Faith vs Feminism

(Throughout this blog, I’m gonny be referring to Catholicism quite a lot. This is only because I am a Catholic, and it’s the one I have most experience with. I am wholly accepting that other faiths might pose different challenges for young men and women, but since I’m not experienced in any other religion it would be wrong of me to refer to such and try and represent their main beliefs and values)

Expressing religious beliefs in this day and age can be scary man. Especially in Scotland, sectarianism is a very real problem. When I tell people that I am a practicing Catholic, they’re usually a wee bit baffled. “Thats quite unusual innit, for somebody so young?” “What, so you go to mass n that?”. I welcome these sorts of comments, and any opportunity to share the values of my faith and learn about others – it’s exciting! My faith is important to me, but another thing I hold dear is my devotion to feminism. I’m aware that for some people this is a bit of a conflict of interest, as I’ve been challenged more than a few times about how I can be a practicing Catholic as well as a feminist. I get it. I get why it can be difficult for people to understand. This generation seems to be more open minded and clued up on ‘taboo’ issues than generations before. People aren’t scared to talk about hings like sexuality and abortion, which is amazing since people were and some are still oppressed when it comes to these hings. However, when you compare this newly liberated generations views and ideas to the historic writings of the Church and some of it’s arguably rigid beliefs, it’s quite a stark contrast.

It’s this stark contrast that I think can estrange young people from their faith. People are arguably more accepting of other sexualities beyond heterosexuality, and talking about contraception and abortion isn’t as condemned as it once was. So I get it. I get why people are asking themselves whether they want to practice a faith or even not at all when their social views and religious beliefs conflict. I’m not here to tell anybody to go to mass and I’m definitely no here to preach! What I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Religion aside, I think that applies to everything. We’re often taught that hings are black and white, “you can believe in this but that means you need to steer clear fae that”, “aye but if you’re intae x you canny be intae y” – You can, make your own rules!

I went to a Catholic primary and secondary school. I made all the relevant sacraments for my age group throughout education, and now at 20 I still go to mass. Going to Catholic schools means the teaching is based off a Catholic curriculum – I’m grateful for the curriculum, it taught me a lot about my faith. However, it could be seen as dated. I know that for me, sitting in a Catholic classroom hearing the Church’s traditional view on homosexuality and abortion made me quite uncomfortable. I loved my faith, and almost didny want to hear about the parts of it that conflicted with my views on sexuality and women’s rights. I’d hate to think that there’s young people whose sexuality is anything other than heterosexual, going through school feeling they can’t be themselves because of the prevalence of religion throughout their school. Or even young people that have had an abortion, feeling like they are abnormal because they are being taught abortion is wrong.

It doesny have to be as black and white as this. I can understand the Church’s views on sexuality, abortion and contraception, but I don’t agree with them. I think we’re all a bit guilty of forgetting that you can understand things without agreeing with them. It’s okay to acknowledge that people think differently from you and no give them hassle! I can understand why folk think the Church’s stance on a number of issues are dated and even problematic. It’s okay for religion and personal thoughts and opinions on other things to conflict, it doesn’t mean it has to be one or the other. This is why different faiths are prevalent around the world, to offer solace and to help us deal with the things we don’t understand. Anything that’s troubling me, anything I don’t understand about the world or the Church or myself, is part of my own relationship between God and I and my own faith journey. Even if you’re not intae religion at all, even if you’re no on any sort a ‘faith journey’ thats cool as well! The main hing I’m trying to say here is that don’t let folk lead you to believe different parts of your life and your different beliefs and ideas all have to stay in their own box – let them overlap! For me, faith and feminism were the two important presences in my life that I thought had to oppose each other for a long time – but I was wrong. Feminism should be intersectional and inclusive of all classes, sexualities, races and religions and in order to achieve such a goal, we need people from all backgrounds to be involved. God isn’t gonny turn round at the gates of heaven and be like “no the night, mate” just ’cause you support gay marriage, and are pro-choice, or you’re homosexual or you have the copper coil or you’ve had an abortion. Just be the best person you can, whether you’re religious or not, do your hing! Religion and sexuality don’t have to be polarized!

“The Lord your God is merciful; God will not abandon or destroy you.”

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Generally Electing

It seems like no matter how many tweets and texts and ranting and raving I do, I still have more to say about the general election campaign. With that in mind, I thought this was good grounds upon which to make a wee comeback to the blog!

I really like election time, I think the build up and the debate are exciting particularly in Scotland post-independence referendum – it’s class! I seen a lot of harsh debating, aye, but I seen a lot of folk from opposing sides genuinely just helping each other out on social media etc this time around. A lot a people were posting about how they were undecided with their pals on social media responding and asking about their constituency and helping them find somebody that suited them. I think this time, people just tried to raise the importance of voting altogether and encourage as many people to do the same regardless of what party! But this election was really tough for me, and I know for a lot of others too. I’m only 20 but I voted for the first time when I was 17 in the independence referendum and since then have lost count of referenda and local and general votes that have cropped up. Although it feels like we haven’t been out of the polling stations over the past few years, this general election posed a great challenge for me. Do I vote for the SNP and try n ‘strengthen Scotlands voice’ and basically concede to the acceptance of another Tory govt? Or do I vote Labour, compromise independence for a time and support Corbyns unparalleled socialist manifesto despite Scottish Labour’s discrepancies?

I’ve always found it quite hard finding a party that totally represented me. I have a lot of respect for individuals like Nicola Sturgeon and Mhairi Black as strong and successful female role models, but I don’t like the SNP and their diluted so-called ‘socialist’ policies. I really like the Greens, Patrick Harvie is a refreshing and positive influence, but their inconsistent approach to Catholic schooling has challenged me a wee bit. I was a member of the SSP for a while also, but I sorta grew apart from the party once the formation of RISE came about. Voting Labour seemed like a no-go ever again after the inept running of Scottish Labour and their cosying up the Tories in the past and in the lead up to the independence referendum. And there was no chance I was voting Tory.

I sorta had to give myself a bit of a shake. Aye, do you know what – it is shite living in Scotland and feeling like you have to make the best of a bad bunch when finding a party that you can truly align with. But am I going to spend more time feeling sorry for myself that I’m not 1000% represented by any one party or am I going to work with what’s on offer and use my vote to to incite positive change not just for me but for the many?

SO, that said – giving myself a shake is exactly what I did. I felt like Corbyn’s manifesto was the strongest and most progressive manifesto I’d seen in recent years and it really resonated with me. And I know the argument – ‘How can you vote for Labour knowing the tragedy of Scottish Labour? And what about independence?’ Aye, do you know what – Scottish Labour just aren’t too sharp but how could I call myself a socialist and look back on years to come knowing that I passed up on that manifesto? Independence is important to me, and I do believe I’ll see independence in my life time, but it’s something I’m willing to compromise for a time in an attempt to see change on a greater scale across the UK. It was always going to be hard for Corbyn to gain a majority and find himself in No.10, but I see the seats he gained, the prevention of a Tory majority and the opposition he has now built as a success, not a loss. I know that when I look back on this election I will be happy knowing that I stuck to my beliefs, and voted for the manifesto that I believed would be the most likely to tackle the struggles of the many and to oppose a divisive and unequal society. Maybe it will pay off, maybe it won’t  – but I didn’t want to tactically vote!

Social Media is your best and worst friend in the build up to an election. When you’re connected with all like-minded people on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc it can seem like everybody thinks the same as you and it can lure you into a false sense of security. If I had judged the electoral outcome based on my Twitter, I coulda stuck a score on a Labour landslide and Jeremy Corbyn as PM – the same way social media had me thinking Scotland would be independent and we would DEFINITELY remain in the EU..

It’s this false sense of security that can sometimes make people think they don’t really have to vote or talk to as many folk as they can about politics – but we do! That’s one thing that I’ve taken from this election – the importance of the vote. Women were imprisoned, on hunger strike, being force fed with Emily Davison even dying for the cause of votes for women. Equal voting rights were fought for, for years and with that in mind especially, the right to vote is truly valuable – for all genders! You hear a lot of people saying “Awk, my vote doesn’t count” “I’m just going to waste the ballot” but theres a reason why there are often re-counts on election night – a few votes really can make the difference. I completely get why people are scunnered and want to waste their ballot, cause you can vote in 48393 elections over your life and feel like none of them go your way. It was sore not waking up to Jeremy Corbyn as PM and hearing the Tories looking to pair up with the DUP, it hurts and it’s frustrating when the results aren’t how you would like. Regardless, would you rather wake up unhappy with the election result, but knowing you at least done your bit and tried for your morals and beliefs, or would you rather not vote and wake up to a system or a party that you don’t like because you’ve written your side off before the final whistle?

For the many x