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Kate Whittaker Cousino

Joined: Dec. 6, 2011

Bio:

During Pope John Paul II’s 1984 visit to Canada, I manifested my first bit of personalistic insight at the age of three, when I said to my mother “Do you know why I love that man? It’s because he loves me!” As an adult, I’ve only grown in my love for the person and thought of John Paul II. Other profound and formative influences on my life and thought include Catherine de Hueck Doherty, John Henry Newman, G.M. Hopkins, Frances de Sales, and my mother’s aphorisms.
I am a graduate of Ave Maria College, MI, and lived in the US for nearly a decade before returning to my ‘home and native land’ of Canada with three children in tow. I now combine freelance copy editing and proofreading with full-time parenting and part-time philosophical pondering.


Most recent posts by Kate Whittaker Cousino:     (See all of them)


Telling the truth about ourselves

May. 29 at 4:02pm | Comments: 1 | Most recent comment: May. 29 at 7:18pm

I want to propose a definition for modesty that seems to me to fit all of the best, most common-sense ideas of dress and modesty, while avoiding the traps some fall into which make it such a difficult virtue to talk about. First of all, I want to reject any definition that defines modesty strictly in terms of a negative: "Modesty is avoiding tempting others to lust. Modesty is avoiding drawing attention to your sexual attributes. Modesty is not standing...

“A Tower that will Pierce the Clouds”

Apr. 10 at 9:45am | Comments: 0

A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a book called An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth, by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. I'm not sure what kind of advice I expected to read from this former commander of the International Space Station, someone who did countless interviews from space (including being interviewed by William Shatner) and whose space-earth duets and extraterrestrial performance of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" received millions of views on YouTube. There...

Marriage and Freedom

Mar. 22 at 10:28pm | Comments: 7 | Most recent comment: Mar. 26 at 3:57am

A few days ago, a young engaged woman, Emma Smith wrote a piece on Catholic exchange called Marriage is Work. The take-away, as it came across to me and, apparently, others, was that failed marriages indicate a failure of the spouses to work, and that the primary advantage of a Catholic marriage is that Catholics do a lot of marriage prep, and that the sacramental nature of marriage gives you a sort of supernatural guarantee that, as long as...

The Poor are Persons

Jan. 19 at 3:17pm | Comments: 2 | Most recent comment: Jan. 22 at 1:24pm

Unfortunately, I haven't had much time to do any of my own writing lately. However, I ran across this piece today, and felt that it should be shared here, even if with minimal commentary or gloss: A number of years ago, a friend of mine said that if Christ were not in me, it would not be worth his while loving me. What an interesting comment to offer a friend! Of course one could hear this in a number of...

Parenting Persons

Dec. 13 at 9:03am | Comments: 6 | Most recent comment: Dec. 15 at 6:28am

I’ve been a mother for almost 9 years, and I’ve been discussing motherhood and parenting for longer still. When you’re a mother, parenting is both the easiest and most perilous topic to broach. Easy, because parenting can create a common bond between people who otherwise would have nothing in common—and if you’re as inept at small talk as I am, it is always a relief to have a common interest to...


Latest comments by Kate Whittaker Cousino:     (See all of them)


Re: Modesty and misogyny

Jul. 8 at 11:59pm | see this comment in context

At the time I thought it was zeal and the almost paranoia about such things that school imposed. In retrospect, I think she may have been an RA and instructed to "mention something" to me, particularly with the "other people" comment--which would make it part of this master-slave hermeneutic Katie is responding to. 

To be honest, the only other in-person experiences I've had that were that intrusive were with men--one was a fellow college student who felt he needed to tell me one particular shirt I enjoyed wearing was "distracting" him (I wish I'd had the awareness and presence of mind to suggest he offer it up!). 

Katie, I posted this on a Catholic women's FB group, and got a very positive response, and one utterly horrible story from a woman whose father called her horrible things for being 'immodest' (slut, whore) even though the only thing that had changed about the style of clothing she wore was the shape of the body beneath. After hearing a bit about her background I pointed her to Elizabeth Esther's book and blog.


Re: Modesty and misogyny

Jul. 8 at 12:09am | see this comment in context

I remember some of that--Dr. Smith was not very impressed, as I recall. I also recall fondly Dr. Beiting's "rebellion fuzz" in response to the requirement that male professors be clean-shaven. :-) 

For all of the dysfunction of the Ave project, it was a good formative experience to witness up close what it looks like when men and women of faith wrestle with the application of principle (including opposing principles) and respond to injustices cloaked in the language of religion. 

Re: Modesty and misogyny

Jul. 7 at 4:55pm | see this comment in context

In any case, it was enough to inspire me to call my parents and leave before the weekend was up. There were other policies I found denigrating as well, but I can still recall exactly how I felt--how helpless I felt, how unjust it was--when I was held responsible for the fact that my sweater curved around the shape of my torso. 

I did realize in retrospect that part of it was that although I was within the letter of the dress code, I had violated the cultural norm for dress. Most of those girls were from a different social background and wore neat-looking tailored skirts and blouses (and no, I don't know how a sweater is more immodest than a tailored blouse). Most were also less busty than I was. My peasant skirt and sweater stood out because they were different, which may have been the real root of the complaint--it was not a campus friendly to difference, and the dress code was one tool to exert pressure on non-conformists.

The direct result was that I wound up at Ave Maria, though, which I cannot regret! 

Re: Modesty and misogyny

Jul. 7 at 4:47pm | see this comment in context

Katie, I have a similar story. While researching Catholic colleges as a recent high school graduate, I visited Magdalen College in New Hampshire. The grounds were lovely and the courses interesting. The music in particular--everyone spent time in schola and the a capella groups on campus were amazing--was attractive to me.

Visitors were placed in residences with the students to get a feel for the college, and everyone was sent a package which included the dress code before visiting. I was most worried about the skirt clause, but I'd packed a few comfortable peasant skirts and my few non-t-shirt tops to go with. 

On my second day there, a female student told me my sweater was immodest. It was a fairly thick sweater--I was actually pretty hot for a mild fall day--but she insisted it was too tight and formfitting. The mild v-neck (collarbone level) was also pointed to as a problem. I was utterly humiliated, especially by her insinuation that I was distracting "other people." That general statement--that suggestion that I was being talked about and judged by others--was mortifying. 

Re: A New Wrinkle in the Modesty Debate

Jun. 27 at 10:10am | see this comment in context

Daniel, 

The truth is that sex *does* permeate human life. And the human body and human person *is* sexual. I don't think it would be a step forward to 'desexualise' everything--more like a step sideways, if that makes sense. 

My intuitive feeling is that we need to recontextualize sexuality--and the context is the human person. Which is one reason I love the Personalist Project!

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