpretations of Feminism? 

“While the roots of New Feminism come from the teachings of Pope John Paul II about the Dignity of Women, we define New Feminism in regards to what makes a woman’s body different from a man’s. We look at the three natural abilities of women…ovulation, gestation and lactation.  These three things make a woman amazing, beautiful and unique, and so we look at issues of today and ask ‘does it support and encourage a woman in what makes her uniquely feminine?’  We look at issues such as birth control and abortion, which interrupt the natural healthy functioning of the body.  New Feminism takes the view that men and women depend upon each other. The genders are complementary and the differences between us are good.”

2) Do you have to be Catholic, or a Mother, to embrace this ideology?  

“This ideology can belong to anyone. Woman has special gifts uniquely apart from men, if we look at physical attributes of a woman’s body they all point to one purpose, woman is pointed to motherhood, but that can mean motherhood in the sense of embracing others, protecting the vulnerable, welcoming the stranger.  We can look at Mother Theresa as an example, or a single woman in corporate America who creates community where she works, and brings value to the lives around her.  New Feminism calls all women, no matter where they are or what they do, to rewrite the definition of ‘value’ which goes beyond the world’s definition of success and power.” 

3)  Can you describe what Feminine Genius means, and how it can differ from woman to woman? 

“Feminine Genius underscores that women have special qualities and gifts such as empathy, communication, intuition, receptivity, sensitivity, generosity, and maternity. This does not mean that men can not also have these strengths, but that in women these strengths are different and particular to us.  God gave equal parts of His attributes to each gender, and we need each other to bring about balance. Femininity and masculinity can refer only to roles if we are not careful. It is not what you do but how you do things which makes a woman feminine.  We need the feminine genius in all settings, because we bring the natural balance God gave to us in those areas.” 

4) What are your hopes for how Guiding Star can help rebuild and renew the idea of true femininity in our society?  

“Our aim is to address the physical abilities of women. Currently the nation’s main provider of women’s physical needs is Planned Parenthood.  Guiding Star wants to offer the natural alternative to all that Planned Parenthood does.  We want to change the paradigm of women’s health to uplift the natural abilities of women.  Nationwide we want to offer prenatal care and medical practices, and eventually birth centers.  A criticism of the Pro Life movement is that we don’t care about the Moms. We want to help women feel empowered by their bodies.  Often from young, women have a negative view of their bodies because they have been told their bodies are somehow insufficient and need additional medical interventions.  Our centers hope to empower women to see their bodies as beautiful and not broken. We are trying to encourage and maintain family life by providing childcare centers and counseling services in the future to give families the support they need to do the best they can. Eventually, the goal is to reconnect the ‘dots’ which have been broken between marriage, fertility, sex,  babies and families.”  

5)  What else would you like for us to know? 

“We are just starting, but we are hoping for this to be a national movement. We want to be a comprehensive replacement to Planned Parenthood.  Guiding Star wants communities to encounter the center from the very beginning.  We want to reach hearts and minds much earlier.  We want to collaborate with anyone who shares our mission.  We need to make our message accessible to as many places as possible.”  

If you want to learn more, here is some suggested further reading… Humanae Vitae and Mulieris Dignitatem (the Dignity of Women).  The Privilege of Being a Woman by Alice Hildebrand, and the works of Mary Ann Glendon.

Guiding Star of the Brazos Valley will be celebrating its launch party on February 16th at 2pm at St. Mary’s Catholic Center in College Station. All are  invited to a dessert reception to see how you can learn more about the future of the center and help it to grow.

GSBV launch party

Bookmark and Share
10 Comments
  • Jenni

    I’m glad for this new center. Whatever New Feminism is (and I don’t pretend to know), I hope it focuses on more than “ovulation, gestation and lactation…three things make a woman amazing, beautiful and unique.” These are physiological capabilities that only some women (ones between puberty and menopause) have.

    With increasing life spans we will soon be entering an era in which women spend the majority of their life after menopause. New Feminism has to be about more than fertility.

    • Julia

      Thank you for your comment and questions, Jenni. I think the center itself is devoting itself to restoring the way we think about women’s reproductive health. I believe the aim of New Feminism is broader than just that, and I would think we need the women who are not in the vocations of marriage and motherhood to help us understand the whole spectrum.

    • leahjacobson

      I just want to chime in and say that I absolutely agree with you Jenni that women are so much more than the physical abilities of our bodies. Amen! However for the purpose of creating Guiding Star Centers, which are actually secular in nature we have had to decide how to best compete with the current worldview about women’s abilities. The physical abilities of women’s bodies are under tremendous assault under the name of Women’s Health. So we are focusing first on addressing those violations of our femininity and provide education and support for the physical needs of women’s bodies. But I in no way want anyone to ever think that New Feminism is only focused on the physical body. We are spirit and body intertwined and both must be acknowledged to see the person as whole. New Feminism is also about the idea of motherhood as the call of every woman, regardless of whether she ever gives birth physically or has a fertile body. We are called to act as mothers of humanity in validating the rights of every human being for unconditional love and dignity. So in a sense, we receive, protect, and nourish human life even if we never physically do these things with our bodies. That is the call of New Feminism; for women to take up this role of mothering humanity and to challenge the world to recognize that role as valuable and necessary.

  • Mark

    I want to second what Jenni has to say. As a therapist, I deal with a lot of situations in which women do not have the capacity to, as you say, “ovulate, gestate and lactate”. And for many of these women, it is a source of a great deal of pain, embarassment and feeling misunderstood by men and women. To reduce “New Feminism” to these three main points (I am sure it is deeper and richer than this) is to leave not only the women who Jenni speaks of out, but also many others. What can we offer as a loving Christian response to this? I am sure “New Feminism” has something to say about this so I do hope it gets clearly conveyed. A dialogue.
    I also have a lot of women in my practice (as a pastoral counselor) who are gifted in the sciences, math and other “male” fields who have the same issues. Is there something wrong with them? Why aren’t they “normal” women? I can think of one is particular who is brilliant in math and has no real desire to have children. She also has no desire to be “just like a man”. Is she made wrong? How can her gifts be affirmed or should she be encouraged to give this up? How do we address this with love and compassion? I don’t know, I am just asking.
    I am not here to disagree with this, but only with a question of how can we be inclusive of God’s children with all of the varieties of gifts and talents and not make them feel they are “made wrong”.
    With life expectancies (as has already been addressed) being way beyond menopause, (some of my clients enter college at 65 and older) hopefully “New Feminism” can and does address this as well.
    I welcome anything you have to say about this because I truly want to learn to be more helpul and caring in my own vocation. Thank you.

    • Julia

      These are excellent questions, and I share some of them! When I spoke with Leah, I also asked about gender roles as well. We did not have enough time to delve into it fully, but I think that might be a good future post to explore. I think we touched upon it in #3:

      “Feminine Genius underscores that women have special qualities and gifts such as empathy, communication, intuition, receptivity, sensitivity, generosity, and maternity. This does not mean that men can not also have these strengths, but that in women these strengths are different and particular to us. God gave equal parts of His attributes to each gender, and we need each other to bring about balance. Femininity and masculinity can refer only to roles if we are not careful. It is not what you do but how you do things which makes a woman feminine. We need the feminine genius in all settings, because we bring the natural balance God gave to us in those areas.”

      • Mark

        Thanks Julia for your response, and I look forward to your writing about this more in the future. Grace and peace to you as well.

    • leahjacobson

      Mark, thanks for drawing out more about New Feminism than we were able to cover in a short interview. You are absolutely correct that New Feminism does has something to say about the gifts and calls that are given to various women. We wouldn’t ever discourage a woman from using her God-given talents in order to fill an expected role. It is not a “one size fits all” viewpoint of women and men. Rather it says that the unique contributions of the feminine gifts are essential in roles and positions beyond the stereotypical stay at home mother role that so many assume is what is means to embrace “femininity”. It means that women are going to be gifted with a variety of talents and that they should use their gifts to the glory of the One who bestowed them with those gifts, BUT mostly it means that no matter where a woman works (home, office, community) she is called to do it as a woman. She cannot become some genderless being and disappear into the corporate expectation of single, childless person with no outside factors to consider. No, she must go into the world as a woman and work to make the world recognize the true needs of all humans. So if she is a talented mathematician and ends up working on a university campus, she would most certainly be called to take the students under her advisement and do her best to make certain they are becoming good human beings. To look out for their needs and consider them as individuals. She is called to pass along little tidbits of affirmation and Truth that can prepare them for living a life of integrity and authenticity. Just like a mother of small children. Or a mother in corporate America could work to bring an atmosphere of mutual respect to her office; never throwing others under the bus in an attempt to climb the ladder at others’ expense. As I addressed in my response to Jenni, we are certainly more than either only physical or spiritual beings. With Guiding Star we are focused more heavily on the physical abilities of women as we are fighting a battle against a culture that currently says even a healthy female body is a problem. Thanks again!

      • Mark

        Thanks for your response, that was very helpful and clarifying. I appreciate your openness and willingness to dialogue. Grace and peace.

  • Julia

    Thank you all for reading and for commenting. I am myself still learning (I had only read the Papal encyclicals 8 years ago when I was a working mother of a newborn). But what I think New Feminism is trying to address is a return to what it means to be a woman, which can be a great many things. Pope John Paul II wrote that all women are called to a spiritual motherhood, which is to affirm life and bring together community wherever they find themselves. I don’t mean to suggest that this would be simple for women who are unable to have children, or who have discerned that they do not feel called to have children, but certainly this doctrine is inclusive of us all.

  • Shawn Chapman

    You would like feministsforlife.org.

Recommend this Post

Advertisment