We look around at our society today and see a blatant attack on femininity and womanhood. From transgenderism, which seeks to identify women by their physical appearance only, to our hypersexualized culture that objectifies women, we’re constantly seeing a barrage of attacks on natural femininity. It’s confusing to many men and women where the truth lies when it comes to womanhood.
The Feminine Genius And Womanhood
So often in today’s world, we try to compare things that ought not to be compared. Most prominently, this is the case with comparing men and women. In his Letter on the Dignity and Vocation of Women, Mulieris Dignitatem, St. John Paul II enumerates in great detail what he calls the feminine genius. The feminine genius, says St. John Paul II, consists of different strengths and interests that are essential to this world. These strengths that are unique to women are receptivity, sensitivity, generosity, and maternity. It is being true to these strengths and femininity that holds the future of society, according to St. John Paul II
It’s unfortunate that these days many women form their identity around societal standards and norms. We, as a society, often look to the media for guidance on what it is to be a man or a woman. We’re told that beauty is the 95-lb. airbrushed female celebrity scantily clad in a magazine. However, to be a woman is more than physical appearance. Our identities – our realities as male or female – come from God.
“God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27).
We are created in the image and likeness of God. Our dignity and vocation are derived from this creation. Therefore, we should not be forming our identities based on society, but rather based on how God created us. We are called to be the best version of ourselves, and this extends past our physical appearance.
Each person is created out of love to be loved. To love yourself means to treat yourself with dignity and respect. To live as God intended, we must live virtuously, which is living with dignity and respect for all human beings. The beauty given to women stems from virtue and character. To accept the fullness of womanhood and therefore the feminine genius, women must be open to receiving life, sensitive to the needs (not wants) of others, generous with the true gift of self, and true to the maternal instinct that promotes family life.
These strengths that make up the feminine genius and essence of femininity culminate in woman’s true vocation of motherhood, whether that is spiritual or biological. A woman is strong and beautiful not because of the clothes she wears, but rather her awareness of this entrusting by God. This is the dignity that God endows to woman, a dignity that is perverted by an immodest and unvirtuous culture. The true beauty of a woman is not in her body, but in her moral and spiritual strength, which is “joined to her awareness that God entrusts the human being to her in a special way” (Mulieris Dignitatem).