By Dale O'Leary
The recent Document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the collaboration of men and women begins with a brief discussion of “currents of thought which are often at variance with the authentic advancement of women”.
For the last half century, society has struggled over how to reconcile the fundamental equality of men and women with their undeniable biological differences.
During the 1960s women protested against laws and customs which treated women differently. Governments responded by enacting legislation guaranteeing women equal rights under the law, equal access to education and equal economic opportunity. Women quickly took advantage of these opportunities. The number of women pursing education increased, as did the number of women in the professions, and in elected and appointed government offices.
In the 1970s, the feminist movement which had encouraged these changes was co-opted by radicals who saw women as the prototypical oppressed class and marriage and “compulsory heterosexuality” as the mechanisms of oppression. This current of thought drew on Frederick Engels’ analysis of the origins of the family. In 1884 Engels had written: “The first-class antagonism in history coincides with the development of the antagonism between men and women in monogamous marriage, and the first-class oppression with that of the female sex by the male”.
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