I had planned to write a post about “resisting modern ideologies”, which was meant to be inclusive of liberalism, egalitarianism, individualism, scientism, naturalism, multiculturalism, utilitarianism, and feminism – among other devilish plagues afflicting the modern world. But now I think such an essay is far too ambitious for me. I have too little time and even less talent. So I’m going to start with the ideology that strikes me as the most pernicious and pervasive, the ideology which poses the most immediate threat to the Catholic family, the ideology which has had the most devastating impact on the modern Catholic personality, that of feminism.
What is feminism? The answer will vary from feminist to feminist. Nevertheless, the common thread seems to be an ideological commitment to eradicating social differences between the sexes – especially with respect to what feminists perceive as male-imposed limitations on female autonomy. Here on the ground, feminism has the effect of encouraging female resentment against men in politics, the workplace, and ultimately in the realm of marriage and family. While the earlier feminist movement focused on politics and economics, beginning with securing the right to vote and moving to “equal pay for equal work”, the modern feminist movement is obsessed with “liberating” female sexuality and therefore concentrates on things like abortion rights and homosexual activism. Female sexuality is powerful, and the goal of feminism is to eliminate anything (or anyone, in the case of abortion) that prevents women from exercising this power freely. Feminism is nourished, of course, by the doctrines of egalitarianism and individualism, the idea being that everyone should possess complete individual autonomy in equal measure. The practical effect is that most women today view men as competitors and threats to their sexual independence. Needless to say, this is an attitude that poisons relationships and destroys marriages. Feminism has all the destructive power of Marxism applied to the sexes.
Most people today are feminists. Rush Limbaugh is a feminist. Ann Coulter is a feminist. Most stay-at-home moms are feminists. They have accepted, with very few qualifications, that women should be able to live exactly as men live if they so choose. Conservative pundits show themselves to be feminists when they say things like “women should be free to choose between working and staying home with the kids”. What nonsense! Women should be free to pursue lives of virtue according to the priorities of their sex: that’s the only freedom that matters. Certainly this could mean working outside the home, as in the case of St. Gianna Molla, whose professional life was an expression of her deep maternal instincts, and whose career as a physician did no violence to her femininity or her domestic priorities. Serving God in this way was a privilege for her, not a right to be demanded, not a “choice” owed to her by society. While feminism is all about making women autonomous and maximizing choices, Catholicism is about making saints and maximizing the Good. If there is any overlap with the goals of feminism it is purely coincidental.
I believe that Catholics need to become experts at the art of resisting feminism. I call it an “art” because it requires some creativity. There are many ways to do this. In the first place, we must watch our language. Feminism permeates the language nowadays: this is a very big problem. Think of how Protestantism so thoroughly infuses the English language as to make it hard for an English-speaker to even think like a Catholic. Feminism has now infiltrated the language in a similar way: to speak contemporary English is to think like a feminist. Feminism has all but succeeded in emasculating the English language in our generation. The most salient victory has been the disappearance of the masculine pronoun. Modern English-speakers would rather use the plural “they”, “their” or “them” than the singular “he,” his” or “him” when the antecedent noun is singular and the sex is unknown. Similarly, when modern writers feel compelled to use a singular pronoun out of respect for pronoun consistency, they will insist upon “he or she”, or they will alternate between “he” and “she” throughout a text, or they will use the abominable “s/he” device. Anything to avoid the default masculine pronoun!
Other feminist influences include the dropping of sex identification for ships, nations, and other venerable places or things: i.e., you can’t say “she’s a grand old flag” anymore. And then there’s the obligatory substitution of “humankind” for “mankind”, “humanity” for “man”, and “people” for “men”. Finally, for us Christians, there has been the obnoxious rewriting of hymns along feminist lines, so that “Good Christian men rejoice!” becomes “Good Christians all rejoice!” and so forth.
Ladies and gentleman, it is our job to save the English language from feminism. The English language is patriarchal because the human race is patriarchal. Man, as in Adam, is the symbolic head of the human race: for that reason the male pronoun can either be gender-specific or inclusive of all humanity. It is important not only to oppose the feminist emasculation of the language, but also to positively uphold the idea of Christian patriarchy that is contained therein. An important truth is at stake in the matter. At the same time we should not be too heavy-handed about it. This should be done in a natural way, without repudiating the practicality of non-ideological “inclusive” language at times. We need not set about looking for opportunities, resulting in an awkward and affected overuse: opportunities will present themselves naturally in the language as it is today.
The art of resisting feminism extends far beyond language, of course. Many have commented on the importance of men practicing chivalry (as it has come to be known) towards women. Observing time-honored courtesies – aside from simply being the right thing to do – can go a long way towards undermining support for feminist goals. Men should also be extra-careful in the way they speak in the presence of women, avoiding profanity and off-color jokes – even if, as is often the case nowadays, the women themselves use filthy language. You might be surprised at how many women behave like ladies when in the presence of a gentleman.
Resisting feminism also involves relations with men. For example, when working with married couples in business, you ought to assume the husband is the decision maker until there is information to the contrary. That does not mean that you should ignore the wife or discount the importance of her opinions. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do this, and running roughshod over a woman’s legitimate concerns is the wrong way. Her husband won’t appreciate it either. But you will be surprised at how some couples react to your subtle assumption of male headship. Very often the husband, who is perhaps used to deferring to his strong-willed wife in everything, steps up to the plate and actually takes the lead. And in a surprising number of cases, the wife, rather than opposing him, ends up encouraging him. Whether this is for the sake of appearances I do not know, but it is still a positive thing and a gentle step in the right direction. Practice makes perfect.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do is to simply get out from under the feminist jackboot. To some extent men are already doing this. Men have largely abandoned higher education due to the feminist domination of universities. When women take over a profession, men tend to seek other kinds of work. There are exceptions in high-paid specialties, such as nursing, but in general men want to work with men and for men. Even women, it turns out, prefer to work for men. The result of this male flight from feminism is that women now outearn men in over 80 professions. Freedom from feminism does have a price. However, the current upside-down situation is temporary and will correct itself once feminism – with your help! – runs out of steam.
A final note: modern children’s literature, movies, music, cartoons, toys, games, and school books are shot through with feminism. The feminists are very good at this. They routinely cast girls in masculine roles and boys in feminine roles. Many characters are purposely androgynous. Deep masculine voices are always sinister, female or effeminate voices are always on the side of the angels. Not even old movies are safe. The flip side is that non-feminist toys and games are often hyper-masculine in the worst pagan sense. And that is the choice modern children are presented with: feminism, or barbarian masculinity?
How do you fight this? It’s not as tough as you might think. Children are better off without 90% of the toys and games and movies that the world has to offer anyway. With respect to books and music, I don’t trust anything produced after 1965, and I’m skeptical about anything produced in the 20th century. Even if Harry Potter seems OK – I honestly don’t know – there are dozens of classics your kids should be reading before Harry Potter even enters their vocabulary. Vigilance!