R-E-S-P-E-C-T

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

John Edwards.

Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Anthony Weiner.

Is this really the best men can do? Is it the best our American culture can do?

Respect for women in our society remains woefully low, even in 2011. What’s bad are the men who cheat on their wives, abuse their power and status, and treat females as objects or trophies.

Frankly, what might be worse are the women who let it happen.

I’ve got no desire — WHATSOEVER– to (allegedly) get a text from a Congressman, believe me. But, sadly, I can understand why some of these come-ons, sick as they are, initially might seem flattering or affirming in some way.

Day in and day out, commercials, magazine articles and TV programs remind me that my body is too curvy, my skin too splotchy and my hair not quite shiny enough. Clearly my teeth could be whiter, my smile brighter and my rump more shapely.

Our Mother, the Model

Imagine if Mary had faced these things! As it was, the young Jewish girl came from a society that marginalized women to the point of not allowing them to leave the house in some cases. They had few, if any, educational opportunities, even in regards to catechesis.

If this young woman had been faced with Jenny Craig commercials and images of the Kardashians every day, how might she have responded to the angel Gabriel?

“I’d really love to be the mother of our Savior, but how will I ever get rid of those unsightly stretch marks?”

Wholly MaryChris Padgett’s new book, Wholly Mary, is a fascinating look at the importance of Our Lady in our faith today. What I’ve most enjoyed about reading it is gaining a better understanding of her cultural circumstances and also her relationship to the Holy Trinity.

It makes you think: God chose Mary to be the living ark of the covenant. Her body was the vessel that carried our greatest treasure!

Padgett cites Pope Pius IX’s apostolic constitution in describing how Mary was the new Eve.

Long story short: Woman was made in the image of Eve, and ultimately in the image of Mary.

Long story shorter: All women are viewed by God as holy and sanctified in a unique, unassailable way.

So then, why must a size-4 gal feel ashamed for eating cheesecake instead of a non-fat yogurt?

Hooters? Really?

Now we even have an example of a Catholic charity falling prey to the dimunition of women. I’m sure the St. Patrick Center meant well; organizers were just trying to raise money for their ministry to the homeless.

But seriously: Hooters? If a woman walked into Mass in a tiny, tight Hooters ‘T’ and those orange micro-shorts, would any priest find that appropriate? How, then, could it seem OK to host a church-related event in a venue where men go more for the waitresses than for the food?

Jesus Honored Women

Jesus not only loved women as sacred creations, he downright revered them. His radical inclusion of women in his earthly ministry is a beautiful, but often overlooked, part of Christian history.

He embraced women who sinned. He embraced women who were outcasts. I can’t prove it, but my guess is he embraced women of all shapes, weights, sizes and skin tones.

Jesus never felt the need to validate himself at the expense of a woman’s dignity. Nor did his Blessed Mother feel the need to conform to her culture’s expectations.

Where would we be now if they had?

Based on the headlines, where will we be tomorrow?

 
 

About the Author

Jennifer Scroggins joined Franciscan Media in July 2010 as division director of content creation and services. A northern Kentucky native, Jennifer is passionate about travel, sports, cooking, fitness, music and the Catholic faith. She is a member of St. Paul parish in Florence, Ky.