Women’s Cultures: Equality and Difference

A Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture meets in Rome 4-7 February 2015. The theme of the meeting is “Women’s Cultures: Equality and Difference.”
The discussion document says: “it will allow us to gather some aspects of women’s cultures in four thematic stages, in order to identify possible pastoral paths, which will allow Christian communities to listen and dialogue with the world today in this sphere. The expression “women’s cultures” does not imply any division from men’s cultures, but shows our awareness that there is a women’s “perspective” on the world and all that surrounds us, on life and on experience. This perspective is a normal part of the fabric of all cultures and societies; we can see it in the family and in work, in politics and the economy, in study and decision making, in communications and literature, in art and sport, in fashion and cuisine, etc. This text has been composed by a group of women in the light of pastoral considerations sent in by our Members and Consultors and will guide us in our reflections.”
The document can be downloaded in four languages from a http://www.cultura.va/content/cultura/en/plenarie/2015-women/outline.html
It  could also provide some useful discussion at parish level.
Pádraig McCarthy

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19 Comments

  1. Soline Humbert says:

    @18
    Yes Padraig, I agree wholeheartedly with your comment.I found it a glaring omission But it seems family life remains for the pope primarily a woman’s responsibilty,rather than a joint responsibility equally shared: ” to uphold their[women’s] presence and preferential attention, altogether special, in and for the family.
    The Vatican Radio translation of the main body of the Pope’s message is available on
    http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2015/02/07/pope_urges_more_widespread_and_incisive_female_presence_/1122079
    …And THANK YOU PADRAIG for having initiated this post Women’s Cultures:Equality and difference.

  2. Pádraig McCarthy says:

    Pope Francis said today:
    “We cannot forget the irreplaceable role of women in the family… all institutions, including the ecclesial community, are called to ensure freedom of choice for women, so that they have the possibility to take on social and ecclesial responsibilities in a way that is in harmony with family life.”
    I’d like if he said this about women and men: their role in the family, and the possibility of both women and men to take on responsibilities in a way in harmony with family life.

  3. The plenary meeting has resulted in the Pope saying that women need an incisive role in the leadership of the Church. Good….but, are we yet on the same page?…..I’m not sure…with his further comment…that the Catholic women are the “welcoming womb”,

  4. This is another interesting and completely accurate reflection, I think, on the depressing issue of women and their lack of equality in our Church. Joanna Moorhead’s experience of her young adult daughters’ attitude to our Church is exactly my experience of my young adult daughters. This piece is from this week’s Tablet.
    The Church chose to stop its equality clock somewhere around the mid 1950s
    05 February 2015 by Joanna Moorhead
    Women priests? Frankly, the Church should be so lucky. I know tens of wonderful Catholic women who would have been brilliant priests. Most of them would be bishops by now; there might even have been a cardinal among them. Instead, they have lived as nuns, ex-nuns, teachers, politicians, aid workers, academics, journalists, psychotherapists. Many have also been mothers and wives.
    Almost all of these women would have been at least open to the possibility of priesthood in the past. None of them, I am certain, would be remotely interested in it today. Partly that’s because they are older; but it’s also because the possibility of female ordination was closed so firmly, time after time. What that meant was that the Catholic Church did not, as the Church of England did, amass a cohort of women priests-in-waiting; women who were biding their time for their moment.
    The Vatican figures who worked to stamp out any notion that women could aspire to the priesthood were so proud of themselves for how well they managed it. They saw the rise of women in other Churches as tainted, unappealing, misguided, anti-Christ. They curled their lips as women were eventually ordained, first to the priesthood and now, in the Church of England, to the episcopacy. They thought our Church was better, because the women in it had been disciplined and kept in their place.
    But how foolish that now seems. This week saw the opening of the Pontifical Council for Culture’s annual plenary session, and the subject under discussion was women’s issues. And, in the preparatory document, came the unsurprising observation that women have to date had “little impact” on the Church’s official structures.
    And the reason for that is the Catholic Church chose to stop its equality clock somewhere around the mid 1950s; it peered out of the window, saw the blizzard and decided to batten down its hatches. But outside that window the weather did indeed change, and it has left the landscape dramatically different and women with a radically transformed place in it. All of which leaves today’s church leaders, Pope Francis included, struggling to articulate what their message to women is. They tell us we’re complementary, they tell us we’re the backbone of the Church. But out here in the real world, women stand shoulder to shoulder with men, sharing roles.
    Because the Vatican didn’t give women even a window left slightly open to equality, most of the women of my generation forged careers in the real world. And that meant the Church became further from our reality, because as the rest of the world changed and the Church stayed the same (in this respect at least), it seemed more and more out of touch with our lives.
    That’s what happened to the 40-somethings, the 50-somethings, the 60-somethings, the 70-somethings. But for the younger generation, the generation of my four daughters, who range in age from 22 down to 12, the Church is simply, from a female point of view, a complete anachronism. I know no young woman of my daughters’ circles – and most of their friends, like them, have been raised in churchgoing Catholic families – who would entertain for a nanosecond the possibility of becoming a priest, even if Pope Francis implored them to do it from his balcony tomorrow. And in case you’re wondering about whether they might become a nun, here’s a fact: most of my daughters’ friends have never even met a nun. Young women don’t know what nuns are any more.
    The truth is that the issue of women priests was never just about female ordination. It was about equality and respect, and a proper comprehension of who twentieth-century women were and what they could do. It was almost comical, if it hadn’t been truly sad, that in the run-up to this week’s meeting, Catholic women were asked to make videos about the reality of their lives. Can you imagine the Vatican asking Catholic men to do that?
    The truth is that women forged ahead, the Vatican pulled back and now we’re so far down the road that the bishops and cardinals are struggling in their long robes and their mitres to get anywhere near us. Ironically, given how tirelessly those conservative priests in Rome worked to keep us down, it will now take something far more radical and seismic than mere women’s ordination to achieve full inclusivity. We need a women’s commission in Rome, female-headed and female-run, to look at what has become the most urgent issue on Rome’s agenda. Use us now, Fathers, or you risk losing not only us, but our daughters and granddaughters, for all time

  5. Cornelius Martin says:

    I find Gertrude Gill’s contribution, enjoyable and stimulating (based on her intellectual argument, I might add). But on reading it for the third time, it seems to contain an erroneous assumption that lessens her argument for what she terms “collaboration.”
    She asks “Through whose eyes is this [Man Ray] image constructed – the ‘feminists’ or the ‘patriarchs’.” The term “feminist” is a source of repulsion for many Catholic women. This is not a judgment but a fact borne out by the testimonies of countless female Catholics. They constitute a third set of “eyes” responding to the image. In other words, Catholic women are divided on the issue of womens’ central role in the ordinary life of the Church. Helen Alvare’s emphasis on “complementarity” as distinct from Gertrude Gills on “collaboration” is an instance of the evidence for this. As I observe it, the two groups of women operate in “parallel” Catholic worlds (to borrow a Gertrude Gill pungent image).
    As I tried to say above at #10, the fundamental question is something like “How does Christ understand the worth of women as women in the Church as mission.” How do we interpret this? While writing under the constraint of lack of space, Gertrude Gill answers this question with a suggestion that “the way forward is a collaborative one and coming to the table that Christ lays out for us, we need to reverence the Holy spirit of radical transformation and healing.” This idea, indeed image evokes another question from this observer: Has Gertrude Gill already decided on the outcome of this process?

  6. Gertrude Gill says:

    ‘Venus is uprooted from her conventional cultural associations and cast adrift in a void where she is not myth, not ancient, not ideal, not whole, not symmetrical, not upright.”1.
    What is the Vatican trying to communicate through this image – albeit consciously or unconsciously?
    Media is not communicated in isolation. The Council have suggested in this process of ‘consultation’, that they welcome expertise and communication. Furthermore, documents of the New Evangelisation such as, ‘The Joy of the Gospel’ encourage a diligent usage of media as resource.
    The function of an image is to evoke a relationship between the observer and the observed. This can result in an ‘I-object’ or an ‘I- thou’ identification. Through whose eyes is this image constructed – the ‘feminists’ or the ‘patriarchs’ as implicit in some comments above or simply the unaware or other…? When I look at this image I experience repulsion not invitation. A repulsion which does not stir me to engagement!
    Like many other male Surrealist artists, Man Ray exalted love and saw Woman as an inspirational muse. In their art, however, these men tended to objectify women and define them as subordinate. As targets of male desire, women were the subjects of disturbing fantasies and erotic violence.
    ‘Man Ray’s “restoration” of the plaster half-cast of Venus’ torso entails lacing up the torso with a rope – an unusual kind of corset …it functions as a kind of net to capture the viewer’s erotic imagination, heightening an awareness of Venus’ sexuality (blending the idea of restoration with the containment of bondage fantasies)’. 2.
    Looking at this process through a psycho-social lens: this icon of the Surrealist Art convention has been chosen by the Council as a medium to communicate identify with. This suggests an unconscious parallel process which is very disturbing– i.e. that the ‘integration’ of women’s worldview into the RC church (which in Vatican documents position as a ‘complimentary’ one) can only end up in the same ball park as the message in this image – that Venus will be excited (the titillated breasts), her agency will be aroused but her sense of a ‘self’ (symbolised in the mutilated head, arms and feet) will be suppressed duly subdued for the pleasure / utility of her observer. The ambivalence that permeates this comment in the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture document – “If, as Pope Francis says, women have a central role in Christianity this role must find a counterpart also in the ordinary life of the Church”(italics are mine) – certainly does not do much to promote confidence in the aspiration for integration and collaboration.
    However, may I suggest, the way forward is a collaborative one and coming to the table that Christ lays out for us, we need to reverence the Holy spirit of radical transformation and healing. If we are to take the ostensible purpose of this image to be part of a genuine invitation of a silenced membership to dialogue and agency, can we then surmise that the disturbance evoked by this image and the contradictions inherent in the nature of the process of ‘consultation’ (as clearly outlined by We are Church spokesperson Brendan Butler and Soline above), be reflective of a deeper-seatedconfusion/ambivalence/resistance within the intentionality of those who are steering this project? Through sharing on social media and any other form of communication with the Vatican and each other can we continue to explore, develop, educate and support one another in a spirit of prayer, forgiveness and true communion?
    1. (From an article by Adina Kamien-Kazhdan, from the exhibition catalogue “The Naked Eye- Surrealist Photography in the First Half of the 20th Century”, 2013.)
    2. ibid
    Gertrude Gill

  7. I should be used to being patronized, dismissed, ignored, shut-down, shut-out, and edited-out, but, I am not….so, I truly hope this plenary meeting does myself and thousands of other Catholic women a good turn.

  8. You are absolutely right, Roy, spot on! And everything you say about the much maligned secular world pulling us into the 21st century can also be applied equally to the ignorant and embarrassing homophobia of our institutional church.

  9. Roy Donovan says:

    The Church is anti-women. Fullstop. The Church is on the wrong side of history or should we say ‘herstory’. We should be ashamed. The Church with the Gospel of Jesus Christ should be leading the world. It is the world who is leading us. Obviously more of the Holy Spirit in the world than in the Church. Talk about the Church dragging its feet and being pulled into the 21st Century. There is just massive resistance. I think the Holy Spirit has a better chance with the world and young people who had little to do with Church.

  10. Soline Humbert says:

    “NO WOMEN AT THE TABLE WHEN THE DISCUSSION ON WOMEN BEGINS BEHIND CLOSED DOORS”. More Information from the Vatican news conference:
    http://www.cruxnow.com/church/2015/02/02/vatican-effort-to-talk-about-womens-issues-stirs-controversy/
    ROME — Cardinals and other Catholic prelates from around the world will gather in Rome this week to discuss women’s issues such as domestic violence, plastic surgery, and women’s contributions to the Church.
    However, there won’t be any women at the table when the conversation begins, with the Vatican’s latest effort to take up women’s issues raising eyebrows and stirring controversy.
    The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture, headed by Italian Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, is holding its annual plenary assembly Feb. 4-7 to talk about “Women’s Culture: Equality and Difference.”
    The assembly was officially presented this Monday at a Vatican news conference.
    Ravasi said women were invited to make presentations on various issues to be taken up in the plenary assembly, but since the members of the council are all men, that’s who will talk things out behind closed doors.
    Ravasi defined the process as “women directing the dance,” with men performing the steps.
    This is just the latest in a series of missteps causing the Council for Culture’s discussion of women to have a tumultuous start.
    Last month, for instance, a YouTube video featuring Italian actress Nancy Brilli, who asked women around the world to submit messages for the plenary assembly, stirred controversy for what critics saw as Brilli’s stereotypically flirtatious performance.
    Brilli conceded in Monday’s press conference that the damage from that was hard to undo, noting that “once you put it in the Internet, it’s out there, you can’t bring it down.”
    Adding fuel to the fire, the website of the general assembly is illustrated with an image of “Venus Restored” by artist Man Ray, a plaster cast of a headless Venus tightly bound in ropes.
    The 1936 sculpture is intended to depict woman as a subjugated sex object, but also as a creature who rises above men’s depictions. Critics have questioned the wisdom of using such an image for a Vatican discussion of women, suggesting it may send the wrong signal about the Church’s support for female emancipation.
    Micol Forti, director of the Contemporary Art collection of the Vatican Museum, said that the sculpture was chosen among other possibilities because it represents the past as an “anchor to generate new ideas.”
    Forti said that the picture is imperfect to reflect the complete and articulated sense of the assembly, adding, “It’s not a headless or armless body, but a reflection on classic tradition and the possibility of rediscovering a role in contemporary life.”
    In terms of substance rather than symbolism, the preparatory document for the plenary assembly has also drawn fire for, among other things, defining elective plastic surgery as an “aggression” against women and asking if it’s a “burqa made of flesh.”
    Brilli, whose partner is a plastic surgeon, said during Monday’s news conference that in her opinion, modifying one’s body to be more confident about one’s appearance isn’t the problem.
    Instead, she said, the expression of “burqa of flesh” refers to women who alter their looks not to feel better, but to try to fit into society’s mold of what’s beautiful.
    Even Monday’s news conference to present the plenary assembly was not free of controversy.
    Critics noted that the line-up included four women who helped prepare the document, all Italian and all successful in their careers. Noticeably absent were stay-at-home moms and women who have found fulfillment outside the professional arena.
    Brilli said that today’s women multitask, doing it all.
    “Those of us who have a family have to be housewives, to play the role of mothers, to do everything we have to do: our profession, take care of our relationship with our partners, talk with the teachers, have friends, [have] faith,” she said.
    Once the Vatican meeting opens, among its more interesting moments should come in a scheduled discussion of the role of women within the Church.
    Leaving female ordination out of the equation, the document acknowledges that the Church has, for centuries, offered women little more than “ideological and ancestral left-overs.”
    “If, as Pope Francis says, women have a central role in Christianity,” says the document, “this role must find a counterpart also in the ordinary life of the Church.”
    Ravasi said he realizes that the only voices expressed on the working document are those of Italian women, but he added that one of the results of the plenary will be a permanent group of female consultants, and he expects to include voices from other countries.
    As a result of the General Assembly, Ravasi expects to have a second, more complete document, but as he stressed, it won’t be an authoritative text for the entire Church.

  11. Pól Ó Duibhir says:

    Firstly the image. It is an absolutely weird choice, unless in some roundabout way it portrays the position, objectified subordination, from which women are expected to break free. (Worth noting that the membership of the Council is exclusively male.)
    However the tone of the document doesn’t give one much hope. It is very tentative and seems scared of going too far. Full equality of opportunity should not prejudice obvious differences in any way.
    The phrase “women impregnated with the spirit of the Gospel” sounds weird to my ear outside of the context of the annunciation.
    “There is no discussion here of women priests, which according to statistics is not something that women want.” There may be many things that not all women, or even a majority of women, want. That is not a reason for denying those who do the opportunity. (Yes, and I know there is a general subsidiary argument about the role or appropriateness of the priesthood itself in the world. Nevertheless.)
    Comments from Soline Humbert and Paddy Ferry above hit the nail on the head and, particularly in the light of one of Paddy’s comments, your readers might be interested in this recent talk in St. Mary’s.
    http://dominusvobiscuit.blogspot.ie/2014/10/beating-odds.html
    .

  12. Two very interesting and poignant posts from Soline and Paddy! Even more interesting that they appear on February 1st…..Feast Day of St. Brigid….who as the story goes…had, by accident, supposedly…had the Bishop’s Prayer….said for her. St. Brigid might well applaud both your entries. Just as a whimsical thought, I wonder if we Catholic women, should spread a cloak in the Sistine Chapel!..(reference to St. Brigid spreading her cloak before the King of Leinster to receive some of his land) Happy Feast Day of St. Brigid!

  13. Kathleen Faley says:

    Soline@1,I think that the image of the female torso chosen to illustrate this Vatican document on Women’s Cultures is more apt from the following perspective, Since the time of Adam & Eve the female torso has been regarded by men within the Church as the source of sinfulness. Church History tells us that and even to the present day that mindset still remains current.
    The reason why the Head, Arms and hands and Legs are missing is because they represent the Trinity of Liberation, i.e. the mind thinks and reasons and leads to Enlightenment. The arms and hands represent nurture, caring and creativity which have been regarded as feminine traits and the legs represent the instruments of freedom to choose to walk away from the bondage that Women have been held in which was created by men and inflicted on women by men. Women today are using Head, Arms and Legs to work and move onwards towards their own liberation from such bondage.
    It is the purpose of the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture on Women’s Cultures: Equality & Difference to shatter that stereotypical image that has had such horrific consequences for women through centuries of unspeakable, unbearable suffering and degradation and who are still suffering in many places today because of it. Kathleen Faley

  14. Mary Wood says:

    I have some personal acquaintance with C of E clergy, including several women priests. I rejoice that they have ministered for over 20 years now in my country (England).
    .
    Picking up the topic of the TABLET article above (#2) I offer this extract from the blog of Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, a C of E priest whom I do not know. She was present at Rev Libby Lane’s episcopal consecration.
    ********
    “What took me by surprise was my emotion at the moment when +Libby was consecrated. Tears came to me, so that I could only nod and smile, not speak, when an older, male priest next to me turned and said to me, as the bishops hands left her head, ‘At last, we’re part of a whole church’.
    Why was it so emotional? Partly, the satisfaction of something achieved, a task laid down. Partly, the enormity of watching history in the making. But mostly, I think, an overwhelming feeling that somehow my own ordination was changed in that moment. Now it was complete – I was finally ordained in the same sense as men have always been. It felt that something we had hardly noticed was missing had been restored, to me and to all women, in that moment of grace.
    Others clearly felt the same. Many women have said how profoundly they felt that moment. And not just women – many men, like the man next to me, have said similar things. Our ordination feels complete, whole, healed.
    Taking communion immediately after the consecration felt amazing. I was so conscious of this being the first time we had eaten and drunk Christ’s meal together as this new, healed church. That was the first communion of the rest of our lives.”
    ******
    Is the Catholic Church incomplete? Does it need healing? I believe it does.

  15. Actually I saw that image quite differently. Putting aside Man Ray’s personal life and just taking it as an artwork on its own merit – it is an evocative statement about the way women have been treated by male-dominated systems and society. It is a brave choice for the cover because it articulates that so clearly. It certainly resonates with me and I am sure it might with many others.
    It illustrates well how many women feel in the church: intellectually decapitated and physically dismembered, like this statue of Venus (the “divine feminine” impulse dismembered and rendered obsolete by patriarchal religion), a lump of pretty stone (manipulated by the chisel of a male creator into a male idea of feminine beauty), able to sit still and pose nicely and do little else. All the while bound; bound to the church and bound up in its exclusive rules and rubrics that ensure women have no chance to actively participate in any meaningful way.
    I love this piece of art – and I think of it as fitting very much with postmodern, feminist art. It is a powerful acknowledgement of the violence that has been done to female spirituality by patriarchal Christianity, the continual suppression of female spirituality and spiritual wisdom and power. Cutting off the head and limbs, tying it up, but, very significantly, the sexual organs are all still there! In theory this body can still have sex and reproduce. She has been reduced to these core fundamentals: sex and reproduction. These dimensions of the female body are very much under control and these are the important bits that must be controlled, the rest is completely irrelevant, invisible, silent, absent. She is tied up and tied down in the system of dogmatic prohibitions that are all about controlling female sexuality and reproduction. Even the textures of the sculpture speak to this, the roughness of the rope against the smooth marble. The erotic frisson is deliberate.
    The Venus statue is also about beauty and classical notions of feminine beauty from antiquity. Notions that contemporary women reject because they are false and idealised and inconsistent with our lived reality. Here, every effort has been made to destroy this beauty, and yet she is still beautiful and alluring and “tempting” despite all these extreme efforts to frustrate it, to bind this temptation, to render her unattractive and controlled! The binding has been ineffectual, in vain! 
    It also in a striking way makes me think of the extremely violent scripture passage, Judges 19, “the rape of the levite’s concubine”. The levite having brought the utterly violated, gang-raped body of his wife home, then “took a knife, and grasping his concubine he cut her into twelve pieces, limb by limb, and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel.” (Judges 19.29) The ropes here almost serve to demarcate those “twelve pieces” – to be sent throughout the world – to the twelve churches, after the assembly has decided what to do about women.
    A work by a female artist, Judy Chicago’s “Dinner Party” or Edwina Sandy’s “Christa” or any one of a myriad other powerful artworks by female artists would have been more representative of “women’s culture” – the theme of the session.
    All that said, I admittedly found it very disturbing at this particular moment – as a symbol of male violence against women – when we have spent the whole week listening to the goriest of details, in the media coverage of a murder trial, alleging an abusive relationship and the violent death of a very vulnerable woman at the hands of an allegedly sadistic man.
    Anyway, those are a few of my thoughts….

  16. Interesting editorial,(below), in this weeks Tablet. It is really disappointing that our bishops felt they could not attend the consecration of the first woman bishop in the Church of England.
    Christian qualities are blind to gender
    29 January 2015
    With the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity just past, it is timely to rejoice that relations between the two major denominations in Britain have never been better, marked at the top by the sincere friendship between Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury. It is no less a feature of relations between the diocesan bishops of the two Churches. They know each other, and work together on common causes. This ecumenical goodwill is too valuable a prize to be put at risk by a difference of doctrine regarding women’s ordination.
    Hence the absence of any Catholic representation at the consecration this week of the first woman bishop in the Church of England must not become a habit. Sooner than they probably expect, many Catholic bishops are going to find that their Anglican opposite number is one of the gifted Anglican women whose promotion had been held back by internal disagreements in their own Church. There have been women bishops elsewhere in the Anglican Communion for some while, even on the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission.
    However, the progress of women clergy on the Anglican career ladder should not obscure the fact that, like the Catholic Church, Anglicanism still has a “woman problem”. In both Churches, there is a tendency to stereotype women as more suitable for some roles than others, and those roles are often less prestigious. There is resistance in some Catholic quarters, for instance, to allowing girls to be altar servers, as it can be seen as usurping a traditional male role. It is not surprising there is a lack of women in leadership roles in the Church. In general, women are more likely to be in church on Sundays; boys quickly pick up on that. A recent survey found that men are more likely than women to have no religious belief. So this is a self-perpetuating sexist stereotype.
    While suffering from gender stereotyping in this way, Churches can also promote it, often as “complementarity”. This says that the genders are equal but different, women and men each contributing what the other lacks. Thus the preliminary paper for the conference being hosted by the Pontifical Council for Culture in the Vatican next week on “women’s cultures” argues that “there is a women’s ‘perspective’ on the world and all that surrounds us, on life and on experience”. This is a normal part of all cultures and societies, it claims – in the family and in work, in politics and the economy, in art and sport, even – ignoring all evidence to the contrary – in fashion and cuisine.
    This promotes the stereotypical assumption that some human attributes are innately masculine and some innately feminine. This reinforces the conditioning that it is deviant and unmanly for a male to show qualities that are labelled by the culture as belonging mainly to females, and vice versa. The irony is that many of those allegedly feminine qualities – empathetic intuition, gentleness, compassion, nurturing – are not gender-specific, but Christ-like. Christianity can be its own worst enemy

  17. Soline Humbert says:

    I am deeply disturbed by the image chosen to illustrate this Vatican document on Women’s cultures.http://www.cultura.va/content/cultura/en/plenarie/2015-women/outline.html
    It is Venus Restored(1936),a work by male artist Man Ray.It is a plaster cast of a fragmented female torso tightly bound with rope. A woman without head/face,with no arms and no legs and in bondage.
    Like many other male Surrealist artists, Man Ray tended to objectify women and define them as subordinate. As targets of male desire, women were the subjects of disturbing fantasies and erotic violence.
    Man Ray had a strong interest in Sade and sadism and there is a recurrent sadistic streak in his artwork,as well as in his relationships with women,characterised by domination and aggression Man Ray photographed women wearing implements of bondage and enacting scenes of torture. He also helped others,like William B Seabrook realise in real life his fantasies of women bondage.
    What is behind this choice of female bondage image by the (all male)Pontifical Council for culture?Is it the choice of the group of women (Who are they?)behind this document? What message does it seek to convey?

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