Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Way to Make Things Worse, Guys

Caveat for the sensitive: this post contains mention of sexual assault.

Shiraz, now in London, sent me this very scary article about the Men's R*ghts M*vement. I've starred the expression because I do not want to end up on a M*M hate list. Many outspoken women bloggers get called a lot of nasty names; this says a lot more about the man or woman who uses them than about the bloggers, but it still isn't fun to experience. So far the worst things I've been called on the blogosphere are a "feminist" (yawn) and a (get this) "female supremacist."

To be frank, I had a giggle at the "female supremacist" tag. If I were really a female supremacist, I would not be calling B.A. from the bus every single time I come home after dark so that he can walk me home through the woods. If I were a female supremacist, I would insist that B.A. call ME every time HE comes home after dark, so that I could walk HIM through the woods. I would also be extremely resentful of the fact that he makes almost all the money and assume it was because there was some masculinist plot against me. (That reminds me, buy my new book! B.A., not being a male supremacist, has no problem with me making more money than him. In fact, it is his master plan.) I am sure I would be super chippy when reality did not conform to my expectations, just like male supremacists.

Meanwhile, I would not have this blog about finding happiness and meaning in the (usually temporary, if prolonged) Single Life. As a female supremacist, I would think the majority of you were insane for wanting to get married, as I would think men were beneath us all and really we should create an Amazonian society in which we expel men from our homes and use them only for sex and child support. Ooh. Actually, I think some women actually do think this. But, hello, anyone who actually read my blog with any attention would know that I am not among them.

I thought many things when I read the article about the Men's R*ghts M*vement, and the first one was, "I am a human being."

The second was, "I love my husband, my father, my brothers and my nephews. I am intensely fond of my male friends, male mentors, and several of my male former professors. Most women love the men in their lives. What is this?"

The third was, "If unmarried fathers are being treated unjustly, and male victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse are being ignored, then this certainly must stop. But the injustice should not be used as an excuse for men to belittle, abuse and rape women and encourage other men to do so."

Because that is what a lot of that M*M stuff seems to boil down to: men getting a thrill from sexual fantasies of overpowering and hurting women in the most intimate, invasive way they can imagine. That is really, really twisted. And also why Catholic men and women (for some women do go along as cheerleaders, since--duh--women want men to love us) have no business going near M*M websites.

If all the world assented to the Gospel--the dream of all Christian missionaries until 1962--nobody would be attracted to the M*M. One of the beauties of Catholicism is that it has a developing anthropology that asserts the God-given dignity of women AND men. Anything good in feminism, and in the men's r*ghts demands, is already in Catholicism. St. Edith Stein and Blessed John Paul make very convincing cases of what men and women should strive for in terms of their own sexuality and in respect for the other. Blessed John Paul's Mulieris Dignitatem and Letter to Women should be required reading for us all.

It occurs to me that the M*M, like many streams of feminism, is a response to consumerism, hyper-individualism and the breakdown of the family. Consumerism and hyper-individualism lead to the breakdown, which leads to child support payments and frustrated fatherhood. If men and women stopped treating sex as a consumer good, and as something that properly occurs within the family-bond of marriage, then men would have the dignity of being husbands and fathers instead of, as they fear most, the duties of a bank machine. Men in the M*M who trumpet about "sex is what I do" are not part of the solution but most definitely part of the problem.

Another emphasis of the M*M seems to be that women confess to our bad behaviour, whatever bad behaviour that might be. Men demanding this confession verge on the, forgive me, hysterical. But again, the best response to this male hysteria and female refusal to apologize for whatever it is we may actually have done (if we actually did do it) is the Catholic practice of examination of conscience, contrition, confession, penance and forgiveness. Forgiveness is key. Nobody would confess to anything if the response was, "Aha! So you admit that you deserve a good rape!"

Women's greatest fear is that men are going to batter, rape and kill us or our kids. I think it may be wired into our DNA because the first time I walked into a badly ventilated weight room, the stench of male stranger sweat made me want to flee--and that was after two years of boxing. (Presumably my subconscious was okay with the sweat of Rich, Dave and the other guys at the boxing club.) Women of every generation have been battered, raped and killed by men, particularly during wars, so it is a little precious of men to get mad that women talk about it and try to stop it. And it's incredibly contradictory to respond with sexually violent language.

My own novel deals with some of the questions around what male-female relationships are like today. My IP interviewer thinks it is a big deal that my protagonist is much older than her lover. (Of course, it is a bigger deal that the protagonist in a IP novel has a lover!) I think that makes the novel really interesting, quite apart from the corpse, the neo-Nazis, the footballer, the shopping scene and stuff blowing up. Really, my novel has something for everyone, plus a lot of fodder for debates about "the Catholic novel" and "postmodernism, borrowings and irony." Kup teraz!

That reminds me: thank you, Anamaria for the Amazon review. Thanks also to Jenna and Julie for their Goodreads reviews, and to Megan and Magdalen for their Goodreads ratings. Simcha is telling her people to give her 5s, but I was really pleased you gave me 4s. Four strikes me as really good; it's not like I'm Dostoyevsky.


Iota said...

My pet theory is that both militant feminism (emphasis on militant) and this kind of twisted men's "rights" movement (emphasis on scare quotes - men actually HAVE rights they should fight for) are two variants of the egoistical Victim Game.

The starting point of the Game is to hone in on whatever pain you've experienced in life and insist that the pain of the rest of the world doesn't matter much. If people talk about anything besides YOUR pain, remind them that YOU suffer and they should pay attention to YOU. Bonus anger points if the people are in any way to the same "group" as your perpetrator.

The rules of the game allow, technically, that the people talk about the pain a certain group experiences in general ("women", "men", "the poor", "the discriminated",) but most players insist that their particular experience be given centrer stage.

Since the world doesn't actually work like that, no single type of human suffering will ever monopolise people's attention, and their own teeth will still than more acutely than someone else's broken spine, a player of the Victim Game has to lose.

Which leads to anger, resentment and fantasies of revenge. Because, assuming they have been legitimately hurt, they think they *deserve* to have that acknowledged, but set an impossibly high standard for acknowledgement.

A cure for this would be selflessness - not abandoning your claim to actual justice, if you have been hurt, but being able to live with others even if the person who has hurt you can't or won't acknowledge that. But selflessness is hard, isn't probably very fashionable nowadays, and I suppose even less so with modern men than women. Which leads to guys like those being, IMO, frightening in close quarters and miserably pitiable at a distance.


"the dream of all Christian missionaries until 1962" -- hmmm?

If you keep talking about that book like that, Seraphic, I might just buy the thing and then take revenge by writing suitably obscure but publishable academic papers about it. :-)

Seraphic said...

Alas, one of the confusions that followed in the wake of the Vatican II concerned missiology. I dodged the Missiology course in theology school, but I'm sorry now because I have only a vague idea of the issue.

In short, before Vatican II, Catholic missionaries went out to make all the world Catholic Christians. During Vatican II, the necessity of making all the world Catholic Christians, e.g. to save it from hell, was denied. We were allowed not only to HOPE but to ARGUE that those not visibly in the Church would be saved, which made not a few missionaries ask why they had made such tremendous sacrifices then? There are various answers to this, and many Catholic missionaries have been martyred, since Vatican II, for their witness to Catholic ideas about social justice.

As for academic journals--too soon, (she wailed) too soon!!! Hardly anyone has read it yet. Just buy the darn thing. Kup teraz!

Anamaria said...

When I was deciding between a four and a five, my thoughts wavered from "It looks like most decent books on here get fives! Kind of low standards, but maybe I should give it a five" to... "It's really good, but, man, it's not like it's Dostoyevsky." Exactly.

Iota said...

@ Seraphic: I was assuming this is what you referred to.

Thing is, I don't think it's an entirely fair thing to say, because (a) I kind of hesitate to assume that before 1962 all missionaries were true saints 24/7 (and if they weren't it could have happened that they slipped up here or there), and (b)

"During Vatican II, the necessity of making all the world Catholic Christians, e.g. to save it from hell, was denied"

That sounds a little weird. I may have gotten something wrong but it was my impression that the Church didn't insist it's absolutely necessary to convert everyone to save them from hell, because, for starters, it would mean people living away from any mission are kind of in HUGE trouble by default. Born in America before Columbus? Tough luck...

Again, I'm no specialist but it would seem to me that the argument for the salvation of non-Catholics from Vatican II kind of solidifies that. It should still be obvious (in principle, not necessarily in fact) that giving people the whole Truth is better, if you have the opportunity (which is what missionaries are doing). So I'm wondering if Vatican II isn't being given a some undeserved bad rep...?

@ The book - I need an extra paycheck. :-)

(And writing now makes the most sense, given that in our academic publishing cycle it might take +3 years from completed manuscript to print).

Seraphic said...

@Iota. Missiology is not my thing, but I am pretty sure the pre-1962 missionaries were not all saints (unfortunately)! And I am pretty sure the post-1962 missionary martyrs probably are!

The theology on "preach to all nations" has indeed developed, and there are pitched battles over "Extra ecclesiam nullus salus" today. I tend to keep out of that fight. But there is to be a big theological shift from "We hope all men of good will will be saved" to "We assert that all men of good will will be saved."

And of course there has been some controversy stirred up about "evangelization" versus "proselytisation" in recent weeks. It's all a minefield and--no pun intended--it's not my field. All I'm asserting is that after Vatican II there was a shift in missiology.

Seraphic said...

@Anamaria, thank you! I'm happy with an honest four!

@Iota (again). Point taken, but read it first! I don't think there's a copy in Poland yet, but the shipment to Britain should be here soon. The British distributor is "Gracewing." Meanwhile, there has been a squeak of interest about a Polish translation, but right now it is the merest squeak!

Heather in Toronto said...

Aw, now now Seraphic. VII didn't say the Great Commission was cancelled any more than it outlawed Latin or mandated wreckovating churches. It did reiterate the notion that those outside the visible Church may still have the possibility of salvation, so no, non-Catholics are not necessarily damned, but that's nothing new. It didn't claim we have less than the fullness of truth, or that all religions are equal, no matter what Professor New Age Hippie might want to believe.

We still have the super GPS and emergency roadside assistance, so the person trying to get by with a road atlas or hand drawn crayon map or just road signs and hope would still be better off with us even though we acknowledge that they might be able to make it to their destination with what they've got. And we also acknowledge that hard-sell tactics or sneering at how much their map sucks compared to ours is likely to make them less likely to want to check ours out, rather than more.

Enough of that rabbit hole, however, and back to the article you linked. The movement in question is so angry and ugly that their legitimate concerns get lost in that anger and ugliness. It's quite sad, really.

Seraphic said...

I never trashed V2. All I said was it was the dream of all Christian missionaries to convert the world to the Gospel until 1962. V2 witnessed a shift. and a new openness to other religions. That's all I meant re missiology. What I meant here is that if everyone (EVERYONE) accepted the Gospel, there would be no "Men's Right's Movement" because everyone would agree on the dignity of men and women and the rights of children to be brought up by both their mother and their father, and that their mother's and father's contributions would be both recognized.

It was a throwaway comment, really. I'm sorry it obscured the actual subject of the post!

Iota said...


> But there is to be a big theological shift

Point taken. I was confused because I've always been taught that "We assert we hope..." is the actual position.

Also, I apologise for the derail. I'm an awful nitpicker.

> "evangelization" versus "proselytisation"

As a point of historical and linguistic interest, I believe "to proselytise" as a negatively-connoted counterpart to "to convert/evangelise" has existed for a long while now in relations with the Orthodox in Poland. I was kind of confused by the Anglophone confusion about it. Anyway, "prozelityzm" is a long-standing, valid, Polish word, in case anyone wants to know. A negative one.

Ad. Book - doncha worry, if I buy I'll be buying an imported British copy. Hope the publishers are good people. :-)

tiny therese said...

I know you're probably tired of discussing your throw away comment about Vatican II, but there are one or two things that I wanted to mention on the topic.

You may be aware of this or maybe you have acknowledged it in the comments already, but since I have difficulty at taking something other than at face value I wanted to say it.

You're right that Vatican II emphasizes that non-Catholics and non-Christians MIGHT be able to go to heaven.

Sadly though, along with other aspects of this particular council, many people have misunderstood the message. So it isn't that Vatican II is the reason for people thinking that we don't need to spread Catholicism, but that the council is misinterpreted.

The Vatican II documents are not even that hard to read. Your average literate adult would be able to study them. Those who belong to the extreme viewpoints of either liberal or Cafeteria Catholicism or traditional Catholicism to the point of not being in union with Rome, I question if they've read the council documents. I think that they just skimmed them, used the parts that fit their beliefs, or just went by what other people said about what it claimed.

(I'm not saying that you belong to either extreme view Seraphic.)

I agree that Mulieris Dignitatem and Letter to Women should be required reading. So should the Vatican II documents.

Sheila said...

I hate and excoriate everything I have ever seen to come out of the M*nosph3re. Including the "marriage g@me" stuff, which I hear praised because "it can prevent divorce" but from where I'm standing, it seems like it would lead to some very unhealthy marriages. The idea seems to be that if husbands are occasionally jerks, or bossy or whatever, it will keep their wives on their toes because they're not so "sure" of him. What would we get married for if not to be sure of our spouses?! What kind of real closeness would you have with your spouse if you felt like you still had to be on your best behavior at all times? Treat people as you would like to be treated; it's that simple.

The rest of the m*vement is even worse. Don't they realize that many feminists consider things like r@pe and @buse of men and boys, or unequal child supp*rt/v*sitation laws, or television depiction of men as oafs, to be sexist as well and are opposed to them? Because if you really want to fight THOSE things, you should join forces with feminists. Make an anti-sexism movement and don't make it a gender war.

But they won't do it because anger and r@pe @pology boosts their stats. Which means they're *using* real injustice as a motivator for something entirely different.

But my own hatred of this stuff is nothing compared to my husband's. He read a few articles and then fumed and stormed for a bit before declaring, "That's it'! It's official! I'm a feminist!" Good men hate this stuff because it's so profoundly counter to what they are called to do.

I think fighting it, insofar as that is possible, is the job of good men. Our job is to NOT READ this stuff because it is so very toxic and will make us hate men.

Bless their little hearts. Most men are nothing like this, thank goodness.

Sheila said...

As far as "extra ecclesia nulla salus," that's controversy bait when you drop it in a roomful of Catholics. It's like bringing up vaccination or circumcision at Mommy and Me. No one can think of your point because you said Vatican II!

Even if ALL non-Catholics went to heaven, I'd still want to be a missionary because I think knowing Jesus on earth is the greatest gift I could give another person. But that is me.