Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Just Give the Feminism Thing a Rest Already

Feminism has never had much influence in my life. I was raised as a serious Latin-Mass goer and went to a trad highschool where traditional family life was common and accepted as normal. Even as a college student, in one of the most liberal universities in the country, my impression of feminism was that nobody took it seriously. Professors made obligatory references to women being marginalized, which students listened to politely and then immediately forgot, and Orange County prepsters made occasional cracks about how in their more daring teenage years they wrote papers about "women's issues" in order to get an easy A. Overly ardent, striped-sock-wearing young hippies who talked about feminism were generally regarded as harmless eccentrics. There was just too much reading to do, regardless of gender, for anyone to think much about it.

Entering a phase of my life where I began to seriously consider marriage opened my eyes to a completely different side of what it means to be a woman in the current Catholic climate. Suddenly, feminism was everywhere, and Catholics were hopping mad about it. I seemed to constantly be fielding rage against  these terrible, unnamed feminists who reeked such havoc on Western Civilization. Weirdly, these outburst of anger were often directed at women like me--who were apparently expected to pay some kind of price for this piece of history that quite simply had nothing to do with us. The worse offenders were young traditional Catholic males who had been raised by stay-at-home-mothers, and middle-aged men with wives and children. I had no idea where their anger originated.

The conservative and traditional Catholic world is inundated with screeds against women, and exhortations to be more "womanly" and to "bring out the best in men." I will never forget the seven-part series in a Latin Mass newspaper on women wearing veils in church. As far as I could tell, it was just a repetition of the same few Bible verses with long-winded lectures leading nowhere, apparently aimed at women who I would think already cover their heads in Church? That was when I stopped reading trad publications. And of course the on-going war about pants is an embarrassment to the Catholic world.

For a girl who had happily towed the trad party line for my whole life, and who had no intention of stopping, I found myself in internet debates being called a "harpy," a "clip-haired lesbo," a "malignant hag," and on more than one occassion ridiculed for not being married, all by men who claimed to be uphoalding and protecting traditional femininity. If this is what traditional masculinity looks like, I'll pass. Every day there is some new blog post referring to "whores" or making unfounded connections between immoral behaviors and that catch-all vice, feminism. There are creepy articles that imply that women are obligated to preserve a sense of "innocence," regardless of their state in life. Men are enraged by women. Women are enraged by other women. And nobody ever mentions that young (and not so young) men, including conservative Catholic ones, are not holding up their end of the bargain, but fritter away their twenties playing video games and failing to show up for dates they set up via text message. And those are the "nice" ones.

What makes the situation even harder to tolerate is that these same people have no idea what current feminism actually looks like. I wonder how many of them have actually met a separatist, man-hating feminist? I never have, and I have lived in the SF Bay Area most of my life. Modern feminism looks to me like girls who happily clean up after their six male roommates and expect nothing in return. I can't remember the last time I've encountered a man who got angry at the idea of a woman trying to convince her male roommates to clean because "they will score 65% more tail if the pad doesn't smell like sweat socks." Modern feminism looks like women who sacrifice every ounce of self respect in order to please immature, promiscuous men. It's hard to image a more degrading scenario for women to be in, but Catholic bloggers and forum bullies only care about meaningless rants against Betty Friedan and other dead people whose books they haven't read. Why be informed if you can have knee-jerk rage? Especially since there's an army of Catholics out there who can be counted on to have sympathy knee-jerk rage, followed by the inevitable self back-pat.

We all pay the price for sin in the modern world. It is naive to pretend otherwise, and useless to complain about it. I, however, would prefer not to spend my life in a damaged emotional state which has been inflicted on me by fellow Catholics, both male and female, because of something a small group of women did several decades ago. It is unnecessary and cruel, and does far more harm than it could ever hope to do good. Both men and women in conservative circles are guilty of this, but men are by far the worst offenders. So I'm saying it. Stop. Your behavior is unCatholic and disgusting. It is also cowardly and effeminate. Learn what feminism is, learn what the real problems are, and then do something constructive. Stop attacking the same Catholic women who you should be protecting.

And for goodness sake--all of you--stop calling anything you happen not to like "feminism." It just looks ignorant.

4 comments:

  1. I found your blog through your post on Flirtyintrovert's blog.

    Goodness, you don't know how glad this post makes me feel! I thought I was the only girl who was experiencing this!

    We have [somewhat] similar backgrounds; I was born and raised a traditional Catholic [well, half. My father's not Catholic]. I had a stay-at-home mother, I was sent to a strict Catholic school - I was even taught Latin and would read old Latin Catholic texts.

    Despite my rather "Catholic" credentials, I was viciously cyberbullied in the traditional Catholic blogosphere [literally, I still receive hate-email from these individuals]. It all stems from the fact that I called my Anglican fiance a real Christian. According to the traditional Catholic blogosphere, the Jesus my Anglican fiance prays to, isn't actually Jesus. I was advised to dump him, or emotionally blackmail him into converting to Catholicism, since the Anglican Church is an evil pagan entity. When I refused, they called me a demon possessed Anglican whore [I'm a virgin waiting until marriage - apparently being engaged to an Anglican renders my virginity irrelevant].

    Anyway, have you noticed all these wacko-traditional Catholics are later-in-life converts? It seems like they converted to Catholicism for entirely superficial reasons. Perhaps even as an excuse to attack others? Like, the main blogger who cyberbullied me, runs a blog where she mostly talks about dressing conversvatively, praying to the Saints, and hating on the evils of slutty man-hating feminists.[Ironically, this woman is a former feminist, and has a rather unchaste past].

    Instead of being good decent people [you know, the main tenet of Christianity], they just focus on the superficial aspects of the faith. Praying the rosary, dressing conservatively, being "submissive". That's all their faith is. They never mention spirituality, or feeling close to God. These actions are just a "look at me, I'm better than you" exercise, not a genuine expression of faith.

    Unfortunately, nearly all the traditional Catholics I've encountered [IRL and online] fit said bill. I recently left Catholicism; I just couldn't feel close to it anymore...

    Seriously, though - has converting to Catholicism become a fad? I feel like all the older, loving traditional Catholics I know [I'm half-Italian, my relatives are traditional Catholics] have been replaced by a generation of converts who completely miss the point of Catholicism.

    PS:

    I understand how you feel about Christian/Catholic men. All the devout Catholic men I knew, weren't interested in serious relationships - or were interested in physical relationships. I realize it's easy for older Trad-Catholic women to shame me for being engaged to Anglican, but it's not like I didn't try finding a good decent Catholic man.

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  2. I am so sorry that happened to you. Those people sound (and are) horrible. And I'm especially sorry that the treatment you got made you leave the Catholic Church. I don't understand how people who act that way fail to see that they aren't achieving anything except driving people away and hurting them; it's such a strange kind of blindness. It sounds like your experiences with traditional Catholics have been consistently bad. It may sound a bit hollow to you at this point but there are also trads who aren't like this at all, and who are very much against the fanaticism. I find, though, that even they don't speak up as often as they should, so it's easy for the crazies to have a lot of power, unfortunately. And I for one just get tired of hearing all the yammering about modesty. At some point I just realized that as long as I wasn't trying to look like a slut (which is laughable, because I never even thought about it) I was being modest. But heaven forbid that a woman would be allowed to figure that out on her own.

    I have noticed the same thing about converts that you mention. Whenever you find a person who is thoroughly gung-ho about telling everyone exactly what their sins are and how to be better, you usually find out immediately after that "they know this because they used to be atheist/agnostic/pagan/etc. and have seen both sides." I find it a bit patronizing that they think having experienced living as a non-Catholic makes them more experienced as Catholics.

    I'm half Italian as well. :)

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  3. "And of course the on-going war about pants is an embarrassment to the Catholic world."

    Oh my gosh YES!!!!!!!

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