I'll be accused of "liberalism" for saying this but I don't think birth control can be separated from "feminism" (I'm a feminist so don't see that as pejorative term.)
I too am RC. IMHO if (artificial methods of) birth control cannot be separated from feminism then feminism is pejorative. However, feminism may not necessarily by definition be linked with forbidden methods of birth control. I just can't tell myself. I surmise the answer is based upon the life and lifestyle of individual feminists, individual by individual. When someone tells me that he/she is a feminist (some men are too!), I’m not always sure what to think. It depends upon the individual woman (or man!).
If you are not in favor of artificial means of birth control, then you are not a liberal in my opinion. Then again, this is my opinion only; certainly nobody is bound by my opinion (except me!).
I know that the only reason I've been able to achieve what I have in my life is because I had control over my reproductive functions. I don't see how a man can understand this but there's no way women can be equal unless they have control over reproduction. It's no accident that almost all of the noteworthy women in the past were single.
As a somewhat ambitious woman, one reason I hesitate to marry is that I don't want pregnancy after pregnancy. I'm a good Catholic and wouldn't use artificial birth control so for me to be independent and have my own life I stay single at least for now.
That's the paradox for the Church because they don't have an answer for women like me.
But you do have control over your reproductive functions! You can choose to have sex or not to have sex without regard to the impulses men and women experience in this life, in this sex-drenched society, and even with our being burdened by the concupiscence of the flesh.
The Church does have an answer. Stay single. Being single does not necessarily mean being called to the monastic life. As an aside . . . Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't the Orthodox look upon the monastic life as the "default" life for a Christian and that the life of the laity ought to correspond in some way within their own station in life "in and not of the world" with monasticism?
Yeah, the "stay single" recommendation seems patently oversimplified for a clerical celibate to recommend. But no one--man or women--according to Church teachings may ever engage in sexual intercourse outside of marriage.
If you want to say, for example, that men have it easy, that they marry, have sex, and still put their careers in first place, then you would likely be correct. They traditionally don't catch the "hell" they should get for doing so yet a woman in the same position is condemned for this behavior. Well the world is changing and not for the better. Women are increasingly able to pull this off like the men have done. And unfortunately they are starting to act more like men!
Careerism is a mortal sin under many circumstances. So is the indulgence of materialistic consumerism. My pastor once complained from the ambo that many parents care more about buying their next large-sized, expensive, SUV than putting their children in a Catholic School. Or a larger house or a high status, high paying job, etc. He of course is right on . . . except I must sadly state that some of the religious education in Catholic schools is sadly lacking nowadays.
BTW, I'm not saying that if you work at a career, then you shouldn't marry. My wife works. In fact, if I croaked today, my wife would be able to support our children and still get them to adult life. It cuts down on the need for expensive life insurance and frankly is an emotional comfort to me given the worry wart that I am! We live below our means and are not in any debt other than a mortgage which is about to go away. Is it because we make a lot of money? W do well because we are both college educated and professionals. No, we do it because we do not believe in consumer debt whatsoever. We are not into high status or living beyond our means. Yes, we are doing better now than when we first married but we act financially pretty much the same way as when we were first married.
Yet we have NEVER neglect our children and we don't spoil them like so many of their friends are spoiled. Yet it is still a lot of hard work. My wife stayed home when our children were real young--yes women have to do this more than men. Why? Well you may not like this statement, but the umbilical chord doesn't really separate from the baby at work. By the good grace of God my mother is still alive and pushing 80. The umbilical chord has never truly separated between us and I'm no mama's boy!
Motherhood is the lot of women, not men. Yes, men could do a lot better. But most of the secular feminists refuse to acknowledge this role of women and in it's most extreme rejection of this role--pathological man hatred and lesbianism--we have big trouble for society. I’m not saying that men too cause much of this trouble in our society.
I think that you men will see it so simply. The Fathers said birth control is wrong. Well the Fathers were men by definition. The hierarchs were operating under what we know to be a flawed assumption, that women were somehow second class citizens.
Women were not involved in the decision making process. I'm not suggesting that women should be priests or much less bishops because I accept the male priesthood. But I do think that men are not necessarily capable of understanding just how important it is for women to have control over reproduction.
Birth control is right or wrong based upon objective criteria. For example, adultery is always wrong. There can be no equivocation about it although concrete circumstances may mitigate the spiritual crime of adultery, e.g., the maturity of the offender, undue influence, poor catechesis, etc.. That's why the Lord Jesus Christ ONLY is the Judge (with a capital "J") and not us. Even if these guys (the hierarchs) are a bunch of ignorant or prejudiced men, if what they are saying comes from God, then that is what's important. Yes, I know that these words and concepts are not of much comfort to anyone, man or woman, in this miserable life in which we live.
It's entirely too simplistic to reduce this to a conflict between the "selfish" career woman and the long-suffering mother. The idea that women are completely fulfilled by motherhood is a myth. It's a useful myth. It serves a purpose in society. It enforces the gender norms. But it's simply not true. No man is completely fulfilled by fatherhood and no woman is completely fulfilled by motherhood. One could say "fulfilled" is a "secular" term. It is "secular" but God gave us intellect. He gave us interests.
I understand and agree to a certain extent what you have just stated above. Nevertheless, no matter how fulfilled a man may be in reaching his career ambitions, if it hurts his family then he has not done God's will for his life and the life of his family. Same with a mom. Besides, marriage and sex represent a sacrifice pure and simple (well, maybe not simple!) even in the happiest and holiest of marriages.
Sometimes I think that those called to the monastic life have it easier. A woman doesn’t have to put up with a man and vice versa. Oh yes, I know even if I don’t understand that monastic life has its own challenges. Monastics after all wage spiritual warfare on behalf of us all, even if we in our secular lives too must take up arms against the Devil and our own flesh.
Your personal and concrete circumstances as a RC woman in this society are unique and different from mine or anyone else's on OC.net or elsewhere. Yet your life in some sense is not different from mine or anyone else's. It's the human condition which is fallen in nature but redeemable by the Holy Sacrifice of the Law with which we are burdened.
When I look back at my life (I'm almost 55), I could see myself doing things differently. Thank God I can't go back and change things else I would mess it up even more than I have messed it up to date! Yet my life has been pretty good when I think about it though I can't claim the credit for it. The Lord Himself surely could have put me in a lot worse circumstances and the right choices that I have made were because of Him and definitely not because of me. This I know for certain though I cannot explain it.