Stuck Between Gender and Modernity

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Where does our true human dignity lie?

At the 57th Session of the CSW at UN Headquarters in New York, I could not but experience a fierce and forceful attack not only on the Catholic Church (this is no news), but also on the structure of the family, made up of father, mother and child. Such a distortion of reality unfortunately has planted its roots deeply, making us wonder today, after centuries of history and practices, what being human really means. The famous saying of Simone de Beauvoir “one is not born a woman, one becomes so” (on ne naît pas femme, on le devient) has laid the foundation for what has been put forward today as gender, clearly defined as “this new philosophy of sexuality whereby sex is no longer a given element of nature but instead it is men or women’s choice on what social role” they want to play in modern society. As Pope Benedict XVI clearly explained in his address on the occasion of Christmas greetings to the Roman Curia in December 2012, when this intrinsic freedom to be creative leads to the (perfectly understandable) temptation of wanting to be THE creator, this bargained and so-called “freedom” strips man of his real dignity.

Although many CSW events focused on aggressive ideologies and highlighted a “progressive versus conservative” agenda, I was glad to find some panelists, even if they were few, who courageously risked their standing to talk about the authentic needs of the person. At one event, two marvelous doctors guided the audience, telling their stories to underscore the best practices to end all this violence against women and girls. This year’s motto has been “change hearts and minds” in the fight against violence, and these words became flesh when discussing the promotion of sexual health through education. Moreover, few are suggesting that the family is a crucial tool to eradicate violence, and even fewer are talking about the importance of an encounter with someone who gave them the strength to fight for their inalienable rights. The testimony of a former Ugandan young woman who testified last week that she was able to escape from the rebels who had abducted her due to the education that she had received was especially powerful. Not to mention, lastly, those who were either ignored or silenced because they referenced the fact that Christianity, in particular missionaries, was the main tool that helped them overcome violence.

There is still a long way to go, not to mention a battle to fight — a battle that transcends the legal or political realm, and must be fought at the cultural and political level to ensure that all societies affirm the fundamental dignity of the person.

By Margherita Ciantia, Intern at WYA HQ, New York.