Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History is a book authored by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. This has become a well-known phrase used by most feminists to imply a meaning of disobedience or stance against the patriarchal structure of society. Often in error, the credit of the invention of this phrase is attributed Eleanor Roosevelt and Marilyn Monroe. Their image, and especially the image of Monroe, will often appear with the slogan on merchandise as a means of marketing and raising revenue. Ironically, reinvention or reuse is prevalent in history when it comes to tradition or ritual for the same reason – monetary gain. This practice is common and the benefit of reinventing or reinterpreting an old tradition is an automatic connection to the past giving continuity, which, according to Eric Hobsbaum, instills strong “binding social practice,” (p. 10) including loyalty and duty in the members of the group. This is especially effective in manipulating the poor and uneducated who usually display strict obedience and blind acceptance of tradition. The Bengali reinvented tradition of satî is an example of this. Continue reading “Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History, But Obedient Ones are Rewarded in Heaven: An Examination of the Re-Invention of the Bengali Tradition of Sati By Michele Stopera Freyhauf”
Author: Michele Stopera Freyhauf
A Reflection of What Influences and Controls My Ideologies: An Examination Of Althusser’s Ideological State Apparatus By Michele Stopera Freyhauf
Michele Stopera Freyhauf: Feminist scholar, activist, and graduate student in religion and biblical studies at John Carroll University, Michele is the student representative on the Board for Eastern Great Lakes Biblical Society (EGLBS) and author of several articles including “Hagia Sophia: Political and Religious Symbolism in Stones and Spolia.” Her research interests involve Feminism, Sexuality, the influence of Goddess imagery, Myth, and Rhetoric especially in the Old Testament, Ancient Egypt and Early Christianity. She also focuses her research in feminism, migration studies, and genocide as it relates to women, especially in the Middle East and Latin America.
Exploring the new world of historiography this semester has been an adventure. In my studies, I came across an interesting person named Louis Pierre Althusser. He is considered a structuralist Marxist and in 1970, he wrote an essay titled Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses (Notes towards an Investigation). The basis of his argument explores how various institutions control the working class. We have our ideas taken from or given to us because we were essentially molded by various institutions that are being controlled by an agency of power, like government or church. Someone has told us what it is to be moral and ingrained that definition. Someone has influenced our idea of what it means once you graduate from high school then college. Someone else has defined the benchmark for wealth and happiness or when we have enough “stuff.” Ideologically we are controlled by so many outside factors. It is this point that I want to reflect an explore as a Feminist, a mother, a graduate student, and part of the proverbial 99%. Continue reading “A Reflection of What Influences and Controls My Ideologies: An Examination Of Althusser’s Ideological State Apparatus By Michele Stopera Freyhauf”
Enduring the Trials of Graduate School: From Conception to Labor Pains and Birth By Michele Stopera Freyhauf
Going back to school at 30-something to complete a B.A. in a completely different field (from accounting to Religious Studies and Theology) was an interesting endeavor. After many years of legal and business writing as well as crunching numbers, learning how to write academically, including formatting citations and using new technology was quite an undertaking that has proven to be rewarding. All the searchable databases in the library no longer included card catalogues and microfiche. This was amazing! No more correction ribbon and electric typewriters (am I showing my age yet?!) Going to college in 1985 is different then going back to college in 2006.
The transition did not stop with technology and formatting papers. With each class and each instructor, a new transition was introduced on my way to the finish line. It was a very large transition and more difficult when you sit in classes with students your own children’s ages. Add to that the reintroduction of the grammar game; in-text citations or footnote citations, semi-colons or dashes, commas or no comma, etc. With the help of great mentors and patient professors, I prevailed and moved on to my next task (I mean transition) – Graduate School. New professors, new demands, different writing styles, scholarly growing pains in abundance. The research and writing intensified (which is an understatement). Then there is the addition of critical reviews, peer reviews, and multiple presentations. Each professor with his or her own format and requirement. Each with their own style of subjectivity or, if you are lucky, a specific grading protocol with tangible prompts or goals. It is a world of unexpected twists, but, in my opinion, better than undergraduate work. Continue reading “Enduring the Trials of Graduate School: From Conception to Labor Pains and Birth By Michele Stopera Freyhauf”
Pink Smoke, Call to Disobedience, and a Holy Shake-Up: Is it Time to Convene the Third Vatican Council? By Michele Stopera Freyhauf
This past August I wrote about the canonical warning that Fr. Roy received and the issue surrounding the exercise of conscience over church teaching. For a more detailed explanation of the warning and the background regarding the ordination of women, please see my prior article.
October 17th (this past Tuesday), Fr. Roy Bourgeois, Erin Saiz Hanna (Executive Director of Women’s Ordination Council), Therese Koturbash (Coordinator of Canada’s Catholic Network for Women’s Equality), Nicole Sotelo (Call to Action), Miriam Duignan (Womenpriests), and about 14 other representativesof various other Catholic organizations from around the world went to the Vatican to
present a petition containing 15,000 signatures supporting full and equal participation of women as deacons, priests, and bishops in a renewed church. The group was not permitted in St. Peter’s Square because of their signs; they did not have the proper permit. Access was also denied to the Women who wore albs/stole because their dress was considered a form of protest. “We love our family, the Catholic Church,” stated Miriam Duignan of Women-Priests. “We feel obliged in conscience to make our carefully considered reasons known. In doing so, we fulfill our canon law duty to speak out, as our present Pope has encouraged us to do.” Koturbash states “even though canon law invites our Church leaders to hear from the faithful, our leaders are silent when we try to engage.” Continue reading “Pink Smoke, Call to Disobedience, and a Holy Shake-Up: Is it Time to Convene the Third Vatican Council? By Michele Stopera Freyhauf”
Criminalizing Miscarriages: Latin America’s Zero Tolerance Policy on Abortion By Michele Stopera Freyhauf
Imagine suffering a miscarriage. All of us have or know someone who has suffered one; I had two. For me it was a terrible time and I still remember the day of loss and the expected due date. We all cope differently with this loss, but it is just that – a physical and/or emotional loss. Statistically 15-25% of women in childbearing years will suffer a miscarriage anywhere from 5 to 20 weeks gestation. In the United States, when we suffer a miscarriage we go to the hospital. Often times the visit results in a dilation and curettage (or D&C) to stop bleeding and possible infection. For me this was also done after the doctors removed the baby girl that was dead inside of my womb.
If this would have occurred in certain Latin American countries, especially in El Salvador, Chile, Colombia, Malta, Nicaragua, and even Mexico, the emergency room doctor would notify the authorities of my miscarriage and I would be arrested and jailed anywhere from 3-50 years for having an “abortion.” El Salvador even has a prosecutor’s office responsible for crimes against minors and women whose responsibilities are capturing, trying, and incarcerating women who have abortions and miscarriages. In this office, there are police, investigators, medical spies, and forensic vagina inspectors. Medical providers have an obligation to report abortions; this is focused more on young uneducated and impoverished women. For these women, there is no presumption of innocence; they are guilty. Continue reading “Criminalizing Miscarriages: Latin America’s Zero Tolerance Policy on Abortion By Michele Stopera Freyhauf”
Diminished Quality of Catechesis as a Basis for Limiting the Role of a Catholic Theologian: An Examination of the Controversy Surrounding Elizabeth Johnson’s Book The Quest for the Living God By Michele Stopera Freyhauf
The biggest mistake people make is to use theology and catechesis interchangeably. This is an important distinction that impacts the scholarly community of Catholic Theologians. So what is the difference? Catechesis in the Catholic tradition is an “echoing” of the faith. Theology on the other hand, using St. Anselm’s definition, is “faith seeking understanding.” Michael G. Lawler and Todd A. Salzman, in “Beyond Catechesis: What is the Proper Role of Theology”, states that catechesis can be included in theology, but theology is distinguished from catechesis because it “uses scholarly principles not only to communicate the truths of faith but also to explore the meanings of those truths and contemporary ways of articulating them.” Also the theologians’ role is seen as mediator between the magisterium and the faithful. Richard P. McBrien states that the required role of a theologian is to investigate and examine the whole of the Christian tradition; what it means, how it fits, how it is developed, and how it relates to the outside the world in theory and in practice. Ex Corde Ecclesiae also emphasizes community and dialogue, which is not always realized in practice. Continue reading “Diminished Quality of Catechesis as a Basis for Limiting the Role of a Catholic Theologian: An Examination of the Controversy Surrounding Elizabeth Johnson’s Book The Quest for the Living God By Michele Stopera Freyhauf”
Using the Bible to Promote and Impose Terror on Women By Michele Stopera Freyhauf
Terrorism is a worldwide issue, not specific to one religion. While we attribute the atrocities of 9/11 to Islamic extremists, Christianity has a long history of imposing terror, especially on women. Phyllis Trible’s book Texts of Terror describes texts in the Old Testament that causes harm to women, i.e. abuse, betrayal, torture, rape/gang rape, and mutilation (See Genesis 16, 21; 2 Samuel 13:1-22, Judges 11:29-40, 19:1-30). Texts such as these are used to validate violence against women, because of the fundamental view that the text is divinely revealed or God’s own words.
This phenomenon is not specific to the Old Testament. Writings in the New Testament are used to put women in their place, define their role in church, family, and society. The remedy for disobedience allows for violence to be committed against the offender. The most damning of these texts are derived from the Pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus). Here, women’s place and role in society is defined. Women should be silent, submissive, and subservient to men. Women are to be veiled, dress modestly without adornment, no gold or pearls. Finally women are not permitted to teach and have no authority over men (See 1 Timothy 2:9-15). Continue reading “Using the Bible to Promote and Impose Terror on Women By Michele Stopera Freyhauf”
Interlocking Pieces and the Maleness of Jesus: Exegeting the “America’s Pope’s” Statement on Gay Marriage and Ordination of Women By Michele Stopera Freyhauf
On a 20/20 interview, posted August 21, 2011, Morley Safer interviewed the Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan. Dolan is also referred to as “America’s Pope.” In this article, Safer calls him a scholar and a “passionate defender” of issues that he considered to be “settled questions.” These settled questions? Gay marriage and women’s ordination.
Gay Marriage: Incest, “Necessary Attributes,” and Interlocking Pieces
Dolan makes an unbelievable comparison of gay marriage to the desire to marry his mother: “I love my mom, I don’t have the right to marry her.” He further compared gay marriage to his desire to be a shortstop for the Yankees, which is not possible because he does not have “what it takes.” Both analogies Dolan uses give a clear indication that he does not understand what a committed relationship looks like for a gay couple. Many in society share this ignorance. In fact during my daughter’s health class, at a public school no less, she was told that sex was only between a man and a woman because they fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. Not only does this fail on words, it lays the foundation for bullying, repression of identity, sexual confusion, and problems for children who are members of a modern family. Besides, last time I checked not all puzzles have interlocking pieces. Continue reading “Interlocking Pieces and the Maleness of Jesus: Exegeting the “America’s Pope’s” Statement on Gay Marriage and Ordination of Women By Michele Stopera Freyhauf”
Is it Right to Intentionally Lie Because the Church Says to? The Case of Fr. Roy’s Assertion of Conscience Over Vatican’s Mandate to Lie By Michele Stopera Freyhauf
Fr. Roy Bourgeois has many titles: Nobel Peace Prize winner, purple heart recipient, former missionary, member of the Maryknoll Fathers for 44 years, and ordained priest for 38 years. He has long been associated with social justice and helping the oppressed and marginalized. He was a peace activist during the Vietnam War and founded the School of Americas Watch. He is found often marching and protesting in front of the School of Americas (now WHINSEC ), a terror training camp at Ft. Benning where soldiers are trained in devices of torture. This is where soldiers that were members of the death squads that existed in Latin America, especially in El Salvadorwere trained. This is also where the soldiers who killed the Jesuits, their maid, and her child as well as Monsignor Romero were trained.
Fr. Roy is and continues to be an important activist for peace and justice and a champion for the poor. At the risk of being defrocked, Fr. Roy is also an advocate on behalf of another oppressed group – women in the Catholic Church. Fr. Roy, through his actions, is now among the group of the oppressed and stands in punishment of a crime considered “delicta gravioria” by the Vatican. The brevity of his crime defined as “delicta gravioria” is shared with other offenders such as John Geoghan, John Birmingham, Paul Desilets, Robert V. Gale, and others found guilty of pedophilia in the Sex Abuse Scandal that rocked the United States. However Fr. Roy’s crime is not pedophilia; it is the public support of ordaining women. Continue reading “Is it Right to Intentionally Lie Because the Church Says to? The Case of Fr. Roy’s Assertion of Conscience Over Vatican’s Mandate to Lie By Michele Stopera Freyhauf”
“I’m in love with Judas”: Names and Taboos within the Scholarly Arena of Religion and Biblical Studies By Michele Stopera Freyhauf
Names provoke opinions, responses, and even controversy. Lady Gaga’s song “Judas” is a perfect example of this. Before this song was released, the title “Judas” stirred controversy throughout the nation just because of its name. If one takes the time to read the lyrics, you find a human struggle summed up with the phrase, “Jesus is my virtue but Judas is the demon I cling to.” To look beyond the name, a deep theological fight that is relevant to every one of us emerges; struggling between what you know is right but being drawn to what you know is wrong. Within this song lays a fundamental dichotomy of betrayal and forgiveness that is overlooked because of a name, Judas, or what Mary Elizabeth Williams calls a “Christian taboo.”
The word “taboo” refers to something that is inappropriate or unacceptable by society , and can also indicate ostracizing. It seems strange to apply this word to female scholars in the field of Religion and Biblical Studies; but it fits. Scholarship that is identifiably authored as female brings about scrutiny and opinions of inferior quality or lack of creditability; after all “what does a woman know?” Women and scholarship, especially in the male-dominated fields of Religion, Biblical Studies, and Archaeology, are in fact “taboo;” unaccepted, improper, ignored, and shunned. This issue was first brought to my attention at a Women’s Luncheon at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (“SBL”) in 2008. Carol Meyers, a professor of Religion at Duke University, was being honored for her mentorship to women in the field of biblical studies. Amy-Jill Levine, an earlier recipient of this award, introduced Meyers. Continue reading ““I’m in love with Judas”: Names and Taboos within the Scholarly Arena of Religion and Biblical Studies By Michele Stopera Freyhauf”