Elizabeth Hanna

Elizabeth Hanna Pham

My first exposure to twisted sexuality was at a baseball game when I was about three. Skilled at making scenes, I stood up, pointed at a billboard in the distance, and loudly demanded, “WHAT’S A HOOTER?” The crowd around us went silent and awaited my father’s answer. He paused and, then, explained that a hooter was an owl. The crowd was endeared to us and laughed.

And so my journey began.

At a very young age, I wanted to understand why a girl in my kindergarten class didn’t have a father, why so many only saw their fathers on weekends, why movies were rated R and why nobody in the third grade really could explain what sex was, but everyone wanted to know. As I grew, I connected much of the unbalanced and confused culture I saw around me to our misconceptions of sexuality—our misconceptions of what it means to be a woman or a man—of what it means to be a human being.

I am Elizabeth Hanna. I am twenty-one years old, about to graduate from the University of Georgia in December and getting married in May to the best person I know. I have wonderful parents, a wonderful family, and the coolest three-legged dog named Wolfgang. I love to write, I love music and art, I love animals and nature, and I love Christmas. I can’t wait to grow up and grow old with my new husband, to start a family, and to explore this beautiful world with him.

I look forward to writing for New Feminism and I look forward to learning from the other women on this site. I am young, I am idealistic, and perhaps sometimes a bit too eager. But I hope to share some of my understanding and experience as a young woman in today’s culture, that in turn we may work together to address our uniquely feminine needs, and the needs of the world around us. And I hope to learn more about what it means to be a human being as I grow up and into the lovely castle of womanhood.

I grew up in what one would call the post-sexual revolution age. But I would say I grew up in the second sexual revolution. The rebellion of the first remained largely within its own culture subset. Outside of rock and roll and beyond the university campuses, there still existed a greater majority that held their ground and condemned the whole phenomenon.

In this second sexual revolution, the children of the first have grown up and raised children of their own. My peers and I grew up in a world where the majority and even the authority rarely had substantial and sincere standards of what was to be done with this enormous elephant standing in the room of life. The first sexual revolution prompted us to question our cultural norms regarding gender and sexuality (the questioning being a healthy enterprise in and of itself.) But we now merely have new norms—norms that are very hard to resist, and very hard to stand up against—and norms that are most clearly destructive. The new standard indeed, is that there is no standard. Your sexuality, your gender, is whatever you want it to be, whatever you feel like, whenever you want.

So many of my peers grew up to throw away what they held dear, acting as they were taught by music videos and their parents’ implications, and wondering what in the world to do with their deep aching and longing for true companionship, true identity, and true love. Too many children were never taught the value of self-discipline and sacrifice with regard to their sexuality. And if they were, they were never really taught why such restraint was worth it.

And the worst part of it all, the part that distinguishes us most from generations past, is that before, parents and grandparents, preachers and teachers—they still stood for an uncompromisable morality, and they held the younger people accountable. But now, too many of my peers are afraid to go against our cultural norms because even their own parents would laugh at them. This cycle needs to be addressed and it needs to be reversed. We need to clearly establish for the next generations what it means to be a woman, what it means to be a man, and it what it means to be a human being. Because people want to know.

We need another revolution.

Jennifer Lahl

Jennifer Lahl

I was happy to receive Marjorie Campbell’s kind invitation to join her team here at New Feminism. Marjorie and I have been meeting, thinking, and discussing many things as it relates to our bodies, our ability to procreate, and the impact that feminism has had in shaping the landscape for where we find ourselves today. Our conversations have been very helpful to me as we have some shared experiences in our past; old guard feminists looking to rethink the statement ‘you’ve come along way baby’, spiritual wanderers (rebels) who have found rest again in our faith, feeling we are at a time in our life when we were ready to spread our wings and embrace a new season in life, a new calling if you will. So, in this spirit of camaraderie, I will be writing here, mainly addressing things around infertility and reproductive ethics and technologies, although I have many interests in the whole field of bioethics, as I have my master’s degree in bioethics.

My personal interest in matters on infertility, assisted reproductive technologies, and modern day baby-making, has been shaped by many and my voice comes from many rich experiences in my life. I am first a woman with a keen interest in our bodies and health. I am a wife and a mother, so my thoughts have been impacted by what I have tried to live and teach at home. I spent 25 years working as a nurse, and am committed to patient advocacy; informed consent, evidenced-based medicine and medical ethics rooted in the ancient Hippocratic tradition—first, do no harm. The Georgetown mantra of beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy and justice have no meaning if not rooted in a principle that recognizes the dignity and worth of every individual.

I came into the area of reproductive technologies through a sort of backdoor way. Living and working in California, I found myself entering the field of bioethics at the height of the embryonic stem cell and human cloning wars. How was it that we came to be debating over a half a million surplus frozen embryos in the United States? Why and when did the human embryo become such a prize to the stem cell researcher? It was through digging into these questions that I really uncovered the fertility industry and how uncritically we had accepted these technologies which allowed Louise Brown, the first “test-tube” baby, to be born, in order to help Mr. and Mrs. Brown have a baby. Through my writing and speaking, people began to find me – thanks to the internet and Facebook. They told me their stories which led me to make films. Three at this point and counting! First, I made Lines That Divide: The Great Stem Cell Debate. Then I made Eggsploitation, which won best documentary in the California Independent Film Festival in 2011 and in December of 2011, I released Anonymous Father’s Day which tells the stories of children, now adults, who were created via anonymous sperm donation. These films have had a big impact on engaging the public in conversation. While I have briefed legislators on Capitol Hill and at the state level, and testified at the European Parliament at Brussels on Human Egg Trafficking, I have found that through film, telling authentic and real people’s stories, I have been able to change people’s attitudes and thinking. Like the young woman at Loyola-Marymount who came up to me after watching Eggsploitation and said, I’m so glad I came tonight, I was just about to sell my eggs to pay my graduate school tuition. Infertility is nothing new. It has been with us since the beginning of time. I understand the heartache of the barren womb, as we recall Rachel crying out to God, “Give me children, lest I die”. What is new, however are these modern day technologies which seek to address the barren womb and make baby-making available to all (is 50 the new 30 for motherhood?) So, maybe with all of these new technologies, it is time for a New Feminism. I’ve always said, women (me included) have a unique role in pointing us in the right direction. For such a time as this, I’m here to do my part.

Henry C. Antony Karlson, III

Henry Karlson

I’m in a rather unique position since I am the only male asked to take part in this adventure into New Feminism. I am not the only male who is involved with New Feminism – after all, the term New Feminism has developed out of Pope John Paul II’s Letter to Women. As New Feminism encourages respect for the feminine and the feminine voice, it is important for the movement to do just that, but it is also invaluable to have voices like mine join in so as to show the movement is one of universal value and importance. It was for this reason I quickly accepted the invitation to take part, and hope that what I provide will help show the universal value of New Feminism by showing the historical precedents which have helped shape where we are today and where we can find ourselves in the future.

I am a single male, Byzantine Catholic, PhD Candidate in Historical and Systematic Theology (hopefully, nearing completion). I was not always a Catholic – I was chrismated (confirmed) on Pascha (Easter) of 1995. I was raised a Baptist, though in a family which was very spiritually independent and did not go to church services often in my youth. I was raised to have a strong personal devotion to the Christian faith – indeed, I was dedicated to God by my mother as I was born, because the doctors had told her she wouldn’t be able to have more children after my sister was born, and she was thankful the doctors were wrong. This dedication, I am sure, especially by such a loving and caring mother which I have, has been the spiritual glue which has kept me sane.

It is through my theological and historical studies that I have come to New Feminism and it is these studies which I hope to bring forward here. Intellectually, I have found myself shaped through a wide range of sources, including, and not limited to, Pope John Paul II, St. Edith Stein, Hans Urs von Balthasar with Adrienne von Speyr, Vladimir Solovyov, Sergius Bulgakov, and Paul Evdokimov. As a Byzantine Catholic, I have a great interest in exploring and developing insights from the East but also from the West, and find that this interest in bringing the “two lungs” together is similar to the interest and desire to help bring about the mutual promotion of the masculine and the feminine which comes from New Feminism.

I have seen, first hand, the great feminine genius speaking through spiritual giants such as Hildegard von Bingen (who might soon be recognized as a Doctor of the Church), St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Bridget of Sweden, and St. Edith Stein. I have seen the work of and promotion of great women like St Macrina, St Monica, St Helen, St Olga, St. Clare of Assisi, New Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth, and Dorothy Day. All of them demonstrate something of the glory of the feminine, and have helped provide proof of the need for the feminine voice in the world; we would, as Christians, find ourselves greatly diminished if such voices had no impact in the development of Christian thought and action in the world, just as I would be much poorer for it as well.

What I will be writing on here will come from my explorations in the history and development of theology, relating historical or theological ideas to New Feminism. In doing this, sometimes what will be brought forward will need some contextualization: a person who has done some good or promoted a good idea which touches upon an issue and concern of a New Feminist might not be easily understood as such until we see it in its proper context. What is good at a certain time and date, what was a step forward, could be seen today as a step backwards from where we are at today, and so this is why it will be necessary to remember that, when dealing with history, things will be messy and uneven, especially in regards to the respect due for the feminine.

I hope people will enjoy what I have planned. I think there will be some surprises along the way.

Serrin M. Foster, President, Feminists for Life of America

Serrin M. Foster

FFL President Serrin M. Foster has led Feminists for Life of America since 1994. Under her leadership, FFL successfully advocated benefits for poor and pregnant women through the State Child Health Insurance Program, worked in coalition with other women’s organizations to defeat the mandatory “family cap” and other punitive child exclusion provisions in welfare reform, and helped to prevent poverty and coerced abortions due to threats to withhold child support through passage of the Enhanced Child Support Act.

Serrin served on the National Taskforce Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, which worked to pass the Violence Against Women Act, and she also testified before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee in support of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, also known as “Laci and Conner’s Law.”

The creator of the Women Deserve Better® campaign has been an outspoken opponent of pregnancy discrimination and has focused on developing on-campus resources and support for underserved pregnant and parenting students.

In January 1997, Serrin moderated the first-ever FFL Pregnancy Resource ForumSM at Georgetown University, which became a model for the country and in 2010 became the basis for Pregnancy Assistance Fund grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Serrin’s landmark speech, “The Feminist Case Against Abortion,” has been recognized as one of the “great speeches in history” in an anthology called Women’s Rights.

Marjorie Murphy Campbell

Marjorie Murphy Campbell

With this post, I am excited to launch the first ever New Feminism blog.  NewFeminism.co brings together a group of New Feminists – and you – to reflect on daily issues and current concerns. We offer unique, female-centered perspectives on cultural, social, political, medical and health issues affecting women.

Our perspectives as feminists vary significantly, but all of the writers here are fairly called “difference feminists.” Difference feminists believe that the feminine qualities of women offer a different, but profoundly equal, contribution to the human enterprise.  From womb to tomb, every human person needs the female in their lives – the authentic female – not a masculinized or sexualized “hipless, wombless, hard-titted Barbie.” (G. Greer)  Difference feminists also seek social, medical, reproductive and health solutions that strive to respect, not neutralize, the unique characteristics of the female body.

I am well suited to the task of bringing this blog to life. I spent 15 years as a “sameness feminist” – pursuing career objectives and sexual freedoms that mirrored my male counterparts from 1974-1989. I have a law degree from University of Virginia and practiced both criminal defense (with a focus on prostitution) and bankruptcy. I have taught at the law schools at the University of Cincinnati and at the University of the Pacific. I left compensated work in 1996 and have, since, studied Canon Law and written on a freelance basis.

I am a devoted wife and mother of three. My feminism has matured and developed in response to my family and my recognition that family relationships remain central to the lives of women who, too often, struggle with excessive demands to compromise that which they hold most dear. Writers influencing my thinking as a New Feminist include Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Deal Hudson, Kay Hymowitz, Wendy Shalit, Germaine Greer, Blessed John Paul II, Pia de Solenni, Camille Paglia, Susan Will and, perhaps most importantly, Erma Bombeck whose tender love of being a mother and wife restored my sense of humor.

You will notice that the writers featured here tackle issues and problems from a uniquely female perspective. We distinguish ourselves from feminists who tether women’s success and fulfillment to the same measures used by men. Equality, we believe, should not and does not eliminate differences that enrich and benefit all of humankind and contribute to the full realization of every woman’s potential. More, our view of medical and emotional health focuses on the female body and being as we exist, not as a burdened or encumbered variation of the male body.

The charter contributors to NewFeminism.co appear in the right column.  Each writer’s first post will be biographical and, once online, available as a link through the contributor’s name. 

Please do enjoy and participate. Use the comments section to react, opine and comment. Tell the writers and the readership of other issues of interest to you – and direct our attention to projects, writings, events and posts of import and impact. We have a liberal comments policy but ask everyone to be respectful in discussing differences and avoid personal attacks and judgmental language. We seek to set the standard for New Feminism – both in content and tone which reflect our uniquely feminine concern for connecting the whole of humanity in the challenging enterprise of living daily life.