Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Ensouled Bodies

Thank you for your comments, emails and good wishes. If I haven't answered your email yet, hang in there.

Yesterday I was linked to by Ignitum, Patheos and PhatMass, so hits are through the roof. All those strangers had to come and see me the one day I was a big emo-blogger puddle of goo. Sigh.

Actually, I spent a lot of the day out with B.A. and then at an impromptu party and came home at midnight tipsy on red wine and roughed up some poor seminarian at the Crescat's place for having dating some girl while discerning.

As for Ryan's post, the combox has disintegrated into the usual screamfest over feminine modesty. There should be a convention that whoever first uses the word "bikini" in a combox has lost the argument.

I have never myself appeared to my public in a bikini. Back in my super-sporty days, when I was 117 pounds (53 Kg) of lean sinew and fluffy hair, I dropped into a shop called Bikini Village to try on the dreaded garment of doom. I stood there before the mirror, in the best shape I had ever been (and, alas, may ever be), and said, "Nah."

I was 27, I think. Not too old for a bikini, by worldly standards. Not too young for a bikini, by worldly standards. Not too fat by any standard. Not too thin by contemporary standards. (Rubens would have cried.) But the truth was I just didn't want to appear in public in so little clothing. I didn't want the gaze of strangers to rest on my mostly naked body. And never mind strangers, I didn't want the wicked, carniverous sun resting on it either.

So I didn't buy the bikini. Let the sensitive Catholic men of the world rejoice. I wasn't thinking of their opinion, though, believe me. I think I had a crush on an atheist at the time. No, I was thinking of my own comfort and how I didn't want to be seen as a sexy body in a bikini but as me.

Anyway, the number one way a Catholic layman can annoy Catholic women online is to give pious lectures on feminine modesty and express his disappointment that we disobey Love and Responsibility by wearing bikinis, etc.

I would be amazed if Błogosławiony Jan Paweł Drugi, as my peeps in Poland call him, actually mentioned bikinis in Love and Responsibility, although I have no real way of knowing as I have never read it. ( Reading about spirituality of married people's sexuality... So sleepy... Zzzz...)

I have, however, read Mulieris Dignitatem with very great attention, and there Bł. JP II certainly has a lot to say about the tyrannous behaviour of men. Saint Edith Stein, while pointing out the faults fallen femininity is prone to, pointed out that one of the faults of fallen masculinity was a longing to boss women around.

Now, women can take a little bossing. If we're in love with someone, we don't mind too terribly much if he says, "Bring me a drink, woman, and put on that sexy dress I bought you." Male aggression is so often sexually charged, which is why it can be fun from men we adore but usually extremely creepy from men we don't even know.

Darlings, is that too much truth so early in the morning?

Anyway, what I actually want to write about this morning is women as bodies. Christians talk of human beings as embodied souls, and that's fine, but we're also ensouled bodies. We believe in the resurrection of the body, and when Our Lord rose--body and soul--from the dead, He went out of His way to illustrate His corporeal existence. He had His wounds, and He invited Thomas to put his hands in them. He shared meals. He went for long walks.

Thomas Aquinas thinks that we reach the peak of our human bodily perfection at 33, and therefore our bodies will return to what they were at 33 in the General Resurrection, only the bodies of the saved will be fixed of any infirmity, too. As I was still in awesome shape at 33, I have always enjoyed this thought--and I may be exaggerating. Maybe he didn't say 33 exactly.

When I say awesome shape, I don't mean I looked like a supermodel because I didn't, and I never did. Very few women in Canada can be that thin and still have big breasts although I have noticed that this seems to be a more frequent phenomenon among young women from Central-Eastern Europe. (Yarg!)

No, I mean that I was strong and had great stamina and could run a mile without breaking into a sweat and would do it at the drop of a hat, too. I very much enjoyed working out in the university gym, although the sight of the resident anorexic creeping around made me feel awful.

I do not know how old this woman was but she looked really old: very lined and wrinkled with huge sunken eyes. Unlike me, she didn't use the standing weights or the barbells at all. She stuck to the Stairmaster. And she was such a terrible sight, this poor woman amid all the healthy, glowing, athletic bodies of young men and young women. We enjoyed being bodies at work; she so obviously didn't.

Since I was too frightened of her to speak to her, I have no idea how she got like that. I don't know much about anorexia, but I believe it has something to do with control. European women kidnapped by native peoples in early colonial America often stopped eating, as the only form of control over their lives they had. And when I was younger, anorexia was seen as a problem of high-achieving white girls, determined to be perfect, or determined to call the shots over something in their lives, free from the expectations of parents and teachers.

But anorexia is also associated with female fear of fat, which is tragic as secondary female sexual characteristics--breasts, thighs, round bottom--are by nature formed with fat. It is also associated with girls thinking about themselves as Looked At.

This brings us back to some Catholic men on some Catholic blogs having Catholic conniptions about some Catholic girls in bikinis. For in those discussions the battle is over Women As Looked At.

But the purpose of our bodies is not to be looked at. The purpose of our bodies is--well, to be us. We are our bodies, and I think women understand this a bit better then men.

I am not a fan of skimpy clothes, unless the skimpy clothes are necessary for athletic or aesthetic achievement. I think we women should fight against our own tendency to see ourselves constantly through men's eyes, through strangers' eyes, as Looked At. We should dress as ourselves, not as our sex appeal.

For the sake of the public, it is good to keep in mind that we are not invisible and that like any other visual thing, we can invoke aesthetic pleasure or distaste in other human beings. For this reason, we comb our hair and put on clean, neat clothing before we leave the house.

But at the same time, we must think of our bodies not as objects but as subjects, as ourselves (wedded to souls), moving through the world towards eternity. And it would be helpful if more men thought of us that way too.

Incidentally, there is something mentally unhealthy about a young man who takes a shine to a girl he meets at Mass and then feels crushed if he sees a photo of her in a bikini top on Facebook. He is disappointed because now she doesn't match Miss Perfect Catholic Girl in his head. His non-Catholic roommate, however, might well be thinking, as would the young man's Catholic grandfather fifty years ago, "Whoo-hoo! That's for me!"

Let the comments begin and kindly remember that the combox is open only to women, priests and my uber-protective brother Nulli Secundus, who is free to come and bark at eavesdroppers who get past the Swashbuckling Protector of the Day.

UPDATE: Since ancient times, we have always emphasized the soul, so the exact Catholic teaching on the body often comes as a surprise. So here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:


362 The human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once corporeal and spiritual. The biblical account expresses this reality in symbolic language when it affirms that "then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being."229 Man, whole and entire, is therefore willed by God.

363 In Sacred Scripture the term "soul" often refers to human life or the entire human person.230 But "soul" also refers to the innermost aspect of man, that which is of greatest value in him,231 that by which he is most especially in God's image: "soul" signifies the spiritual principle in man.

364 The human body shares in the dignity of "the image of God": it is a human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul, and it is the whole human person that is intended to become, in the body of Christ, a temple of the Spirit:

Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity. Through his very bodily condition he sums up in himself the elements of the material world. Through him they are thus brought to their highest perfection and can raise their voice in praise freely given to the Creator. For this reason man may not despise his bodily life. Rather he is obliged to regard his body as good and to hold it in honor since God has created it and will raise it up on the last day.

365 The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the "form" of the body:234 i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature.


Joan of Quark said...

Cool! Go Seraphic; rough up them thar 'discerners'!

We have a male devotee of Our Lady of Perpetual Discernment floating around our parish at present, who had the cheek to ask for my phone number and then never use it. (Which on mature reflection is actually a relief ...)

In the meantime, my pasta machine and I are very happy together.

Seraphic Spouse said...

Turns out the young lady called him on it and ditched him. Mad props to him for admitting it. It looks like he has learned something-including an impressive amount of humility--and might indeed make a good priest.

american in deutschland said...

"Our Lady of Perpetual Discernment" is still perhaps my favorite joke to ever be joked.

I feel happy to see you weigh in on that comment... adventure, because usually I just avoid men like this on Christian blogs, but this time for some reason I snapped and have been slogging away under the name "oh boy." But I feel I'm done now. I think. I already claimed that a few posts ago. But they keep saying THINGS!

Anyway, it is good to have such a space as this, and I think your strict moderation of male comments is wonderful in that it keeps us from being waylaid by these kinds of conversations constantly. I usually don't mind the idea of men reading what I say -- this is the internet, after all -- and I'm sure there are men who can be good about it, but fending off young Catholic crusader boys who are fighting the war against spaghetti strap tops is SO worth it.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I sort of lost it on "Anon," who kept piously saying that women should humbly take correction from men not their husbands in regards to dress. Modesty is Catholic! Humility is Catholic! So we should all just happily take his correction! (Gag.)

I think that few men have a visceral reaction to being constantly bossed (as they are often not bossed, although they will complain about being "henpecked"), nor do they have a visceral understanding of the suffering that comes from men preaching about modesty. They wouldn't be men if in constant fear of their safety, or if they were constantly ordered around by women they barely know.

Of course, they rarely also have the body image issues that women do.

To them, it's gentle correction, leading a woman towards holiness; to us, it's crass, rude, perhaps a bit creepy, and nothing we haven't heard a million times already.


sciencegirl said...

The first time I heard a modesty discussion, I was intrigued.

It was in real life, at my women's rosary group, and I did learn a few things that were helpful. That was the first, last, and only time I found modesty discussions interesting. Of course, I did like Simcha Fisher's "Pants" essay because it was hilarious.

Modesty discussion on a Catholic blog? SNORE. There are the irritating, bossy detractors of current female dress ("Oh noes! A shoulder!!!"). There are the even more irritating, hotheaded defenders of current female dress ("What next? A burqa???"). There are the sensible, futile majority. And then there are the legions of bored women (and men!) who wish someone could find something interesting to say about Catholic women besides clothing.

Oh wait, that's why I read this blog! Good point on the connection with anorexia and fear of observation. I think it's a weird sensation, to know that we'll be assessed by so many different people. I say, if we have to give 'em a show, give 'em a show to remember! I got a pretty good set of Sunday church clothes.

Actually, I enjoy fashion and shows about clothes, like "Project Runway," but usually people are just obsessing over shorts or spaghetti straps and never get into the finer points. Are the spaghetti straps over-accessorized? Do the shorts have too many design elements in one garment? C'mon people, focus on the essentials!

SO glad I didn't go back to read all the comments on Ryan's blog! His post was not even about that at all, but of course it got derailed into a modesty discussion; it was about Catholic women, those fleshy coathangers!

Anonymous said...

There are the even more irritating, hotheaded defenders of current female dress ("What next? A burqa???").

I do not defend current female dress; I merely believe that a man who isn't my husband, priest, or, in the workplace, my boss, lacks the right to tell me what to wear.

I also deeply resent when men blame me (or other women) for their problems. There are some sins of the mind and of action, united, that almost all men commit until they are dead, and women's apparel only really affects that on the margins.

Yes, we have a duty to help in what ways we can, but, again, it's only on the margins.


okiegrl said...

American in Deutschland and Theobromophile, I really enjoyed your comments on Ryan's blog. I would add my own if I thought it would do any good, but I've come to the conclusion that additional comments won't change minds.

The comment about how men will never know what it is to be objectified reminded me of an episode of the show How I Met Your Mother. The girls make the comment that guys don't know what it is to be hit on/objectified, so they go to a gay bar so the (straight) guys will have to deal with the unwanted attention women get all the time. "Oh, so that's how you girls feel!" is the conclusion. Sometimes secular groups get it when religious groups don't. Caveat: HIMYM is a secular show on CBS, and definitely has raunchy moments. I think it has plenty of sweet and funny moments that make up for the raunchy ones, but tastes differ. You were warned! :-)

Story about modest dress... I went to college at a private, prominent Evangelical university, and women were not allowed to wear pants my freshman year. In order to get to the cafeteria we had to go up a long flight of stairs. I always noticed a bunch of guys congregating at a bench at the bottom of the stairs. I didn't get it until one of the older girls told me that they had a good view up all the modest skirts! I felt way more objectified in my modest attire than I have ever felt wearing a bikini by the pool, or when I was a lifeguard and lived in my bathing suit.

Incidentally, that same year my university made it onto Playboy's list of hottest coeds. (It was announced in chapel!) Our dress code was modest enough to suit the most discriminating NCB, but that didn't keep us from being objectified. Just goes to show that modesty often has more to do with a man's gaze vs the attire in which the woman is dressed.

RMVB said...

I didn't read all the comments so I might be repeating, however I loved this post. (I also read the linked Ryan's post and loved it as well)
I am often really intrigued when NCW find the idea of "covering up" offensive or sensational, as if NCM are being ridiculous and power hungry in wanting us to help them out a little...that could be because I've always found myself extremely uncomfortable in "regular" swimwear or low cut shirts, (etc) already, so I don't see what the big deal is....However I wanted to understand these women....
So I wondered deeply about how modesty could be what it is (protecting men from occasions of sin) but also be Something Greater, not-so-centered around sinfulness but around an ob jective Ideal. I really liked how you explained this as dressing as you ARE, because you ARE a body (Sorry CS Lewis, but "you are not a body, you are a soul - you have a body" is the only thing I don't agree with you on?) and you ARE a soul...."But the purpose of our bodies is not to be looked at. The purpose of our bodies is--well, to be us."
I never would have thought of that all on my own so I very much appreciate the insight and think it a much better argument for modesty than MERELY to protect men. - We weren't made to be looked at, to be objects of desire, but also, we weren't made to be looked at, but our bodies are reflective of who we are...
Great stuff! Thanks!

american in deutschland said...

Never fear, that Lewis quote is widely attributed to him, but is a false attribution!

Sarah said...

Actually, whoever said it was right. Since we, as beings, are made in the image and likeness of God, who doesn't have a body, our deepest, most essential part of who we ARE is absolutely our soul. I'm surprised a Catholic (just assuming that's what you are) would disagree with that. Our body is a vessel.

That doesn't mean outward appearances and how we present that vessel aren't important, but considering the way standards of modesty can change over time and between cultures, it can hardly be the defining mark of worthiness that Catholic men make it.

Putting aside the fact that the indigenous people of the Amazon are pagans, I have a hard time believing that the men around them think any more or less about sex just because the women may only have a few leaves covering up their, erm... unmentionables.

In fact, I think a lot of the time, the Western, Christian men who insist on making demands about how women dress have a really weird, backwards /obsession/ with sex.

okiegrl said...

RMVB- A.D. and Theobromophile made really good points on Ryan's blog, so I won't repeat them here. I don't think anyone is arguing that women should be immodest. We just think that it is NOT a man's place to tell women how to dress or make comments to women about modesty because it is a sensitive, sexually charged subject that men cannot fully understand because they are MEN!

If a woman is dressing immodestly in church, it will be much more effective to have a KIND older woman take her under wing. A man doing this is clumsy at best, and usually comes across as arrogant, controlling and creepy, even if he has the best intentions and care for her soul. Not. His. Place.

Unfortunately there are men who think that they can say whatever they want to women because they are men. I usually run into these guys in Catholic and Protestant circles. As Seraphic likes to say, the only men that should have a say over a woman's life are her priest, her father, and her husband. That includes having a say about modesty.

P.S.- Thank you Seraphic, for banning the boys. I never understood why until now. :-)

american in deutschland said...

@RMVB, thanks for reading my posts over there with an open mind. I grew up inside this world of men urging women to "help them out," as an evangelical young girl and teen. As I've gotten older, I first of all realized that even if the boys I was "helping" had the purest of intentions and didn't scorn or resent the girls who didn't dress to their standards, nevertheless *my* attitudes had been shaped. I would think less of a fellow girl at the drop of a hat, based on her dress. At some point it clicked that I had joined into some kind of twisted solidarity with men -- helping them out -- instead of my natural solidarity with other women. I thought I was the "good girl" and they were vain or misguided less-thans. And realizing also that most of these girls who dressed "beneath me" were innocent or insecure people who didn't deserve my scorn made me want to distance myself from these attitudes.

And you know, like I mentioned in the thread, I dress modestly by any Christian male's standards (except the Pants Brigade, I suppose), and I feel uncomfortable showing too much skin. I suppose though that a lot of that has more to do with discomfort with my looks than outright modesty -- and here again girls are at the crosshairs. They can't be "too sexy" but they also can't be too ugly -- it's not just the media that spreads this image, but pontificating male internet users. "Women should look the way I prefer," is the general theme. In real life, thank God, I think this is more muted and I think most men have the sense God gave them to appreciate when they like a woman's looks and otherwise shut up. These attitudes tend to crop up indirectly, through cultural norms or media or whenever someone decides to come up with a modesty spreadsheet.

But I also think of earlier eras, and wonder what NONSENSE the women would think it, that men should do this whole "support a brother, don't make us lust," thing. It really is a twisted solidarity and female kindness that offers up even our modesty for men's sakes. I think earlier generations of women knew that they didn't want to dress like a "certain kind of woman" because dressing like that resulted in a certain kind of treatment, and usually one that enjoyed legal immunity or got brushed under the carpet. They didn't worry about drawing the poor men into sin, they worried about avoiding the serious consequences of inappropriate male attention. They had to worry about being "ruined," and they were savvy enough to realize that it was men who did the ruining. For the women who were seen as disreputable, men extended no such tender cross-gender concern for their sisters in Christ. Nowadays, when outright rape is (supposedly) less acceptable, men feel at a loss, and tell us WE have to help them not be so predatory, at least in their thoughts. It just seems to me that men just can't bear to take the whole responsibility for their desires, and they ought to.

I do think there are good men, however, and am working out how to have a healthy trust vs. healthy wariness when it comes to the men I meet and befriend. For the most part I trust them. It's because I trust that they, for the most part, have good intentions and the ability to love and understand women that I even bother trying to get them to see how broader tendencies and social systems often make things harder for women. If I were really a man-basher, I would just spend my whole day copy-pasting in statistics of sexual assault, which need no further explanation.

Seraphic Spouse said...

Nope, nope. Our bodies are NOT vessels. We are a marriage of body and soul, and the reason we get our bodies back in the end is that it is not fitting for our bodies and souls to be separated ultimately. And, as I've said somewhere on this blog, the marriage of body and soul is nowhere so obvious as in the relationship between our brains and our minds.

We are made in the image and likeness of God in that we have the capacity to reason and to love. Bodies have not much to do with our being made in the imagine and likeness of God, although I would ponder the reality that Jesus Christ, who is God and man, had a body. He is literally God incarnate.

Orthodox Catholics place so much importance on the sacredness of the body; even in periods of strict ascetism, bodies matter. I believe one of the places where we fell out with the Cathars is that the Cathars felt that the sins of the body didn't really matter because bodies were bad anyway. And the Manicheans REALLY thought that bodies were bad.

So there is a fine line in the Catholic understanding of human person as soul and as body. We are embodied souls and ensouled bodies. Our bodies really aren't just meat-tanks we drive around in.

Rae said...

You know what the best way to encourage modest dress is? Compliments. Like the nice, old, fat, toothless broom-maker at a local festival last week who commended my mother and sister for dressing modestly. And, I might add, with style.

Seraphic said...

I've just put up what the catechism says about man as union of body and soul.

american in deutschland said...

Well, maybe compliments. I would take a compliment on the level of "you look nice," or "what a nice dress." If someone explicitly compliments me for dressing "modestly" I am *still* going to take it the wrong way. Does this make me a raging feminist? I just -- when I am out somewhere in public, I might want to look pretty and trigger a general feeling of attraction or looking-nice, but I don't want to be reminded that someone is out there looking over all the women and seeing which ones have which parts showing and then going to reward the ones who fit their standards with a compliment. I mean, what if for whatever reason your modest dress DOESN'T fit their standard? It can be hard to predict the standards of every single person in a building, especially older people. (Just as an example, my grandmother thinks that layering shirts is unpleasant and perhaps immodest because it means our "undershirts" are showing.) Then you don't earn their approval?

sciencegirl said...

Theobromophile, I hope you didn't think I was talking about you -- I wasn't at all. I always like your comments, and no one I've read here has annoyed me. I'd lumped you in with the sensible people ;).

I haven't read Ryan's comment thread. I do get annoyed when commenters derail a polite conversation, which I can't imagine you doing. I also agree that I find it obnoxious when men start bossing women around for the sole reason that they are men. I am in full accord.

When I see girls who are dressing immodestly and/or keep accidentally flashing me when they sit down, I usually think it makes them look fairly immature. Instead of insulting or embarrassing them, I try to give them compliments when they do end up dressing more appropriately, and that makes us both happy.

When men start talking about the subject, which they almost never do, I quietly edge away. The most Traddy, Conservative Catholic men I've known in real life just weren't all that interested in the topic.

Charming Disarray said...

I feel less objectified when I can wear shorts and a sleeveless blouse on a hot day without it being a big deal. If have to forego that for the sake of modesty that makes me feel like a hunk of flesh and not a person.

Those guys should get married. St. Paul said it's better to marry than to burn. He DIDN'T say "It's better to tell women to cover up so you don't feel any lust." They're putting their focus on the wrong thing and we should stop buying into their nonsense. It's incredibly tiresome to be treated like you're some kind of scarlet, unmarriageable women if you wear a bathing suit. And I mean regular bathing suits--not even necessarily bikinis. If they struggle with lust, they should get married. It is NOT acceptable for them to use women as some kind of moral punching bag for their struggles and temptations.

Charming Disarray said...

And I would be seriously PO'd if anyone complimented me on my "modesty." If anything was going to drive a girl to wear black mini skirts and stilettos, that would be it.

Seraphic Spouse said...

Drive? Drive? I OWN stilettos, gosh darn it.

My miniskirt days, however, are over.

Charming Disarray said... do I. :D

It's funny, though, because I have heard men make an argument about how "slutty" stilettos are, but they couldn't say why, and then they had to admit that it really had more to do with their perception of what the woman is wearing than about anything objectively wrong with the shoes themselves. I also had this argument about knee boots. It was kind of amazing.

Seraphic said...

I think somewhere or other I condemned stilettos as stupid, but then I found a pair of great navy blue ones for a fraction of their regular price and discovered that I could wear them while standing and even to walk as far as the bus stop. I wouldn't wear them after dark if I were by myself, however, since when I am by myself after dark being able to run fast is a priority.

okiegrl said...

But... sharp, pointy objects make great weapons!;-)

Anonymous said...

I sometimes wear bikinis. They are left over from my surfing days wherein I figured out that the most practical and comfortable attire was a bikini under a rash guard (a t-shirt designed to prevent you from getting all bruised up).

But I also think of earlier eras, and wonder what NONSENSE the women would think it, that men should do this whole "support a brother, don't make us lust," thing. It really is a twisted solidarity and female kindness that offers up even our modesty for men's sakes.

THANK YOU, American in Deutchesland, for hitting on exactly what so irks me about men and the modesty movement. To me, some of the reason to be modest is for the sake of other women - they don't need their husbands or boyfriends ogling me, nor does any woman benefit by a general decline in standards.

But I'm squeamish about a group with more social power haranguing a group with less social power.

Theobromophile, I hope you didn't think I was talking about you -- I wasn't at all. I always like your comments, and no one I've read here has annoyed me. I'd lumped you in with the sensible people ;).

Thanks, Sciencegirl.

Sheila said...

American in Deutschland, I don't know you, but from your comments on Ryan's blog, I love you. You are awesome. You said everything I've always wanted to say, but better.

Can't remember now on which of these comment threads it was, but did you catch when one man objected to the idea that we wouldn't obey any men who weren't our priests, fathers, or husbands? He said that submission isn't something you can turn off with a switch, and if a woman doesn't submit to men before her marriage, how are we to know she will be properly submissive after? I fumed. I raged. But it was like 30 comments deep and I decided to leave it.

Incidentally, though, I don't really obey my husband. We practice mutual submission a la JP2. So sometimes I give up what I want for his wishes, and sometimes he gives up what he wants for mine, but he never bosses me around because it isn't his nature and I detest it. So I suppose I would have made a terrible wife for Mr. Male Headship anyway.

But I guess the answer I could give to him is that you could just as well say, "Well, if she won't sleep with me before the wedding, how am I to know she will sleep with me after?" Some things, you just have to trust about because you can't test-drive them beforehand. He might try discussing it with the lady first though.

american in deutschland said...

Thanks, Sheila! I wandered back and saw that another woman had come by to voice her support for this "Catholic checklist" fellow (and also to tell us to be "ladylike" in our discussion or else we don't earn "gentlemen"), which was a bit deflating. I SAW that universal-submission guy, and just... oh lordy. I have no husband keeping me in line, and I committed the ultimate act of disobedience against my father when I left evangelicalism to join the Church, so clearly I don't even have the right to speak to such a man. No matter how ladylike my comportment. More frightening was the clearly unhinged fellow who slimed in to say that women deserve everything they get.

and Theobromophile, what gets me is the additional pressure to ally ourselves with the men (or at least their more damaging traits) who would cause us harm. I mean, really? I think there was a healthy push-and-pull between the sexes pre-feminism. Just because the culture wars have made millions of Christian women think that feminism is the enemy, doesn't mean that we have to put ourselves completely on the side of men. The use of brother-sister language can be so disingenuous. When was the last time you had to bend over backwards to make sure your brother didn't lust after you because he saw your shoulder blades? We're all brothers and sisters in Christ, but we ain't THAT close to Heaven yet.

Sigh... I am SO grateful for the haven of sanity here.

Seraphic said...

Bless their little hearts. Bless their little hearts!

There will always be the kind of women who think the way to make men like them is to be nasty about or to other women, like Caroline Bingley was about and to Eliza Bennett.

In general, one should watch one's tone on the internet wherever one goes because one is never as anonymous as one thinks!

But honestly I think that thread has just disintegrates so much that the healthiest thing you can do is abandon it.

As for men, OF COURSE we are on their side. This does not being on side with their sins.

In fact, the way to support men is to encourage them to think in accordance with the Gospels, which means encouraging them in their strengths and discouraging their weaknesses, and according to Saint Edith Stein the classic weaknesses of fallen masculinity is tyrannizing over women and children and discouraging us from developing all our gifts.

Some women get a high from saying "Now, now, be a lady" so don't worry about that. But I do encourage Single girls to think about how they present themselves on the internet because the internet is yet another place where you can win (or lose) friends and influence people.

Seraphic said...

That was tragically ungrammatical, but you know what I mean.

Seraphic said...

Incidentally, I see Miss Ladylike used a real name and if she's the same girl I just looked up on Facebook, she's cute. So all those Single guys wailing away about the dearth of Good Women do have the option of contacting her pronto through Facebook.

If they don't have the guts to do even that, well, I don't know what to say.

Meanwhile, I don't ever recommend that you girls do such a thing. If any guy wants to find out if Theobromophile (or whoever) would talk to him, he can email me and I'll email you. It can be courting trouble to attract male attention so directly over the net.

Rae said...

Just in case this lovely exchange was about to die, I would like to ask a question.
ScienceGirl wrote "But I'm squeamish about a group with more social power haranguing a group with less social power. "
Now, I would say that men have more political power. I would say they have more financial power. But I don't think they have more social power. Agree or disagree?