Venerating Mary is no excuse for sexism

By The Beacon | February 22, 2012 9:00pm

Matthew Abely (The Beacon)

By Matthew Abely, Guest Commentary

In an earlier issue of The Beacon, Ann Cowan contended that the Church is not a no-girls-allowed club, that there is a strong place and celebration of femininity in the Church via the veneration of Mary, the mother of God.

I think Ann has missed the point. I agree with Kevin Hershey and his previous article. The problem is not that the Church or any of the other churches are boys-only club. The problem is their gender essentialism and reductionism.

That there is only one good nation, one good family, one good set of clearly-defined genders leads to no real justice for anyone. Venerating Mary and by extension virginity and motherhood so loudly and so publically is drowning out all other voices.

The Church, like it or not, is contributing to the idea that no other types of women are good people. If you want to stay a virgin or want to be a mother, good for you, but not everyone wants that life. Moreover, not everyone would want that life if there were space for more voices to tell them that there are other options.

I understand the Church does not openly support gender essentialism or reductionism, but they are noticeably silent in combating these ills, especially when compared to the very loud and very public flowing praises they proclaim to virginity and motherhood via their veneration of Mary.

That makes the Church, and every silent member of it, just as guilty as if they were an open no-girls-allowed club. Not every woman wants to be feminine, just as not every man wants to be masculine. It does no one any good to let the opposite continue to fester in society.

I would know as I was bullied in grade school for being too emotional. I got off easy. Nobody shames me for not wanting to have children.

Matthew Abely is a junior environmental ethics and policies major. He can be contacted at