A one-time doctrinaire feminist whose dramatic return to faith incorporates a strong respect for right-to-life values, believes her personal struggle may provide insight into pro-abortion thinking.
Christine Majta has made a remarkable about-face from her days as a front-line advocate of militant feminism, pro-abortion activism and a deep-seated belief in women as victims of an oppressive patriarchy.
Today, the 36-year-old administrative assistant takes her Catholic faith most seriously, and is not shy about distributing religious literature to friend and stranger alike. Her work station at a downtown Toronto occupational therapy clinic is littered with Catholic Insight, the Canadian Messenger of the Sacred Heart and various publications dealing with the Blessed Virgin and Divine Mercy devotions.
When asked what brought her around from her feminist mindset, Majta replied, “God.” Implied in that one-word response is Majta’s firm belief that faith is a necessary ingredient in overcoming suffering and in striving for the forgiveness and reconciliation that can heal even the most grievous wounds.
As a young woman, Majta took to feminism with the best of intentions. A harrowing childhood marked by violence, helplessness and uncertainty convinced her that many women not only lacked control of their own lives, but were denied basic comfort and security by unthinking, often abusive, male authority.
“It seemed as though men were always the ones in control and that they often used violence to maintain that control,” she said.
As a result of this upbringing, Majta looked with more than mild curiosity at an assaulted-women advocacy program at a Toronto community college. She enrolled in the two-year diploma program in 1990 and was soon exposed to a raft of feminist and lesbian instructors who translated support for women into anti-male diatribes and the cultivation of a lasting mistrust of traditional values.
On graduation, Majta found work as a counsellor at a Scarborough-based battered women’s shelter. There, her exposure to the effects of male mistreatment of women was greatly magnified.
“Abortion wasn’t my primary focus while I was in my feminist period,” Majta said. “But I would readily have advised any pregnant women coming to the shelter to go ahead with an abortion, especially if she came from an abusive environment. The unborn child wasn’t seen by these feminists as a life from God. Abortion was more a way for these women to gain control over what was happening to them.”
If abortion wasn’t an overriding concern to Majta at that time, she felt an obligation to support it as one of the chief planks of women’s rights. She recalls making banners for pro-abortion rallies and marching in women’s day parades.
One incident during a feminist demonstration had a lasting impression on Majta. “We marched past a small group of pro-life supporters who held up respect-for-life signs. The verbal abuse and invective we hurled at the group was just awesome. One of the pro-life women was crying silently as a result.”
Majta recognizes that much of this hostility on the part of feminists is the result of years of pain and anger. She says many of the most passionate feminists have likely been touched by violence and intimidation and that they were sincere in their intentions to help others in similar situations. “Some of the committed feminists I met in those days were genuinely concerned with helping others. In fact, some of the first shelters for battered and abused women were established by feminists.”
While Majta can appreciate their original motivations, she soon noted a major flaw in the secular-feminist mentality. Movements based on anger and mistrust readily lead to hatred and a violence of their own. She saw division and in-fighting among feminists and in many cases, an attempt to substitute domination by men with a less subtle but equally intolerant thought control.
“Feminists are determined to control their lives as much as possible, and in doing so they replicate the abusers’ way of acting to some degree,” Majta told The Interim. “Abusers are known for being possessive and extremely controlling.”
Majta also saw no room for forgiveness and reconciliation among most feminists. She chafed at the movement’s rejection of faith and spirituality, a rejection based primarily on the mistaken view that traditional religious belief keeps women in subjugation.
In search of her own sense of healing, Majta came upon a book of pronouncements by Our Lady of Fatima. “Ironically, I found the book in the occult section of a women’s bookstore,” she said. She soon found herself inspired by Our Lady as a role model for today’s women, especially those seeking comfort and a sense of belonging.
“It was difficult at first to return to the traditional forms of prayer,” Majta said. “All of my images of men were negative, so it was difficult for me when praying to use the word ‘Father’ or to relate to Jesus Christ as a male.”
With the Blessed Virgin as her mediator of sorts, Majta eventually found her way back to her Catholic faith. She discovered the Blessed Virgin’s announcements respecting the unborn child to be in direct opposition to the feminist view.
“As a feminist, I was told that the life in the womb was not a human life, but merely tissue,” she said. “There was no focus on God’s handiwork or His giving the gift of life through pregnancy.”
Despite the movement’s failures and its tendency to create further division and mistrust, Majta believes there are lessons to be learned from the feminist experience. She says the movement was inspired by a willingness to assist abused women, and that in many cases the same conditions prevail today. She suggested society has not fully addressed problems such as abuse and intimidation of women, a lack of opportunity and economic deprivation.
As well, society still tends to promote a disrespect for women and girls by making females the objects of sexual gratification. Majta suggests men can unconsciously contribute to the “making of a feminist” by exhibiting degrading or domineering attitudes. Even something as seemingly harmless as ogling an attractive woman on the street can have negative consequences.
“In my view, girls who observe men’s poor example often become feminists,” Majta said, adding that Christ’s life on earth still provides a perfect example for men to emulate.
Although she has rejected feminism, Majta urges pro-lifers to try to understand feminist motivations. In addition to sympathy and understanding, she recommends humility as an effective way of disarming feminist aggression. “When you see a bunch of feminists cursing you, know there is great pain and suffering there that God wishes to heal.
“If you want to change a feminist, be like that woman I saw at the demonstration who was crying on the sidelines.”