Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mid-Week Memo: Nuns, Sex, and Contraception

Note: This is Part 2 in a 3-part series discussing Chastity, Purity, and Promiscuity.

Last week we met up with Katharine (below), a 23-year-old resident of Forest Park, IL, studying to be a librarian and working at a couple non-profits downtown. She also has another possible title in her future: nun. She has resolved to either fall in love with a man and devote herself to a family, or become a nun and devote herself to God and those who need help. Katharine, at first glance, does not fit any chaste stereotypes, coming across as a perfectly normal, stylish, cool twentysomething. She even told us she thought that a nun is "the ultimate feminist. They are looking at the world and saying, 'Listen, you want to care about what your clothes look like? I don't care. You want to care about making money? I don't make any money! You want to cast
down those who are burdened? I want to pick them up.' She has given up her entire life, her clothes, her cool shoes, just so that she can help people who don't have help. That's really empowering."

But she also voiced some very strong opinions about sex and what it should mean in a woman's life. Emma, in a conversation about waiting to have sex until marriage, asked Katharine: "Is it ever okay for a woman to have sex just...because?" Katharine answered:

"My view here is to look at a person's entirety. So, a person isn't simply a body, or a brain, or a soul--all of these things make up an entire person and to be separate one or all of these things would be using the other person. In the case of sex, it is the use of his or her body. To an extent it is saying, "I'd love to have fun with you, but I don't want to deal with your emotions or well being after that. You're not a person--just an object, just a body." Or, in the case of couples using contraception, "I want all of you...except your fertility. We can just throw that part out of the mix for now." But, even in a case where love is deeply involved, contraception still eliminates an aspect of the woman's whole being--fertility is written into our genetics and we can't deny it."

Our interview with Katharine was one of our best, yet another reminder that a feminist can come in many forms, one who doesn't fit the strict parameters pop culture assigns to her.