Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Mary and the Feminists

I've been participating in an online discussion recently about such topics as women's studies and feminism.

I'll spare you the details.

What really amazed me, though, is the power of faith in feminism its practitioners have. They repeat incessantly, with the zeal of a fanatic, several items of doctrine to which they adhere as firmly as if they were Scientologists discussing the power of dead aliens to sap our strength. As firmly, and about as rationally.

These items are, in no particular order:
  • Women have always been oppressed
  • Women are still being oppressed
  • The granting of the suffrage to women was the first time anybody saw them as actual human beings
  • Whatever men suffered in the past, women suffered it worse, because the men would come home and beat up their wives for fun
  • Contraception and abortion are necessary to prevent all those forced pregnancies women throughout the ages have had to endure
  • Women are really, really oppressed
  • Patriarch is a dirty word
  • Until they could vote, women were excluded from full participation in society
  • Just because some men are decent human beings doesn't change the fact that most of them are scum who will oppress women at the drop of a hat
  • Christianity encourages men to oppress their wives
  • Just because women in the past didn't see themselves as oppressed, and, in fact, actually enjoyed their lives, doesn't change the fact that they were all oppressed
  • Women don't get paid as much as men, and the fact that they may take more time off from work here and there shouldn't change the fact that they deserve equal pay
  • Men are automatically privileged
  • Did I mention that women are oppressed?
and on and on ad nauseum.

Which got me to thinking about the women of the past, and wondering how they would react to this notion that all of them, all, were just oppressed little weak vessels living on sufferance and at the mercy of the men in their lives. There's really no chauvinist like a feminist, is there?

I think of the women who came to this country, for instance. I think of the long and dangerous voyage they endured, their strength as they cared for their children, their endurance as they struggled to stay alive, for the sake of the dream of liberty. I think of Susanna White, who gave birth to the first English child born to the Pilgrims in the New World; her son Peregrine was born while the Mayflower lay anchored in Providence Harbor. Imagine her giving birth aboard a creaking ship, her older son Resolved being looked after, possibly, by her husband William. Susanna lost William the next winter; she went on to marry another Mayflower passenger, Edward Winslow, and to have two more children in America. Oppressed? Or incredibly strong?

I look back even further, to St. Joan of Arc. How do we explain St. Joan, if we can only see through the lens of feminism? How do we explain the fact that grown men willingly followed this slip of a girl into battle? How do we explain that the men who followed her both loved and respected her?

And then I look back to the strongest and freest woman of all history. I look to Mary.

I don't think that typical feminists like Mary very much. Born free from sin, born in the state of preternatural grace, her intellect unclouded, her memory never failing, her will as strong as steel, Mary of Nazareth could have been anyone or anything she wished to be. But what she wished was for her own will, her own strength, her very life, to be united fully and completely with God's; for because her intellect was unclouded she saw better than anyone how great God is; because her memory never failed she constantly recalled His goodness; because her will was as strong as steel she wished to adhere it to One Whose Divine will was adamantine. And the power which drew her to wish for these things was not oppression or social conditioning or some kind of squeamishness or inaction which is wrongly labeled feminine.

It was love.

There is no real room for love in the feminist view of things. Men are always to be battled against, even when we choose to marry them. We are always to keep one suspicious eye out for any signs of dominance or any hint that they're trying to deprive us of our rights. How is love possible in such a poisoned atmosphere?

Love is real. The sacrifices women choose to make for love are drawn out from them by love's own willingness to sacrifice. Human beings may fall far short of perfection in these matters, but until recent times the very model of unselfish and self-sacrificing love was that of a mother--and not, generally speaking, a mother hurriedly buckling her kids into the daycare van.

In the relationship between that Mother and that Son, we see the perfect sacrificial nature of love. The Mother sacrificed all for her Son, knowing her heart would be pierced by a sword; the Son's Sacrifice made possible the Mother's freedom from sin which made her the perfect vessel, the pure Ark of the new Covenant. There is neither oppression nor competition in perfect love.


freddy said...

Beautiful! And the fact that Christian women take Mary as our role model really makes the feminists nuts, doesn't it?

And by the way, I'm so oppresed! I can get up early or sleep in if I want, run the vaccum or not, bake cookies if I'm in the mood for cookies, read a novel in the middle of the day or read blogs, dance to loud music, go to the library, take my kids to the pool, snatch up one of the little ones, tickle him & cover his face with kisses, and eat lunch whenever I get hungry!

My husband is, of course, an oppressor. He has to get up on time for work, get up early if he wants to exercise, adhere to a dress code, go to lunch late enough that it's "lunch time" but early enough to avoid the crowds, participate in mandatory company sponsored socializing, have his time off approved, be available to come to work anyway, and work late or weekends without overtime pay.

I'm so (not) jealous!

Red Cardigan said...

Hi, Freddy! I'm with you all the way--our husbands, in this day and age, have to put up with more than we do.

I always think of the quote from Chesterton about feminists, "Ten thousand women marched through the streets of London saying 'we will not be dictated to,' and then went off to become stenographers." :)

Theresa said...

Very well put. I can't help but think of that scene from Monty Python, the Holy Grail: "Help, help, I'm being oppressed!"