Thursday, May 13, 2010
What Ought a Woman to Render?

The modern female does not wish to be passive, so it is time to move into woman’s more active sphere. Feminine volition must here choose allegiance, to take or to give. To usurp or to submit. Of course, here I am referring to the intensely personal relations in one’s life, those linked to vocational callings and the deepest movements of the heart.

There are and have been many instances from time immemorial where a woman works alongside a man with little difference as to gender. Does one really suppose that a fishmonger disdained to bargain with a woman in the Middle Ages? Was it impossible for a landlady to extract her rent from male tenants? Did farm labourers constantly harass the dairy-maids without any restraint from an overseer? For pity’s sake, no work would ever have gotten done!

In line, however, with the dreary suppositions presented above, it is a trend amongst many ‘gender studies specialists’ to be so wholly obsessed with the problem of sex that they wish to find it lurking around every corner. Between every man and woman haggling over the price of tomatoes, there must be a Freudian urge motivating their actions. Just as the flesh underlies one’s clothing, the erotic underlies all we do. If they look at their own personal experience they would surely see otherwise. I approached a vendor in an open air market to buy mushrooms the other day. He looked bored as I walked up; he looked bored as I haggled him down a
złoty, and he looked bored when I made my purchase and left.

As one female writer said to women concerned over seeing a doctor for feminine examinations: ‘He’s busy, and you’re not that special.’ Therefore, it is plain that many of our relations in life will be platonic and indifferent to gender, unless the parties involved are either extremely courteous or extremely amorous.

But one does not define himself by these superficial forms of intercourse. Does a man, standing upon a mountain bald overlooking a sea of clouds, gazing across the perpetually rolling see, or perched on a rock in a painted desert, think of himself as a retail worker, a managing director, a doctor, or even a teacher? In the most unvarnished corners of the world and of the heart, only those roles touching the core of a his soul ought to remain in mind.

Those intimate and sacred relationships are those that present the quandary of the essay. What a woman (or a man) owes to an employer, a colleague, or a random stranger is evident and not frequently problematic, as they usually don't touch upon her deepest desires or happiness. A woman free of peevishness is not likely to complain of subordinating herself to the interests of that institute which pays her for her time, unless that organism does not pay well.

So when asked if a woman has a place in the workplace, one cannot but say yes. Women have worked alongside men throughout history, and even the much loved (and hated) woman of Proverbs 31 had dealings with trade and sales. Yet, it is more fitting and usually more likely that women rely more on the motions of their hearts than the advances of their careers for happiness.

A female doctor, who resented my family for using a feeding tube to nourish my grandmother after she could no longer swallow, was thrilled to learn that our unjust economy was forcing my mother back into the workplace. My mother diplomatically said (as this woman controlled the aid we received for taking care of my father’s mother), ‘Well, this is not going to be a career or profession for me. It’s just work.’

‘Good for you!’ she replied with a toothy smile, completely unaware of how unwelcome that response was. I cannot but smile wryly and draw a parallel between that doctor and the traditional matron of a bygone era, with my mother cast as the non-conformist ingénue.

‘I’m engaged to be married,’ the female rebel would begin.
‘Oh, how wonderful!’

‘No! I do not love the man, and I do not wish to marry yet, but my parents insist I will have a husband all the same.’

‘Good for you!’ I wonder if the doctor would appreciate the humour in that likeness.

As to the professional woman that apparently has a job she likes, she may wish to reconsider the amount of time invested in it. Unless she is single, she has a husband, and if she has a husband, she ought to have children (the natural product of spousal relations), and children crave Momma. As vital as a father is to his child, the physical and near presence of the mother is irreplaceable both according to traditional lore and current analyses.
As research by the University of Alberta in Canada shows, a mother's touch is vital to the development of a person's sense of security, male or female:

A simple pat on the back of the shoulder by a female in a way that connotes support may evoke feelings that are similar to the sense of security afforded by a mother's comforting touch in infancy. (

When I myself was recovering from runaway asthma at age 4, I am ashamed to say that I was constantly telling my father that I wanted ‘Mommy’ near me, as loving as his presence was. I cannot recall that without wincing, but there it is.

It is also the mother that children requite with coldness for not having been with them all day, unfair as that is. Having babysat from age 12 onward, I have seen it over and over again, as well as many of my colleagues.

However, for many households, two bread-winners are necessary. There is nothing more to say on that matter, for it cannot be helped. Marxism has very successfully, and with the help of women, invaded global society, seeking to break down the family unit, i.e., that which nourished the individuality, for the unique soul is the enemy of Communist State. Of course, destroying motherhood was the only way to subvert family life, and Lenin recruited females with great success.

He called it liberation. What he was actually initiating was 'depersonalization,' as Karl Stern so aptly dubbed it. Removing the gender specific roles of woman, she became another cog on the state's wheel.

Is this totalitarian liberation actually better than the 'drudgery of the home?' Is homemaking even the dreary pathetic work it is made out to be? Let another more eloquent thinker address the question:

...when people begin to talk being to talk about this domestic duty as not merely difficult, but trivial and dreary, I simply give up the question...If drudgery means only dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge in the Cathedral of Amiens or drudge behind a gun at Trafalgar. But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colourless and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean...I can understand how this might exhaust the mind (the role of homemaker), but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe?
How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? (G. K. Chesteron, What's Wrong with the World: Part III, Chapter iii: The Emancipation of Domesticity, note and emphasis mine)

As a teacher, I have certainly felt the limitations of my profession as described above. I provide the basis for learning at school, then my students go home, where they should begin to live the lesson. How often I envy the women who can make the children to study at home and show how these rules play out in the life around them. It is painfully obvious to me that mothers' work is more meaningful and significant than mine, for when I see that a student has neglected his homework, my first thought is that I wish I were his mother, so I could see to it that he was actually applying himself.

However, in the modern era, many actual mothers do not have that luxury. Scores of women are imprisoned in the workplace just as they were in factories during the Industrial Age or on plantations via racial slavery, and until society is remade, this modern enslavement shall continue.

While it is useless to preach concerning the unjust requirements of a tottering economy, something further may be said against that feminist disdain for sacred feminine duties. As sympathetic as I am towards the Society of Saint Pius X, the silencing of Bishop Richard Williamson was rather a long time in coming.

When arguing against university education for women, he hurled this hateful shard of obsidian:

…And if she has a "degree", how will she not think herself above the multiple humiliations of being "barefoot and pregnant"?
(Letters of Richard Williamson)

How dare he link excellence of the mind or spirit with abhorrence for the most wonderful fulfilment of woman’s nature? The more liberally (meaning truly, not Leftistly) educated or philosophical a woman is, the more likely she is to appreciate what other women take for granted. She houses life in her womb! She feeds another human being with her body and gives of herself in the most direct and heroic manner.

G. K. Chesterton once said that to see a thing as one saw it for the first time is to see it as it truly is. If I told you that at a certain hour in the night, a celestial object would appear in the sky so immensely bright that it would blot out the stars, illumine the atmosphere so completely that its refracted light would colour the heavens with all the vivid hues of the rainbow, and even force the plants of the soil to respond to its presence, you would be amazed and wonder what comet, meteor, or planetary event would produce such an occurrence. Well, the answer is 'as plain as the midsummer sun,' which we all too often take for granted. Contemplate the physicality of womanhood long enough, and the same wonder will be discovered.

In fact, concerning the fleshly part of her identity, woman has escaped the limbo imposed on man by modernity. In the First World, and perhaps parts of the Second and Third as well, there are no ceremonial passages into manhood that are as meaningful as they have been in former epochs. There is no changing of names that affirm a man of where he now stands, and few trials of physical endurance. Ignored by society, youths must look for affirmation in some more personal way, which is often less satisfying due to its ambiguity.

Getting a car? Not so easily accomplished for some and still not enough to fill this hole. Losing one's virginity? Though it is an act which the modern world often identifies ‘becoming a man’ is nothing more than a gratification of the flesh and will not satisfy this yearning. It can only overwhelm it by appealing to overweening concupiscence as the former appeals to materialism.

Women however know when they have become women as surely as they know the motions of the moon. The trials and hardships of her sex visit themselves upon her regularly and without fail. She needs no confirmation of herself from without on those days when she sometimes even writhes in pain.

When with child, the fact of her womanhood is even more brutally plain through what she endures. If she wishes not to have the assistance of medicine, then as she prepares to give birth to her child, she finds it necessary to accomplish the great feminine act of submission in a very literal manner: to let the pain take her body, and accomplish her labour. Is this not an act of magnificent personal accomplishment? Is it not the greatest gift one may give to society? that of its continuation?

The ladies of the Russian biathlon team, and most recent Olympians in that field, put the whole world in awe with both their feat and these words from Anna Boulygina:

No medal compares to having a child. I think children are the main thing women are designed to do. Having a family is an enormous help to me and it is due to their support that I am able to achieve this result.

And from Olga Zaitseva:
My child is my greatest happiness and he is my best little gold medal. It has made me calmer.

And Olga Medvedtseva (on whether pregnancy ruins a woman’s body):
I would say it is a very stimulating experience and I would recommend having kids, don't be afraid of it.

Let us return to Gertude Chiltern in the fourth act of
An Ideal Husband. This thoroughly modern woman, almost a little too political and rigid, finds herself in a situation with moment beyond her temporal, Victorian world. Her principles dictate that her husband must abdicate his brilliant political career, which was only made possible by a single act of incredible dishonesty. Logically, his redemption hinges upon his willingness to sacrifice the fruits of his crime, and that is what she demands of him.

On hearing of Robert Chiltern's resolve to quit public life, their surprisingly devoted, dandy friend, Lord Goring, takes the regal Gertrude aside and pours forth words so extraordinary that one might never believe they came from Oscar Wilde’s all too clever and witty pen:

Lady Chiltern, allow me. You wrote me a letter last night in which you said you trusted me and wanted my help. Now is the moment when you really want my help, now is the time when you have got to trust me, to trust in my counsel and judgment. You love Robert. Do you want to kill his love for you? What sort of existence will he have if you rob him of the fruits of his ambition, if you take him from the splendour of a great political career, if you close the doors of public life against him, if you condemn him to sterile failure, he who was made for triumph and success? Women are not meant to judge us, but to forgive us when we need forgiveness. Pardon, not punishment, is their mission. Why should you scourge him with rods for a sin done in his youth, before he knew you, before he knew himself? A man's life is of more value than a woman's. It has larger issues, wider scope, greater ambitions. A woman's life revolves in curves of emotions. It is upon lines of intellect that a man's life progresses. Don't make any terrible mistake, Lady Chiltern. A woman who can keep a man's love, and love him in return, has done all the world wants of women, or should want of them.

My sisters, stay your indignation at the line ‘a man’s life is of more value than a woman’s.’ Those words do not have the same significance as 'dignity of life,' and they hinge upon the fallacious idea that a public career is more important than a private one (which all wise men and women know is poppycock). Instead, heed the rest of these words. It does not follow that what is good and true for us is always what we wish to hear, anymore than medicine is always pleasant.

Now what happens when Lady Chiltern conquers her ‘high moral tone’ and instead acts from her womanly heart, truly forgiving her husband his past misdeed?

Lady Chiltern: You can forget. Men easily forget. And I forgive. That is how women help the world. I see that now.

What happens next is proof that this is a play, not a novel, for it needs a fine actor to bring it to life. An artist who knows to pause after that line, trembling with manly emotion. He must then take the lady in his arms crying out her ancient, sacred title: ‘My wife! my wife!’ And Wilde’s Victorian comedy passes beyond its historical period and enters the plane of the epic. Gertrude Chiltern is exalted with Andromache, Penelope, and Beatrice.

Of course, not every woman is married to Robert Chiltern, and this is a work of fiction. Yet, when speaking to a woman who is happy in her married lot, one often finds she has through heroic womanhood, caused this title with such emotion to fall from her own husband’s lips.

The second great feminine title is one that women have often tragically prevented being uttered. Since woman’s 'liberation,' motherhood has frequently been dismissed as a mediocre, ‘easy’ thing state to enter. By too many it has been regarded as nothing more than an impediment to sexual freedom. Women have flooded their bodies with steroids to render their fertile wombs as barren as stone, while men have comically masked their maleness with rubber, fearing lest they be man enough to beget another human being. When all else fails, and life is conceived, women allow their bodies to be invaded in order to quench that life. The roles of wife and mother are at best conventional and at worst, oppressive.

How could he be called an oppressor? And as argued above, how could raising him, and shaping his world be thought insignificant work? What is so wonderful about sexual freedom that it has priority over the life of another? What is so great about the Self that it should be exalted above our neighbours, even the neighbours most dependent on ourselves?

Feminists have most certainly succeeded in making the importance of women felt. What better way to appreciate good health than to lose it? Women also have begun to appreciate the lives that their foremothers have led, as doors are allowed to slam in their faces, and they find men are in no way pressured by society to 'do the decent thing' when they find themselves 'in trouble.' Abortion becomes a more likely alternative for a girl who would rather keep the child, as the legality of abortion absolves a man entirely from his paternal responsibilities, et al. In the rather enjoyable romantic comedy, Leap Year, there comes a moment when the antiromantic couple find themselves in a room with one bed. It is clear that the man has no intention of forfeiting a good night's sleep to the fair sex:

Anna: What? No gallantry? Declan: You lot wanted the vote. So lie with it!

I cannot speak for all my sisters around the world, but in an age where votes mean nothing, because politicians obey the oligarchy of bankers and wealthy special interest groups, I feel a little shystered when I think I traded chivalry for the ballot.

Feminine affirmation is vital to the majority of the male world. Her submission is not simply a pleasant thing, but something he needs in order to accomplish great things. When a younger sister would ask me if I liked her picture, she was just looking for a pleasant compliment. When my little brother asked me the same, he was looking for something much more integral to his being.

Women of the Liberation Movement have often jeered at the dependency of man's ego on woman, holding it up as a defect in that sex and naming it the thing which has driven him to the cruelty of keeping woman down.

There is a twofold fallacy in that argument: first, as I have said earlier, the lack of prevailing feminine genius even in favourable climates has suggested that there was not much for man to oppress to begin with.

Second, for women to speak in such a manner is ironically puerile, and extremely ungenerous. If a man were to lord his physical strength over a woman, and to use it to bully her, would we not call him a barbarian? So if a woman flaunts her certainty of self over a man, belittles him and injures the masculine pride that drives him to excel, what name does she deserve? Like a child who has discovered he has power of life and death over a caged bird, woman has set about dismantling man.

It was good of Lady Godiva to endear the plight of the people to her heart, and not to support her husband in his cruelty. Yet, it was feminine failure in that she could not use his love to turn him towards good, but instead humiliated him with her famed gallop. Queen Esther howver represents the true feminine triumph in that she not only saved her people; she also saved her husband.

In the lovely book and equally exquisite film, Enchanted April, one is presented with a vivid example of how women can save the world by simply waiting and feeling. Two of the four women in this story are unhappy in their loveless marriages, and on first encountering the story, I expected to behold a pleasant romp in Italy which would give the ladies' their second wind and embolden them to start new lives back in England. A bit of a feminist
cliché , but I have to admit the idea had some appeal.

What happens instead is that the women see where
they went wrong in their lives by trying to control their husbands instead of simply loving them. With the Italian sun, the smell of wisteria, and the grandeur of the castle, San Salvadori, to strengthen them, they ask their husbands to share their holiday. When the men arrive, and see the new tenderness and passion evident in their wives, the women accomplish what all the reasoning and begging in the world could never have done; they have brought out the best in their men.

Just as children are never so well brought up as by good mothers, never are men so noble as when women rely on them.

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The Desires of a Woman's Heart: V 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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