Thursday, April 25, 2013

Charge of the White Knight Brigade

If you don't read Father Dwight Longenecker regularly, you should. An entry he wrote the other day is promisingly titled "Women are Not Equal."

A post to amuse and infuriate…
Somehow or other a combox critic has assumed that because I have asserted that men and women are different that I do not believe in equality for women. This is because in the past the superiority of men has been assumed and women have been downtrodden.
What troubles me is that the person making this statement gives the appearance of being intelligent and somewhat educated. He continues the assumption that because I am a Catholic and believe that hierarchy and patriarchy are an implicit and immutable part of Catholicism that I must therefore be an oppressor of women.
So far so good.

I should put the record straight and say quite clearly that I do not believe women are equal to men. That would be a great injustice to women as it is clear that women are far superior to men. How can I count the ways in which women are superior? First of all, they are better than men at communication. They not only know how to talk, but they know how to read body language, interpret silent signals and they do so with expert finesse and empathy. Women are naturally more compassionate and caring than men and are more in touch with their feelings. Women generally look and smell much nicer than men. Women care much more for children and family and will more often than men have the right priorities when it comes to the most important people in life. In my experience women are distrustful of technology and decide that it is only a tool and not a toy and therefore pay more attention to real concerns. I usually find that women are more mature than men and are quicker to step up and take responsibility and get a job done–especially if it is a job that does not necessarily have anything to do with making money or being the top dog. 
You're killin' me Smalls, you're killin' me. To be fair, Father claims his column was tongue-in-cheek in the comments. It would be grossly inaccurate to call Longenecker a Churchian. His writings on the problem of suffering and the reality of hell and the possibility of going there are like manna from heaven after years of saccharine sweet Amchuch gobbledygook. Nonetheless, Longenecker indulges in the modern Christian tendency to put womankind on a pedestal. You've seen it haven't you: the priest or the pastor's annual sermon on, "Man up men!" The men hang their heads in shame while their women rub circles on their backs.

If I had to distill the essence of Red Pill wisdom into a single sentence it would be "Women too were affected by Original Sin." Modernity would have us believe that women are categorically superior to men. Questioning the feminine imperative is like churning up an anthill. Even good, well formed Catholic women will start to frantically rebuild it when sexist pigs like me knock it down. Longenecker waxes eloquent about chivalry:

The noble knights of the Middle Ages, like the poet Dante, have treated women as the paragons of beauty, virtue, goodness and eternal light. Women were the great prize to be sought, the reward for which one would lay down his life, the beauty one would die for and the romance one would kneel to supplicate. Women were thought to be the high and beautiful beings who might just tame the beastly man with patience, virtue, love and goodness.

Chivalry began as a code of conduct for warriors of the First Crusade. I'm in favor of bringing back that kind of chivalry, particularly the commandment "Thou shalt make war upon the infidel without cessation and without mercy." Chivalry eventually devolved into a sort of Renaissance era chick lit, which is how most of us think of it today. The venerable Catholic Encyclopedia didn't think too highly of it:

The amorous character of the new literature had contributed not a little to deflect chivalry from its original ideal. Under the influence of the romances love now became the mainspring of chivalry. As a consequence there arose a new type of chevalier, vowed to the service of some noble lady, who could even be another man's wife. This idol of his heart was to be worshipped at a distance. Unfortunately, notwithstanding the obligations imposed upon the knightly lover, these extravagant fancies often led to lamentable results. [Lamentabili Sane indeed.]
 ...More celebrated is the "vow of the Pheasant," made in 1454 at the court of Philip of Burgundy. The motive was weighty indeed, being nothing else than the rescue of Constantinople, which had fallen the past year into the hands of the Turks. But the solemnity of the motive did not lessen the frivolity of the occasion. A solemn vow was taken before God and the pheasant at a gorgeous banquet, the profligate cost of which might better have been devoted to the expedition itself. No less than one hundred and fifty knights, the flower of the nobility, repeated the vow, but the enterprise came to nought. Chivalry had degenerated to a futile pastime and an empty promise.
 To this day though, chivalry is often used as a tool to shame men into obeying the feminine imperative. Facetiously or no, Longenecker provides a sterling example of what the feminine imperative means:

It was the modern world who began to denigrate, oppress and abuse women by expecting them to put on overalls and work in factories. It was the modern world who began to treat women badly by telling them they had to lower themselves to be equal to men. It was the modern world who abused women and insulted them and treated them as men’s sex slaves by telling them to use birth control chemicals to turn off their natural instincts to conceive and bear new life. It was the modern world which abused and tortured women by expecting them to go to the abortionist to have the children they had conceived ripped out of their bodies for the convenience, economy and continued irresponsible sexual pleasure of the men in their lives.

 It's all the fault of men you see. If women are going into the labor force, it's because men are forcing them. If women are using artificial contraception to engage in promiscuous sex, it's because wicked men are abusing them. If women murder their children in the womb, it's because men are the irresponsible ones. All women are Mary Poppins in the white knight's world, practically perfect in every way. Men are all slavering Morlocks whom the white knight must destroy to protect his darling little angels.

In case I'm not being clear, it would be an error to jump to the opposite conclusion and say that men are categorically superior to women. Longenecker rightly argues that men and women are not interchangeable. Men are superior in some ways, and women are superior in some ways. The only sense in which men and women are perfectly equal is that we will all be judged according to the same standard by the Great Judge who doesn't play favorites.

Priests are particularly prone to put women on pedestals. If I had a nickel for every time I've heard a priest say that women are more spiritual than men, I could buy myself a fancy steak dinner. Women are not closer to God simply in virtue of being women. I would agree that women are hungrier for spiritual things than men, but that doesn't mean what the white knight thinks it means. Go to a daily Mass at a parish anywhere in the world, and I guarantee there will be more women than men in the pews. Go to a conference on unicorns and New Age healing crystals, and I guarantee there will be more women than men there as well.

The correct response to attempts at shaming you into accepting the feminine imperative is to call them on it and refuse to ever submit to their frame. You'll feel better about yourself and women will respect you for it even if they strenuously protest to the contrary.

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