The Genius of My Sister – St. Edith Stein

In the words of Claire Swinarski, author of “Girl, Arise!,” “I’m a feminist for the same reason I’m bold and honest and sometimes ragey: because Jesus was all of those things. In a time when women were some of the lowest of the low, Jesus embraced them with open arms.” I could not agree more. Yet, as I sat in my English class, I was wary of the next unit we were entering into: feminist literary criticism.

Thank you, every woman, for the simple fact of being a woman! Through the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world’s understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic.
St. John Paul II, “Letter to Women”

In the words of Claire Swinarski, author of “Girl, Arise!,” “I’m a feminist for the same reason I’m bold and honest and sometimes ragey: because Jesus was all of those things. In a time when women were some of the lowest of the low, Jesus embraced them with open arms.” I could not agree more. Yet, as I sat in my English class, I was wary of the next unit we were entering into: feminist literary criticism.

For all my non-English major friends, feminist criticism is a school of theory that aims to expose the enforcement or rejection of misogyny and oppression of women in writing. There’s nothing inherently wrong with scrutinizing literature through this lense. In fact, it is good and necessary to be cognizant of the ways in which society oppresses people. The reason for my wariness was not because of the subject, but because of the environment I was in — one I found to be uniquely hostile to Catholics. Thus, I doubted that this unit would align with my beliefs of what it means to be a woman.

This is the latest installment of the series, “The genius of my sister.” Read other articles in the series to learn more about Catholic women throughout history and how they can inspire us today.

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