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Loretto Community Supports Feminism … Women and All Gender Identities

Posted on August 24, 2020, by Jean East CoL

‘Women Hold Up Half the Sky’*
(*Original statement by Mao Zedong and a portion of the title of a book, ‘Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,’ by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn)

Logo designed for LFN by Micheila Jacobson.

Loretto Feminist Network

The Loretto Feminist Network (LFN), also known as the Loretto Women’s Network, has strong roots in the Loretto Community. Over the years, the Community has supported and worked for justice on the concerns and disadvantages that women and all oppressed peoples face in the United States and abroad. Throughout its history, the LFN has been part of the Loretto Community, but also retained an independence so as to be able to take broader stands on women’s and allies’ concerns. 

Since its beginning the LFN network has claimed feminist roots. In 1981, it defined feminism as follows: 

  • FEMINISM – A worldwide social change movement which critically but lovingly rejects relationships and structures based on stereotyped roles of dominance (male) and submission (female). 
  • FEMINISM – A life-affirming movement re-organizing institutions and relationships so women will have equal access to society’s goods, services, status, power.
  • FEMINISM – The bonding of women discovering the joy of woman identity
  • FEMINISM – A perspective which asks questions such as, are relationships cooperative or competitive? Are they circular or hierarchical? Inclusive? Interdependent?  Can each person participate in those decisions which affect the individual? Can each person be responsible for the communal work? Are all parts of the work valued? 
  • FEMINISM – A process freeing women to work toward liberation for themselves and other oppressed persons. 

In 2019 LFN updated its identity statement to be more inclusive of gender identities and changed its name to Loretto Feminist Network. We choose the definition of feminism written by Angela Davis and published by the 8th Day Center for Justice:

“Feminism has helped us to recognize a range of connections among discourses and institutions and identities and ideologies that we often tend to consider separately. … Feminist methodologies impel us to explore connections that are not always apparent.”  LFN recognizes the intersections of racism, capitalism, heterosexism, patriarchy and the related structural oppressions. 

Loretto Co-members Beth Blissman and Roxanne Monterastelli take part at a farmworkers’ rights protest in March 2018 in New York City.

Most recently the LFN coordinators have read the book, “Feminism for the 99%: A Manifesto” by Arruzza, Bhattacharya & Fraser (2019). This work clearly explains the connections of “isms,” noting that feminists must unite with other antisystemic movements. “Only in this way – by connecting with antiracists, environmentalists, and labor and migrant rights activism – can feminism rise to the challenge of our times” (p.5).

LFN Goals:

  1. To educate on the issues and policies facing women and all those oppressed by institutional systems of inequality. 
  2. To take stands on and advocate for relevant policy issues by writing letters, making statements, contacting legislators and participating in public demonstrations.
  3. Join with other organizations in support of women such as the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, Women Church Convergence or The Poor People’s Campaign.
  4. Celebrate the accomplishments of women and allies through letter writing, the Mary Rhodes Award and special recognitions.

There Is Still Work To Do

In 2020, the policies and practices that negatively have an impact on women are still with us. While much has improved since the 1950s, there is still work to do. We encourage anyone concerned about these issues to join us in our work.

Jean East CoL

Jean East CoL

Jean has been a Loretto Co-member since 1983 and recently retired as a professor of social work at the University of Denver, Graduate School of Social Work. She currently is a coordinator of the Loretto’s Women’s Network and supports local efforts in Denver for immigrants and refugees.
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