Great post. It reminds me of the Mary Magdalene conundrum I often pondered growing up.
By all proven writings, Mary was as much an apostle as Mark or John, but popular culture has spent the last 1,000+ years reducing her to (at best) “that chick who just always hung around Jesus” or (at worst) a prostitute — and it’s the latter that gets to me. On the one hand, labeling her as a sex worker is a fine example of Jesus accepting everyone (including Judas, the thief who eventually sold him out to the Romans). On the other hand, Mary was not a sex worker.
That’s not a knock against sex workers — who are, y’know, human beings and deserve as much respect and protection as the rest of us. No, it’s the fact that the very historical misogyny you mention decided to amalgamate Mary with the unnamed woman whom Jesus prevents from being stoned… and that woman is also never identified as a sex worker! She was just said to have been “found with a man other than her husband”. Was she having a consensual affair? Was she being raped? “Who cares?” asks the mob. “Just stone her!” When dudes write the story, somehow the woman is always wrong. (I’ll stop before I go into a long rant about Aaron Sorkin.)
Unlike other folks commenting here, I believe the Catholic church has the ability to evolve as much as any other institution (start with “Vatican II” and move forward from there). It doesn’t need to be “destroyed”, it just needs to remember its core values.