Sunday, March 14, 2010
What do Women Want?

Another one. Yet, another one. Jamie Paulin-Ramirez is the second woman-turned jihadist to disrupt the world wide web in the past week. A woman of the liberated West chose a religion advocating polygamy with a reputation for state sanctioned rape and honour killings. Whether or not these abominations apply to mainstream Islam, these abuses are linked to the particular forms of extremism to which these women allied themselves.

These incidents of Western female defection may be anomalies, but there remains a trend of normalized conversions to Islam—some Western women have claimed that this faith ‘makes sense’ to them and have happily donned the hijab. How ironic that they should do this so shortly after feminism 'liberated' us from the yoke of bonnets and kerchiefs.

Then there’s the other fad amongst modern women, from the willing subjugation to a patriarchal religion to becoming the willing pawn of anti-patriarchal hedonism. A young woman named Courtney A. (writing for a feminist website that advertises itself as ‘sweet, tasty, and tart’) unabashedly related a story about how she let a man use her in a way that would insult a prostitute’s dignity. At least a prostitute has a higher sense of worth than being appeased with twenty dollars for cab fare. The pop singer Rihanna’s masochistic musical album, Russian Roulette--released after the violent assault she suffered from her lover--do not even show signs of righteous indignation at male brutality, much less a testimony to empowerment—quite the contrary in fact.

I can only sit thoroughly agape. Nothing undermines an abstract argument like a concrete negation. For every occasion that a feminist loudly calls out for men to respect women, there are at least a hundred (very likely more) occasions where women do or
would content themselves with less.

From the early years of my childhood on, I bristled at males when patronized, and I stubbornly refused to be put down. To my dismay, I did not notice the same tendency in the majority of females surrounding me. Little girls my age at school seemed happy to let boys tease them, many teenage girls my age did not distress themselves at being mocked or leeringly yelled at, but were happy to provide fodder for the sport. I wondered at their lack of self-respect, and at the absence of their drive to succeed in school. Of course, that drive was absent in many students of both sexes. I was abnormal compared with many, and it would be a long time before my all too literal mind began to understand the forces at work around me and to know that these powers were not a matter of the times or the product of history; they were inflamed and fuelled by Nature herself, who will not be gainsaid.

As I began to study philosophy in earnest from my eighteenth year on, I entered an unsettling world that pronounced a very serious sentence upon me. I was an unnatural woman. Not wholly of course, perhaps not even altogether negatively, but there were aspects of my being that I had to understand were not characteristic of women in general. The demigods I so admired I found to be dead against me. Aside from the credibility my personal laud afforded them, their arguments against female philosophers were so articulate and borne out by literature and experience, that I was hollowed on hearing them.

Still, my intuition that pursuing my passions was right comforted me. I had no rebuttal except to refer to St. Katherine of Alexandria, St. Teresa of Avila, and others, thereby settling the frenzy of my concern. After my hurt and shock had subsided, curiosity found its voice. Why were female philosophers so abnormal? In truth, they are not born very often, nor are they very exceptional when compared to some of their male counterparts.

The ancients said this was a natural phenomenon, while the moderns hold that it is artificial. As reassuring as the latter opinion would be, I do not and shall not accepted the Left’s revisionist view of history—that female genius was crushed under a brutally oppressive male yoke, which has only been lifted in the past few decades.

Such a statement is a gross insult not only to our forefathers (to whom we owe in part the gratitude for our existence, dear sisters), but also to our ancestral mothers. Are we really to suppose that the only women fully functioning in history have lived in the twentieth or twenty-first centuries? Or are we still at the stage where women aren’t held equal to men? Or do we also refer to a hazy pre-history of a matriarchal society where everything was perfect until some misogynist became tired of Mother Earth and brought a ruthless aerial deity into the picture?

The last argument can hardly be credited by legitimate, scholarly history. As to the implications of anthropology, it is something I cannot recognise as a logician, except to say that it is sometimes very intriguing. Until anthropological evidence is linked with written testimony, it can prove nothing, and its propositions will not be addressed in this writing. The second argument ought to be laughable. If it is not, all one can do is shrug and say that if the battle is not already won, it must have been lost from the start. The first argument however is outrageous.

To say that the frequency of female genius is in truth proportionate to male genius amounts to an insult against feminine fortitude. Did society put obstacles before a woman who strove to exercise greatness? Undoubtedly! Did society do the same thing to men struggling for greatness? Yes! John Everett Millais’s parents may have adored their artistic son and played music for him as he painted, but William Holman Hunt’s parents were hardly so encouraging. The same was true for many male artists who received no support from their families and eviscerating criticism from the press. Elizabeth Siddal on the other hand was given a great deal of approbation from the leading Victorian art critic, John Ruskin, yet never attained to the greatness of her husband or that of other members of the Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood.

Tolkien’s brainchild was never published. Gerard Manley Hopkins died in obscurity. Mozart was given a pauper’s funeral. Galileo wrote his greatest works under house arrest. St. Thomas Aquinas was imprisoned by his family for his monastic ambitions, dubbed the ‘Dumb Ox’ by his contemporaries, and raised Augustinian eyebrows due to his affiliation with Aristotle. Countless are the cases where fathers were angrily frustrated by their son’s drive to achieve dreams that were either above their stations or unprofitable in any monetary sense. Why is it that men were able to conquer these impediments and achieve their dreams? If women have been gifted as often as men, then they have possessed much less courage and resolve to realize their talents. That cowardice would be a far worse thing than not possessing genius in the first place.

But I am not convinced that my feminine forebears or those of others were of any lesser stuff than the women of today. What women have and have always had in abundance is courage, dedication, passion, and perseverance. This much is evidenced in the realm where the feminine demographic equals, if it does not exceed, that of the masculine: sainthood.

Maligned as oppressive, patriarchal, and misogynistic, the Roman Catholic Church’s Tradition is one realm where feminine genius excels and even dominates. Whether these ladies are putting illustrious male personages to shame with their common sense, enduring the most gruelling of physical torments, or breaking the mould of history and society, their stories are memorised, honoured, and held up for emulation.

Strangely, feminists do not seize upon these examples in their argument that women are as dynamic as men. St. Joan of Arc does not adorn feminist banners; few of these women mention her. St. Helen is not given much credit for reshaping the Western world by secular women, and the Virgin Mary is to be shunned entirely (except by them that attempt to twist her story). Why is it that the supposed proponents of womanly worth ignore the greatest arguments in their favour?

It may be that this is not the worth the women of the Left wish to emulate, just as it is not the worth women of the far Right admire. The genius of the women described above is not a will to power or an imposition of her own person. What constitutes the honour of the ladies listed above is that they were vessels housing duty, not arms proclaiming rights.

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The Desires of a Woman's Heart: I by Rachel Rudd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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Domine, spero quia mundum vicisti. Lord, I trust that Thou hast overcome the world. Panie, ufam, żeś pokonał świat.
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