This will be relatively brief, because I spent too much of my blogging time today reading (and occasionally participating in) the posts and comments here and here (and also here).
What is it about a discussion of whether or not it is modest and appropriate for Catholic women to wear pants that gets the Catholic Blogosphere riled up enough to post what is rapidly approaching 500 comments among a few blogs (and would probably be more, except that Simcha decided 300 were enough and closed hers)?
I could see 500 comments about really controversial topics, like whether Catholics can honestly ever vote for Democrats or whether Catholics can honestly ever vote for Republicans or whether Catholics can honestly ever vote for anybody but dq3 (doomed-quixotic-3rd party, for those who don't know the shorthand) candidates, or whether it's modest for unmarried people to watch Dancing with the Stars in mixed company, or at all, or if married people can watch it either, or things like that.
But pants? All this passion in order to instruct women that to be Realio Trulio Catholic Ladies of Unimpeachable Virtue they have to wear skirts or dresses all the time, and should shun trousers as being inherently male attire unfit for a lady?
Did I wake up in 1924, or something?
We can agree that some women wear too-tight slacks that are too revealing. We can agree that it's bad for men generally if a young woman shows up for Mass (or anywhere else, for that matter) in a hot pink "Juicy Couture" sweatsuit that looks like it has been painted on her and betrays the exact denominations of the coins she's carrying in her back pocket (though I still don't think this is a masculine outfit). What we can't agree on is that the 83-year-old widow in the next pew is being anything other than modest, appropriately-dressed, and charmingly feminine in her lilac crepe pantsuit with the soft, draping pants and the long front-pleated jacket with the ivory lace collar and the pearl buttons, which she has paired with ivory pumps and a coordinating ivory handbag with lilac trim. That is emphatically not menswear, and the fact that the suit includes pants instead of a skirt does not change it into menswear in the least.
To those who disagree, I say: gentlemen, I understand where some of you may be coming from. You read accounts of the past, and you long for a golden age of undisturbed male society, a time when men were Real Men and women were Real Women--that is, when the feminine half of society worshiped the ground that the masculine half walked on, and were only too ready to seek the wisdom and guidance of their husbands on everything from household management to suitable clothing to--well, all women knew about in this mythic age were household matters and shopping, so that would have been it. You long for those days when women didn't vote because they trusted their husbands implicitly to Run Things, and when they didn't form opinions of their own because their job was to convince everyone else how right their own husbands were about everything imaginable. But somewhere along the way, men stopped wearing smoking jackets, women started wearing pants, and everything went to blazes in a hand-basket (although, being male, you don't know the difference between a hand-basket and a bottom-of-the stairs clutter-catcher, and shouldn't be expected to, anyway).
The problem is, that golden age never actually existed. Read a little Chaucer and see what I mean, if you like. Women are neither dolls nor robots, and there's nothing particularly masculine about wishing we were either.
A real man enjoys the company of intelligent, thoughtful women--and he doesn't even mind if she wears, on occasion, modest and perfectly appropriate trousers. There is nothing at all bothersome to him about the reality that she doesn't idealize him or place him on a pedestal--or expect him to do so in regard to her; he's quite happy to be loved for himself, faults and all, and to love her for herself, faults and all. The clothes don't make the man so much as the capacity for real love does.