Tuesday, 18 February 2014

A Non-Combatant in the War Between the Sexes (Preamble)

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.


Ellie said...

I thought this was rather intriguing and worth a read http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/02/15/opinion/sunday/the-all-or-nothing-marriage.html?smid=fb-nytimes&WT.z_sma=OP_TAM_20140218&bicmp=AD&bicmlukp=WT.mc_id&bicmst=1388552400000&bicmet=1420088400000&_r=0&referrer=

Sheila said...

In my circles, it most definitely is brave to call oneself a feminist. I don't often do it, because I know how put off people will be, but I do say publicly that women are as intelligent as men, that I see nothing wrong with women who have jobs, or that wearing a chapel veil is a personal choice and no longer Church law. When I say things like this, I get called a feminist. This doesn't bother me a bit, because I am one (though not a radical one). But my poor mother-in-law was very upset for me when she saw I had been called this "nasty word." I had to laugh.

I don't believe in gender wars, mainly because the battle lines aren't drawn along gender lines. I know male feminists and female MRA's. And 90% of people aren't interested in fighting a gender war in the first place. So it's more a difference of opinion, no different from my strong opinions on other subjects, which I am willing to discuss politely with anyone. Most likely I will find I agree with them, at least on most things. It's only on the internet where common ground is so very elusive.

Seraphic said...

Eh. The feminist politburo is so obsessed with ab*rti*n, I would never call myself a feminist. Being a Thomist or a critical realist is enough for me. I think the tests that show that the average man and woman are roughly equal in intelligence, but that doesn't make me a "feminist" but someone who believes in the scientific method. Thinking women should be able to have jobs is just common sense; most women in history have worked for somebody or somewhere--usually in the fields owned by someone else. My British great-grandmothers worked because they weren't rich, and my American great-grandmothers didn't work because one WAS rich and the other one could afford not to.

And the next time a man calls me a feminist,as men occasionally do, I'll say "You kiss your mother with that mouth?", which should either confuse him or make him laugh.

The fact is, the feminist movement's obsession with sex and abortion has given them such a bad name in trad Catholic and other circles, that I don't think it's worth the hassle to honour it by using its name. We believe men and women are equal in the eyes of God because it says so in Genesis. Very early in Genesis!

By the way, your comments are delayed because they got wrongly put in spam.

Sheila said...

Ah, I had assumed I must have rambled too far off topic!

I like the word feminist because it means pro-woman. And I am NOT letting the Nancy Pelosis of the world decide what it means to be pro-woman!

To each her own, though. It depends greatly on what circles you travel in. I find it a useful word to use when dealing with people who think the Catholic Church oppresses women ("ah, but you see I am a Catholic feminist!") as well as with feminists of other stripes with whom I agree on other issues (like rape, the sexualization of little girls, etc.). With the traditionalist Catholics of my acquaintance, I avoid it -- but I'm not offended by it either. I *am* pro-woman. And I don't have to crush either men or my own fallopian tubes to be pro-woman. :D