Thursday, 19 July 2012

It is Complicated

Lots of problems out there, but today will be a very busy day for me, so I will just respond to Charming Disarray's combox wail and then put up an amusing video from Youtube.

C.D. complains that it just shouldn't be this complicated. No, it shouldn't. But it is. It is because although on a certain level human beings are the same way, and on another level men are different from women in recognizable ways, there are cultural factors complicating matters and, oh, every human person is unique.

Men are not women.
Germans are not Americans.
Poles are not Germans or Americans.
Chad is not Steve. Matthias is not Volker, and Wojtek is not Bogdan.

Grasp this, and you have grasped the fact that there is not one all-encompassing solution to the Problem of Men.

And then there are the complicating factors. From the beginning of the 20th century there have been papal encyclicals warning that the direct result of A and B would be X and Y. Casti Connubii was very concerned about what would happen it there was widespread divorce and remarriage: the devaluation of marriage and the family. Humanae Vitae warned what would follow widespread use of artificial birth control: the devaluation of marriage, women, the family and early human life.

And guess what!

Catholics, even trad Catholics, don't live in a bubble. The only place I can think of where native English-speaking Catholics are not a minority is Ireland. So of course we are going to be affected by all the widely promoted anti-family, anti-marriage, pro-lust, pro-selfishness trends out there. We are either going to absentmindedly adopt some of them ourselves, or we are going to react against them in ways that might seem anti-social to the majority of people around us.

And the counter-revolution does not always work well together: if Catholic women have to argue with Catholic men that just wanting jobs we enjoy that will support us financially do not make us poor marriage prospects, then we have a serious problem. Fortunately, such men are rare. They are mostly to be found on the internet, not at parties or in class. Life is simpler if you don't feed the trolls.

So this is where we live now. However, each of us is a unique person loved by God, and God has a plan for each one of us. Hopefully we do not get in the way of this plan, but even if we do, He can work around us, if He chooses. Meanwhile, we look for advice and comfort from other Catholic women and from other sympathetic women of good will.

We should live in reality, not in dreams. That's the part I want to add to the conversation. I have a lot of ideas and what-not-do-tos based on life experience, and I learned a lot from my M.Div. years. But what I think is most important is to get women to stop operating from a place of wishful thinking and to remain rooted in reality. It is very important to try to see your social interactions from a detached and reasonable part of your brain.

For example, it is not reasonable to panic because a random guy talked to you after Mass because you're not sure you'd ever want to marry him.

And it is not reasonable to plan a future with a man whom you think is cute and funny if he has never shown you any interest.

And it is not reasonable to start fights with men in the manosphere (Charming Disarray), any more than it is reasonable to walk into a strip joint and start arguing with the men in there. You'll see only their worst side, and they'll wrongly think they see evidence of what they've been complaining about.

Incidentally, I can only write what I write without massive problems with male trolls because (A) I avoid them and their blogs (B) I erase their comments, (C) I stress, over and over again, that men are the caffeine in the cappuccino of life. They are. Of course they are. If they weren't, I wouldn't have so many Searching Single readers. And yet men are quick to think we hate most of them. Bizarre. If they thought a lot of us are terrified of them, fair enough. But hate? Come on.

Someone mentioned the other day that [presumably English-speaking] men don't seem to like women anymore. I think for many of them (the decent ones, who deep down like women very much) it's a defense mechanism. Such men are so terrified of rejection, they have their finger on the trigger so that they can reject first. It makes them feel big and powerful and free for, oh, about 30 seconds.

I'll tell you what is not complicated, however. A situation in which you just live your life and one day the right man or the right religious order or a revelation that you are content with your single state suddenly appears in that life as easily and astonishingly as a ray of sunshine on a rainy day. And I pray every Sunday that that moment appears for you all sooner rather than later.

Okay, and now for the amusing video from the original, British Bedazzled (1967). The first singer is a short-order cook who has sold his soul to the devil for Eleanor Bron (the pixie cut girl with the big watch). The second is the devil. Keep that in mind.


Sarah said...

Well said. Though I've met puh-lenty of chauvinistic men, I would never stretch that so far that I would become frustrated that "so many" men hate women.

MOST of the men I have met really, really like women and treat the ones in their lives-- sisters, mothers, friends and girlfriends-- respectfully.

I count my blessing all the time for the men I have in my life who walk me home after dark, let 5'3" me sit in the front seat while three of them squish in the back, and don't say "UGH, GROSS." When I tell them that the reason I don't feel like playing soccer today is because it's "that time of the month." (If telling them simply, "I don't feel well" sufficed, I would leave it at that, but usually they start asking questions about my symptoms, if it's contagious, etc.)

The ugly ones are usually found, like you said, in comboxes much less nice than this one, and who wants to hang out there, anyway?

Sarah said...

To put it more simply, I know too many really good men to let certain men found in certain circles that I avoid anyway, and the odd internet troll, taint my opinion of men in general.

And I LOVE Jeeves and Wooster! Ahh! :D

Joan of Quark said...

I realised the other day that the men who've been the most decent to me in the course of my vicissitudes, life, etc, were all priests.

This was in a way deeply consoling. I've known so many good priests; how amazing to find such goodness and patience and kindness in such a diverse group of about 45 very different men (I counted them!)

If that's not a sign of the truth of the Church's holiness and Her divine institution, I don't know what is.

And thank you for Eleanor Bron and her pixie cut; I don't look like her, but I kind of wish I did.

leonine said...

"You fill me with inertia!" Heh.

In all seriousness, thanks for a very encouraging post, Auntie S.

Rae said...

Lovely post, but I do want to make one comment. I'm looking for that guy who thinks it's okay for me to want to stay home and have the full-time-and-then-some job of homeschooling and homemaking, rather than thinking I'm lazy or unnambitious. Not that I want the "troll" type, of course, but please don't make my man (wherever he's hiding) feel guilty for wanting what I want! :) <3

Jam said...

The devil had pretty eyes. And awesome taste in clothes. Uh oh... ;)

When I start thinking "no one cares about X" or "all these people hate Y" or whatever I force myself to think of actual, real life, in person examples. It's an eye opening exercise.

Anonymous said...

You're right about starting fights in the manosphere. I managed to stay away for a while and then...well...yeah. Mistake and total waste of time. The trouble is that when I see people promoting horrible ideas and still calling it Catholicism, I kind of lose my mind.

I wasn't trying to say so much that it's not fair and we should all give up, but that at least for me something was getting lost in all the chaos. Your point about there not being the same set of rules for every situation is actually what I needed to hear, I think. There is no fool proof set of rules, just treating each guy you meet like an individual worth getting to know and not as a checklist. Maybe other girls have managed to keep this in mind better than I have.

Thank you. But I still think it's a bit much to be told to be more charming when I have been charming and men have still been jerks to me or walked all over me because I was trying to be nice. And the guys that I've told off roundly have subsequently treated me with more respect. But evidently I have a talent for attracting these kinds of personalities. In real life!


n.panchancha said...

Sweet. I know generalizations can be useful for practical/pastoral purposes, sometimes, but in fact one only ever encounters COMPLETE INDIVIDUAL PEOPLE, and not abstracted subset representatives. It is just a stubbornly concrete world of unrepeatable humans out there.

I have had friends with conditions that made it really hard for them to read people, who have been frustrated by the fact that no one can give them straightforward, universally-applicable rules for human interaction in given situations. Maybe that frustration is a bit more universal than we generally admit.

Oh, and - I get the impression that most people on this blog don't need to confront the trolls in order to contradict them; there's so much delightful feminine genius going down around here that woman-hating runs the risk of extirpation. :o)

AmericanInWarsaw said...

Yay! Seeing Bertie makes me happy.

I like how you always stress there are good men out there, Auntie. I think when dealing with trolls or particularly disappointing real-life men, we can easily lose sight of that.

CD, I understand where you are coming from. I've had times when I was frustrated with the 'rules' on interaction. But they are really just guidelines which are intended to help you protect yourself - and God can work through and around all our limitations. I've seen Him do it in other areas of my life, which gives me this hope.

When my Polish Grandma, widowed after 55 years of marriage and 8 kids, would listen to me recounting my boy problems, she would always repeat one thing that really irritated me, but I'm starting to understand what she meant. She would say, "Nic na sile" = Nothing by force. You can't force yourself to be someone else, you can't force someone else to be someone else. You can't force someone to love you, and you can't force yourself to love someone. It sounds simple, but it's very hard to internalize and simply accept. Yet when you do, life gets so much easier as you realize it's really been taken out of your hands.

Seraphic said...

Yay for the Polish granny! Did she have other Polish proverbs you are willing to share? I am collecting them.

Urszula said...

Yes, actually both my Polish grannies have awesome Polish sayings! I will think about this and send you some soon. (that was me the last time, by the way. For some reason it signed me in with my now-defunct blog).