Saturday, 30 June 2012

Man Down

Okay, so now two of you have sent me Devlin Rose's article on how the Catholic men of America should "man up" and chase Catholic girls around the church parking lot. So here it is.

You also want to know what I think. And what I think is that it is time to stop shouting "Man up" at the Catholic men of America. Devlin Rose's article is just one more example of the Great Internet Nag.

Yes, it is great fun to sit at home and shout "Man up, man up", especially if you are married and have a spouse nodding sagely behind you. And I was rather touched and amused when Mark Shea discovered this blog and, thinking I was still single, told the men of Scotland to man up and pursue beautiful me. But I don't think shouts of "man up" are all that effective. They are even rude.

Men are indeed very influenced by other men. And I do believe they love and respond to challenges. And I will even go so far as to say some men can get them to do stuff by making them angry. But I think these men are men the men already know and admire, like their grandfathers, fathers, older brothers, friends, coaches, teachers and spiritual directors.

Yesterday I wrote about spiritual motherhood. Challenged by sciencegirl, I'm still working out what that would look like in practise. There is, of course, that dreaded statement, "You're not my mother" and Sting's lament "Every girl I go out with becomes my mother in the end." Motherhood in this case does not mean the quiet, loving, helpful support Stein was talking about but being an awful, clingy nag.

Men hate The Rules, but one great thing about The Rules is it thinks nagging is kryptonite. Summed up, it says "Look good, look busy, keep the tourists at a distance and let men do their own thing in their own time. You should only want the man who pursues you whole-heartedly anyway."

And I agree with this. Women should not chase men. If the men are kindly, chivalrous men, it really bothers them to have to tell women the obvious fact that they're just not into them. And women should not nag men they are not related to by blood or marriage. And, yes, I know how tempting it is. Look at me hectoring you all every day.

Of course, "you all" are girls, and I have tried to drive the male readership away, not only because I don't think they should be intruding on our girly-girl conversations but because I don't want to nag at them.

Men are not the enemy. And when they go hunting, they don't scare away their beloved deer and rabbits with shouts of "Man up, man up" because the deer and rabbits don't simply flop in their paths. Noooooo. They go where the deer and rabbits go, sit very still and wait.

Vague apologies for the hunting metaphor. But I really think we should stop thinking of Single Catholic men as sulky toddlers. Instead we should try to watch them and see them for who they really are, in the way hunters and biologists study animals in the wild. Men are who they are and not who you want them to be. And, like deer, they're beautiful, you know? Sorry to get all sentimental and stuff. But the way Catholic American men and women snipe away at each other in the comboxes is starting to get to me. Saint Edith Stein wanted nothing other than to be a Carmelite nun, but she loved men.

18 comments:

leonine said...

This is not entirely related, but I am enjoying the parade of swashbuckling protector footballers these days...

Nzie (theRosyGardener) said...

I think sometimes we are too hard on men, and also, sometimes men have manned up but unfortunately the lady or ladies involved weren't particularly into it, and they've been burnt by experience. To that I say, gentlemen, I'm sorry, but there really are fish in the sea.

Also, sometimes, a girl is just a bit nervous or unsure of herself, too. I have two good friends where the girl really just wasn't much experienced at dating, and to be honest, neither was the fellow, but they were already friends, and he asked her out a few times before she said yes (they both wanted to stay friends, so they'd chill out for a few days and then 'go back to normal'). I thought they were a good match so I tried to be encouraging all around. I'm going to their wedding in August. :-)

The comments on the post are... interesting. One woman posted a link to her own blog, in case you're interested (link: Mom's rules for getting the girl. I've mostly given up reading them but the last one I landed on seems to me to indicate that single Catholic men may like an Uncle Seraphic as well- from commenter Moochie (a good ways down the page, and he seems not to have forgotten NCGs, either):

"Guys like us, with our experiences – & there are so very many of us – are being actively ignored by Catholic writers & in Catholic media. It’s just too difficult for them to deal with. Nobody really wants to talk about how bleak the dating scene is for 30+ year-old Catholics out there. So they ignore it. They ignore us. It’s so much easier to write encouraging pieces because the real issues single-&-looking Catholic women & men are facing right now are many & intense."

Well, you're taking care of us, Seraphic. Maybe the next "manning up" will be for the NCBs to have someone.

~Nzie

sciencegirl said...

Great post! I especially liked the line about crotchety toddlers. One of my biggest fears about marriage when I was a teen was that I would get stuck with some man-baby who wanted a mommy (thank you, commercials and sitcoms that constantly insult the intelligence and maturity of men). Turns out men are a lot more with-it than in real life, thank heaven! I love the beautiful stag photo.

I think spiritual motherhood will be easier for me to picture when I am much older. Right now, I am so young compared to many of the people I know that I would just feel like Wendy in "Peter Pan." If I were 54 and surrounded by 30-somethings, it would be a bit easier.

Charming Disarray said...

I can understand the point of view that women shouldn't tell men to nag--although in some cases, pretty or not, it's necessary--but this article was written by a man. There are some Catholic guys who already know how to date and don't need to be told anything, but there are also a lot who are completely clueless. Who is going to tell them if not another man, particularly a married one who has been down that road? Obviously, their fathers, uncles, grandfathers aren't giving them this advice. I've things on Catholic discussion boards from older married men to younger ones, telling them how to pursue women and sometimes giving VERY blunt advice, the kind a woman probably wouldn't or couldn't give, and it seemed like they could benefit from it.

I thought the Jane Austen reference was ridiculous, though.

Charming Disarray said...

I mean just "nag," obviously.

Charming Disarray said...

I also just want to add that when it comes to nagging aimed at Catholic young and/or single people, 90% of it is aimed at women. If the men are being nagged too much, the women are receiving an onslaught. I'm not including your blog in that because it's both positive and affirming, but there is tons of literature out there constantly telling us what we're doing wrong and why it's our job to fix everything. Once again, I have a really hard time seeing men as the victim here.

Seraphic said...

Yeah, but who is this guy? Do men really listen to random male strangers shouting at them to "man up"? If guys don't have their own dads, grandfathers, coaches, etc, then I think they should be allowed to pick their own. And from the comments, the writer's target audience--Single men--aren't too pleased. The married guys like him. The single women cheer. But the Single men are seriously cheesed off.

Yeah, I agree. There should be an Uncle Seraphic. Uncle Seraphic would have to start off as a Single guy, though, trying to make sense of being a Single guy and trying to enjoy being a Single guy, even if he is actively looking for a wife.

I personally have to fight my brand-new Smug Married tendencies. That's not hard, though, because I just imagine what life would be like if B.A. croaked, and I say, "AAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!! I'm never going to find anyone as nice as B.A. ever agaaaaaaaaaainnnnnn!"

Anyway, I hope one of those cheesed off guys is cheesed off enough to start a Seraphic Guy Singles blog. That would be cool. And I bet you £50 he'd be married within 3 years.

Seraphic said...

We're both victims of the Fall. Men and women both. Masculinity is fallen and femininity is fallen. And for every comment about women's clothing I've ever heard, there are five obscene emails in my spam urging me (who might be male) to buy magic pills to...

It might be helpful for men to see how women are the victims and for women to see how men are the victims because only then will we be able to come to some kind of peace with each other.

Seraphic said...

Of course, if one has been burned recently by the little darlin's--or just one too many times--this is easier said than done!

Sarah said...

I agree that I am growing weary of all the finger pointing and blaming Women aren't womanly enough; men aren't manly enough.

Maybe if we stopped trying to figure out what is wrong with each other, we could take some time to ensure that we ourselves are good people, capable of loving and being loved, and not in the romantic sense, but in general. By being people who can understand and sympathize with the struggles of someone whose shoes we'll never walk in (i.e., the opposite sex).

Charming Disarray said...

The discussions I referenced I suppose didn't happen between total strangers, since they were people who had interacted online before and were "internet friends." I can't say how much any of the guys benefited, obviously, but some at least some seemed interested. And this advice was presented in a very strident, no-nonsense way that would probably appeal to men more than the tone of the above article. And in some cases, the advice was solicited.

I hadn't read the comments on the article when I commented. They are interesting, and I can how, if a guy is really looking and genuinely having a hard time finding a good Catholic girl, it must be frustrating to be told that all they have to do is learn to dance. The reality of finding like-minded people to marry is much more complicated than that. I can't help wondering, though, seeing some of the comments complaining about how "shallow" the women are in wanting a man who is better-than-average-looking....are these the guys who think they deserve to be with the prettiest girl in the room?

Another factor is that the more conservative and traditional a Catholic girl is, the more likely it is that she's going to be a bit neurotic and probably really shy and serious about dating. That is a lot of pressure and will lead to a lot of rejections. It took a while, among my friends, to be able to see dating as something fun and sociable and not a Really Big Deal. So I do sort of feel sorry for guys who would like to go on dates but are met with a lot of reluctance for no really good reason.

Throwing parties is a great way to get everyone to relax around each other.

Mustard Seed said...

I agree with Sarah. Well said! In my experience, it sometimes takes some considerable effort to not get frustrated/bewildered/exasperated with the whole process of dating and trying to understand men and myself, but I think it's worth it. Focusing energy on the rest of life and being a better, more loving person is always a good thing.

Also, I love the new pic, Seraphic :)

MichelleMarie said...

I'd like to start off by vehemently denying that I've been coming to this blog just to stare at that photo of Kuba! :)))

Anywho, I think your previous point about friendship was spot on and brilliant. First and foremost, we are called to be friends - we're called to that most noble type of love, agape. I believe we're called to agape love more than we're called to "try" to be manly men, womanly women.

Agape love is wide and deep - I firmly believe that when we guide our life by the ideals of noble friendship to men and women alike, everything else, including our inherent masculinity and femininity, falls into place. Without agape, those just become empty charm, manipulation, and/or performance.

Some of the most masculine men I've known are priests who by the nature of their vows must fulfill their needs for love through agape, not eros.

And Jesus did say that there's no greater love than giving up your life for your friends (not lovers, spouses, girlfriend, boyfriend). Which suggest that even when you are married, you're still supposed to love your husband with agape love first and foremost, then eros.

Really puts the whole notion of being "friendzoned" on its head.

Anonymous said...

"Men hate The Rules,"

Of course they hate The Rules! That book takes good, common-sense ideas and throws on a good layer of manipulation. (I couldn't respect a man whom I had won by The Rules, which is why I take being Single over following that advice.)

Good, common-sense idea: have friends and have a life. This makes you a better, more interesting person.

Emotionally manipulative and semi-deceitful Rules twist: pretend to have a life, even if you don't.

Well, a man who wants to find a woman with her own interests, passions, and friends will be mighty disappointed once Miss Mysterious is found to be Miss Manipulative. It wastes his time - time that could be spent finding a woman whom he really wants.

~theobromophile

amy said...

I don't think that nagging is a good idea. Ever. Especially not "by blood or marriage," where there is no way for the poor man to get out. It is a bad habit that kills communication (thereby the relationship), teaching men that your words are meaningless and often repeated. You notice in the parable of 'the persistent widow,' the although she gets what she needs, the judge doesn't have to live with her after she is done nagging. (The one exception is where one's life is literally in danger, but this is so infrequent, and so likely to be noticed and remedied on its own, that I feel I almost shouldn't mention it.)

Jamie said...

To be perfectly honest, I'm getting really tired of advice to single people. (I love Auntie's blog, though, and I will not stop reading it. [It's not so much advice as an online hug of sorts.] OK, let me be perfectly honest, I'm probably not going to stop reading all the annoying Catholic advice to single people...just in case...haha.) Like MichelleMarie said, more or less, if we all could simply learn what agape love truly is, and then actually live it out, everything else will fall into place.

I know from experience that when I let my thoughts be completely consumed by, "Well, who am I going to marry? Him, or him, or...." that life just sucks, because I tend to not actually be living my life at that point. So I'm just going to attempt to be completely who God has made me to be, and learn to better love with agape, and then pray like crazy that "he" comes in to my life at just the right time and I'm actually paying enough attention to notice...

Fun story... A few days ago, I went to lunch with my parish priest and his good friend who is also a priest. They decided they should help me find a husband (and we all agreed that he should probably not be from my home town...). Father #2 said he knew someone, and he'd talk to him about us meeting each other casually. Father #1 (my parish priest) started grilling FR#2 about him, which I sort of enjoyed immensely. I'd rather just meet the guy than ask questions about him, but I got answers to all of the questions I'd barely even thought to ask anyway. So I've not heard anything back yet, but if this would happen to work out, it should be a fantastic story for the grandkids... :)

And, I just found an old-ish blog post of mine, in which I had written about the now-venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen. It's pretty wonderful, so I hope someone else will enjoy it too (sorry this is long, but you probably don't really want to read the rest of my post, so I'm just going to put the good stuff here):

Holy Hour with Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.
If you haven't read his book The World's First Love, I highly recommend it. The part I read yesterday really related to exactly where I am in my vocation discernment right now.

Every virgin yearns to become a mother, either physically or spiritually, for unless she creates, mothers, nurses, and fosters life, her heart is as uneasy and awkward as a giant ship in shallow waters. She has the vocation of generating life, either in the flesh or in the spirit through conversion...

On the other hand, every wife and mother strives for spiritual virginity in that she would like to take back what she has given, that she might offer it all over again, only this time more deeply, more piously, more divinely. There is something incomplete about virginity, something ungiven, unsurrendered, kept back. There is something lost in all motherhood: something given, something taken — and something irrecoverable.


So, we always think the grass is greener on the other side. And finding my vocation is not going to make my life perfect. End of story. Or beginning? Nah, somewhere in the middle, which can be the best part! I mean, honestly, I'm definitely in the "spiritual motherhood stage" right now. And it's great, when I'm actually giving of myself... Sheen has something to say about that, too:

Woman's unhappiest moments are when she is unable to give; her most hellish moments are when she refuses to give.

How does he know?

leonine said...

I was fortunate to discover that a good friend made a fantastic travel partner, so most of my early travel was done with another woman.

We figured out early on that "chain" hostels, ie. YHA or HI or YMCA, were much more our scene. We could get single-sex dorms, no drunk people coming in at 2am... and we found that, in some places, a small independent hotel was just as reasonable as a hostel.

So really, I'll just back up what everybody else said: have some options, know what they are, THINK ahead even if you don't plan ahead, and keep your wits about you. (This means no more than one glass of wine, developing a good sense of direction, and never walking around with headphones!) Always, ALWAYS carry some cash in the local currency in your pocket... at least enough for a taxi.

I've never really been messed with when I've been traveling alone -- I tend to walk with purpose and a "don't mess with me air" anyway -- but I agree that you should feel free to make a fuss. I'm not so keen on the chat-on-the-phone idea, though. You want to be really aware of what's going on around you, and the phone chatting doesn't necessarily help that.

But I'm an American who's only really traveled in the States and in Western Europe, so take all that with a grain of salt.

Evelyn said...

I am posting from a hotel room at conference of Catholics several hundred strong. We're I free to be looking, I would be paying a great deal of attention to men my age in the Adoration chapel. Still, if I am granted a decree of nullify, the P.S. on the celebratory message to all my friends will be a request to be set up with any and all committed single Catholic men they know! No, I won't pursue, but I'm sure going to ask for help!