The Brazos Valley in Central Texas is going to be the home of a new center devoted to pregnancy resources and women’s health. The center is called the Guiding Star of the Brazos Valley, and I spoke with its foundress Leah Jacobson about her vision of the center and her hopes for the New Feminism movement.
1) What does the New Feminism movement mean in our society today? How does it contrast with other interpretations of Feminism?
“While the roots of New Feminism come from the teachings of Pope John Paul II about the Dignity of Women, we define New Feminism in regards to what makes a woman’s body different from a man’s. We look at the three natural abilities of women…ovulation, gestation and lactation. These three things make a woman amazing, beautiful and unique, and so we look at issues of today and ask ‘does it support and encourage a woman in what makes her uniquely feminine?’ We look at issues such as birth control and abortion, which interrupt the natural healthy functioning of the body. New Feminism takes the view that men and women depend upon each other. The genders are complementary and the differences between us are good.”
2) Do you have to be Catholic, or a Mother, to embrace this ideology?
“This ideology can belong to anyone. Woman has special gifts uniquely apart from men, if we look at physical attributes of a woman’s body they all point to one purpose, woman is pointed to motherhood, but that can mean motherhood in the sense of embracing others, protecting the vulnerable, welcoming the stranger. We can look at Mother Theresa as an example, or a single woman in corporate America who creates community where she works, and brings value to the lives around her. New Feminism calls all women, no matter where they are or what they do, to rewrite the definition of ‘value’ which goes beyond the world’s definition of success and power.”
3) Can you describe what Feminine Genius means, and how it can differ from woman to woman?
“Feminine Genius underscores that women have special qualities and gifts such as empathy, communication, intuition, receptivity, sensitivity, generosity, and maternity. This does not mean that men can not also have these strengths, but that in women these strengths are different and particular to us. God gave equal parts of His attributes to each gender, and we need each other to bring about balance. Femininity and masculinity can refer only to roles if we are not careful. It is not what you do but how you do things which makes a woman feminine. We need the feminine genius in all settings, because we bring the natural balance God gave to us in those areas.”
4) What are your hopes for how Guiding Star can help rebuild and renew the idea of true femininity in our society?
“Our aim is to address the physical abilities of women. Currently the nation’s main provider of women’s physical needs is Planned Parenthood. Guiding Star wants to offer the natural alternative to all that Planned Parenthood does. We want to change the paradigm of women’s health to uplift the natural abilities of women. Nationwide we want to offer prenatal care and medical practices, and eventually birth centers. A criticism of the Pro Life movement is that we don’t care about the Moms. We want to help women feel empowered by their bodies. Often from young, women have a negative view of their bodies because they have been told their bodies are somehow insufficient and need additional medical interventions. Our centers hope to empower women to see their bodies as beautiful and not broken. We are trying to encourage and maintain family life by providing childcare centers and counseling services in the future to give families the support they need to do the best they can. Eventually, the goal is to reconnect the ‘dots’ which have been broken between marriage, fertility, sex, babies and families.”
5) What else would you like for us to know?
“We are just starting, but we are hoping for this to be a national movement. We want to be a comprehensive replacement to Planned Parenthood. Guiding Star wants communities to encounter the center from the very beginning. We want to reach hearts and minds much earlier. We want to collaborate with anyone who shares our mission. We need to make our message accessible to as many places as possible.”
If you want to learn more, here is some suggested further reading… Humanae Vitae and Mulieris Dignitatem (the Dignity of Women). The Privilege of Being a Woman by Alice Hildebrand, and the works of Mary Ann Glendon.
Guiding Star of the Brazos Valley will be celebrating its launch party on February 16th at 2pm at St. Mary’s Catholic Center in College Station. All are invited to a dessert reception to see how you can learn more about the future of the center and help it to grow.