Wednesday, 10 November 2010

The Saint Joseph Problem

Dear Auntie Seraphic

Have you ever seen this:

http://artofmanliness.com/2008/01/16/stop-hanging-out-with-women-and-start-dating-them?

A recently married male friend posted this on his facebook page and so I copied it, knowing I was risking the wrath of my male friends. Well, the men didn't say anything, but the women sure did! They loved it.

I wanted to share it with you to see what you thought.

I don't know what you see-and maybe you had a post about this somewhere along the way and I missed it, but do you see what he is saying? That many young adults are not dating? I find that at most of the young adult gatherings I go to, there is very little sexual tension. And I think that is a huge problem. And I think this guy's answers are right on.

It has almost made me consider that even as friends, I have made myself too available to the men. I'm a NCG, so naturally I'm not doing anything wrong, but I wonder if even the presence of easy friendship with women men don't have to do much work. That really gets my blood running! Why are all these 30-something men still single? I have little sympathy for them, I really do.

I'm at [traditional Catholic college] so maybe it's that there are so many great girls that the men feel they have several options. THEN ASK THEM OUT! But they don't!! I don't think it is just here, because I hear the same happens in [Washington] DC, [Minneapolis-]St Paul and Denver--all hubs for great Catholics.

What is going on? Why aren't the men pursuing? Why are they not searching out a woman to spend the rest of their lives with them? I don't mean this as a sob at all. I mean, yes. I'm rather bothered that someone hasn't snatched up someone as lovely and wonderful as me! :) (I'm not normally this harsh, in real life). I'm just bothered that there are so many wonderful, gorgeous, holy, normal, balanced, exceptional Catholic women who men just walk right by. Good grief. Some of my friends I can't figure why men aren't following them around and drooling. Really.

So, wondered what you thought of his conclusions. I liked them. And I liked that he was getting on the guy's case!

Snatchable


Dear Snatchable,

I enjoyed the link and its shouts of "Man up!" I like to shout "Man up!" myself at times, although there are few people more unattractive to a 20-something Nice Catholic Boy than a 39+ year old married woman who is not even his mother shouting "Man up!"

Although I do wish, wish with all my auntly heart, that more young men would decide, at the age of 21 or so, that it was time to go out and slay some dragons and win some princesses to help them rule their eventual kingdoms of house, car, garden, children, dogs, barbeque and Little League/Book Club, I can see why they don't.

Adolescence was once considered a regrettable stage, covered in awkwardness and pimples, to be got through as quickly as possible. We experienced the powerlessness of childhood, we hastened through a brief adolescence and we seized the reins of adulthood.

For men adulthood meant making a living. For women it meant making a living until a "good marriage" provided us with a house, garden (or farm) and family to work at instead. If our husbands didn't make enough to provide for them all, or if we got permission to make a little pin-money, married women worked at various part-time jobs, like scrubbing floors for richer women or taking in laundry. Life for most married women up to the 1970s did not look, in fact, like a Ralph Lauren ad.

Meanwhile, adolescence is now considered THE most desirable stage of life, and the Baby Boom generation was the first generation in the history of mankind to decide en masse to stay there. Adult freedoms and adult money with as little adult responsibility as possible has gone from being counter-cultural to completely cultural in the English-speaking world. New immigrants, especially hard-working Asians, must think we are insane. And sometimes we agree, which is why we say "To hell with this. I'm going traddie."

And now we come to what I call the Saint Joseph Problem. I mean no disrespect to Saint Joseph,to whom I give partial credit for getting me remarried at last and who is, after all, a great model of masculinity. The problem is that he is, for young trad Catholics today, too much our model of masculinity.

Young traddie women with housewifely ambitions rightly want a younger, sexier St. Joseph to take care of them, have a real job, bring home the money, protect them from the hooded claw, keep the vampire from their door. When the chips are down, he'll be around with his undying, death-defying love for them. Et cetera. But this is quite a lot to ask of a boy at [conservative Catholic college] who is, on average, 20 years old.

St. Joseph may have been descended from King David, but he was essentially a blue-collar worker. I don't know what he was doing at 20, but it wasn't tequila shots or an all-nighter on his Poli Sci essay. My guess is that he was already a professional carpenter and, anyway, we think he was pretty old when he became betrothed to Our Lady. I'm guessing his business was well-established and flourishing. How many 20 year olds do you know who can support a wife?

In short, the Nice Catholic Boy is caught between the rock of a society that tells him to stay 19 forever and the hard place of being expected to provide for a Nice Catholic Girl and their children in an economic environment turned upside
down. When married women took on (or stayed in) middle-class jobs, the cost of living skyrocketed. One salary plus one salary no longer equalled two. And when banks began handing out mortgages like cheap cigars, the price of housing skyrocketed, too.

On top of this, the Nice Catholic Boy is constantly insulted, day in and day out, by appeals to his sex drive. He is intensely visual, and images of naked or nearly naked women (and, in some neighbourhoods, men) are shoved at him 24/7. Imagine if advertisers sent out gorgeous men with growly voices to give women back massages and compliments. The advertisers are doing the equivalent to the Nice Catholic Boy. Meanwhile, it used to be very hard for him to find porn, which is very addictive; now he can hardly avoid it. So being confronted with real women, real live women in cute outfits, in a sexually-charged situation like a date, is now incredibly problematic for our Nice Catholic Boy, who very often can't afford to marry.

I had a 20-something devoutly Catholic male friend, very cute, who was terrified of getting involved with a woman lest he go too far and she let him do it. His ideal woman was a woman who would slap him if he went too far. Unfortunately he couldn't think of a safe way to figure out which women would do that. Now he's a male religious. Sigh.

All this, and I haven't even got to feminism yet. Let's just say that young men, nice young men, nice young Catholic men, have many reasons to be deeply afraid of women. They open a door; they get screamed at. They don't open a door; they get screamed at. Eventually young women will stop screaming long enough to realize that the great majority of their colleagues are not The Oppressor and are, in fact, the most ripped-off generation of men in history. Meanwhile, they're scaring them.

Therefore, I encourage you and other NCGs to stop blaming Nice Catholic Boys under 25 for not pursuing you. I encourage you to be friendly to them without making them your Bestest Buddies and wait for them to mature as best they can in a world that tells them not to.

Making a man your Bestest Buddy strikes me as being a form of castration. There was an appalling trend in the USA of 20-something mixed sex pyjama parties where college-age boys and girls snuggled chastely under comforters, watching movies, eating popcorn, all being girls together. Have we gone insane?

A final tip: men do not seem to have a problem courting women a decade younger than themselves. And the older men get, the more likely they are to be advanced in their careers. So if it is very important to you to marry a university man and not, say, a successful tradesman (like St. Joseph), and yet stay at home with babies, you might want to ponder men in their 30s and 40s.

I hope this is helpful.

Seraphic

9 comments:

dark but fair said...

Dear Seraphic,

Thank you for this post. I can completely sympathize with "Snatchable" in her frustration. However, I have long stopped being frustrated with the men. I frustrated for them.

It is a dreadful situation for courtship on every battle front. It is hard to make enough to support the wife and any children. It is more difficult than ever to be chaste. It is more difficult to connect as persons because we have become so fearful of each other. It seems that one of the things most fearful to any person is being judged negatively. In reality, there are so many worse things that can happen. Not growing as a person, for instance, or not learning to conquer one's fears or becoming incapable of true love and commitment, or being warped and poisoned by bitterness.

I think we NCGs need to be affirming and gentle to the NCBs, but that we must NOT fight their battles for them. I really think that one of the best things that we can do for them is to communicate to them what we expect of them. A lot of poor guys are completely unschooled and are completely baffled as to what is to be expected of them. For example, maybe a simple, "Would you be so kind as to open the door for me, please? My hands are full." Would be more effective than complaining after the fact to them, "You guys are SO TOTALLY not gentlemen! You never open the door for us!"

The whole dating thing is more difficult to handle. I used to go out on at least one date with every fellow who asked me. My friends would ask me why I did, especially if the gentleman had not made a favorable first impression on us. I would answer that first impressions can be decieving and I wanted to give every man a fair sporting chance. If after two dates, the gentleman still seemed intent on pursuit, and we lacked compatibility (I could usually tell by the end of the second date) I would decline further requests as gratefully and graciously as I could. Because the last thing I or any other NCG would want to do is discourage a NCB to go out and continue asking other women or detain them from their mission. If that is their calling, that is.
But when men seem intent upon simply hanging out and take forever to ask, it is awkward. It only makes them look clumsy to us.

Once a NCB kept going to places where he knew that he would find me. He hovered around me and asked me millions of questions about myself, my views, my interests, my talents and my housekeeping skills. His questions and his many compliments were only flattering the first five hundred times because he would not ask me out. Moreover, he would not converse with me. He made it seem like an interview for the honored promotion of being his date, or an audition for a part I had to perform. Any interest he had hope of sparking in my mind he ruined by his air of condescension, evaluation and his stalling. So I became fairly confident and happy that he would never ask me out and leave me alone. So I became more reserved, and answered questions succinctly, followed by a question to him or a remark on a book, play, poem, lecture, musical piece or the weather. All the while I was giving him messages with my eyes and body language "Just in case you ever were going to make up your mind to ask me out...Don't!"

He did not pick up on it! It is baffling to me! What is the point of stalling and testing the waters forever if you are not even going to pick up on the signs we women give you? He finally did ask me out and then I had to politely and gently decline and say the dreaded "I just want to be friends." It is sad, because he was a fine fellow in himself, but he kept shooting himself in the foot. I had rather hoped at the time that this was a rare thing, but talking to my friends I see it is not. It is so sad for men and women both.

Domestic Diva said...

Seraphic, I agree with everything you said. But Snatchable was asking about 30-something men, and - maybe I've misread you - many of your comments were directed toward 20-something men. I know the 30-somethings are burned by women's wrath for opening/not opening the door, but I've observed many men who are making a reasonable living by the time they are 30, yet still are not dating/marrying. Do you have additional words of wisdom about NCMs 30+?

NordicChick said...

Ask a NCB, like an unattached brother or some male who is like a brother why they didn't pursue girls in college. I asked my older unattached brother and his answer was "I have nothing to offer her. The natural conclusion of dating is marriage; so why date a girl if you can't propose within a year?(which I am certain Auntie Seraphic will agree with). I don't even have a degree never mind a full-time job. Why would I marry a girl who I can offer nothing to?" My friends have asked their unattached brothers and their answers have been about the same thing. I respect my brother for that as I respect my friend's brothers. I would rather marry a man like that and I hope that the man who wants to marry me would put that much care and thought into our future. I wouldn't have wanted to marry some NCB who didn't even have a job on the day of our nuptials, living with relatives, nor would I want to be working full time with baby #2 on the way and the landlord-is-kicking-of-us-out-of-our-apartment-and-we-can't-afford-anything-else scenario (all true).

The only other answer men have is they "Haven't found the one yet" which is another story, but you can't blame a guy for looking for the right one. Sometimes us women get so caught up in our unwed status bereft of men that we forget there are men (there are some lazy non pursuers too)out there who have been going out on date after date, searching for "the one." One NCB, (getting married this Saturday to a lovely NCG) received a horrible reputation as a flirt for looking for "the one" from his Freshman year at college until he was thirty. It is best not to get bend out of shape over single men in their thirties- 10 years from now I'll venture to say only a very few of them will be left unmarried. After all, there is a God and His plans are way bigger and better then anything we can cook up in the meantime. I do loose patience with these guys running off to study some subject with a Masters or doctorate that won't earn a crust of bread when they finally decide to marry it is part of the man's role to be a provider- don't know how they missed that one modern world or not. There they will be with 6-8 years of student loans and say "Will you marry me?" But, I will refrain on this subject. :-)

The whole time I was at a traditional Catholic college, I watched with a small grouping of friends, as NCG after NCG dated/courted NCB after NCB and finally watched them marry within weeks and months of graduation. We wondered "What the heck is the matter with the NCB at our school?" or parents said: "I don't know what is the matter with the NCB at your school, every girl I have seen is either attractive or beautiful." etc.- like Snatchable says "so many wonderful, gorgeous, holy, normal, balanced, exceptional Catholic women who men just walk right by." I thought rather sadly that, sniff, I was going to graduate not dating or un-engaged. Then one day I realized these NCG were in the extreme minority of women on campus and the majority of us were single & wondering why the men weren't pursuing or had taken the pursuing into our own hands.

Now, that I have been graduated for 2 years I am so GLAD, GLAD, GLAD I did not date during college and end by marrying some NCB the summer after I graduated. Looking back, I see first how startlingly immature, just boys really, they were and now when I meet them these 2 years later they are now men, now they are worth dating and marrying.

Seraphic Spouse said...

So much to say. Snatchable wrote primarily about her experiences at a conservative Catholic college and then mentioned men in their 30s.

I am haunted by men saying "I have nothing to offer." I will ponder how men can be persuaded that they DO have something to offer or that with a little bit of effort they WILL have something to offer. Meanwhile, if they are fine being Single for now, I'm cool with that. They don't want to marry just anyone either.

As everyone knows, girls mature faster than boys. And nowadays all we hear about is opportunities for girls, career ladder for girls, 'girl power', girls taking charge of their lives, and not so much about opportunities for young men or young men taking charge of their lives.

hip2bsquare said...

I'd definitely be interested to hear what you come up with, Seraphic.

Alisha said...

I have two things to say.

"I am haunted by men saying "I have nothing to offer." I will ponder how men can be persuaded that they DO have something to offer or that with a little bit of effort they WILL have something to offer."

The reason they believe that they have nothing to offer is because somehow, they've come to believe that their position in the world is more important than their person. This is why, while I believe it's important to enter marriage responsibly and understand the sacrifices of all kinds that will be made, that I always react so strongly to the suggestion that it is about the man being the provider or about diamonds (though I get that Seraphic is saying that people should not waste others' time or play with their hearts.) In marriage the sacrament consists of the man and woman giving THEMSELVES to each other. Not their amassed wealth or job or ability to turn cartwheels because they could lose all of that. Their identity is not that. Their identity is in Christ. If they know this, they know precisely that it is in their poverty that Christ is present and so they can move boldly forward with that assurance. To me, THIS is the tragedy, that NCBs (and girls!) do not understand this! What is Christianity if it is not about Christ? If Christ has not made us better understand the reality of our humanity better - our weakness, yes, but the fact that we are adopted children of GOD, for goodness sake, what the heck is the point of it all? To say you have nothing to offer, if you are Christian, means you do not understand your own faith and you need to go read your Scripture and your Catechism. And the lives of the Saints. Please.

Secondly, yes the poor boys have a terrible culture, they've been emasculated bla bla bla and we should not yell at them. None the less, manning up is not a matter of them being petted to death. At the end of the day, bad culture or not, they have brains and they have will. They can look around them and make decisions and ask questions. If they don't know how to act in a situation they can ask for advice.
I have been surrounded from childhood by magazines and celebrity culture which upholds thinness, fashion and all kinds of other false things as ideal. I am not, however, anorexic or a shopaholic because I simply judged, correctly, that those things are not essential or very important...and surprise, surprise, I came to these conclusions (gasp!) on my own. With the help of grace, of course but NCBs have access to that same stuff - even more than I did because I didn't go to a traditional Catholic college and I have no formal theological training. Basically, unless someone is extremely stupid, these things can be figured out.
If I'm extremely impatient it's because I know of enough examples that are different to know it doesn't have to be that way. My brothers all grew up in the same culture that these NCBs did. Not one of them is like the men described here. They aren't perfectly settled in their lives but they aren't sitting around, rendered completely helpless by the culture...again, to give that much credence to the wounded culture, to me, is to empty the Cross of its power, our faith of its meaning. We're supposed to be more than conquerors, remember?!!
And now...off the soapbox.

Alisha said...

Secondly, yes the poor boys have a terrible culture, they've been emasculated bla bla bla and we should not yell at them. None the less, manning up is not a matter of them being petted to death. At the end of the day, bad culture or not, they have brains and they have will. They can look around them and make decisions and ask questions. If they don't know how to act in a situation they can ask for advice.
I have been surrounded from childhood by magazines and celebrity culture which upholds thinness, fashion and all kinds of other false things as ideal. I am not, however, anorexic or a shopaholic because I simply judged, correctly, that those things are not essential or very important...and surprise, surprise, I came to these conclusions (gasp!) on my own. With the help of grace, of course but NCBs have access to that same stuff - even more than I did because I didn't go to a traditional Catholic college and I have no formal theological training. Basically, unless someone is extremely stupid, these things can be figured out.
If I'm extremely impatient it's because I know of enough examples that are different to know it doesn't have to be that way. My brothers all grew up in the same culture that these NCBs did. Not one of them is like the men described here. They aren't perfectly settled in their lives but they aren't sitting around, rendered completely helpless by the culture...again, to give that much credence to the wounded culture, to me, is to empty the Cross of its power, our faith of its meaning. We're supposed to be more than conquerors, remember?!!
And now...off the soap box.

NordicChick said...

Some clarity here folks. It was not my intention that "having nothing to offer" be taken in such a serious theological/philosophical way. I meant it in a practical, common sense, realistic way. When speaking of my brother, I did not mean to insinuate in any way that he feels a need to be the wealthiest man going or shower his lady love with baubles & jewels. Nor does he have a poor opinion of himself as a man, thinking he has to offer material possessions and neither does he sit around and he certainly is not victim of today's culture. Or that he doesn't understand the Catholic Faith & Doctrine; the sacrificial self giving aspect of marriage.

He is not going to marry a woman & be on food stamps (I know Catholic newly weds like this)because he married a girl before he had a chance to think about anything (like clothing, sleeping & eating). Or marry a girl who has spent her life preparing to be a stay-at-home wife & mother and pull a fast one of telling her in order to pay the bills she has to work full time too.

It is important for men who are done with all their degrees/trade training to be actively and constantly looking for their future spouse, but for college/grad/doctorate student males that decision on whether to pursue or not is up to them and they have a perfect right to say that they "have nothing to offer a woman." I have met many a lackadaisical man who drove women crazy because "he isn't pursing anyone" and when they finally see "the one" I have never seen a man move so fast to get her.

Alisha said...

Thank you for the clarification...Of course men have a perfect right to pursue or not to pursue women and I'm not advising that they do in an undirected fashion just for the sake of being in motion. The issue, as I understood it, was the reasoning - i.e. that they had nothing to offer a woman. Within the context of a post that contained frustration over men's seeming laziness in pursuing women if they have discerned their vocation as being marriage, that answer seemed very unsatisfactory, and incorrect.