Thursday, 28 June 2012


Poppets, my hair stood on end. And I have a lot of hair, so you can just imagine what that looked like. Read this well-written article by "Lucy Simmonds" on Then read what Jeff in Sacramento wrote just beneath it. Do not tear your eyes away from the response by Jeff in Sacramento because I was profoundly moved by the testimony of Jeff in Sacramento and am going to write about it.

Go read. Then come back and read my thoughts below.

There are many reasons why men do not marry, and the comment stream is full of men saying what they are. The biggie is the absolute heartbreak of divorce, which is usually initiated by women, and the resultant loss of property, income and even children. That's what they say, so I'm not going to argue with them on that. I don't really enjoy arguing with men. There is no fun in arguing with a man you're not going to sleep with afterwards. Oh dear. Did I type that out loud?

But my principal thought, while reading Lucy's "I blame men" essay, is that the men she describes simply haven't fallen deeply in love with anyone yet. Nobody expects Western women to marry men we don't love. Well, I don't expect Western men to marry women they don't love. One might think out of sheer sexual frustration Catholic men might just pick the nicest girls they know and make the best of it, but it seems that they're not usually that sexually frustrated after all. Men, too, love love. Well, Keats was a man, so we shouldn't be surprised.

In Lucy's essay, Catholic American Manhood stands in the dock. All eyes are upon him. Lucy, the District Attorney (for the trial takes place in the USA), has accused him. We are the jury. Kerry Cronin (whom I know personally, a very sweet woman) has given her evidence. And now Jeff in Sacramento, counsel for the defense, steps before the bench and says "Is it not true that American women lack charm?"

Sensation in court.

One of the things about being happily married is that I can listen to Jeff in Sacramento without having ten thousand fits. Jeff in Sacramento could go on all day long about what he doesn't like about American Catholic women today and I wouldn't turn a hair. Even if he wound up by saying "And that goes for Canadian women, too, since I can't see much of a difference", I would merely nod and say, "Thank you, Jeff, for putting that so plainly." It's not my ego on the line. It's Lucy's. It's yours. So I will proceed cautiously.

I am on Lucy's side. And I am on Jeff's side. I am on the side of all authentic Catholic Singles and other Singles of Good Will. Fundamentally, Lucy and Jeff are on the same side, too. The war between the sexes is evidence of the Fall, not part of the Gospel message. In Christ there is no man or woman: this isn't some cockamanie argument for wimminpriests--it asserts the UNITY of Man and Woman in Christ.

"I blame men," says Lucy, and I cannot imagine a phrase more likely to lose her the sympathy of male readers. I used to blame men for stuff, too, and in fact my publisher at Novalis was a bit taken aback at some of the things I had to say about some men. But I figured out long ago that if you are Single and love men and want to marry one eventually, it is a very bad idea to sound like a Lesbian separatist. In fact, men are so battered and beaten up nowadays, the smartest thing a man-loving woman can do is tell men how marvellous they are. It is like rain falling on a wilted plant.

(Of course not all men are marvellous, but I am lucky in that all the men in my family are marvellous and that my husband is marvellous and we socialize only with marvellous men. If you're male and you're invited to my house for supper twice, you're marvellous. It's official. I should publish my guest list so that women can study it keenly.)

Another thing women should do is stop thinking men are anything like their schoolteachers. Our schoolteachers told us that if we studied hard and seized opportunities, we could be anything we wanted and could be the First Woman Blah-Blah-Blah and they would be proud of us. In fact they were already proud of us. Heavens, I can hear the words echoing from the past: "I'm so proud of you, girls!" But in general men do not give a tinker's damn about what women's grade are or what we do for a living. They usually don't care. Pretty face beats Harvard degree. Radiant smile trumps making partner. This is not to say that men think Harvard degree and making partner useless in a woman. These are just the cherries on the cake. B.A. did not marry me because I write well. But if I sell an article, he just happens to mention it to everybody.

And Lucy's schoolteachers would have loved her essay. It's well-written. It's thoughtful. It's honest, funny, and true. It sparked 47 comments. But it did not get her what she most deeply wants, and I heartily congratulate her on using a pseudonym.
However, all is not lost, because there is Jeff in Sacramento to tell her How to Get Traditional Catholic Men. Apparently the way to Get Traditional Catholic Men is to be charming.

I know a lot of Traditional Catholic Men*, and therefore I take Jeff's testimony quite seriously. But I also suspect that the Filipina and Polish women who marry ordinary white, non-Polish American guys do so in part because they are sick of the hyper-machismo of both the Philippines and Poland.

Women in hyper-macho cultures have it underscored to them every day and in every way that they are women, and they learn that they cannot take on men the way men take on men. And therefore they develop the feminine wiles men say they hate when they realize they are feminine wiles. If they don't know they are feminine wiles, men call them charm. And I bet you the Filipina and Polish women Jeff in Sacramento talks about turn them on instinctively the minute their American husbands get out of line.

Charm looks very nice, and indeed it is great fun to be charming. But underneath lies a not-so-pretty realism, the understanding that men are different and you cannot be 100% honest with them because they are men. Do you remember that scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding when Toula's mother and aunt snow her father into thinking he had come up with a solution to a problem?

In some ways that was absolutely horrifying. But that's charm. And that's life. If you think it is absolutely terrible ever to be disingenuous with men, then you wipe off that lipstick, missy, because your lips ain't that colour neither.

Thanks to Ashley for bringing the article to my attention!

*Update: In this context I mean The-man-is-the-head-of-the-household-my-wife-shouldn't-have-to-work guys, not guys who prefer the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. These include neo-con guys. In fact, they are usually neo-con guys. Sorry for any confusion.

P.S. Here's a photo of Auntie being charming. The smile is real. The cigarette is fake. The lipstick is Russian Red by MAC.


Sarah said...

As a single girl, my initial instinct is to arch my back and hiss a little at Jeff from Sacramento. But on further reflection, I have to admit that if women can demand that men be Charming (I think most of us do, though obviously masculine charm is very different from feminine charm) then men have every right to demand that women be charming.

*shrug* Well, good thing I think I'm charming, and the right man just hasn't been around to notice. ;)

By the way, I have always wished I could pull off Russian Red, but I don't like the way dark reds look with my skin tone. Plus, I have somewhat fuller lips and I think painting them red makes them take over my face. I've finally found a nice lipstick I like called "Hollywood Red" by a less expensive brand, but it's not so much red as a soft, rosy pink.

sciencegirl said...

I love your hat! I am a great fan of hats.

I was pleasantly surprised by the fairly gentle tone of both the article and comments.

If the problem is that unmarried men haven't fallen in love -- and I think this is true -- then no single one of the comments will be true for all men. Rather, they point to what that one man finds important. Jeff wants a girl with old-fashioned charm, Rich wants a girl who doesn't go on about "Twilight" or "Glee," while Sark wants a girl who knows all about papal encyclicals and is a faithful attendee of parish and diocesan events (and who also somehow is able to infiltrate, but not destroy, the men's group he started). Many girls have both charm, dislike certain TV shows, and pop up at parish events more than once -- but if it's not the right girl, I doubt it would make a difference.

The truth is, I believe that men also get to fall in love, and that vocation as spouse does not supersede vocation as Christian. A man who is living virtuously without a girlfriend, fiancee, or wife, is indeed blessed, and is not failing in responsibility. Furthermore, most of the Catholic men I meet end up married, so I also don't see a big lack of the marriage vocation.

I do think that men should stop judging women for how we relate with other women, and women should do likewise with men. I heard once a man complain that the women at his previous Bible study "Just talked about shampoo." I very much doubt this, but I have no doubt that the few conversations the women had with each other about toiletries were a bore to him. Likewise, discussions of Edward v. Jacob after the mixed sexes discussion group. The problem is, you see, many lonely young Catholics go to diocesan events to meet same-sex friends, as well as possible spouses, and same-sex discussions are occasionally dull to the opposite sex. That's kind of I also think it is unfair to chastise young men for "playing video games." There is "playing video games" in lieu of having a job, and there is "playing video games" in lieu of watching TV. In the 90s, it was "watches too much sports." I am really tired of this meme on the Internets that the problem with men is that they have masculine hobbies, and that the problem with women is that they like girly stuff. That is where I think we could grow up!

kozz said...

Seraphic, you look stunning in the pic.

Seraphic said...

Poppet, if I did not, it would not be there! ;-D

Sciencegirl, yes. Men should mind their own business about what women talk about with other women. That's why I dyed my blog pink, come to think of it. That way even if men are eavesdropping, they know that they are eavesdropping.

Alephine said...

What struck me about Jeff's comment is that he seems to conflate charm with sweet old-fashioned wifeliness. I'm not saying both of these can't coexist in the same woman, but they have no essential connection. It's not an accident that these two qualities are so often played off against each other in fiction (Scarlett v. Melanie. Carmen v. Micaela. Mary Crawford v. Fanny Price.) In other words, Jeff demands a lot. I suspect he may have an idealized image of pre-"feminist-culture" womanhood which maybe prevents him from seeing the attractive qualities of the real women around him. (Instantly writing off a woman just because she opens the door for you is no better than instantly writing off a man either because he does or because he doesn't do so.)

TGWWS said...

Hem. I'm a regular reader of Altcatholicah. Naturally I was following that dating discussion pretty closely.

What Jeff said stung. I mean, I'm an American woman. I do not consider myself wholly lacking in *cough* charm. I felt slapped in the face. Besides that--sciencegirl is right! All the men in the thread want something different; but Jeff claims to speak for all of them ...

Finally, as I was reading Jeff's comment and some of the other negative ones, I thought something along the lines of what Seraphic said. "I blame men" is not the wisest thing to say (even if it FEELS good to say it) in the company of men! I remembered the last dating article on Altcatholicah had been less of a "blame" article, so I clicked back and looked at it. "Waiting for the Man" was published on April 17. All the comments on it are from one to two months ago. Oh, except for one. Jeff in Sacramento's. Apparently he went and posted essentially the same ... explanation of the uncharmingness of American women ... on both dating articles. Including the one that expired, well, forever ago.

Blegh. I'm sorry, but Mr. Jeff has an ax to grind. Or maybe he's just on a mission. A mission to destroy the self-confidence of all American women?

Fail, Jeff. Fail.

Mustard Seed said...

Lucy's article got me a bit riled up. People sometimes lump each other into giant homogenous groups (eg "men want this" and "women want that") which bugs me.

Is it possible that the definition of partnership doesn't have to be fixed in stone, and each couple has the right to negotiate what that means? In the case of Jeff from Sacramento, maybe he will find a woman who agrees with his ideas. In the case of me, I'm hoping to find a man who is willing to share the responsibilities of work, child care, and the rest of our life together. I guess I want to "have it all" (work, family, etc.) but the main thing is that I'd like to share it all. Who cares who sits at the head of the table, as long as the people around it are happy and healthy? (If things like that are so important to a guy, he can have whatever chair he wants.) Maybe that's unrealistic, but I know a number of good guys who are pretty even-minded about these things.

Jessica said...

I was pretty offended by Jeff's comment, and I'm surprised to see it being taken seriously. I mean, he "wants to put his wife on a pedestal" but also hopes she's his "partner for life" and "equal but different"?

Jeff and another guy in the comments both talked about girls who have had premarital sex as having lost their charm/desirability. I think in general, that type of categorizing is creepy at best, unless it's concrete. I mean, if you are dating a girl and realize you can't handle the fact that she's not a virgen, fine. But to exclude all non-virgen women from your dating consideration? Meh.

Looking to Poland and the Phillipines for his wife? Again, unless he has some concrete examples...CREEPY. and whatever the opposite of xenophobic is. He's looking for a girl who's traditional and focused on the family, yet willing and able to leave her own family to move to the US with him? Educated enough to speak English with him but doesn't want to pursue further education or work outside the home? He can move to those countries if he wants to work within their cultural structures (both good and bad)...otherwise I think he should stick to finding a nice American girl, and let them open doors once in a while without using it as evidence of cultural decay. Sheesh.

One other interesting thing from the combox was a couple of guys defending the idea that women can/should be more agressive when dating in terms of doing the asking out, etc. I was surprised to hear guys saying that, tbh.

Seraphic said...

Good call, TTWGS, for finding that other comment from Jeff. Yes, it would seem that Jeff has an ax to grind, and fwiw, I wouldn't let him grind it in my blog's combox.

However, I've heard and read the "American women lack charm" point of view so many times that it seemed worth examining amongst us girls. What if hoards of Catholic American men ARE sitting around not getting married (as Lucy opines) just because American women just do not tug on their heartstrings?

The first guy to share the "Something is Wrong With American Women" point of view with me was an East Asian Jesuit who was, to put it bluntly, racist. When you say, "White women make bad wives" and you're not a just a white guy having a bad day, you're a racist.

But what to make of American guys who leave race out of it, but make sweeping generalizations, as American guys, about American women?

It seems to be an odd phenomenon because once upon a time, praising the women of your country was seen as an offshoot of patriotism. Part of the German national anthem praises German women (verse 3 or 4) along with German wine and German song. I once sat beside a young Slovak priest (actually from Slovakia) who went on and on about how beautiful Slovak women are. And don't get me started on Polish men (actually from Poland) and how beautiful they think Polish women are. ("Then why don't they marry [all of] us?" wailed someone in Krakow when I told her this.)

It seems to me that just as it is dumb (as a woman) to say "I blame men" in mixed company, so it is dumb (as a man) to say "I am fed up with American women."

However, if American men honestly want American women to stop being honest with them all the time, not to mention stop breaking their backs trying to be Wonder Woman, then that is something to consider. iF Catholic men would rather live in a flat with a housewife than in a ranch house funded by two salaries, well, I guess this is information we should have.

Personally I am all for doing what you want and being who you are and if that means you will be Single for life, fine. Scripture says celibacy is better anyway. But if you "want to get married", well, then. With what changes is a girl comfortable?

Seraphic said...

By the way, I want to go on record again and say I think it sucks when men, almost all of whom (if the stats are correct) commit--or have committed--a certain serious sexual sin get all freaked out by sexual sin in women. So often it is not about the women but about OTHER MEN. Apparently there are some guys who are so obsessed with women-touched-by-other-guys that they would not marry A WIDOW. Oh, and there are guys--like some in Bosnia--who won't have anything to do with their wives if they find out their wives have been raped. All I can say is that such men have a SERIOUS PROBLEM.

However, being that men are highly visual and also that virginity in women has been prized in so many cultures in the world for thousands of years, it seems wrong to get too mad about lingering male discomfort with women-having-been-with-other-guys. My guess is that most Catholic guys don't really care THAT much anymore (certainly not as much as their grandfathers did); they just don't want to hear about it. At least not the details.

Anonymous said...

This is nothing to do with the price of carrots but Seraphic, how on earth did you tie your hair up so tidy for that fascinator? What did you do with it?

Sinéad. (a fellow frizzball)

LadBelowTheEquator said...

Oh Mrs. McLean...that last one comment hurts...I had already read the mentioned post and want to stay detached from the discussion (not even being target audience member...), but I felt like offering a couple of points for you to consider, if you find them worth...

First, there are indeed non-misogynistic, non-Rad-Trad, non-a-lot-of-things Catholic men out there who have never committed a certain serious sexual sin, and it may not have any importance but we sure would appreciate if you didn't make us look more aberrant than we already seem to be - even though I honestly grant that to most of us lack of opportunity/courage may have the main reason, which doesn't mean it still is (and we certainly won't kill ourselves over it) :).

Second, perhaps male regard for female virginity may not be about the sin per se; for Christians, forgiving a sin shouldn't (at least in principle...) be a big deal, much less with the use of sacramental confession. But let's not forget that sin has consequences and some of them are very practical. Some of us just may think that both spouses should be equally inexperienced and awkward in their wedding night; or we may be troubled by how our non-virgin wife will compare her sexual life with us to what it used to be with her hooked-on-porn former boyfriend(s), if I make myself clear enough, and so on and so forth...all real concerns to which the usual "Internet NCG" replies as referred in the liked post ("Get Used to It"; "Man Up"; "Grow a Pair") fail to address...

And for the record, although just as Jessica above alluded to, I see nothing inherently wrong with requiring virginity as a sine qua non condition from a girlfriend, I wouldn't do it myself because it would only add unnecessary layers of misery to the process of finding a spouse that would quite possibly bring about the temptation of subscribing to Jeff in Sacramento's messed up mindset.

Shiraz said...

Interesting comments. I just thought I might share something a friend who has worked in family law told me. We often hear that women are statistically more likely to initiate divorce than men. How do we know this? We know who filed the papers. What this doesn't tell us is the circumstances around that. According to my friend, a LOT of women file divorce papers first, but their husbands have already left them, and, not having had any success getting support for the kids, the wives then file for divorce so that the (ex)husband can be legally provided to provide for the kids. So I suppose statistics don't give us the whole picture.

(Also: it gets my goat that anyone would avoid marriage because they believe they will be taken advantage of by an entire gender. If you have that sort of attitude, then OF COURSE things aren't going to work out well. End rant.)

Charming Disarray said...

Jeff from Sacramento is an ass. As a woman who has spent nearly her entire life around traditional Catholic men and women in California, some of whom are from Sacramento, I can say without a doubt that the women are far more charming than the men. The vast majority of traditional women from California subvert most of the traditional stereotypes--they dress well, are light-hearted, like to have fun, and don't chase men or open doors.

They have NO problem getting the attention of non-Catholic men, but for obvious reasons rarely will date one.

And there are the traditional men from California, who have very little of interest to say except what they think is the latest problem with women and stand around after mass making snide remarks or simply leaving without making an effort to talk to anyone. "California guys" has become a by-word in my circle for men who are incapable of doing most of the manly things a reasonably traditional woman could reasonably expect a man to do--like asking a girl out on a date. And most of them don't have places of their own or even cars. Their sisters drive them around. I'm not kidding.

The California guys who actually want to find a wife have absolutely no trouble doing so. My brother is happily married to a very feminine, charming woman who is--gasp--American, and he made a lot of effort during their courtship. I never heard him complain about American women.

I have both single and married friends, and the married ones all married men from out of state or different countries. I can think of one exception, and her husband (who is very kind and fun to be around) was not traditional when they met. He also doesn't make stupid remarks about American women.

The article was spot-on. The bottom line is, it's ridiculous to claim that traditional women are not charming, particular the ones from CA. I'm willing to acknowledge that I'm a less charming specimen, despite my name, but it really ticks me off when I see claims like this and everyone taking it seriously...particularly people who don't know the first thing about the traditional community in CA.

Charming Disarray said...

Just a comment on whether or not American women are genuinely uncharming. The reality is that AMERICANS are generally less charming than, say, Europeans. It's something we lack in our culture to some extent, and the men lack it more than the women do. For them to point fingers is just one more example of uncharmingness. But American women swoon just as easily over English or French men as, apparently, American men swoon over Polish or Asian women or whoever. In some ways, American men and women don't like each other, which is a huge generalization but I think it's worth thinking about.

But it's a REALLY good thing that I just made a cross-country move or I would seriously go up to Sacramento this Sunday and kick Jeff in the head. He might then reconsider how much more charming all the other traditional women are in comparison.

I'm kidding, of course. Please don't call the police.

Urszula said...

How lovely, Auntie! You look fabulous!
I thought I would weigh in in this discussion as a Polish-American who has spent equal amounts of time on both sides of the Atlantic. Polish men are, yes, very courteous and gentlemanly (open doors, kissing extended hands) but that does not necessarily translate into machismo or manliness. I know plenty of Polish men who are still finishing their 5-year college degree (or starting a new one!) at the age of 30, all while being supported by their mothers, or sisters. It seems to me that being unable or unwilling to grow up is something that afflicts people across cultures.
That said, the 'traditional' gender roles are most certainly more deeply imbedded in Polish culture, so I suppose subconsciously, we Polish women adapt to them, and maybe that is the key to this 'charm'. I do know that I've heard the phrase "the man may be the head, but the woman is neck" a vast amount of times in Poland, so there may be something in it.
My observations do not seem to square off with yours about Polish men, Auntie, but I have a feeling that may be because the Polish men who leave Poland are different then Polish men who stay in Poland. Perhaps more willing to embrace adventure, challenges = more macho/manly.
As to the discussion at hand, I’m torn. I do think men can be turned off by successful women, and I think that’s unfortunate. I sometimes feel like Lucy – yes, I travel, write, have a good job, and enjoy my life, but that doesn’t mean you should assume I don’t want to marry. I sometimes wonder what some traditional Catholic men expect women to do if they don’t marry right after college. What’s wrong with supporting yourself, paying rent, doing your own groceries and being successful as a person, single or not? I would expect a grownup person, regardless of sex, to strive to be independent and responsible. And grown-up.

Canadian Doc said...

I just re-read Jeff's response and I don't think he's that much of a villain. Maybe I'd be more defensive if I were American?
I liked what he said about wanting a woman who can appreciate what a man can offer. I like take-charge kind of men. Even though I am training to be a surgeon and will have to be a leader at work, I don't want to have to lead in my relationship/personal life.
I think that women can honor men by letting them lead. Note: letting them lead doesn't mean never getting to be oneself or speak one's mind. It just means relaxing enough to trust in a man's abilities.
I don't think, however, that a woman like me would ever be right for a man like Jeff.
Sometimes I argue, I can be as sweet as I am stubborn, and although he says that he doesn't want a subservient wife, it's hard to see him with a woman who is strong but also gracious.
It is really hard to see him with a charming career woman who also wants to be a wife and mother.
There was a Globe and Mail article a while back that mentioned the lack of male elementary school teachers. It also talked about the success of women. In Canada, 60% of medical students are women. The article suggests that sure, women are becoming more and more successful, but men, I think, are struggling with their role as men, and their difficulties might account for the increasing success of women. Back to the article: it suggests that male elementary school teachers are a rare breed but important role models for young boys.
A part of me sympathizes with Jeff. As much as I hate it when men are cowardly, I also don't think they always have things so easy.

MichelleMarie said...

All this talk about American/Canadian women being unfeminine and having no charm all of a sudden makes me feel large, clunky, club-footed. Seriously, I've heard it so many times! It's bewildering.

okiegrl said...

I think Jeff is a bit of an ass (bless his wee heart)for blaming everything on American women,particularly the snark about how Lucy isn't charming if she takes exception to his opinion. Ad hominem attacks are not classy Jeff. He's certainly not a knight in shining armor!

I do think he has a point about women not being charming. Taking an argument head on and pointing out why her way is better is how most American women handle a difference of opinion in a romantic relationship. It's high conflict. Contrast that with the movie clip above. The women use their charm to come at him sideways, and the poor husband doesn't even know he was in a conflict!

I grew up with a very traditional Indian (Not Native American) father, and that's how we all had to handle him. When I went to college I tried to confront disagreements with men in the more American straight forward approach. It wasn't remotely as successful. So ladies,using a bit of charm to sidestep a disagreement with a man is the better choice.

As far as why Catholic men aren't marrying, I think some of them are a little too full of themselves (like Jeff.)Why give up all the fun of being single for a "sub par" woman who might have made a mistake or two in their lives? (I'm not just talking about virginity here.) I've seen it from quite a few Catholic men.

Urszula said...

okiegrl, what an interesting perspective on the wisdom of choosing a less confrontational method to resolve issues with men!

I know I've already commented, but the article and Jeff's response stayed with me through an hour of doing laps at the pool. I don't want to point fingers, but I think it's a bit shortsighted of Catholic men to undervalue and make assumptions about Catholic 'career women'. First of all, if you've worked hard to earn a living and make it by yourself, you are better capable of valuing someone else's (ie your husband's) hard work if that enables you to care for the family at home. And second, if a married woman has (had) a job/career, the whole family is safer in the event that something tragic befalls the 'head' of the family. Tragedy strikes - cancer, accidents, divorce. So in my view, a protective man should feel reassured if his wife has proven earning ability.

I don't understand the mindset that's prevalent in a lot of traditional circles that 'girls shouldn't think about the future other than praying for or dreaming about Mr. Perfect Chosen From Above.' That's just irresponsible.

So while I was swimming I noticed a guy in the lane next to me who would synchronize starting his laps with mine. I'm more about endurance than speed, so he 'won' the race every time, and I wasn't there to compete, but I just thought it was a rather interesting situation. It happens to me fairly regularly, and I'm not sure men are even conscious of how they try to prove themselves better than women, in all areas.

Bless his little heart.

okiegrl said...

Urzula,I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment that women should do their best to make sure they have a good income. This doesn't necessarily mean a Bachelor's degree, but there are trades and an Associate's at most community colleges doesn't cost too much money. Sometimes "til death" comes sooner rather than later. Women are also living longer. A woman who has a kid at 28 will be 46 when he's out of high school and 50 when he graduates college. Retirement age will be 67, so she still has nearly 20 years of a career.

PS- I bet the swim guy was trying to show off. Male egos can't help it, bless their hearts.

n.panchancha said...

Fab photo, and smart people in the combox. How fun. :o)

I will only add that despite my initial hair-frizzling experience on reading these, it all becomes suddenly nothing-to-be-that-bothered about, in my mind, if I take it that both Lucy and Jeff are speaking in the same general, impersonal way.

I completely understand why a man would be frustrated by a woman saying (apparently to him), "You, sir, are acting like an irresponsible adolescent instead of manning up and proposing." To most any *individual*, real man reading that, I think a very reasonable response would be (and is): "But it's not that I'm afraid of marriage - I haven't asked you to marry me because I don't particularly want to marry YOU!" Hopefully, since it's the internet, no female reading that response needs to break down and weep à la Sally Albright when having that "it's not marriage, it's me" revelation about an anonymous nobody.

But equally, when an *individual* man, out of a sense of the above-mentioned kind of injustice, says to the general female populace, "It's because y'all are not near charming enough," real, *individual* women's first (and natural) reaction is to read this as, "YOU, Miss, are not charming enough, and that is the real reason why no man has asked you to marry him." Among the reasonable natural reactions: (1) "I am indeed charming! How dare you!" (2) "What the heck is 'charm'? You want me to adopt artifice as a strategy? Well, colour me cynical." (3) "Men are swine! I give up. Where's the nearest anchorage?" etc. etc. etc.

In fact, Lucy is not speaking to Jeff any more than Jeff is speaking to me. No man in Lucy's life has fallen in love with her, and it's entirely likely that she hasn't fallen in love with any of them, either. In the same way, Jeff has not met the woman of his dreams, and so he hasn't proposed. The woman of Jeff's dreams is (thankfully) not the same as the woman of every other man's dreams, and if Lucy is in fact called to marriage at some point then she will be the apple of her dear husband's eye: he will step out of "adolescent" limbo and propose to her, not necessarily because he finally got the message, but because he finally saw someone he wanted to marry.

And if Jeff is called to happiness and holiness with a ten-years-younger Filipino bride, well, God bless him; and simply because God didn't make him to be MY husband (whew), I will never take his choice as a personal affront.

sciencegirl said...

I just want to say that I am an American woman, and one of my great pleasures, on coming back home from abroad, is seeing and hearing American men.

I've lived in France and Japan and interacted with men from all over the world, and I love my countrymen best for both looks, accent, and manners.

Kate P said...

Great ensemble in the photo, Auntie Seraphic.

My initial thoughts:

A) Define "charm," because it seems to come off like passivity and uneducatedness (if that's a word);

B) If women lack charm, is it possible also that men lack MOTIVATION? Just asking.

aussie girl in new zealand said...

Maybe it's because I'm not American but the part of Jeff's comment that irritated me the most was this:

"We are Catholic American men, the best men in the world."

Really Jeff? If you say so mate....

Personally I have a soft spot for those Kiwi men...... ;)

And to American women I say, breath a sigh of relief - uou don't have to marry Jeff! (bless his little heart)

Charming Disarray said...

It's fine to say these men haven't fallen in love yet, but at some point you have to ask if they're even capable of it. It takes a certain generosity of spirit and willingness to take a chance to fall in love. If an entire group of men shows no signs of any of those things, why blame that on women? Because they're not rushing out and marrying any non-American women, either.

This is, again, why I have no patience with people who play the "but men have such strong passions" card. Not the ones at my church.

Jam said...

It's a perilous thing to walk into a church for mass and think, "Look at those altar girls! Shoot, this is some hippy-dippy catholic-light new mass nonsense! I bet the homily will be about caring and sharing!" and then proceed to spend the whole mass sourly cataloging how wrong it all is. Similarly, it's perilous to meet a woman and think, "Med school! Ugh, another one of these feminists! How long, O Lord, until I meet my truly feminine Catholic wife?" and then proceed to brood on how inadequate women are. In both cases, you are dwelling on your own judgment and closing yourself off to any possibilities God may have for you in that encounter. (Although I'm sadly aware that these examples won't get very far with plenty of people.)

Catholic men who want to get married need to not have a kneejerk reaction to a woman who has a career going. That's what I take away from the article. You cannot judge a woman's values and intentions based solely on the fact that she went to college and has a job title. Any guy who's felt sheepish about having to tell people he's unemployed, or working at Chicken Shack, or whathaveyou, should understand the gap that can exist between reality and ideals. If men are terrified at being instantly judged for not having a car - well, women are terrified at instantly being labelled a marriage-rejecting feminist simply for having a career as a single woman.

Seraphic said...

Ahh.... I have greatly enjoyed reading all these comments. So much good sense and independent thought! I'm proud of my readers.

In terms of having to handle men like the ladies of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", I am divided between thinking it is a little sad and thinking it is an amusing game, a bit like mild flirtation (like when you tell the 65 year old bus driver he's just the man you've been waiting for).

Seraphic said...

Oh, my hair. Well. I bundled it up into a bun at the back of my head and secured it with elastic and five hairpins. I left some hair in front for thin braids, and then swept those back and round it about the bun.

If any of you noticed the lone male comment, I will point out that I did say "almost all", not "all" and said this depended on whether or not the statistic is true. I also gave men the credit for breaking that sinful habit, had they that sinful habit to break.

But what strikes me most about this sole male comment was the reader's worry about being compared to other men. And therefore he proved my point, which is that men who get freaked out by women's sexual sins are not freaked out by the women's motives or whatever but that there was (if there was) a man involved.

And to this I have to say that women don't compare men they love to other men in any department whatsoever. No bride on her wedding night is going to think "Oh gee willikers. My brand new husband just does not measure up to so-and-so." Brides tend to actually love their husbands and have spent months preparing to marry them and dreaming of their wedding day, you know? Husbands and wives are usually FRIENDS. Sex is not a theatrical or sporting performance but a kind of communication/ritual/meal. (By meal I mean it gets to be as natural and enjoyable as having a nice dinner together.)

If men are insecure about what women might be thinking this says something about the men, not about the women.

Maybe I should write a post on this. Hmm....

LadBelowTheEquator said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Seraphic said...

I don't permit language like that on my blog, especially from men or teenage boys. This is a blog for Catholic women and other women of good will.

I suggest mentioning your worries about adult life to a priest or counselor, if there is no other man around with whom you feel comfortable discussing marriage and sexuality.

You might also want to read an introduction to John Paul II's "Theology of the Body." The works of Christopher West are popular.

I will say it one more time. Sexual relationships with women are not about men's relationships with other men. Any man who thinks they are is not capable of a fruitful sexual relationship, let alone friendship, with his wife.

I am now closing comments for this post.

Seraphic said...

Wait. Change of heart because my electronic spy says you are not from Australia but from Brazil. You are not some seriously inappropriate ANZAC but a young man in a very macho, Latino culture.

What I write for English-speaking women in the UK, Ireland the US, Canada, the rest of the British Commonwealth and Western Europe might not apply to your life. And you might not understand what I am writing about when I write about relationships between men and women because I do not belong to a macho, Latino culture and never have.

I have no more understanding of Brazilian culture than you have of women in the northern hemisphere, so there's not much I can say about that.

What I can say is that the colloquial English expressions you have used here are not appropriate to use before me or the women who read this blog. We are old-fashioned ladies with old-fashioned standards of male behaviour, and using such language and discussing such themes before women is not something my readers and I like.

It does sound like you have a lot of worries around sexuality. It is not appropriate for you to discuss them with a woman stranger on a blog. But it is certainly appropriate for you to discuss them with an older trustworthy man, like your father or a priest. Only such a man can help you to flourish as a man in your culture. This blog cannot.

I am sorry that you have been hurt by comments women leave on other blogs. Really, blogs are not the safest place for young men to discuss matters most personal to themselves. Many people use blogs to vent their anger, and this is one reason why I discourage men from leaving comments (or even reading) this blog.

I hope you find a good mentor to help you discuss your fears.

Donkey said...


Sorry for eavesdropping, but I've been reading you for years.

You made a comment about young men claiming not to get married because of divorce.

A lot of secular young men claim they will not get married because of the specter of divorce. I do not think that applies to NCBs. Everyone assumes that they are an exception to the rule, especially if they have themselves a NCG. I know that is what I thought.

I had friends who had their children stripped from them, evicted by police with guns from their homes. Without warning, money, transportation or shelter, and can't even get a motel because of canceled credit cards. One of my friends was forced to live in their relative's barn above animals and live off their family's charity who brought him food, with the court ordering him to pay more than 100% of his monthly income to an adulterous spouse, or he would be incarcerated with murders and worse. And of course they are denied having their children live with them because they do not have a "stable" house, and their wives deny them visitation with their children because, she decided to visit her girlfriend and go drinking and cavort with strange men (and the judge never even slaps the woman on the wrist for denying the husband visitation.) Their children are used as weapons against them. Their minds poisoned with continual nightly stories about how bad father is. Many secular boys have seen this in their life and are shocked into never getting married. I don't think that applies to NCBs.

When I thought about marriage the friends I knew who were wrung through the divorce mill weren't on my mind. I loved my wife. She will not divorce me. She is a good Catholic woman. I will not divorce her. It will not ever happen to us. That is what I thought then, that is what I think now, and that is what I pray to the Lord will never happen to us.

People when they fall in love will do nearly anything for their beloved. The grim reaper of divorce does not stand over their oxytocin technicolor world of future bliss and rainbows because men's brains just work that way. When men are in love nothing else matters.

Most non-NCBs who for them divorce is a serious issue are generally not living a God-centered life before they get married so the women they marry are similar. A woman like this is at a higher rate of divorce to begin with, and then will have no moral scruples against using the immoral tactics the law provides and bending to the perverse incentives encouraging divorce of the society. Most NCBs, perhaps ignorantly, think they are immune because they are looking for a wife among the subculture of NCGs.

Anonymous said...

Is it not true that American women lack charm?

There's something about Jeff's statement that sounds a bit like... negging. Women who hear it bend over backwards trying to prove that they are not no-charm, bitter feminists or some such, or feel like they should be bending over backwards to make things right and happy and peaceful in the world.

A far better statement: "I like charming, warm women, and find those qualities to be much more important than [fill in the blank]."


okiegrl said...

Re: Handling Men
Auntie, it's a bit like following The Rules. Men that grew up in more macho cultures want to be the head of the house. In modern parlance,"Wear the pants." I've heard this sentiment from guys in more conservative Protestant and Catholic circles as well.

Using a bit of charm in situations is a nod that they are still the head. It is a sign of respect. Once they don't feel as if the woman wants to take over, they become more receptive to what the woman wants. Think Queen Esther throwing a feast before she asks the King to save her people.

I'm also not implying that all Western women lack charm in my posts. It's a generalization. Addressing things head on with a man has its place, but that is also how men relate to other men. I think many American women have subconsciously picked up the idea that to be "equal" to a man, they must act like men in social lives. Thus such women are less appealing to traditional guys.

okiegrl said...

AAAH! Just lost my comment.

Re:Handling Men

Auntie, think of it more as following The Rules. Men in traditional cultures want and are brought up to be the head of the house. In modern parlance, "Wear the pants."

Using a little charm is a nod to this fact. It shows the guy that he is respected. (What man doesn't want that?)Once the man feels respected he is more receptive to what the woman wants. Think Queen Esther throwing a 3 day feast before she asks the King to save her people.

There is a time and place for addressing issues with a guy head on. (BAD behaviour falls under this category, in my opinion.) However this is also how men deal with other men. I think many American women have absorbed the feminist idea that to be equal to a man, women must act like men. Thus certain traditional men are not attracted to women like that.

PS- I'm not implying that all American women aren't charming. It is just a generalization based on observance. Also, being non-confrontational about the small things in life isn't any worse than having doors opened for you, etc. It allows men to be chivalrous, and women to be charming.

Urszula said...

Another interesting article with American trads batting back comments:

Auntie? Girls? What do you think?

Clare said...

Contra Seraphic, I am not at all on Jeff's side, because Jeff's was not a heartfelt plea for a little more grace in his life. It was the refusal to engage any women who does not submit to his his controlling, stifling stereotypes, with the inexplicably potent threat "This is why no man wants you. If you want any men to want you, you must do as I say." It was the open declaration of a widespread and pernicious misogyny frighteningly common among trad or orthodox Catholics.

Women in macho cultures who navigate and even exploit these stereotypes to their own advantages are bravely doing the best they can; relatively freeborn women who kowtow to male efforts to recreate a macho culture are suffering from Stockholm syndrome or something worse.

Anyway, the constant deployment of a women's marriageability as a way to shame, silence, and control her has been for me a huge argument in favor of serious singlehood, despite sexual frustration and love for men.

Kelly @ in the sheepfold said...

What are NCGs and NCBs?

Any Catholic man or woman entering the dating scene with divorce statistics at the forefront of his or her mind needs healing and therapy and a good Bible study on the virtue of hope. This type of cynicism does not issue forth from a life of faith.

Charm is something clearly lacking among Americans. Look at our forms of entertainment. Rude, cocky, and vulgar are out there all the time.

This year we enrolled our 14 year-old in something called "Social." It involves dancing and manners. I asked him what he did one evening. He said, "I learned how to introduce myself and my partner."

Manners, social graces, common courtesy -- these are habits that are lacking in our culture today. It begins at home.

All this discussion has been illuminating to me -- 47, married, long out of the dating scene.

Blessings to all of you.

Seraphic said...

Nice Catholic Girls and Nice Catholic Boys. It's part tongue-in-cheek, part descriptive, part affectionate.