248 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 14 halftones, notes, bibl., index
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-5449-2
Published: February 2020
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-5448-5
Published: February 2020
eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-5450-8
Published: January 2020
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Awards & distinctions
First Place, 2021 Catholic Press Association Book Award in Gender Issues - Inclusion in the Church Category
While marginalized near the bottom of the church hierarchy, laywomen quietly but purposefully engaged both their religious and gender roles as changing circumstances called them into question. Some eventually chose feminism while others rejected it, but most, Henold says, crafted a middle position: even conservative, nonfeminist laywomen came to reject the idea that the church could adapt to the modern world while keeping women’s status frozen in amber.
About the Author
Mary J. Henold, John R. Turbyfill Professor of History at Roanoke College, is the author of Catholic and Feminist: The Surprising History of the American Catholic Feminist Movement.
For more information about Mary J. Henold, visit the Author Page.
"A nuanced picture of a group of Catholics whose spiritual practices have often been overlooked."--Publishers Weekly
“Henold . . . analyzes the responses of one international and five US Catholic women’s groups (comprising mainly white, middle-class, middle-aged women) to Vatican II and 1960s feminism. . . . Henold’s study is a great launching point for research into other religious groups. . . . Hopefully, the hardened ideological lines Henold identifies won’t prevent this readable, discussible study from being adopted by all library collections at the intersection of gender and religion.”--CHOICE
“Henold’s superb work of scholarship, at once funny, insightful and wrenching. . . . Shows how my mother’s and grandmother’s generations fought an uphill battle, ‘confronting and dismantling’ essentialist ideas inch by inch. Its patient, charitable, critical, empathetic account of its subjects calls both Catholic women and Catholic men to continue this work.”--America Magazine
“A strength of the book is its focus on an alternative women’s history of the American Catholic church in the Vatican II era. . . . It is important to gain a better understanding of the lessons learned and the battles fought over gender identity within the hierarchy of the Catholic church during this era of women’s rights.”--Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work
“Why did some Catholic women embrace feminism while others tried to conserve traditional church dogma about women’s complementary role to men? This beautifully written book tells a new story about how Catholic laywomen reinvented themselves—or not—in light of both internal religious pressures and external sociocultural changes of the latter half of the twentieth century. The Laywoman Project—an apt way to describe what happened during these years of change—shines a spotlight on the one segment of the Catholic population, more than half of its membership, that as yet has received less attention than bishops, clergy, and prominent laymen.”—Paula M. Kane, University of Pittsburgh
“Important and timely, this history of American Catholic laywomen breaks new ground, providing a unique perspective on women’s experiences within the church. Henold gracefully demonstrates how laywomen—a population whose national presence and sheer size alone make them deserving of study—negotiated the dual transformations unleashed by the Second Vatican Council and the women’s rights movement.”—Thomas F. Rzeznik, Seton Hall University