For the past five decades, the painful irony is that women, not men, have been their own worst enemy.
Feminism was supposed to improve women’s lives. Unfortunately, feminist responses to the world’s problems have actually further enslaved women in poverty, broken relationships, diseased bodies, empty homes, and so on. Sadly, this new bondage in which women find themselves, rather than being rightly blamed on feminism, has also been turned into a cause celebre of the movement and a rallying cry to continuing fighting. And so women bind themselves ever more tightly in their chains.
Like every good fairy tale, in the end, we know that authentic beauty, goodness, truth and honesty can only be hidden, abused, and despised for so long. One day, the flash and fancy of feminist ideology will finally be revealed for what it is and it will no longer be judged the fairest of them all. But this will not happen without a lot of prayer, fasting and interceding for women who have come under the anti-Marian spell. . .
We know that Christ does not want these women left abandoned, but embraced, tended to, and cared for. Doling out this charity is no simple task when they are living with sinful and prideful blindness and yet, we must not abandon them.
Every now and again, a film will come to the big screen that embodies an important idea for a culture. The Disney film Moana offers an unexpected modern-day parable to help us love women who have been caught in the cultural snares.
The film is about a teenager, Moana, next in line to become chief of her tribe. She is tasked by the sea to hunt down the demigod Maui to save her island and her tribe from death emanating from the goddess of life, Te Fiti. Milennia ago, Maui stole the heart from Te Fiti, and without it, Te Fiti no longer has the capacity to give life, leaving the oceans, fish, island, vegetation, and humanity to slowly die. The ocean brought Te Fiti’s heart to Moana so that she and Maui could return it to where it belongs. In short, Moana must save her people.
The largest obstacle to Maui and Moana’s mission is Te Ka, a fiery lava monster they must conquer to reach their final goal. . . Moana realizes that Te Ka is really Te Fiti – the fiery beast is really the heartless goddess of life. She must give the heart stone back to Te Ka.
As she approaches the thrashing beast, Moana says, “This is not who you are.” She holds out the heart stone for the monster to see, and suddenly, it is subdued and focused. The monster lowers itself down to look at Moana and the tiny stone in her hand. And then the beast – gentle and sad – allows the heart to be returned to its rightful place. It is only then that the angry, lava-filled beast is transformed into a green, fertile, gentle, and beautiful goddess.
While this is a Disney story drawing heavily from Polynesian mythology, it is an archetype or guide to understanding what happens to a woman when her true heart is removed. The results are dramatic, devastating, and widespread. And yet the antidote is very simple: to remind her that “this is not who you are.” The world of the anti-Mary is not who we are, nor what we are made for. It would be wonderful if the solution were as simple as showing women entranced by the anti-Mary a vision of their own heart, but it is not. We have to remind women that radical feminism isn’t who they really are. Striving to be like men isn’t who they really are. Being consumed by rage, anxiety, and malice isn’t who they really are. And living as if there is no God isn’t who they really are . . .
We must be the women and men who courageously go outside of our comfort zones, who are willing to tackle monsters bigger than we are. We, like Moana and Maui, are tasked with giving women their hearts back. Compelled by lies, savvy marketing, and dark influences, women have traded it away for things that will never satisfy, that will never give true life, that will never gain them what they yearn for in the deepest layers of their soul. We must restore the heart or our future, like the islands in the myth, will remain barren, dying a slow death.
As ever, Catholicism is the only antidote left standing to deal with all of these struggles in the feminine heart. . . We can debate all we want about what will appeal to women and try to contort the Church and its message into many things, but the real appeal is what it has always been: Christ. He offers the kind of love that women’s hearts crave – to be known just as we are, intimately, uniquely, and purposefully. It was this love that transformed Magdalene. It is this love that brought us Sts. Helen, Hildegard, Joan of Arc, Bridget, Bernadette, and all the Catherines (Alexandria, Siena, Laboure), to name a few. And it is this same love that can transform the hearts of every women.
But this kind of love is not currently available in the public square, and that’s where the real work is for Christians. We cannot leave it to someone else to tell women where they can find true happiness, even if they don’t yet have the ears to hear us. Somewhere, seeds of our example, our prayers, and the truth will sink in – if only because it is different from what everyone else says. And when it does, then the soul will be ready to face the God-Man, who fulfills the desire of every living thing.
This excerpt from The Anti-Mary Exposed: Rescuing the Culture from Toxic Femininity by Carrie Gress is reprinted here with the kind permission of Tan Books.
Carrie Gress will be presenting at this year’s Women of Grace® retreat in Malvern from July 12-14. It’s not too late to register. Click here to sign up!