Warning: general reference to rape.
I hinted earlier that there were ways to hint that you are non-combatants in the war between the sexes. If you are, of course. If you think that there exists to this day an international, all-male conspiracy to keep (or make) women poor and unhappy, Christian fundamentalists high-fiving the Taliban at meetings, then no doubt your conscience tells you to be a combatant. Skip this post.
The older I get, the less frightened I am of men, possibly because the older I get, the less interesting I am to men, save as a potential reader of their manuscripts or baker of cakes. When I was a child, "Never talk to strangers" generally meant "Never talk to strange men" and the primary reason for this was hammered home when gruesome descriptions of gang rape fell into my innocent hands. Sadly, the feminist dictum of "All men are potential rapists" seemed all to true to the scandalized child Seraphic--excepting priests, of course. It would never have occurred to me that a priest could EVER do something like that. If pressed, I imagine I thought priests were a species of angel. Oh how sweet.
In reality, the tiny minority of men who rape are opportunists on the lookout for the weak, so although I am less in danger from these jerks now as a tough-minded, 40-something than I was when I was 15, I will have to watch out when I am a weak old lady. That said, I will be less worried about this tiny minority of sickos as I will be about the kindly state and its willingness to dispatch me with a lethal injection. As any woman with half a brain has noticed, kindly women with a modicum of power and "your best interests at heart" are terrifying.
However, if you are twenty and dead frightened of men and quick to see how they are oppressing you, you have my sympathy. It is very frightening to be sexually attractive to men without knowing how to talk to them properly or discourage them in a way that wins their respect or liking. If it's any consolation, scads of them are dead frightened of you and quick to see how you are oppressing them. How happy I am I shall never be twenty again. (That said, I miss the natural luminosity of twenty-year-old skin and the language-learning power of a twenty-year-old brain. Take care of them.)
If the whole idea of men being scared of you and thinking you are oppressing them blows your minds, google "Men's Rights Movement" and be prepared to get as mad as men get when they see "Boys are Stupid, Throw Rocks at Them" T-shirts. When men are mad at women-in-general, they write some really crude and lousy things. However, if you dig through the horse manure, you will find a few objects worth your contemplation, like the problems of alimony and fathers' rights.
One of the projects of Christian life is to see the world as it is. This is incredibly difficult, in part because we all have an Enemy who wants to obscure our vision and encourage us to be as selfish and prideful as we can be. To see the world as it is takes effort and humility and courage. Thus, to see men as they are, without obsessing on what advantages popularity with men (or powerful women) can bring you, takes effort, humility and courage. The same goes for such movements as feminism. Apparently it is brave to say that you are a feminist. I disagree. I think it is much braver to say that you are not a feminist, but a Christian humanist, who takes Christ as your model for the correct relationship between men and women, and between adults and children.
But more on this tomorrow as I have to go to the Passport Office.