To celebrate women’s history month, I want to share an article I published in the Journal of Media and Religion, “From Consensus to Division: Tracing the Ideological Divide Among American Catholic Women 1950-1980.” The abstract follows:
This article examines the changing images of womanhood within two American Catholic publications: Catholic Mind and Catholic Digest. In the early 1950s, the periodicals had similar constructions of women, with a divergence in thought in the 1960s. Catholic Mind wrote very little on women for the majority of the decade. Catholic Digest in the 1960s featured women who worked in traditionally male roles while they also maintained that women’s primary sphere was in the home. The difference between the two publications becomes stark in the 1970s. Catholic Digest leaned conservative to mainstream and focused on women’s roles in home and secular society without asking ecclesial questions. Catholic Mind’s articles on women primarily examined ecclesial roles (e.g., women’s ordination) and demanded equality in the secular world. This fissure in female identity among American Catholics coincides with the political divide in the United States more generally.
I hope thinking about the three decades featured here can get us all thinking about our current notions of womanhood a bit more, too.