The term “Feminine genius” originates from the Mulieris dignitatem, an apostolic letter by Pope John Paul II on the dignity of women, published on the 15th of August, 1988. The letter expresses and advocates for the complementary position of women which was hinged on the traditional duties and roles such as “mother, teacher and daughter”. The letter also defends and establishes the doctrine of the all-male priesthood.
Besides, the term “Feminine genius” again reflects in a pastoral letter addressed by Pope John Paul II to all women, written on the 29th of June, 1995 and distributed same day. This time around, the letter addressed and sheds light on the rights and dignity of women, the challenges that besets them by virtue of modernization and measures in which the interests of women can be improved upon. It focused on the concept that the female person contributes and enlivens society. In this light, the “feminine genius” in the 1995 letter espouses qualities such as: receptivity, empathy, protection of life, sanctity and modesty, each of these qualities, according to the letter serves to “strengthen and enliven the feminine character and should serve to be inspirational and uplifting, and should in no way be hidden or repressed”
In other words, the concept speaks of the need for women to stop “acting as men” and to embrace their god given nature which diplomatically places women back in the traditional position of home keeper, and it also stresses the irrelevance of struggling to enter into institutions already dominated by men.
However, the concept of feminine genius as enthused by the Pope was used in the context of entering into marriage and having babies which is the outstanding ability women are blessed with by nature. To embrace their feminine talent and abilities thereby placing them in a right position to fulfil purpose. A woman, according to the pope, is naturally gifted with empathy, which is the strong ability to understand the feeling of another. It is assumed that a baby cannot speak but his needs are perfectly understood and met by the mother; the protection of life which refers to the makeup of the womb which creates, nurtures and protects the life of the unborn. A woman, especially one who has embraced her mothering ability is regarded as sacred and deserving of reverence in accordance to the virtue of motherhood which was laid down by the life of the Virgin Mother. A woman is naturally enabled with sanctity which has to be set to work and expressed by the reason of her becoming a mother. The dignity of a woman, lies in her natural ability to be simple and moderate.
However, in lieu of modern day realities which has some women employed and functioning in places other than the home, the concept can be applied therein, a woman is expected to show empathy to her fellow workers, or empathy to her customers as the case may be. The ability to create and nurture ideas to life lies in the woman, and this should reflect in the excellence with which she goes about her tasks. A woman is also required to carry herself with dignity and humility, while not drawing attention to her achievements, abilities and how “she is better” than the other person. Therefore, the perfect ability which a woman carries within her is not limited to the immediate family but also ‘enjoyed’ by every other human or ‘being’ that interacts with her.
- Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem Of The Supreme Pontiff John Paul Ii On The Dignity And Vocation Of Women On The Occasion Of The Marian Year Retrieved from https://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_letters/1988/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_15081988_mulieris-dignitatem.html
- Pope John Paul II (2017). Letter of Pope John Paul II to Women. Retrieved from https://www.genuinefeminine.com/single-post/2017/01/13/Letter-of-Pope-John-Paul-II-to-Women
- Raylan Alleman; Feminine Genius According to St John Paul II retrieved on the 18th of April, 2019 from http://fixthefamily.com/feminine-genius-according-to-st-john-paul-ii/