(Letter heavily changed and messed around with to protect the innocent.)
Dear Auntie Seraphic,
Are there any men out there who DON'T look at women as a mere sexual object?? Recently I have encountered a few supposedly "practicing" Christians whose conversation and outlook on relationships in general and women in particular have thrown me into a pit of relational despair.
I'm not afraid of the sexual side of married life, and I like men. But these supposedly Nice Christian Boys have taken the wind out of my sails. I try to tell myself that they must come from dysfunctional families where there are "mother issues." But it's discouraging to hear them speak so disrespectfully of women nonetheless. And if I object, I'm labeled a femi-nazi and that I just need to accept that this is how men are.
Any advice? Words of hope? A Catholic guy in my circle said something so nastily hateful about women to me recently, that I just don't know how to deal.
Suddenly I remembered the good old days when I was a teenage pro-life activist, and these two teenage pro-life guys wrestled away from me my student ID (which I needed for the train) and howled at my photograph because it was so ugly. Another teenage pro-life guy, furious at a friend of mine for some reason, told her that women wear jewellery to give themselves worth. And more recently, I heard of a young guy in a conservative Christian think-tank who said something really nasty to a shy young girl who works there.
Ah, the Nice Catholic Girl's big secret: some Nice Catholic Boys sound like sexist bastards at least some of the time, just like anti-Catholics allege.
Yes, ARRGH!, some (not all, not most, but SOME) young Christian men--Catholic, Protestant and, for all I know, East Orthodox--do have severe issues about women. Why, I do not know. It probably changes from man to man. My hunch is that these issues are usually about (A) sexual frustration, (B) struggles with sexual sin, (C) confusion over what is expected of men today, (D) envy, (E) this girl who hurt them, (F) Teacher, (G) Mother.
But, in my experience, most Catholic men (and most men in general) are not sexist jerks. Of course, most men I know these days are over 25. But even thinking back to my university days, I remember a dozen or so young men whom any girl would be proud to know and introduce to her granny. The rest have probably grown up a lot since then.
When any woman is totally fed up with men-in-general, I recommend the blessing exercise. The blessing exercise is to say silently, every time you see a man, "Bless his little heart." That's it. You do it for at least a day (but try three), and your attitude towards men improves amazingly.
Now, in the case of the guy who was gratuitously horrible to you, I recommend asking him WHY he doesn't like women--or, better, why he doesn't like you. Here is the conversation I am hearing in my Mind's Ear:
You: So why don't you like me?
Mr Horrible: What?
You: Why don't you like me?
Mr Horrible: What are you taking about? I like you. Sure, I like you.
You: Then why did you make that horrible remark about women to me?
Mr. Horrible: Aw, lighten up.
You: No, seriously. I'm curious. You seem like a nice man, you're Catholic, you must love Our Lady, but you make remarks like that. So I'm assuming that you don't like me, or you have a problem with women-in-general. And since you're a Catholic, and Catholicism stresses the Dignity of Women, my guess is there's something going on with you.
Mr Horrible: You know what I don't like....?
And then Mr Horrible pours out his wounded masculine soul because most young men with a grievance can't help talking about it when given half a chance.
There is also, of course, the chance that Mr Horrible's anger goggles are so firmly glued to his head that he will just call you a "crazy bitch" instead of explaining himself or apologizing. In this event, I suggest you avoid him at all costs, and if others in your set ask why, you tell them, word for word.
Another thing I recommend is to read Mulieris Dignitatem by John Paul II. John Paul II totally loved us women. And you can find it on vatican.va.
Grace and peace,