Warning: Many good men eavesdropping on us by reading this post may feel angry and helpless because they will want to beat some guy up but not even know who he is. If you can't take stories about really lousy men, then our Swashbuckling Protector will be happy to show you the exit.
One of the hardest things to talk about, as a Catholic woman, or a conservative woman, or even just a pro-life woman, is what jerks some Catholic, conservative or just pro-life men can be.
It is hard to talk about it because we share common detractors, people who want to paint Catholic women as oppressed minions and Catholic (conservative, pro-life) men as misogynist yahoos. Thus, when some of "our" boys are misogynist yahoos, it is particularly grating.
It is also hard to talk about it because as Catholic women, or conservative women, or just pro-life women, we have a complicated relationship with feminism. To a certain extent, the feminist project bolsters Christianity and therefore human flourishing, but then it gets nasty and creepy. For example, both my mum and I worked in the same building in Toronto as waitresses, 25 years apart. Mum had to worry about her bottom being pinched or patted by male customers. Thanks to feminism, I did not. But we all can list examples of the dark side. Unwed pregnancies were at an all-time low in 1950s England. Today one in three Englishwomen has had an abortion. One in three.
So here we are, most of us Catholic women or conservative women or just pro-life women, who want to get along with Catholic or conservative or just pro-life men. We are grateful for some feminist ideas and policies and deeply resentful of others, and we are shocked and horrified when some of the men who are supposed to be our allies act like absolute jerk-morons.
Thank heavens they're mostly not like that. There are lots of good men around, some of them brilliant like diamonds and others more like rough diamonds. There are guys like Saint John, "the disciple Jesus loved", and there are guys like Saint Peter, who messes up a lot, but he always showed a lot of promise and, bless me, he's really going to be somebody some day.
I met a lot of Saint Johns in my M.Div. years--the golden boys, guys almost too good for this world, in orders or the seminary or married at age 22, guys everybody loves--but I've met plenty more Saint Peters. Have I? Whoo!
I have a lot more patience with the Saint Peters now that I'm married, let me tell you. These guys come across like grizzly bears and put a lot of backs up, but underneath they have hearts like chocolate pudding cakes, all sweet and gooey. Do they need improvement and domesticating? Yes. And the right women, tough or simply patient women, could do it, too. I, being married, don't take their huffing and puffing personally anymore; I do my best to see what is under Saint Peter's huffing and puffing and appeal to his sense of humour.
And then there are the Judases. And the Judases are freaking scary.
One of the ways in which Catholic men can disappoint us the most is in their attitude towards chastity and birth control. It always amazes me that Catholic men can go to Mass every Sunday, even daily Mass sometimes, and sing in the choir and pal about with priests and complain about heresy, and then try to seduce girls or suggest to their fiancees that they should use artificial birth control for at least the first year of their marriage.
Saint John doesn't do this.
The Saint Peters, for all their weaknesses, can be brought to heel. They know what the deal is, and they also know "No means No" and that they're miserable sinners for even trying, and--perhaps after a lot of yelling and bluster and sulking and, ultimately, apologies, off they go to confession.
But the Judases.....
One of the worst men I ever met I met at Mass. Good-looking guy. Had good parents. Had a priest-pal. I thought he was a great guy. He wasn't so sure. I thought he was being appropriately humble and sorrowful for past sins.
The better I got to know him, the less I was sure that these sins were in the past. And years after pondering his stories, but without, of course, having a degree in psychiatry, I think he might have been a sociopath.
Hold on to your coffee cups for this one, girls.
Well, I hope the girl in this story is married to a great guy and has lots of kids and maybe even a grand-kid by now. I hope she has put what happened to her in high school behind her. I hope she doesn't read her story here. It's pretty damn bad.
This is a story about a Nice Catholic Girl and, she thought, a Nice Catholic Boy in her high school. They were in love. They were also very devout. They were very involved in church activities, and they spent lots and lots of time together. They made out a lot, as teenagers tend to do, because even Archie Comics seems to think this a perfectly harmless hobby and not, in fact, Nature's way of preparing human beings for sex.
Maybe, thought this devout Catholic boyfriend and girlfriend, they should have sex.
The girlfriend wasn't so sure. It was, after all, a pretty big sin. It didn't feel like it would be a sin, especially as they were so in love and were of course going to get married one day, but the Church said it was a sin.
The boyfriend was more inclined to think they should have sex.
The girlfriend didn't think they should have sex.
The boyfriend thought they should have sex.
They had sex.
As first times went, I guess it wasn't so bad, for the girlfriend timidly suggested later than they have it again.
"No," said her boyfriend piously. "It's a really terrible sin."
And she was completely and utterly destroyed--as he meant her to be.
"The truth is, I enjoy hurting people who love me," said her boyfriend over ten years later, and I believed him.
I had met his parents, and the weird thing about his parents, who were very nice people, devoutly Catholic people, is that they were obviously afraid of their son.
Me, I don't even know men like that anymore. There's an old saying that a witch (or warlock) can't get into your house unless you invite him or her. I get just a whiff of that old Judas-evil, and I slam the door. I am not Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
I know perfectly well the evils of demonizing people, so I am deliberately talking not of the devil but of Judas. But I have met two men who, without being criminals, without being socially disadvantaged in any way, intentionally chose evil again and again. One of them was Catholic, and he went to Mass on Sundays.
Admire Saint John. Be as patient with Saint Peter as you can. Watch out for Judas.