Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bright Maidens: what feminism should have produced but couldn't

Dear readers, for clear and luminescent examples of the new generation of Catholic women, I present to you the Three Amigas: Trista at Not a Minx a Moron or a Parasite, Elizabeth at Startling the Day and Julie at The Corner With A View. All three are young, attractive, college-educated, career-minded … and deeply committed to communion with the Holy See.

Right now, they’re presenting their second installments of “Bright Maidens”, a series where each week all three post on the same topic. No reading of cue cards, no cut-and-paste boilerplate arguments: each brings her own particular brio and flavor to the table. On the subject of contraception, Elizabeth has a brilliant fisk of the Beyaz™ commercial; Trista thoughtfully combines a quote from Humanae Vitae with reflections on the cast of Jersey Shore and a screen grab from; Julie has a great mix of quotes, stats and a video from Okervil River.

Let’s not even try any claims of false consciousness: all three women have taken a good look at the sexual life of the postmodern “liberated woman”, and found it to be a worse enslavement than traditional marriage and motherhood. By adopting the norms of the Church as their own, they’ve been able to create stable relationships on their own terms … and they’re not the last women on the relationship block, not “left over” after all the women willing to put out are taken.

Let me quote an example of this enslavement from Elizabeth:

You know what is most annoying about this commercial? Most of the things that these women are shopping for are related to men. If you’re so independent and you haven’t been “duped” by your biology like those of us who are oppressed by abstinence, why are you still tied to how a man sees you and how you spend time with a man?
The picnic by a waterfall and trip to the “most romantic” city in the world are certainly supposed to be shared with one of the Ken dolls in an earlier shot. How are you more independent with this birth control?

Exactly. There’s a double irony inherent in contraceptives. The first is that, by putting out and taking contraceptives, women deliberately cater to men’s sexual demands, making themselves the ideal sex tools the Maxim-buying, cardboard-cutout male desires … the sex object second-wave feminists of the ‘60s and ‘70s never wanted to be. The second is also neatly illustrated in the Beyaz commercial: Men become “Ken dolls”, something to play with and make her happy until it’s time to put him away and go do something else … in other words, a sex object.

Not only has the liberated woman cheapened herself, she’s cheapened men as well. Yeah, that’s progress.

Here is another interesting fact: Turns out that the Pill screws up a woman’s ability to “smell” a compatible man. Part of the musk we emit are major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules. According to Live Science:

MHC genes churn out substances that tell the body whether a cell is a native or an invader. When individuals with different MHC genes mate, their offspring’s immune systems can recognize a broader range of foreign cells, making them more fit.
Past studies have suggested couples with dissimilar MHC genes are more satisfied and more likely to be faithful to a mate. And the opposite is also true with matching-MHC couples showing less satisfaction and more wandering eyes.

Women on the Pill tend to prefer men whose MHC genes more closely match theirs, as they tend to do when pregnant; as Craig Roberts, the researcher whose study is cited in the article, put it: “The pill is in effect mirroring a natural shift but at an inappropriate time.” Not only that, MHC-incompatible couples are less likely to procreate successfully when having children is desired.

Again, to quote Elizabeth: “Put that in my shopping cart, right away!”

I’m not attempting to make a materialistic genes-make-all-our-choices argument. Rather, let’s look at the example these three young women present: By educating themselves and adopting Catholic values willingly, they’ve not only kept their bodies clear of a Group I carcinogen but also improved their ability to select compatible mates, strengthening the probability that any marriage they contract in the future will be life-long, satisfactory and blessed with children.

Beyond that, they’ve exercised choice over their bodies and reproductive lives, and enhanced their natural, inherent dignity. Not by embracing contraception and abortion, but by eschewing them, by adhering to a value system that doesn’t equate libertinism with liberty, willfulness with freedom.

How ironic that the Catholic Church—that ossified, antediluvian institution that’s too “sexist” to ordain women—should produce the kind of women second-wave feminism originally wanted! How strange and wonderful that these patently strong, confident women should count themselves children of Mary, the Virgin Mother radical feminists love to hate!

Properly understood, orthodox Catholicism doesn’t produce doormats and baby machines. Rather, it respects and protects the authentic genius of the feminine sex; it gives motherhood the praise and honor it deserves, and demands that men cherish women as Christ does His Church (cf. Eph 5:21-33). It doesn’t forbid or prevent women from pursuing careers and interests outside the family circle. Rather, it ensures that the woman’s role in the family circle isn’t denied or diminished through an over-valuation of the man’s role in society.

I look forward to seeing more from the Bright Maidens. And I hope they become the nucleus of a greater presence of similar Bright Maidens in our society. God knows we need them.


  1. Wow, I'm humbled. Thank you so much!

    "The first is that, by putting out and taking contraceptives, women deliberately cater to men’s sexual demands, making themselves the ideal sex tools the Maxim-buying, cardboard-cutout male desires … the sex object second-wave feminists of the ‘60s and ‘70s never wanted to be." This is so well-said. After hearing that sentence, I don't know how anyone could disagree.

    The last two paragraphs really hit the mark. Excellent (and very flattering) post, Anthony!!

  2. Thank you so much for this post and all the comments you have left us!

  3. Ditto Robison!! Muchas gracias, amigo! We look forward to spreading our Catholic faith. I like to keep these words of Cardinal Camillo Ruini, Vicar for Rome, in mind: "Young Religious ought to enter blogs and correct the opinions of the youth, showing them the true Jesus." :)


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