Now that Lucy, Jeff and I have got you all riled up, I will calm you down with some soothing thoughts borrowed from Saint Edith Stein.
By the way, thank you very much to those readers who have written in to say that they have responded to my nagging and actually read Saint Edith Stein's essays on women. One of you mentioned feeling a bit mental because of wanting to talk about her with somebody, and I now recommend throwing a "Brainy Evening" party in which everyone invited has to read the Stein essay you send them and then talk about it during the party. Of course not all the guests will actually read it, so write key quotes on cue cards and hand them out with the drinks.
Suffice it to say, Saint Edith would neither write "I blame men" nor agree to a thesis that "American [or German or Wrocławian, in her case] women lack charm." What Stein did do was examine masculinity and femininity in light of Scripture and philosophy, observing the gifts of each and the ways in which both had been warped slightly by original sin.
Stein thought that both masculinity and femininity brought necessary gifts to all of human life, including the factory floor, and emphasized that both men and women are made in the image and likeness of God. Humanity is a unity of two. And this is where it gets interesting.
Stein was not that interested in the subject of marriage, per se. When she thought of marriage, she thought in more general terms, of Man being wedded to Woman in the species called Human. Much more important to her than the husband-wife bond was the mother-child bond. In fact, she speculated that it was something erotic in the Adam-Eve relationship that brought about the Fall, which gave her posthumous orthodox editors a few seizures.
Saint Edith holds up Mary, Mother of God (and of us all) as the great model for women. And she sees that women have two choices in regards to our not inconsiderable influence on men: we can be sexy Eve and seriously mess them up, or we can be motherly Mary and lead them to Christ. Obviously she thinks we should be Mary, exercising either our biological or spiritual motherhood to help men--and other women--flourish.
This emphasis on motherhood is, I think, a very good corrective when men and women see each other as nothing more than erotic turn-ons and turn-offs. Very few of us would want to marry Jeff. Okay, but what can we do for Jeff? Jeff is a human being, our brother in Christ, a fellow Catholic, a fellow TRAD Catholic for some of us. What can we do for him?
We cannot do much, really, as long as Jeff is fixated on whether American Catholic women are worth marrying or not. One might want to ask Jeff if American Catholic women are worth befriending. After all, that is what Christian life is all about: "I call you friends," said the Lord. Friendship between men and women who are not related by ties of blood or marriage is part of the first century Christian revolution.
(I am suddenly reminded of a Jesuit classmate who met a Muslim acquaintance, a fellow student, on the streets of Toronto and made the "mistake" of addressing the Muslim student's wife, demurely tucked behind him. The Jesuit classmate felt badly for being so insensitive. He was glad the Muslim student had just pretended it hadn't happened. Auntie's snarled response to her Jesuit classmate: "This is TORONTO." She might have also said, "We are Christians.")
I hope Jeff has female friends, women who like him without feeling an overwhelming erotic attraction, for perhaps they will sit down with him, like the spiritual mothers they are, and explain why he is unlikely to attract any adult American women with his views.** If he understands that they truly desire his good, and he is grown up enough not to sulk that they don't desire him, then he might learn something and thus become more attractive to his fellow Americans.
Before I read the work of Edith Stein, which was not that long ago, I used to say that I didn't have many men friends. I would mention about B.A.'s friends, which caused some hilarity among B.A.'s friends, who are actually, although in a different way, my friends, too. (And reading this blog even though they know perfectly well it is for girls.)
I had a much narrower view of friendship than Saint Edith's, for my idea of friendship of necessity included a certain kind of emotional intimacy. But Saint Edith's thoughts on spiritual motherhood made me think about that again. It is possible to care for many men without becoming too attached to them or expecting them to behave like female friends or scandalizing anyone or annoying your husband, if you have one.
In other words, men are not just the caffeine in the coffee of life. And this reminds me of one of my men friends who occasionally addresses me as "Hen."
"Hen" is the Scottish, or maybe just Edinburgh, working-class term of endearment for neighbouring women. It is like American "honey" or "hon." Local wifies (women) address each other as "hen," and local men address local wifies as "hen" if they think they won't get into trouble. Apparently it is now a bit politically incorrect for men to call women "hen", although I can't imagine why. I certainly like being called "hen" better than "pal", which is how working-class Scottish men address each other.
Anyway, I thought for a long time how to respond to my friend's cries of "Hello, hen" or "How are you doing, hen?" because they are usually outbreaks of banter and the laws of banter demand the ability to banter back. So I listened very hard for how local women address local men and finally found a near equivalent for "hen".
"How are you doing, hen?" asked Friend, age 50.
"I'm doing fine, son," I replied.
**UPDATE: Sciencegirl brings up a good objection, so I will emphasize "the spiritual mothers they are"[already]. Spiritual motherhood is not some external-to-you spiritual-mother-costume you put on. And it is not sounding like Marmee in Little Woman or Jo in Little Men. If you're me, Spiritual Motherhood can sound like what I write here (although I don't talk to men like this). If you're Jeff's female friend, Spiritual Motherhood might indeed sound like, "Hey, Jeff, how are those Polish lessons going?"
Update 2: Erased two updates. Dear me. How exhausting. Sometimes when men leave comments I coldly rub them out. But sometimes when men leave comments I get really angry, but then feel badly later for getting really angry when this is supposed to be a friendly blog.