Femininity, or the traits of womanhood, has it’s roots deep in history, beginning with the creation of woman. God made man, and saw that everything was ” very good” (Gen. 1:31). It didn’t take long, however, for God to see man was lonely, so God decided to give man “a help like unto himself” (Gen. 2:18). God gave Adam all the creatures to name, but none of them were the right companion for him (Gen. 2:20). God knew exactly what to do. He created woman. Adam was very pleased with this helper, who was named Eve, who was “…bone of his bones, flesh of his flesh…” (Gen. 2:23). Why was Adam so pleased? This was not only someone like him, but also someone who was different, fulfilling everything Adam wasn’t; Eve was Adam’s helper and friend.
After the Fall, femininity was not so easy. Eve was told that, as a punishment for sin, she was to be under her husband’s power and submissive to him (Gen. 3:16). As St. Paul would later say, the man was now the head of woman. That is not to say that men are allowed to treat women as they please, but that God, in His infinite wisdom, chose this as the order He wants.
In Proverbs 31:10-31, God gives us an excellent example of the traits of the ideal woman. She is strong, reliable, loving, and a credit to her husband and children, if she has them. Femininity as in Proverbs is not demeaning or oppressive, it is uplifting and inspiring!
God gave us the ultimate example of Christian womanhood in Christ’s mother, the Virgin Mary. She was completely chaste, submissive to God’s will in everything, honored her husband, loved her Holy Child, and never shirked her duties as a woman. She understood that womanhood was not about trying to be equal to men, but rather being what men cannot be. No man could have borne the Son of God. Only Mary, through the grace God gave her, could bring to us our Savior by being feminine.
Throughout Church history, again and again, we see women who, through their femininity, have changed the world. Where would St. Augustine be if not for the prayers and patience of his mother, St. Monica? What would the world be like if Gonxha Bojaxhiu, who we know today as Mother Teresa, never became an humble sister? It would be a very different world without these and many other Catholic, feminine heroes who continue to influence the world today because they were women of God.
So all you girls out there, remember who you are! You are His daughters, as were the women before you. Follow the shining examples of femininity He has given you in the saints. Most of all, remember that to be feminine does not mean slavery or oppression to men, but rather freedom. Prove to the world that you are a woman, not by showing you can do what men can, but by being what they can’t.
St. Philomena, pray for us!