Monday, 9 January 2012

The Saddest War

The saddest war is the war between the sexes. And quite obviously there is no truce that blankets over Christendom.

When I was a teenager, there were Catholic boys of a conservative, traditional disposition who expressed their disappointment and frustration with women with such remarks as, "Women wear jewellery to give themselves worth."

This was devastating to the girls who took these boys seriously. And I must say it is rather demoralizing to try to live up to Catholic--instead of worldly--standards, flinching against the mockery of less devout, and sometimes blatantly contemptuous, people, when some Catholic boys themselves are telling you how worthless women are.

I am not sure what is at the heart of such attacks, which of course still take place today. It might be a backlash against a tendency in society to blame men for everything bad in society. Or it might be an illogical reaction to the men's own, not inconsiderable, sexual temptations. Or it could be disappointment that not all women are like beloved mothers and sisters but rather more complicated than them.

Or it could be horror that large numbers of women are willing to hire doctors to kill their unborn children. There does seem to be rather a contradiction in the fact that boys are told to never, ever, hit girls when the only people in our society who can kill with impunity are girls.

But being as old as I am, and being rather more aware (I hope) than the average young Catholic of the shocking horrors of which some men are capable of inflicting on women and children, I find it ludicrous that some Catholic men can still, echoing the testier, more misognynist views of classical and mediaeval theologians, hold that women are morally weaker than men.

I can only assume that at the heart of such a denunciation lies some serious pain. Discuss in the combox with every ounce of respect and charity you can scrounge.

21 comments:

Young Canadian RC Male said...

Hello Seraphic

I know you posted on feminism and anti-sexism/proper Catholic views of the sexes before, but this post sounds rather bitter and angsty from your usual ones on Seraphic Singles. I usually see the more fiery statements from you on your other blog.

Is there something that happened or inspired you to write this post? Perhaps a link to an article or an event from your Trid parish perhaps?

And hey, I may be more traditional in my views on women, but the jewlery comment is exactly like the crap about pants and women from the extreme trid/trad/EF corner seen elsewhere on the web, be it blogs, sites, or commentators about sexism. It's garbage and makes us trids look bad, especially trid men.

Seraphic said...

No Trid made the comment about jewellery. It was made over 20 years ago. However, there is still some male bitterness about women, and I am trying to get to the bottom of it in a calm and charitable way.

Seraphic said...

And this is not intended as any kind of slam on Trid men.

Jam said...

In some cases I think it's overcompensation against feminism. It's a misunderstanding of both the past and the present that ends up dredging up misogyny as an antidote to the f-e-m-word. Such comments also have a brush of that "a real man doesn't worry about offending people" conservative bravado. I'm thinking of the pickup trucks parked at my local hardware store with bumper stickers that say things like "If you don't speak English go back to your sorry ass country" and "Save America, shoot a liberal". Obviously it's broader than that since your example is from several years ago and Canada :) but if a young man wants to be affirmed in his misogyny nowadays...

Maggie said...

I agree with you, Jam, that this sort of modern misogyny of which Seraphic writes is probably in backlash to the feminist movement. The feminist movement oughtn't be vilified as a whole, since it did accomplish some good things, but its most militant arm tries very hard to make men feel unwanted, unneeded, and un-useful, and directly assaults their dignity as sons of God made in his image (and for that matter, I'd argue that the most extreme feminist views assault women's identities as daughters of God almost made in his image).

However, we do know that misogyny existed long before "The Feminine Mystique" and while it might have been culturally accepted it was no less wrong. I'm certain that misogyny (or any other kind of prejudice) is simply a consequence of living in a fallen world.

Maggie said...

whoops! That should be "...as daughters of God *also* made in his image" Yikes! One word makes a huge difference there!

TGWWS said...

Seriously, Maggie! ;) But I completely second Jam and Maggie both. Misogyny is a (misguided) way for men to still feel like men in a culture that devalues masculinity. The irony of the situation is that in attempting to help women, feminism has actually created a backlash against them.

True office story: One male office worker and two female are in conversation. The female says something complimentary re the other female's appearance. The male laughingly remarks that if HE had said the same thing, it would have been considered sexual harassment. The female who bestowed the compliment remarks that that remark in itself counts as harassment (true under certain interpretations of US labor laws). She's kidding, but the male doesn't realize it, and turns very apologetic ...

This is where feminism has brought us. I can't say I'm surprised that (1) many men are afraid of women (including being afraid to ask them out) and (2) some men dislike women, period. And re the dislike of women, I wonder if the rise of militant feminism has something to do with the rise of SSA as well as the rise of misogyny. Thoughts?

Maggie said...

TGWWS, as to point #2 and the rise of SSA, I think we have to be careful and make a fine distinction. Sin is sin is sin and has existed since the Fall. SSA is nothing new, nor is any other sort of sexual misuse (contraception, abortion, etc). But you are right on the money that the aftermath of the feminist revolution paved the way for the broader social acceptance and promotion of SSA as a perfectly acceptable *lifestyle choice* (which is very different from the attractions themselves, which may not be anyone's fault at all, and simply the result of a fallen world).

Charming Disarray said...

Feminism is only a scapegoat. The worst offenders in this area are men who have had very little to do with feminism, who were raised in Catholic families or who have Catholic families of their own, in my experience. It's nothing but a distraction because as long as people can blame the "other" they don't have to look at themselves as the problem.

TGWWS, so what if something said by a man to coworker would be considered harassment even if it's fine for a woman to say the same thing? That's just a difference between the sexes. A man might be hitting on you; a woman (probably) isn't. I hardly see that as a some of persecution that justifies the kind of rage I've seen against again women from conservatives. And if that's the worst thing that happens to a guy all day, he needs to quit whining. I mean, you know, it's better than standing outside your chapel on Easter and hearing a man say, in response to a priest telling him to be patient with his non-Catholic wife, "Well, my impulse is just to use a baseball bat."

TGWWS said...

Maggie, fair point about increased social acceptance. Isn't is also the case, however, that *some* cases of SSA are fluid and can be encouraged or discouraged by acceptance or lack thereof? (My impression from reading--no special knowledge or personal experience.)

Charming Disarray, I'm sorry you've had to endure hearing comments like the baseball bat one. I don't think anyone on this forum is trying to excuse such behavior; we're trying to understand what makes it more common. To use an extreme analogy, there's no excuse for terrorism--but one can find "reasons" for a terrorist's actions by looking at a terrorist's life. Likewise, there's no excuse for misogyny--but misogynists are frequently the same men who've been scarred by feminism. Hurt people hurt people, as the saying goes.

Hope that clears my point up!

Sarah said...

"Scarred" by feminism? Give me a break. The most misogynistic men I have ever encountered often have no other knowledge of feminism except scary stories of militant ones. Almost no first hand experience at all. They have, more often than not, been on the more sheltered side, from very conservative mothers. I think Seraphic is on to something in her point about them being disappointed and frustrated that the women they encounter in The Real World are not like their mothers.

Militant feminism is not as rampant as people on both sides would lead us to believe, especially in this generation.

Anna said...

Having had a run-in with the feminism-hating manosphere (after being made fun of for suggesting SSA as an appropriate term for homosexuals instead of offensive ones that were being bandied around), I was about ready to join NOW.

I hope to God I would never have to submit to one of those misogynistic men. Bitterness, indeed.

healthily sanguine said...

Just walk away. I think many women have this false notion of how politeness/sympathy/compassion is meant to extend. It does NOT extend to rude comments and abuse, and anyone is well within his or her rights to walk away from a conversation that has taken that turn. We need to listen to such things.

healthily sanguine said...

I mean to say, we need NOT listen to such things.

some guy on the street said...

'Tis sad indeed.

I feel inclined to remark, as a student of ambiguity, if we entertain the very-likely possibility that Mr. Antijoaillerist were doing a poor job of expressing his intention, he might have been trying to say " [...] to give themselves self-worth". Not that such a lazy blanket psychoanalysis is much better than judging womenfolk to be (intrinsically, at least) worthless, but it does make a difference when it comes to understanding what his actual problem is.

In that case, he may well be (badly) trying to say something similar to what I've heard Aunty lamenting in her annual anti-pelagian rant: that some people become ensnared by the notion that a conjugal mate (or just the right accessories to acquire one, or feeling attractive enough for it, at least) is a necessary determinant of personal worth or actualization. But of course, this isn't true of women-in-general, nor even (I think) of most women, nor should it have been expressed as this unhappy fellow put it. But so much for him.

As for The War, I suspect hostilities are begun with grossly thwarted expectations for unreasonable enjoyment of unreasonable things, fueled by widespread rejection of the reality of Reality, fueled by dissatisfaction with reality as known vs. the unreality one sees in cheap entertainment. That is, cheap entertainment suggests to men that if one acts like It belongs to him, he can enjoy lots of varied It; cheap entertainment suggests to women that they would enjoy lots of varied It (if avoiding all consequences at all costs), despite natural instinct and ancient tradition and the persistent currency of insults that start with the letter "w".

Oh, about SSA --- it seems (modulo the salt of wisdom) that what most predisposes boys to SSA is poor fathering; that is, fathers being lousy men. In so far as that may be true, it shouldn't be too surprising if there were increasing dissatisfaction with men-in-general among women and increasing public sodomism in close succession. Alas, the noisier entertainment of our current age also subscribes to a weird sort of homeopathy, suggesting that the cure for our ills is more of the evils that caused them.

Clare said...

I don't think SSA can be across the board, or even widely, attributed to such a simple cause as "lousy fathering."

And actually, plenty of women actually would enjoy getting lots of varied It, if by it you mean sex, and have enjoyed it, minus the grace of the sacrament and healthy understanding of human sexuality. Women differ widely not only from men, but from each other.

Too often female desire is made a sort of after-thought to male desire or reduced to a stereotype (as is men's--just watch commercials), and it drives me crazy. I still remember all the girls getting their own, private chastity talk at pro-life conferences, the subject and sole content being "How Not to Turn Boys on."

And I am not sure that I want to plumb the depths of what causes misogyny, especially in otherwise nice, well-educated, handsome Catholic boys. I can refer them to several good therapists and commend them to Our Lady, but otherwise I'm going to shake the dust from my feet and move on to men without demeaning theories.

Clare said...

I also call myself a feminist and am very grateful for much of the feminist movement. Because of feminism men rarely feel comfortable touching me when I wait tables; when they do the restaurant has no choice but to boot them. Because of feminism I can attend the university where I am getting my degree in classics. Because of feminism I can vote and testify in court. I can make plans knowing that my legal personhood will not disappear upon marriage, that I can support myself and live a broad and exciting life unmarried. Feminism has visited some horrors among us in the last 30 years and I understand why some women cannot in conscience identify as feminist; still, I am thankful for feminism.

Charming Disarray said...

Sarah, I agree.

Also, what is the manosphere? I keep seeing that term. Is that where all those losers obsessed with "game" hang out?

Seraphic said...

Well, thank you all for those interesting comments. I think there's a lot of good insight there.

Clare, I am having a good giggle at the idea of the extremely limited girls-only chastity talk. Now, if I had the freedom to write/talk to girls only, THEN you all really read/hear something! Maybe I start by setting a paperback copy of "The Thornbirds" on fire....

Sarah said...

Clare, I totally agree that I have begun considering myself a feminist, for many of the same reasons. I have to be careful when I tell that to my other Trad friends, though, because "feminist" is the dirtiest word in many traditional Catholic gender conversations.

AHH. "The Thornbirds." I had a well-meaning coworker suggest I read that to assuage the pain of having a boyfriend join the seminary. Needless to say, I smiled and nodded and then wretched later on.

Anna said...

"The Thordbirds" is quite an amusing read, tho the mind boggles at the suggestion to read it in order to get over a broken heart.

There is the "good" manosphere, like the Art of Manliness and the "bad" manosphere, comprised of bitter men who want to bring back "the patriarchy", and yes, there's the PUAs and those obsessed with game... ick. As Auntie says, you won't always like what men are thinking...