Welch and Matalin's message stood in contrast to the spin that was predominant this Mother's Day, which happened to be the 50th anniversary of the birth control pill, in some ironic twist of the calendar. Among the parade of pill celebrations was an item from the AFP newswire which read like a press release from the group "Catholics for a Free Choice," known more for being successful at getting press attention than representing anyone or any principled "Catholic" position. The AFP dispatch from the pill PR agency slammed the late Pope Paul VI for his warnings, basically, about everything Raquel Welch regrets in our oversexed culture, in his searing, prescient 1968 encyclical, "Humanae Vitae."
Janet E. Smith, editor of "Why Humanae Vitae was Right," among other books, and a professor of life ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, tells me: "I keep hoping common sense might have some force with the secular world." In the spirit of that hope, Welch's comments are a welcome change. When the first "Sex in the City" movie came out a few years ago, I went to the most depressing opening-night showing in midnight movie history. The reactions of the young audience in their Jimmy Choo knock-offs suggested a little talking-to from Janet and Raquel might do them a world of good.
Welch echoes another pope when she talks about sexual explicitness in our culture. In an interview, she asked: "Do we really have to go so far where nothing is happening unless we're getting graphic? Can't we use our imagination anymore?" Welch continued, "A woman is wonderful thing. We are a real prize to be won. It's not an easy role to play, but a beautiful and powerful one." The late John Paul II called it the "feminine genius." She also talks about other "traditional" ideas that have been out of style in elite culture. She embraces the "ideal" of a two-parent family, of marriage, despite her own admitted failings on these fronts. She emphasizes the different roles of the mom and dad and how they can truly make a formative difference in a child's life.
I understand why many in the media worked overtime spinning the pill as good for man- -- and woman- -- this Mother's Day. But the truth is that motherhood is at the heart of what it means to be a woman, and the pill has helped deny that reality. Mind you, you don't have to have children to be in tune with that great gift to the world, but you do have to know it, acknowledge it, and not pop a pill whose purpose is to treat fertility as if it were a disease rather than a tremendous power.
To groups that have for decades insisted that they represented so-called "women's issues" and interests, the truth behind Raquel Welch's comments must be a bitter pill. So keep preaching it, Raquel! It's a more liberating message --about the nature of life and love and men and women -- than the feminist revolution ever offered.
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