The Praises of Womanhood

By Lance Enad

Dietrich Von Hildebrand, a Christian philosopher, once explained that by nature women are superior to men. They are more gentle, they are more sweet, they are more beautiful, they have more charm etc. The only area perhaps in which men are more right than women is that men love women while women love men.

Such praises to women have been sung by the wise, since philosophy has begun. Admittedly, there are those who degrade womanhood. Nonetheless, it is interesting to note that virtues -the paragon of moral perfection- are portrayed by women.

The four cardinal virtues of Prudence, Temperance, Justice, and Fortitude are portrayed by women. Even Severinus Boethius expresses most eloquently his adoration to wisdom in person: Lady Philosophy.

The wise have always adored women. And if women are indeed better, the failure to adore them would be unwise.

After all, who else can be mothers but women? Who else can be wives but women? Who else can be daughters but women? Whose was the face that could launch a thousand ships but that of a woman? Who else can have men at their fingertips but women? Who else did God choose to be his Mother but a woman.

Edith Stein, a Philosopher, Student of Edmund Husserl, and contemporary of Hildebrand explained that the Woman is better. “Women,” she said, “understand not only with the intellect but also with the heart.” “Women naturally seek,” she continues, “to embrace what is living, personal, integral.” Most beautifully, she explains that “To heal, watchover, protect, nourish, and favor growth is her natural maternal desire” because “The soul of a woman is fashioned as a shelter in which other souls may unfold.”

It seems, therefore, to be a great absurdity for some who pose under the guise of pseudo-intellectualism to hiss at women who prefer to be mothers, who prefer to be a wife, who prefer to perfect their womanhood in such noble a state. Women, they say, must have a career, must have glittering achievements. Women must not only be house wives, must not only be mothers, must not be homemakers because these, they say, degrade her womanhood. In short, to them, unless a woman is like a man, she does not have a life worth living. This is tragic considering how they think that to be fulfilled woman must be like a man.

It is interesting to note that the same pseudo-intellectuals hold it as unquestionable and absolute dogmatic truth that all the evils of the world are caused by the patriarchy. They further say that all evil actions are in substance misogyny. This they hold with religious assent and unquestioning faith.

How can it be, as these insist, that having a full time career, no time for family, no time to personally raise their children be more ontologically valuable for a woman that being a mother who raises and looks after the children -the future citizens of the earth and of heaven-? How is the task of raising up great men and women of virtue so demeaning and so worthless compared to working for a company, to working for some corporation? How can one say that being a mother and wife is so demeaning when studies have shown that a great majority of those who have problems in adulthood are those who did not have good family lives as children?

How can these be demeaning when these are the most perfect exercise of the characteristics endowed on a woman’s soul? “Woman,” says Edith Stein “naturally seeks to embrace that which is living, personal, and whole. To cherish, guard, protect, nourish and advance growth is her natural, maternal yearning.” And that 

Women in top positions is not an issue here. One cannot but admire Margaret Thatcher who stirred Britain so well, or Catherine the great who reformed Russia, or Olga of Kiev who ruled a kingdom, or Teresa of Avila or Catherine of Sienna who reformed the Church. But let no one tell mothers, wives, and daughters that they do not have a life worth living simply because they chose a more domestic life.

Thus, edith Stein beautifully puts it: “Each woman who lives in the light of eternity can fulfill her vocation, no matter if it is in marriage, in a religious order, or in a worldly profession.”

Let us keep these in our minds in this month of May, the month of the greatest woman who ever lived and will ever live.

Lance Patrick Enad y Caballero –