Tag: gender

The Trans Movement – Another Form of Patriarchy

Over at Crux, I have a new piece exploring the patriarchal effects of the trans movement. Until lately, if someone had mentioned patriarchy in the developed world, I would’ve thought…

Image from Bing images. Licensed for public domain.

Image from Bing images. Licensed for public domain.

Over at Crux, I have a new piece exploring the patriarchal effects of the trans movement.

Until lately, if someone had mentioned patriarchy in the developed world, I would’ve thought we were about to embark on a somewhat archaic conversation. But recent events, crystallized by Target’s decision to open its sex-differentiated bathrooms and fitting rooms to the personal narrative of its customers, have me thinking that patriarchy is alive and well.

Hear me out.

Throughout history, women have been denigrated and oppressed by men. While I don’t always agree with some feminist activists, I certainly acknowledge that I would not have had the opportunities that I have without feminist efforts to right so many wrongs.

Despite these advances, today’s “trans movement” (particularly the transwoman sector) inadvertently takes us back to a time when women were valued based on their appearance, and whether they fit someone else’s preconceived notion of femininity. In essence, all it takes to be a woman today are [fake] breasts and good hair.

Read more here.

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Don’t Make The Church A Stepford Wife

Fr. Dwight Longnecker set me up for one of my soapboxes this morning. He published a piece, “Men At Church”, touching on how the Roman Catholic liturgy draws men. I have…

Image licensed "free to share and use" by Bing Images.

Image licensed “free to share and use” by Bing Images.

Fr. Dwight Longnecker set me up for one of my soapboxes this morning. He published a piece, “Men At Church”, touching on how the Roman Catholic liturgy draws men. I have no quibbles with men being attracted to the Church and her liturgy, in fact I wish more were. My concern lies in his derogative use of the word “feminization.”

For example –

This is why the feminization of the liturgy is so unattractive to men. When well-meaning liturgists and priests feel they have to make everything in the liturgy emotionally relevant and “meaningful” to everyone, many men switch off. When Father Fabulous insists on being emotionally entertaining in the liturgy he is likely to please the women while the fellas roll their eyes. When Sister Sandals develops new age liturgies that attempt to connect with our emotions, or when Pastor Hipster tries to push the emotional hot buttons with his sermon, most men are not only ready to switch off, they’re ready to head for the door.

And –

Traditional Catholic worship, on the other hand, is by the book and objective. Men perceive it as being dependable and rock solid—not emotional, subjective, and flighty.

He sets women up as being “emotional, subjective, and flighty.” Hmm…sounds more like a deadbeat dad or, at best, a Stepford wife.

And for what it’s worth, many women think and feel similarly about such liturgies.

As I posted on Facebook, both on my wall and Fr. Dwight’s –

I get where you’re coming from, but as a woman who deeply loves (heart & mind = each are the same – “lev”- in Hebrew), and one who continues to study the role of women in the Church, I think you need to be careful with the word “feminization” and other similar words. Anything related to woman or female ends up being deficient, almost a dirty/bad word. Mary the Mother of God prefigures the Church. The Church is feminine, the Bride of Christ. What’s wrong with a feminine presence in the Church and her liturgy? Why is the Roman liturgy so-called “masculine”? I just don’t buy it. Again, I think I get where you’re coming from, but I don’t think it’s an intellectually tight argument as presented here.

To his credit, Fr. Dwight replied that he was in agreement that a different word would be appropriate. He offered “effete” and commented, “The ‘effete’ is what C.S.Lewis called ‘Christianity and water.’ They have watered down the wine and tried to tame the lion.”

Now we’re talking. (In Italian – Adesso parla bene.)

The only problem is that Lewis, Fr. Dwight and myself are using an older and now secondary meaning of the word. Unfortunately today, it’s become a tacit synonym for “gay” (the newer definition, not “happy”).

From Oxford Dictionaries –

  1. (of a person) affected, overrefined, and ineffectual: “effete trendies from art college” synonyms: affected · pretentious · precious · mannered
  2. no longer capable of effective action: “the authority of an effete aristocracy began to dwindle”
    synonyms: weak · enfeebled · enervated · worn out

A friend of mine noted that what we’re really talking about is something more like sentimentality. I would add “saccharine.” The point is that it has nothing to do with true femininity or feminization, which brings me back to my theme of the Stepford Wife model of the Church.

In fact, if we’re actually going to follow Catholic doctrine, feminization and femininity are good things. After all, we are all – women and men – called to imitate Mary the Mother of God who prefigures the Church and in many ways is the first rendering of the Church in so far as she becomes the living tabernacle (cf. Ark of the Covenant) for the Word made flesh.

In January, I taught an intensive course “Women and the Body of Christ” at the Augustine Institute in Denver. I’m now teaching it as a semester course at our satellite campus in Orange County. In both cases, I’ve had an amazing group of students. Just this past week, we spent three hours doing a seminar on St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women).

Let me share some highlights with you, just a few –

N. 3 “When the time had fully come, God sent forth his son, born of woman”. (Galatians 4,4) …. It is significant that Saint Paul does not call the Mother of Christ by her own name “Mary”, but calls her “woman”: this coincides with the words of the Proto-evangelium in the Book of Genesis (cf. 3:15). She is that “woman” who is present in the central salvific event which marks the “fullness of time”: this event is realized in her and through her. [Emphasis mine.]

It’s also interesting to compare the use of “woman” by St. Paul to Jesus’s use at the wedding in Cana, John 2,4:  “[And] Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” This is fulfilled in John 19,26-67: “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.”

Put simply, the fact that Mary was a woman is an essential part of the central salvific event of all times. It is not an accident. She is not unessential. She is not some sort of divine incubator. If you want that, there are other Christian denominations which offer it. It’s not Catholic. A woman was essential for the incarnation, redemption, and the Church, to name a few.

Back to Mulieris Dignitatem:

N. 22 “Moreover, contemplating Mary’s mysterious sanctity, imitating her charity, and faithfully fulfilling the Father’s will, the Church herself becomes a mother by accepting God’s word in faith. For by her preaching and by baptism she brings forth to a new and immortal life children who are conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of God” [cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 64]….The Council has confirmed that, unless one looks to the Mother of God, it is impossible to understand the mystery of the Church, her reality, her essential vitality. Indirectly we find here a reference to the biblical exemplar of the “woman” which is already clearly outlined in the description of the “beginning” (cf. Gen 3:15) and which procedes from creation, through sin to the Redemption. In this way there is a confirmation of the profound union between what is human and what constitutes the divine economy of salvation in human history. The Bible convinces us of the fact that one can have no adequate hermeneutic of man, or of what is “human”, without appropriate reference to what is “feminine”. There is an analogy in God’s salvific economy: if we wish to understand it fully in relation to the whole of human history, we cannot omit, in the perspective of our faith, the mystery of “woman”: virgin-mother-spouse.”[Emphasis mine.]

Throughout our three-hour discussion, even though I’ve read, written on, and taught this document many times, my mind was spinning at the profundity, not just of St. John Paul II, but of our Catholic Church – our tradition, Sacred Scripture, and our Magisterium.

I’m glad Fr. Dwight walked back his position, but I hear a lot of this type of thought. For example, Leon Podels’, The Church Impotent: The Feminization Of Christianity. There may be many things wrong with the practice of Christianity, but the uncorrupt understanding of the feminine element is essential for an integral understanding of the Church, the Body of Christ.

Even the liturgy is not masculine strictly speaking. Yes, it’s about the sacrifice of Christ made real again in every Mass. But that sacrifice would not have been possible without a woman – at least in so far as God ordained it. And the liturgy is also the Church’s response to and participation in the sacrifice, a particularly unique feminine response to which both women and men are called insofar are they make up the Church. (Think of Mary at the foot of the Cross…)

Some may choose to insist on Stepford wife type caricatures of woman and everything related to her, but they miss the reality of all things essential to humanity. Until we have a profound and authentic understanding of woman, we won’t understand fully the significance of salvation, humanity, the Church, or even Christ.

And the same goes for a profound and authentic understanding of man, which of its very nature would not make caricatures of women.



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Fifty Shades of Gender

It’s old news that Facebook now offers 54 new gender options for users to describe themselves. 54. Who knew?  Last week, I commented on the gender agenda in Poland and…

It’s old news that Facebook now offers 54 new gender options for users to describe themselves. 54. Who knew? 

Last week, I commented on the gender agenda in Poland and the criticism of the Catholic Church’s opposition to it. In the gender discussions that will no doubt continue, I want to continue to emphasize two points:

  1. Gender is a fluid concept. Sex is not. The sex of an individual is determined at conception. Either the human person is born with two X chromosomes or an X and Y chromosome. That fixed combination determines one’s sex. Obviously, it does not determine how one uses, expresses, or lives one’s sexuality. But it is a scientific fact, not something determined by popes, bishops, or any other type of religious authority. We don’t believe it. We know it. It’s basic science and it’s really, really significant, which bring me to my next point.
  2. We are engaged in what may very likely be the biggest social experiment in the history of humanity. Can we at least have a conversation about it, what it means, its implications, etc? I don’t deny that people experience their sexuality in very different ways. I’m just asking, can we have a calm and rational conversation before we dismiss the essential significance of a scientific reality?

I was interviewed for a National Catholic Register article about the FaceBook changes.

Pia de Solenni, a Catholic theologian living in Seattle, argues that these values are finding traction in social media for practical rather than philosophical reasons.

“It’s part of the business model,” she said. “Social media needs to constantly generate attention; otherwise, it can’t function as a connecting medium. Shock value is an easy way to get attention.”

De Solenni says Facebook’s move demonstrates that social “progressives” tend to be “much savvier about communicating their values and their vision” using newer mediums used by a younger audience, but she says Catholics can fight back by learning the tools of the trade.

“There’s a great opportunity here for people of traditional values to be reaching out to the younger generation to offer something different than what they’ve experienced all of their short lives,” she said.

Register journalist Jonathan Liedl was kind enough to follow my comments immediately with the following:

Some are saying that’s what Comedy Central personality Stephen Colbert did on his Feb. 18 episode. Colbert, a Catholic who was the keynote speaker at last fall’s Al Smith Dinner in New York City, often mocks socially conservative talking points, but in this instance, he directed his humor at progressive values, joking that Facebook’s plethora of new gender options “make [my] brain broke” and weren’t inclusive enough because they didn’t include “pirate.”

The Catholic comedian also took direct aim at one of Facebook’s most ill-defined gender choices, which is listed as “Trans*” on its “Diversity” page. Quipped Colbert, “I believe that’s when you’re born an asterisk but deep inside you believe you’re an ampersand.”

Colbert’s performance was called “nasty” by John Aravosis, a LGBT activist, but it had the audience in stitches.

It’s basic. We all need to engage in society and in civil discourse. Advocates of gender theories have been very active in engaging the culture (though not always civilly). For those  who see things differently, speak up. If you don’t speak up, you allow others to speak for you regardless of whether you agree with their thoughts.
Here’s an example of one man who engaged society with careful thinking, particularly in this Christmas Address from 2012, which may very well be one of the most significant public addresses he ever gave. (Hint – he was likened to a rottweiler, he wears white, and still lives in Vatican City State. He was recently seen greeting Pope Francis.)
The Chief Rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, has shown in a very detailed and profoundly moving study that the attack we are currently experiencing on the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child, goes much deeper. While up to now we regarded a false understanding of the nature of human freedom as one cause of the crisis of the family, it is now becoming clear that the very notion of being – of what being human really means – is being called into question. He quotes the famous saying of Simone de Beauvoir: “one is not born a woman, one becomes so” (on ne naît pas femme, on le devient). These words lay the foundation for what is put forward today under the term “gender” as a new philosophy of sexuality. According to this philosophy, sex is no longer a given element of nature, that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society. The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious. People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves. According to the biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature. This duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about, as ordained by God. This very duality as something previously given is what is now disputed. The words of the creation account: “male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27) no longer apply. No, what applies now is this: it was not God who created them male and female – hitherto society did this, now we decide for ourselves. Man and woman as created realities, as the nature of the human being, no longer exist. Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned. From now on there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be. Man and woman in their created state as complementary versions of what it means to be human are disputed. But if there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation. Likewise, the child has lost the place he had occupied hitherto and the dignity pertaining to him. Bernheim shows that now, perforce, from being a subject of rights, the child has become an object to which people have a right and which they have a right to obtain. When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defence of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man. [emphasis mine]

Agree or disagree, but I think we have to have a substantive conversation about the implications of choices we make now, even something as simple as selecting an identifying option on Facebook.

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No Discussion, Please. We Want Diversity.

Oh that ignorant Catholic Church. Once again, it has a different view from those who preach “diversity.” The Catholic Church in Poland has come under attack for apparently challenging “gender…

Oh that ignorant Catholic Church. Once again, it has a different view from those who preach “diversity.”

The Catholic Church in Poland has come under attack for apparently challenging “gender workshops,” a type of sex-ed class in the schools that present children with “alternatives” to permanent monogamous heterosexual relations. According to an article in Our Sunday Visitor, the circumstances are not quite clear. Nevertheless, in a column for the theguardian.com, Agata Pyzik attacks the Church in a way that makes it seem that she, the Church, and other critics of the Church are at least agreed upon the subject of the dispute, namely the “gender workshops” and accompanying topics like abortion and contraception.

Think about it. The gender agenda, inclusive of same-sex marriage, is probably the largest social experiment in the history of humanity. And it’s being driven by anything but science. Gender is a fluid notion despite the scientific fact that the human person’s sex is determined at conception.

It’s interesting that at the same time that most European countries won’t stand for altering the integrity of food produce with genetically modified organisms [GMOs], the integrity of the human person is discounted insofar as one’s sex is considered to be arbitrary, changeable, even mistaken, not an integral and essential part of who we are even though…again…it’s determined at conception. That’s pure science. Not religion, not the Bishops, not the Pope. There is no human being created who is not male or female and yet the significance of that seems to count for very little in some circles.

Obviously people are going to have different thoughts and feelings about policies impacting society in such a profound way. At the very least, differing view points ought to be discussed, pondered, and explored. Instead, any suggestion that perhaps this experiment needs some rethinking or perhaps children  should not be the guinea pigs of a vast social experiment (an EXPERIMENT!), results in an attempt to shut down the dissenting voice[s]. Then again, this is Poland we’re talking about. Perhaps the decades of Communism have left a deeper impact than we thought, namely that a voice that challenges a questionable and potentially harmful idea should be shut down, especially if it’s the Catholic Church. After all, a 2,000 year-old institution has no experience to draw upon…

Pyzik discusses the issue assaults the Church for its actions to stop the “gender workshops.”[A quick internet search turned up this bio which describes her as a writer whose primary interest is “(post) Communist Eastern Europe.”] She refers to a recent comment by actress Meryl Streep to Polish politicians:

“I thought that after years of communism you’d caught up with the west in a social-cultural sense.”

Pyzik notes, however,

“… it was during the People’s Republic when women in Poland enjoyed civil and reproductive rights.

“Enjoyed”? Last I checked, the flow of traffic, had the borders been open, would have been out of Communist countries, not into them, precisely because human rights were not acknowledged and supported by law. The rates of abortion in Communist countries have been notoriously high, due to factors like population control, economic conditions, and a basic lack of hope for the future.

Let’s talk about contraception for a moment. Back in 2005, the World Health Organization repeated its 1999 finding that hormonal contraception is a Group 1 carcinogen for humans, in other words hormonal contraception creates a serious cancer risk for women who use it. Yet, Pyzik is not alone in mistakenly seeing it as a part of women’s “rights” or “health.” The current HHS mandate in the U.S. makes the same assertion, apparently without any thought to women’s health.

Given that we’re talking about a very serious drug with dangerous side effects, shouldn’t doctors and pharmacists be able to make the decision to refuse to expose a patient to the danger of a particular treatment? It’s not as if a patient has a right to any medication that she deems necessary. That’s left to the doctor’s discretion. Ethical doctors don’t automatically write prescriptions without first diagnosing the patient and then considering the effects (good and bad) of the treatment. Doctors who are driven by an agenda rather than the health of the patient, well they’re unethical.

But this abortion+contraception = women’s rights formula is all part of a tired, albeit all too successful trope. If something is repeated often enough, it seems true no matter how dubious it might actually be.

I’ve listened to women who have had abortions. Many women. I’ve only had one tell me years after that it was a good choice for her. I’ve met with and researched doctors who work in the developing countries who would like to provide safe maternal care. Instead they are provided with contraceptives…even though their patients want safe deliveries and healthy babies.

With regard to the gender issues, Pyzik complains:

Even scientists speak in one voice with the church: the Polish Academy of Sciences published a letter in which they called the gender workshops an attempt at “unseating children from their own sex”.

I dunno. When I question a scientist, it’s about methodology, not whether or not the scientist agrees with the Catholic Church.

How about measuring progress in terms other than abortion, contraception, and how one chooses to use one’s genitalia? And while we’re at it, it wouldn’t hurt to have an open discussion about a major, major, major social EXPERIMENT.

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