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Why I’m glad I’m not a Catholic anymore . . .

From the Vatican’s recent security-alert warning about “lethal” strains of feminism infecting our families:

Recent years have seen new approaches to women’s issues. A first tendency is to emphasize strongly conditions of subordination in order to give rise to antagonism: women, in order to be themselves, must make themselves the adversaries of men. Faced with the abuse of power, the answer for women is to seek power. This process leads to opposition between men and women, in which the identity and role of one are emphasized to the disadvantage of the other, leading to harmful confusion regarding the human person, which has its most immediate and lethal effects in the structure of the family.

A second tendency emerges in the wake of the first. In order to avoid the domination of one sex or the other, their differences tend to be denied, viewed as mere effects of historical and cultural conditioning. In this perspective, physical difference, termed sex, is minimized, while the purely cultural element, termed gender, is emphasized to the maximum and held to be primary. The obscuring of the difference or duality of the sexes has enormous consequences on a variety of levels. This theory of the human person, intended to promote prospects for equality of women through liberation from biological determinism, has in reality inspired ideologies which, for example, call into question the family, in its natural two-parent structure of mother and father, and make homosexuality and heterosexuality virtually equivalent, in a new model of polymorphous sexuality.

While the immediate roots of this second tendency are found in the context of reflection on women’s roles, its deeper motivation must be sought in the human attempt to be freed from one’s biological conditioning.  According to this perspective, human nature in itself does not possess characteristics in an absolute manner: all persons can and ought to constitute themselves as they like, since they are free from every predetermination linked to their essential constitution.

This perspective has many consequences. Above all it strengthens the idea that the liberation of women entails criticism of Sacred Scripture, which would be seen as handing on a patriarchal conception of God nourished by an essentially male-dominated culture. Second, this tendency would consider as lacking in importance and relevance the fact that the Son of God assumed human nature in its male form.

OK, yes, it’s great that Cardinal Ratzinger has been reading Gayle Rubin’s “The Traffic in Women” and immersing himself in the classic (though now dated) Lacanian film-theory debates in m/f and Screen of 25 years ago, and I hope he makes it all the way to Eve Sedgwick’s Epistemology of the Closet and Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble, by which point he’ll have to rethink that entire sex/gender thing.  But in the meantime, what if, just what if, we actually didn’t have to “liberate” ourselves from biology in order to have these here polymorphous sexualities?  What if it’s not a “new model” at all?  What if we’re just polymorphous?  Scary, huh, kids?

As Sedgwick once put it:

Has there ever been a gay Socrates?
Has there ever been a gay Shakespeare?
Has there ever been a gay Proust?

Does the Pope wear a dress?

Posted by on 08/06 at 09:01 AM
  1. You know, faith is a beautiful thing.

    Religion can kiss my ass.

    Posted by Ms. Not Together  on  08/06  at  01:01 PM
  2. Please excuse my language.

    Posted by Ms. Not Together  on  08/06  at  01:01 PM
  3. Evidently it’s going to take a few more generations for humans to stop treating other humans as not quite equal to us.  Faith is one thing.  Religion as the servant of power is another.  Here endeth…

    Posted by  on  08/06  at  05:28 PM
  4. It is well to be reminded of the difference between faith and religion. 

    This posting is a good example of how organized religion sometimes attempts to undermine and distort one’s faith, raising it into serious question and sometimes, even ridiculing it in order to maintain a pre-ordained belief system. 

    I belong to a community of seekers called Unitarians, and we have to constantly censure our felt need sometimes to concretize a perceived truth or promote its importance above all others. 

    It’s all well and good to question one’s faith and hold it up to the light of reason, but if we become so invested in it that we feel the need to force its acceptance by others in their private lives, then we need to question that need as well as that faith. 

    In this regard, I think it is good that George Bush has faith.  I think it would be wise for him to question it at times, but if he is to continue to to test it against reality let it be at his expense. not ours or the world’s.  It is my belief that he cannot draw that distinction, which is why I would like to help him find a different job.

    Posted by  on  08/07  at  08:59 AM
  5. This missive from the Vatican managed to offend just about every thinking woman.  The most perceptive critique I read was from a very Catholic site, basically, that she dismisses anything written (almost always by men) based on the premise that men are “the norm” and women are simply complementary—filling in the pieces that men lack.  Now, one could say, but . . .  that is in effect a basic conceptual premise of both Judaism and Christianity, in the Creation story—but there you have it, it nonetheless offends mightily when a man tells you how you might be useful to him, and further, all but screams that you should limit yourself to that role.

    And it’s so f’ing passe, anyway.

    Also, this pattern of thinking is an institutional failing in the discipline of psychology—men are evaluated as “people” and women are evaluated by how they differ from men.  This was Carole Gilligan’s premise, though I don’t know how much I trust her results anymore, most women instinctively understand where she’s coming from. 

    Posted by  on  08/09  at  04:53 AM
  6. I fell into trouble with their release three words in: “expert in humanity”?!

    Is there a meaning I’m missing there? A connotation I’m not familiar with?

    Can an institution really be considered “expert in humanity” in the 21st century when it hangs onto barbarous superstition for dear life? Contraception is wrong? Homosexuality is wrong? These aren’t the enlightened beliefs reflective of a system remotely familiar with what I’ve come to know as humanity.

    “Expert in fetish” maybe. “Ignorance” perhaps.

    (Apologies to the many progressive Catholics out there; I know many do not latch upon the Pope’s every utterance as some do.)

    Posted by Robert S.  on  08/10  at  10:40 AM
  7. "Expert in humanity"-- yes, that was a good one.  “Expert in fetish” is much better, though of course the Church doesn’t have the market cornered on that.  We could also try “expert in mindnumbing legalisms that have managed to obscure the injunctions to love one another and do unto others, all the better to issue rafts of edicts concerning the nature of the Trinity, the proper use and sale of relics, and the price of indulgences,” but that’s kind of unwieldy.

    Posted by  on  08/10  at  03:08 PM

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