Sunday, May 16, 2010

What Is to Make Woman Happy?

I hope I am justified in now extricating myself from the--I grant--hardly exhausted web of particulars outlining my plot and am free to proceed to universals and principles.

Happiness is first something that is hardly possible to maintain in this flawed, fallen world. If one attempts to number the exterior objects that appear to constitute contentment: health, talent, success, wealth, beauty, friends, security, etc., then one is left concluding that this blissful state is well nigh impossible. If happiness is defined by pleasant conditions, which are always beyond one's control, then I give up the argument and say with the Greeks, 'Call no man happy until he is dead.'

If however, (granting how hard happiness is to maintain) this excellent condition is defined by the disposition of man's soul, the discussion of obtaining joy becomes possible. Aristotle defined happiness thus: the activity of the soul according to virtue. This is the only sort that may be arrived at through one's own efforts, and the one which will be now considered.

As Socrates pointed out, virtue is something that is equally needed and must be equally sought by men and women, just as health and strength are equally desirable. However, aside from the various lists composed by schools of thought and faith, how does one seek what is virtuous, especially in amoral circumstances?

For a Catholic, every act that is holy is so because of its participation in Holy of holies. To be is the greatest good, and to not be is the worst evil. All acts must then be subordinated to Sum Qui Sum, and so good is achieved directly through His revelation. Since being is goodness, every act, even the commonest (e.g. eating and drinking), may be consecrated. As Socrates admitted, only a cobbler can make another cobbler. Only the Author of virtue can make one virtuous.

Regarding the quest of non-Catholics, I shall turn to the 'trinity' that a rationalist professor of mine exalted: goodness, truth, and beauty. If there is more than that on Earth ye need to know, who has found it? Let that most reasonable triduum stand as the greatest secular good. Everything one must seek to be virtuous then, ought to lead back to these three things, and possession of them will be the key to happiness.

Women then, just as men, ought to consider each of her acts in the light of these best qualities. If the question of her apparel is indifferent to truth and goodness, should it not then be beautiful? What has she to gain from ugliness, except the discomfort or disinterest of those around her? What wrong will she right with a strident voice or a constant scowl?

If she wishes to exalt truth in her heart, then is it good for her to cling to anthropological fantasties of matriarchal societies centred on Mother Goddess worship? Should she not look at all claims through the simple light of reason with the rational incredulity that has always distinguished the greatest thinkers?

And is it not worthier of her to consider the good of others, especially the fruit of her own womb, as she struggles to seek goodness itself? A heroine, like a hero, must put others first. The sedate guardian, Athena, proves a worthier model here than the hysterical murderess, Medusa. Feminists of course demand that men adhere to such rules, but it is time they started demanding the same from women rather than politically correct advantages for women.

However, though the quality of health in men and women are the same, a doctor will tell you they are often achieved by different means, as the difference in bodies entails different needs. Speaking of woman's particular destiny from a rationalist view would likely lead nowhere, as the most sincere love of reason still produces varying schools. Ursula K. Le Guin would probably argue for asexuality of roles: equality also means sameness. Hodee Edwards would likely say, 'Conquer or die,' given her view of
male-female relations. Yet of the varying purely logical positions, Tennyson's proposition, made by Princess Ida's suitor, strikes one at least as the happiest:

Henceforth thou hast a helper, me, that know
The woman's cause is man's: they rise or sink
Together, dwarfed or godlike, bond or free...
...Yet in the longer years, liker must they grow...
...He gain in sweetness and moral height
Nor lose the wrestling thews that throw the world;
She mental breadth, nor fail in childward care,
Nor lose the childlike in the larger mind...
... My bride,
My wife, my life. O we will walk this world,
Yoked in all exercise of noble end,
And so through those dark gates across the wild
That no man knows. Indeed I love thee: come,
Yield thyself up: my hopes and thine are one:
Accomplish thou my manhood and thyself;
Lay thy sweet hands in mine and trust to me. (The Princess, Part VII)

If this is not the most credible suggestion, it is at least the most joyful one, and the one that a rational man or woman would grant is the ideal for the truly perfect society. But ideals are not always possible, and can a woman still behave in the ideal fashion of 'childlike' trust and submission in a fallen realm?

Men may disappoint women and perhaps drive them to destroy others, as in the case of abortion, or themselves, as in the case of 'Black Widow Bombers.' Yet, what has Feminism has done but led to the denial of perpetual instinct and to the spilling of innocent blood? When the nature of imperfect reality imposes itself on the ideal, I suggest the remedy is not to put one's faith in princes or princesses, but turn to Faith itself for an answer:

Being subject one to another, in the fear of Christ. Let women be subject to their husbands, as to the Lord: Because the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Saviour of His Body. Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so also let the wives be to their husbands in all things. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church, and delivered Himself up for it. (Ephesians V: 21-25)

Feminists have always done St. Paul the injustice of refusing to interpret him in the light of his own principles. If a man were to say to me that I was pale, I would only be justified in taking any degree of umbrage if he thought fair skin was unattractive. If I say to someone that their play reminded me of a Shakespearean comedy, then I must have been in a nasty mood that day, for when the Bard veers from history and tragedy, I tend to abominate him. Likewise, if a man who loves dominion says wives ought to be their husbands subjects, he must be a misogynist for he assigns to women a role he despises and would not choose for himself.

St. Paul, on the other hand, loves humility. He is a staunch follower of the Godman, who said: And whosoever will be first amongst you, shall be the servant of all. To be subject then, according to this Creed, is an honour. Here is one of many reasons why the Church was demeaned as the religion of 'slaves and women.'

Yet, even read without the context of the Gospel (which would be an absurd thing to do), women are still given the preferred role within the framework of St. Paul's verse. Women are called to represent the Church, while men are to symbolize Christ, in their relations as wife and husband. This is simply symbolism, though. In reality, men are not Christ, but also erring members of the Church. In the end, he is called to behave towards God as his own wife behaves towards him. In the Catholic Church then, women are held up as examples to men, whereas to women, men are simply practice. Which of these is the higher calling?

Men and women must both learn to find joy in the routines of their lives. To arrive at the greatest happiness, they ought to practice the best virtues. Custom and Faith have both proclaimed woman's sphere to be primarily that of passion, with some forays into the field of action. Let her, at the risk of her own unhappiness and that of society, refuse to heed that dictum.

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The Desires of a Woman's Heart: Conclusion 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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