If you read John Paul II’s Letter to Women, it’s clear that the Church’s idea of femininity isn’t wearing skirts and pearls and spending the day cooking and cleaning. But there is a large part of femininity that does mean embracing feminine roles and allowing men to embrace masculine ones. An embrace of femininity means we accept that we’re not men and that’s okay. In fact, it’s better than okay. It’s right.
As I thought about the dangers of translating “equality” to mean “identical,” I kept returning in my mind to Joan of Arc. How could someone who led an army into battle wearing men’s clothing (highly scandalous at the time), be feminine? I love St. Joan of Arc, don’t get me wrong. But do I see her as feminine?
Sure, she was told by God to do what she did, including the wearing of men’s clothing. So I’m not disagreeing with her actions by any means. But it was hard to reconcile her with femininity.
Until I came across this in a book a few years ago, and everything clicked: “…the desires of a man’s heart and the desires of a woman’s heart [are] at least meant to fit beautifully together … A woman in the presence of a good man, a real man, loves being a woman. His strength allows her feminine heart to flourish. His pursuit draws out her beauty. And a man in the presence of a real woman loves being a man. Her beauty arouses him to play the man, it draws out his strength. She inspires him to be a hero. Would that we all were so fortunate.” (Captivating, emphasis mine)
Something in that paragraph made it all click for me. Joan of Arc, like St. Catherine of Siena before her, was called by God to raise up a weak man. In Joan of Arc’s case, the Dauphin failed. But she, as a feminine woman, called him to the heights. Her mission was to raise men to fight for truth and beauty. Not in a seductive way, but in a holy, virtuous feminine way. And while the Dauphin was a weak loser, you only have to read about the way her armies responded to her to know that she inspired men to be heroes.
So, ladies, now you know. Raise your men up. Help them to be men.
And if you’re ever shot in the chest with an arrow, pull it out yourself and leap back into the fray. It’s the feminine thing to do.