Monday, 14 April 2014

From West to East

Once upon a time there was a kingdom called, um, Catholiclandia. Catholiclandia was ruled by a foreign and extremely wicked king who put up a high wall around all his territory and told all his subjects that all the people on the other side of the wall were either wicked, selfish, decadent oppressors or their dumb, pleasure-loving slaves. The Catholiclandians were very skeptical about what this king had to say, even though they had heard it their whole lives long. From what they could gather from films and books smuggled in, the people on the other side of the wall seemed to have a lot of cool stuff, shinier hair, better teeth, nicer cars, the whole nine yards.

So when the king died in mysterious circumstances and the Catholiclandians took heart and chased his ministers out the country and kicked down the wall, they looked very eagerly at the world outside and said, "We want cool stuff, too!"

The world outside looked at the Catholiclandians, giggled and said, "OMG! You are, like, fifty years out of date."

The Catholiclandians were distressed. "Darn!" they cried. "We must not be the laughing-stock of the world. Not only should we get the cool stuff, we should rid ourselves of our old-fashioned ways."

"Whoa," said the Catholiclandians' spiritual advisors, who had sustained them through their many decades of oppression by the wicked king. "Which old-fashioned ways are we talking about here?"

Americans! Canadians! British! Irish! French! Germans! ANZACS! South Africans! What are the worst problems you face as women (and people in general) in your countries? What do you fear most for your own little sisters, nieces and daughters? What features of Western life would you suggest the ex-Eastern Bloc countries vigorously reject?


Stellamaris said...

I don't have anything to say except the oft repeated tropes:

Many (most?) men will expect sex before they make any commitment, and society will pressure a women to find a partner OR ELSE, while AT THE SAME TIME telling her she is a strong independent woman who should need nobody etc. Whether she acknowledges that she wants a husband or professes to want nothing more than celibate single life, there will be a loud contingent questioning her womanhood.

Should she find a partner, a woman faces the conundrum of having no children, having children and working, or having children and staying at home to care for them. No matter what she does, a vociferous lot will question her womanhood.

Should her professional career be deemed unsuccessful, there will be people who will wonder why she didn't just get married, and question her womanhood. Should she be deemed TOO successful, a spiteful subset will get upset and, yes, question her womanhood.

I think I would tell my daughters they have a lot of opportunities in this century that women have never had: to choose marriage to the perfect man or nothing (my own choice), to stay single, to have children or not, to pick a career path. At the same time, they should know that there will always be noisy nasty people who won't like their choices and will somehow, for some reason, always try to impute their femininity. Such people are resentful twisted ninnies and should be ignored.

Having been listening to some Fulton Sheen about Mary recently, I think that this systematic wrecking of femininity is a demonic attack on something that makes us especially like Mary, which of course the Devil would not like. I'm sure he would be pleased if genders were made to disappear entirely.

Seraphic said...

Oh dear. It seems to be coming from both directions. People telling women we aren't womanly enough, and then people saying there isn't such think as womanliness.

TRS said...

For me, it's the idea that marriage in American society is an outdated notion... Leaving many of us called to marriage, unwed for life.
As you've said before, men fear marriage because they might lose their money in a divorce, meanwhile, they are risking the great value a woman has, her youth! (Paraphrased) which cannot be regained.

Then we singles, facing our infertility, wasted fertile years, are scoffed at for "reacting to PRESSURE to marry and procreate" when in fact it's not pressure at all, but a desire instilled in us by our creator. Actually WANTING a family is a silly silly weakness.

That and as comment or said above, inability to date because of societal expectations!

For this, I worry for future generations.

Stellamaris said...

Yes, both directions. Sometimes from the same people - or sometimes from other Catholics.
I was blathering on about a few places I'd visited to a priest who was giving me a lift (he asked about them). At one point, I said "I love to travel." He replied, "Have you ever had an account on (Catholic dating site)?"
"...Um. No. Why?"
"Because sometimes a man will see it as an indication that someone isn't serious about starting a family when she says something like 'I love to travel". It looks like you're looking for a travelling partner instead of a spouse."
I muttered something polite about how I would find it an indication of adventurousness, openness to other cultures, and interest in foreign languages, independence, etc. What I really should have said was "Who cares??? It's his problem if he isn't attracted to women who like to have fun! What does he expect women to do, sit next to the phone 24/7 until he calls?"
This from a priest I actually like. Sigh. Traddy parishes.

TRS said...

Oh geeze. If we say we're open to children, they'd taking it as too much pressure, if we say we love to travel, we're not family minded.
How about the men learn to ask questions instead of making assumptions!?

Seraphic said...

Oh, gosh. Well, some men love to travel, too.

I wonder what I would put on a Catholic dating site, were I single.

OUTRAGEOUS ADVENTURESS: Forty-something grand dame in training. Excellent cook. Loathes jeans, fake tan and sexual sin. Enjoys first class train travel, bickering with scholarly young men, craft vodkas, Georgian architecture. Writes.

Magdalena said...

Seraphic, that would sound like an incredibly exciting person! Now I wonder what I would write on a catholic dating site, should I ever open an account.
OUTRAGEOUS ADVENTURESS: thirty-something mountain shepherdess in training. Knows how to chop wood, milk cows and spin wool. Loathes trains full of businessmen, bad-mouthing and seafood. Loves sheep, solitude, company, and gothic churches. Good-looking and fun.

I must admit I don’t have problems with people questioning my womanliness. I guess I would hear more of that if I had children and stayed at home/went to work/worked part-time… As a single woman without children and with a job I fit into the system perfectly, apparently. Here’s the problem, Easterners: If your societies absorb our culture, you will face extreme difficulties if you want to stick to your old concept of marriage and family. Or if you want to stick to your traditional liturgy (including the NO celebrated as the missal says) and behaviour in church. No matter how nice a person you are and how good your arguments, normal and friendly people will condemn your views as fundamentalist - or will be downright afraid of you.

Julia said...

Easterners, do all you possibly can to avoid porn. ALL YOU POSSIBLY CAN.

Don't let your schools teach secular sex ed. They aren't telling the full story about STDs.

Marta Gomez-Taylor said...

I'm reminded of something that you, Auntie Seraphic, once wrote about how women seemingly are expected to be sexy from early adolescence until, well, decrepitude. (I may be expanding that age bracket a bit.) I have been thinking about this quite a bit lately because of some recent troubling developments in my family life.

I attended public high school, which I believe is ground zero for the greater part of Western sexual indoctrination. At the time I recognized that it was not an altogether wholesome environment, and although it was difficult for me at times, I was pretty smart and figured out which friends to make, and I learned to value the public school system for the opportunities it provided to participate in the arts. I do remember thinking when I was a senior, though, that if things continued to worsen in the exponential way they were at the time, then my youngest sister might need to be home-schooled. And I wasn't wrong. By the time she got to high school, she had already become very vulnerable to our cultural obsession with self-image and the pernicious way it effects our relationships with men. Her high school experience involved an intense and all-consuming relationship and a breakup that rocked her so hard that she had to be hospitalized for a short time.
I tell this story only because I think it is extremely pertinent.I think Western culture not only forces girls to be sexually aware at too young an age, it forces them in a way and to a degree that their young minds are not yet mature enough to process. They barely have time to wrap their minds around the idea of "boyfriends, girlfriends,and luv" before they are thrust into the murky waters of "sexual activity."

Martita said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Martita said...

Sorry for the repeat comment, everyone! No idea how to delete it!

Julia said...

My worry for my daughters and nieces, should I ever have them, is where they should be educated. I'd rule out pretty much every Australian state school. I'd also be wary of many of the Catholic schools, because as far as I can tell, fidelity to the Magisterium doesn't seem to be a top priority for many of them. Homeschool? I wouldn't rule it out, but I know basically nothing about how one does that, and I'm not really aware of the pros and cons. I don't think it's very common in Australia, except maybe in rural areas.

What I would do, though, would be to make sure that we were attending a super-faithful parish with very good priests and a good Catechism programme or something.

Seraphic said...

Interesting answers all! Magdalena, do you really work with sheep? It sounds so fun! I was supposed to be a goose girl after I married and moved to Scotland but unfortunately all the geese died or disappeared before I got here.

Yes--sexiness into decrepitude, with major punishment and public humiliation if your plastic surgery is too noticeable. Look at Cher and Sophia Loren, and then look at the recent nastiness to Kim Novak. Fortunately, outside of Hollywood, elderly women can get away with being old as long as they don't look like they're trying to be sexy and failing...

Mira said...

I live in Croatia. Until 20 years ago, we were part of communist ex-Yugoslavia. Those were NOT fun times at all. But now - after the horrible war we had to go through to gain our independence and our freedom and our right to exercise our religion - it seems that once again, we are losing it all.

We are rapidly turning into materialistic society in which God seems obsolete.

It seems to me that the biggest threat to our way of living today is the gay lobby and their propaganda - and then all the rest that comes with it. There's absolutely nothing worse. It permeates every pore of the society and it rocks the very foundation the people's lives and minds and consciences were built upon. And that's something that's coming from "the West".

Then, the culture of "living outside" - i.e. no one wants to stay at home, to do something at home, to entertain at home - it's all happening outside - in the restaurants, clubs, pubs etc. Because of that, the shops are always opened - before, everything was closed by 2 p.m. on Saturday - so people will now rather go to a mall than to a church on Sunday.

Also, political correctness - people are afraid to tell what they really mean and believe because they will be labeled as 'ignorant', 'hateful' or 'bigoted'.

As for the problems specific to women, I think it's getting harder to convince young girls that there's more to their worth than just the looks. For the rest, I'd agree with everything that your intelligent readers have already said.

Loreman72 said...

About travelling women - welcome to yet another of the double standards.

Let me give you a [married] guy's perspective. Instinctively, without thinking about it at all, a guy reads 'loves to travel' as 'has been around', in the worst sense of the word! Believe me, girls who do the whole Australafrican travel thing are mostly pretty promiscuous.

Travel is therefore a proxy measure for your 'number', the number of men you've been with. Men want a [relatively] sexually inexperienced wife (referred to in the manosphere as 'low-N'), because it proves she can remain chaste.

Apart from that, if you say, 'Loves to travel', it raises the possibility that you might have high expectations of married life, or be unhappy having to stay put when holidays become expensive.

In a nutshell - don't say you love to travel, at all. Women might find it attractive in men, but not men in women. Yes, it is a double standard, but no, it's not going to change.

Seraphic said...

Loreman72, thanks for the guys' eye view! Sometimes the revelation of what guys think hits us between the eyes and our jaw drops. This is one of those revelations.

Sadly, it all makes sense when you explain it. Jeepers.

Sheila said...

Re: sexiness-into-decrepitude and the pressure to overemphasize looks, when all the public women we see are Hollywood stars, it's no wonder we feel insecure. It occurred to me lately that I can hardly complain about women being overobsessed with their looks, when merely being gorgeous can get you fame and fortune while being overweight hurts your earning potential. So while I want to tell my theoretical daughters not to buy into the lie that their looks are the only thing that matters about them ..... it's not *entirely* a lie.

But good golly, they are not wearing those sexy clothes marketed to four-year-olds! If I can't find or make them nice things, they will wear boys' clothes first. I refuse to let society sexualize my children.

Re: womanliness, I think it's something we can hardly avoid. Since we ARE women, we WILL be womanly. That might not always fit every stereotype of what our culture *thinks* is womanly, but that doesn't mean it isn't. I don't think we need to sweat it. We just need to shake off the inevitable criticism we get of being too womanly -- or at least, too traditional -- from one side, and the accusation of not being womanly enough from the other side. Be who God created you to be, as you discern that. You're not going to be able to help being womanly.

Sheila said...

I think if one likes to travel, one shouldn't be afraid to share that for fear men will think she sleeps around. I mean, how far out of our way must we go, how much about ourselves must we hide, to tiptoe around the tendency of men to draw conclusions about our character? Shouldn't it be enough to say we are serious, practicing Catholics and are only looking for the same?

On a dating website, I suppose you do what you must. But it just boggles my mind that you can't say you want to travel *to a priest* without him worrying you'll never find a husband that way! It's as if you were unemployed and looking for a job, and everyone you spoke with wanted to tell you at every moment that this or that facet of your character will lose you the jobs you want. Single women do exist apart from their vocational search, after all!

sciencegirl said...

! ! !


I am so shocked at how my quite chaste time lived in Europe and Asia -- mostly spent going to Mass, visiting castles, and working with other scientists -- could be interpreted! My time abroad has been so spiritually enriching because of the solitude and time for reflection, like a prolonged retreat.

When I say "travel" I mean "go somewhere and look at things" not "go somewhere new because I have already slept with all the men here in this country and I need some more!" And none of my female friends who have traveled fit this mold, so I don't know why a man might think this.

I no longer have an online dating profile, I think, but I have to say that I don't think I'd mind scaring off men who equate passport stamps with number of lovers.

Stellamaris said...

Thanks for the guy's eye view! Here are my thoughts.

It makes sense? Um, no it doesn't. I know women who have traveled without using it as an excuse to sleep around. Also, I suspect whatever promiscuous holidayers you are thinking of were not any more chaste at home. Correlation does not equal causality - especially if the sample has been messed with, ie by ensuring that "good" girls do not travel for fear of staining their image.

If men are going to look at a church-going Catholic woman who is faithful to the magisterium and write her off because she has traveled, I have no problem writing them off.
There was a time when a respectable woman could not work, or could only work as a governess, otherwise it would ruin her reputation. So would smoking, enjoying a drink, or demanding the right to vote. That's changed now so I think we can hope this stupid travel prejudice will also change.
My personal experience has not been that men, even good Catholic men, are turned off by a traveller when they really like her. So I'm not concerned that I will lose Mr. Right because of this. If I never find a husband I will be satisfied to set the example of a good Catholic woman who does "daring" things like travel, work a demanding job, do partner dancing and who knows what else that sets off irrational red flags in men. Perhaps it will encourage some of them to think over their "shopping list" of requirements in a potential spouse.

Meanwhile, I'm not sure it's fair to tell women generally to hide that aspect of their personality or experience so they can find a husband. It just seems to me like that would be a dishonest thing to do. What am I supposed to do when I get a boyfriend, delete all the pics of Europe from my hard drive??

This sounds like I'm beating on you - I'm not! I really apreciate your insight. It has prompted me to think this through.

Seraphic said...

GIRL NEXT DOOR. 40+ Pilates addict, loves to laugh, stay at home watching telly. Excellent cook.

Boring, but I bet it would get a lot of attention. From some very boring men. Very possibly salt of the earth men. But boring.

Loreman72 said...

OUCH! Yes, I see what you mean.

I remember seeing a comment on a manosphere blog saying about women: 'Hot, smart, sane: you can only have two!'

For women, I think the aphorism would be:
'Exciting, trustworthy, solvent: you can only have two!'

Sin a bhuil (c'est la vie).

TRS said...

Regarding Loreman72's comment, I believe him in that his description may me code for skank among the skanky... But may I ask, do men I stand that skank code is not universal among the normal?
In other words, do men realize that if a woman otherwise describes herself as active in her church, and wholesome on every other point, that "love to travel" means, precisely, " loves to travel".

Perhaps I win then, because I've never been able to afford travel... And might say, "have always wanted to travel more, look forward to finding a lifetime travel companion"

Or is there a code for the opposite of skanky travelers? Like, " loves to explore new cities and nations"?

Furthermore, this is distressing, because it belies the belief that any traveling woman is open to one-night-stands.... Similar to the thinking that a girl who is drunk, or scantily clad is seeking sex.
Sounds like this is an area that calls for reform in men's thinking.
Frankly, I'm disgusted.

Brigid said...

I'm decidedly unamused by men speculating on my chastity based on my hobbies.

It'd be interesting to get together 3-5 sane, insightful people of both genders and with different backgrounds to take a look at common tropes on dating sites and how they translate.

For instance, my profile specifically says I love to travel to see monasteries and old friends, and I'm always more intrigued by people who come across as the Curious Explorer type. I'm not a fan of "love to laugh", atrocious grammar, or some variant on spontaneous-but-laid-back. And if that's what a guy's looking for, he won't be happy with me anyway.

Seraphic said...

Well, Loreman72, fear not, as I am safely married and BA is in good health. I think your "loves to travel" warning helpful. Um--how widespread to you think this conflation of love of travel with promiscuity in the male mind is? It is something being trumped from one end of the manosphere to the other, or published in Men's Health magazine, or what?

Brigid, I don't blame you. Unfortunately, I think speculating on women's chastity is something that, uh, men do. Possibly not all of them, and possibly not all of the time, but probably some of them, some of the time.

I would love to imagine that among my own male friends there is a male friend saying, "Now, now, chaps. That's no way to talk about a young lady. Oh, come now," but I am not holding my breath.

Seraphic said...

I get that some men see "loves to travel" and imagines some bored, unhappy woman saying to him, "We never go anywhere; why can't we afford to go anywhere?". But I really don't get how "loves to travel" = "sleeps around". I mean, although some women do behave crazily on holiday--middle-aged German or British women on holiday in Greece is one stereotype--why the assumption that all women who travel sleep around?

If that's what large numbers of men think when they see "loves to travel", okay. But WHY do you think that?

Belfry Bat said...

It would never have occured to me, Aunty, and my best guess is sample bias and/or confirmation bias and/or "Eat, Pray, L."; but, then, I don't go anywhere near this "manosphere" thing. (The rumours are simply horid, not to mention it has given itself a stupid name).

Anamaria said...

The absence of limits. It is at the heart of much of the above comments, from the lie that you can have meaningless sexual encounters if you so desire (or non-procreative sexual encounters when that is desired, and then procreate on demand) to a rejection of aging to a complete consumerism.

joeTHEguy said...

If you will allow another guy's view here.

I just want to insert another viewpoint to counter the view that seems to be prevailing here.

I also don't think the "I like to travel" line is a desirable quality in a young woman, but not because of the reason given by the previous guy that traveling equates, somehow, with promiscuous women. I don't like it because it seems like the woman might be a dilettante, and might become easily bored, that her perceived happiness is constantly dependent on doing something new. Financial considerations do play a part but they are not the main concern in this case.

Further, I don't know where this guy cultivated this opinion but I would like to say that the majority(if not all) of my guy friends would definitely not equate traveling with promiscuity.

Julia said...

Assuming that a well-travelled woman has been unchaste is flat-out idiocy. After all, one can be unchaste without leaving one's post code (or house).

As for the issue of men thinking that a well-travelled woman might get bored with domestic life, maybe a woman could say something like, "I've enjoyed travelling and seeing other countries, but I hope to get married and have children".

Magdalena said...

(Just wanted to state for the record that I am not working with sheep; I was rather making up a hypothetic description of myself - although I have worked on farms and with sheep for many months, and I know how to milk cows and so on; but currently I am "only" working as a scientist. I could imagine to marry some mountain farmer though, and I really love sheep! :-) )

Domestic Diva said... never occurred to me that "loves to travel" might be interpreted as "sleeps around." All my domestic travels have been to visit faraway friends; all my foreign travel has been on pilgrimage.

This conversation intrigues me because I'm typically quite a homebody...but get me overseas and I've got to see every church or museum I can possibly get to. I become energetic and excited in a way that's rare at home. Yet I love being home, and wouldn't feel discontent if family/financial demands kept me there (I mean, check out my name!). To hear that some guys see a woman's travel differently is...surprising.

Magdalena said...

(Just wanted to state for the record that I am not working with sheep; I was rather making up a hypothetic description of myself - although I have worked on farms and with sheep for many months and liked it very much, and I know how to milk cows and so on; but currently I am "only" working as a scientist. I could imagine to marry some mountain farmer though, and I really love sheep! :-) )