|Hercules overcoming Hippolyta
The content of the video reflects Bishop Olmstead's letter. My comment on that was that it didn't get to the heart of the problem, which is that the reasons why earlier generations of men were hard-working, dependable, and willing to commit to marriage and children, have been systematically removed, to a large extent deliberately, in response to feminism. To tell men that they ought to 'man up' and marry and stay married when the marriage deal is no longer a rational choice, is unbalanced. It wasn't men who asked for these changes, and, interestingly, it is often women complaining about their consequences. The Church's intellectual leadership ought to be pressing these contradictions with a view to reversing some of the policies which make marriage unattractive, instead of, or at least as well as, lambasting men for failing to take leave of their senses to marry anyway.
Indeed, the Church has actually made things worse, depriving men of the kind of liturgy which appeals to them, as I have discussed on this blog. Another ecclesiastical policy which is truly insane in the conditions of today is failing to discourage 'mixed' marriages - marriages of Catholics to non-Catholics. Another, of course, is the smoothing of the path to annulments. Today, the Church herself cannot escape blame for undermining the permanence of marriage. Not that I lay these failings at the feet of Bishop Olmstead, and I give him credit for addressing the problem at all.
The video expresses the bishop's appeal by reference, at least implicitly, to the ideal of chivalry, and this raises another problem, because the concept of chivalry is often used in a very strange way. In video the suggestion appears to be simply that men put themselves on the line, take risks, for the sake of women (and children), without any thought of self. This sounds nice, but in reality it opens up generous souls to exploitation, and can look to women like the kind of 'putting them on a pedastal' which is unattractive and, quite reasonably, intensly annoying. If this is the take-home message, we are setting up young men for failure and unhappiness.
The American Evangelical blogger 'Dalrock' puts his finger on the nub of the problem when he points out that key to the classical conception of chivalry is the contrast between strong, high-status men, and the weak and vulnerable people they help.
...the feminists and the white knight boot licker brigade want to appeal to the power of the contrast (the bait) while substituting an obligation of subservience in its place (the switch). I think most of us sense this in our gut, and many of the commenters on my last post articulated this problem quite well. However, I strongly suspect those advocating chivalry as male obligation haven’t really considered the feminist water they are carrying. They are only repeating the anti male slogans they have been drilled in since birth. Our homeschooled blogger provides perfect examples of this frame of mind:
"And guys for the most part (especially those of my generation) are a waste of skin. Too harsh? I think not."
Since real chivalry comes from a position of strength, it can only be offered by a man who is actually powerful and offers his assistance with full freedom and knowledge of his own worth.
The 'obligation of subservience' can be illustrated from the history of this blog. Long-time readers will recall one of my most-read posts, a counter-attack on Professor Tracey Rowland, an Australian theologian who decided to season her liturgical conservatism, which might seem friendly to the Traditional cause, with an attack on the dress-sense of women who attend the Traditional Mass. This was a really, really nasty attack, which went around the world on YouTube and reappeared the following year, unrepented and largely unedited, in the published version of her lecture. She said, among other things, that Traditional Catholic women looked as though they had 'escaped from a Amish farm'. In the video, Prof Roland was dressed as a blue-stockinged frump, so I gave her both barrels - rhetorically, that is.
And what happened? I was attacked for my lack of chivalry. Chivalry has come to mean, by many good-hearted Catholics, not as the defence of the weak, but as subservience to aggressive women, and the more prestigious and powerful the woman, more subservient one should be. This attitude cripples many priests in dealing with aggressive women in their parishes, and it has crippled the Church as a whole in dealing with feminism. What Dalrock calls 'white knights', men who don't identify as feminists but rather as cultural conservatives, twist the narrative of the strong man helping the weak woman out of charity into a narrative of the weak man serving the strong woman out of obligation. They do so even when there are real, vulnerable, females who do need defending, such as the victims of Rowland's disgusting attack. They aren't, in the end, interested in the vulnerable, or in justice; they are just scared of the feminists, and think this version of the chivalric ideal will play well with them.
|A Greek warrior catching an Amazon by the hair,.
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