Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The Glory and the Horror

Writing my four lectures for the women's May retreat in Kraków ( sign up now!) was an intense experience. First I read my past work, and also work by and about Dorothy Day, Simone Weil and St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein). I reviewed my old notes and articles on Bl. John Paul II. And I made and reviewed notes on Blessed Natalia Tułasiewicz, painfully translating one long quote from her writings. I wrote my "brainy" lectures. The other two lectures are the "fun" lectures, in which speaker and listeners can just let their hair down and relax a bit.

Ha! What a shock to move from the sublime thoughts of saints and philosophers to the messages women get every day from pop culture. My paper on "The Role of the Single Woman in Family and Society" was not terribly depressing, although it acknowledges that pop culture's cardinal rule for women is be sexually attractive to others. But my paper on "Warnings from the West: Western Challenges to Femininity" is shot through with abject gloom.

Oh, I forgot twerking. I was going to mention Miley Cyrus and twerking. How to explain to Polish women that in American dance clubs one runs the risk of a complete stranger rubbing his crotch into your behind? Is there twerking in Poland? I asked a Polish girl, and she goes only to hipster bars where, if anyone twerks, they twerk ironically. Hipsters are hilarious.

Anyway, abject gloom. Part of the abject gloom is linked to the ab*rti*n rates in the USA, Canada and the UK. In Poland, it became very high (200,000+) in communist days and then dropped like a stone after 1989. In 2011, there were one million one hundred thousand ab*rti*ns in the USA, and only 669 in Poland. Naturally, we mourn the deaths of the 669, but as a matter of fact ab*rti*n laws in Poland are very strict, and most significantly, unless they belong to far-left parties, Poles don't want ab*rti*n.

The largest group of women who get ab*rti*ns in the USA, Canada and the UK are between 20 and 24, which suggests to me that from a humanist, not even a Catholic, point of view unmarried women should just not have sex before they are 25. Really. Honestly. Generations of unmarried women managed not to get pregnant before they were 25. Of course, that was before 1962. I would happily support a government campaign that said "Wait until 25", even if it got me into trouble with fellow Catholics who took a no-compromise approach and wanted the government to say "Wait until marriage."

My abject gloom deepened as I refreshed my memories of Ariel Levy's "Female Chauvinist Pigs" and checked the manosphere for tales of young American sex tourists sleazing their way around Central and Eastern Europe in their eagerness to bed women who are "still feminine" and "uncorrupted by American feminism." The only thing that makes me feel remotely better about such men is the suspicion that some Polish men try their luck with foreign female tourists. I am a bit old for such things, but if anyone hits on me, I will certainly let you know.

"Słuchaj," I will tell him. "This is for science and in the service of Almighty God. Are you hitting on me because I look foreign and you believe foreign women are easy? Or is it some other reason? And what are the factors in contemporary Polish society contributing to your behaviour? Wait--do you have a pen?"

To be fair, though, it will probably be because I looked at him. When I am in Poland, I like to look at Polish people, and occasionally young men do a double take and give me The Look. Maybe people don't look at each other in Poland. It is probably rude. Przepraszam.

Anyway, to cheer myself up, I will now think about the beautiful writings of St. Edith Stein which were adopted and developed by Błogosławiony Jan Pawel Drugi and taught by him in Mulieris Dignitatem, which we all, men and women, should read.

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