Novena reader John Jerpe sends us these “Twelve Steps to Recovery From Femaphobia” in the Church to which we at this website totally subscribe.

On behalf of the Novena team: thank you, John, for a thoughtful and heartfelt reflection.

“Twelve Steps to Recovery From Femaphobia”

“Femaphobia” is herein held to be, like any other phobia, an irrational fear of a type of object or objects, to include a type of people.

“Femaphobia,” or a fear of females, seems to flow from a perceived threat harbored by some men in that they feel or seem to feel that their status within a community or a church is built largely upon rendering females as being of lesser importance, with the omnipresent claim that the female, by virtue of her supposedly more limited abilities and talents, must be contained within a diminished set of roles.

Although the twelve step program was originally designed decades ago to aid those addicted to alcohol, the author herein contends that an appreciation for substance addiction has long since come to include what has come to be known as “process addiction.”

Furthermore, a “process” through which talented and educated women have both been “downplayed” and “suppressed” over centuries.

As is the case with any “addiction”, denial is paramount. Our male clergy is replete with cliches and “one-liners” which purport to deny or otherwise justify “femaphobia” largely by denying its existence.

So, as this author suggests, here is the 12 step recovery program for femaphobic priests, hierarchy and male laity:

1. We admit we were powerless over decades of conditioning, that we were embracing the world view of a medieval church, and that our defensive fears and prejudices had become unmanageable.

2. We come to believe that a power greater than ourselves can enable us to live in the present with an open mind and a just attitude toward women.

3. We make a decision to turn our will and our intellects over to the Holy Spirit, in the hope of gaining a healthy view of just, learned females in the Church.

4. We make a searching and fearless inventory of our attitudes toward women in the Church.

5. We admit to God, to ourselves, and to just and learned females of the Church, the exact nature of our fears.

6. We are entirely ready to have God remove any and all fears in the area of allowing the just and learned women of the Church to apply their talents. We pray that God would remove any urge to seek or retain unhealthy expressions of power based on an irrational fear of those women.

7. We humbly ask God to remove the fears that caused us to defend our power in the mistaken belief that every expression of power is an authentic expression of authority.

8. We make a list of all the just, learned women whose talents and opinions we had dismissed, and become willing to make amends to all of them.

9. We make direct amends to those women whenever possible.

10. We continue to take personal inventory while working to overcome our femaphobia, and when we are wrong, we promptly admit it.

11. We seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God in an effort to gain insight into the boundless gifts given to just and learned women within the Church. We seek through such prayer and meditation the realization that our just and learned women are not simply “baptized baby machines,” but that they can “bear life” in a multitude of ways.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, and, by the grace of God, having overcome our fear of learned, just women being placed in responsible, authoritative positions within the Church, we try to carry this message to all priests, bishops, archbishops, cardinals and femaphobic laymen within the church.

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.