Back in the early years of our Catholic homeschooling endeavor, I used to participate in the occasional discussion at a Catholic educational forum for homeschoolers. So long as we were talking about choices of curricula, the cute things kids said, and that sort of thing, it was fine. But I noticed that every time a "hot button" topic would come up, there would be this big rush to shut things down. The moderators would remind everybody that emotions ran strong on these topics and everybody should remember to be civil and respectful and that the board really wasn't the place for these sorts of issues or discussions, and that would be the end of things.
Now, if we were talking about the mommy blog version of hot button topics, things about parenting styles or whether TV harms your child's brain, I could understand this "rush to shut down" mode. But these were the same kinds of hot button topics you might encounter in the world: abortion, gay marriage or other gay issues, politics, and so on. And this was a Catholic forum run by Catholics.
When I stopped actively participating in that forum, I chalked it up to my usual problems making friends with my fellow females. But I think that was lazy of me, because I just can't think of rationality, tenacity, or straightforwardness in discussions as solely masculine traits, anymore than I would think of civility or respectfulness as feminine ones--ideally, regardless of one's sex, one ought to be capable of all of these qualities when one is an adult.
And I get, believe me, that not everybody is called to the practice of apologetics. There is nothing wrong with being the sort of person who dislikes confrontation, who is inclined to become emotional when challenged to defend his or her positions on issues, or whose interests and tastes simply do not lie in that direction. Apologetics isn't like prayer, something every Christian should practice; it's a particular field, that only some will be drawn to.
However, I think the danger of the Jody Bottum position on gay marriage (that the Church should just shut up about it because we're not going to win and we're only going to make the Church look like a big old meanie) is that this type of thinking is so very seductive to the same kinds of Catholics who would prefer not to discuss hot button issues at all, and whose way of dealing with them is to pretend they don't exist. Honesty compels me to admit that quite a number of these Catholics are my fellow Catholic women.
When on that board I mentioned above a situation arose where a mother was concerned about her preschool child's participation in a parish catechetical program because each day at the program a little boy prayed loudly in thanks to God that he had two moms and no dad, I was pretty well flabbergasted by the position, expressed by the majority, that the mom should just have a nice little talk with her own child, that after all these situations are going to come up, that the catechist's approval of this prayer (openly expressed, e.g., "Why, yes, you are lucky to have two moms!" etc.) was slightly troubling but not worth pulling one's child out of a really excellent preschool program--I felt that, like a certain Lewis Carroll character, I had stepped through a looking glass. This was, remember, several years ago, four or five, perhaps, before the present onslaught of pressure to force the American public to approve openly, loudly, and daily of sodomy and all its relationships. These were Catholic women. The few who objected were reminded to be nice. The rest were sure that the proper thing to do was to say that, well, God prefers for men and women to marry each other, but we should be nice (raising the inevitable question, I suppose, in a child's mind: Why isn't God as nice as we are?)...
It is one thing to say of one's own self: I have no taste, no turn, nor any particular talent to be a defender of the faith in the world, and thus I will look quietly to my own home while bracing myself to stand up for the truth when the errors of the world invade my quiet Shire, as invade it they will. It is even acceptable to say, as some have said: I am weary of this fight, and have lost my ability to persevere in charity in it, and so I will step aside and let others take the standard from my aching hands. But it is another thing altogether to say, and to teach one's children, that really it isn't quite nice to insist on the truth in the world, because we're only going to hurt people's feelings and make the Church look mean, so that people won't listen to us when we want to tell them about Jesus, or about Heaven, or about the immediate necessity of invading Syria, or whatever the case might be.
The truth about marriage is that it can only ever be between one man and one woman. The world hates us for telling that truth. It has hated us because we deny the validity of marriages after divorce (presuming the first marriage was valid, of course). It has hated us for insisting on the truth that the unrelenting war on the female reproductive system otherwise known as artificial birth control is a grave moral evil that undermines marriages and destroys them. It will hate us even more when we say that two men or two women are not married and that we refuse to teach our children that they are, or to remain silent in the presence of the lie. The world will never play nice. All we have to lose by trading niceness for the truth is our own souls.