I came across an article the other called Never Date a Feminist: 12 Warning Signs for Young Men. And no, it wasn’t a spoof of this kind of thing:
It was a very serious article!
It solemnly informed young Christian men that “most women below the age of 30 in America are infected by Feminism”, which is apparently defined as “the belief that the female sex is universally (meaning each and every woman) most happy, liberated, and fulfilled outside of the traditional (and biological) role of wife and mother“. (Funny – I’ve never heard that definition before…)
Even better, it supplied a handy list of trigger words that such a Feminist (read: demon woman) might use, such as ‘I am a strong independent woman’ or ‘I do think feminism has been a good thing’. Beware, young men: if a woman offers to pay for half of her meal, she’s not good enough for you, even if she’s pretty, young, and Christian too!
Here’s the thing: I don’t disagree with everything in the article. In fact, I think it made a few good points – for example, I agree that profanity is a very unappealing trait, and the opposite of ’empowering’, no matter what some women may think. What irritated me about it was how it was written, and I’m sorry to say that it’s not the first time I’ve read something along these lines.
I think it’s absolutely wonderful that there are websites specifically for young Christian or Catholic men, especially websites that encourage chastity, manliness, and prayer. In a world which is increasingly demanding men to abandon their principles, to be selfish, to love pornography, to use women, and to degrade beauty, I am very glad that there are sources of support for the young men and boys who want something better, and who want to embrace the true meaning of being a man. I also like the fact that I have male Catholic friends who keep me striving to be the best I can be, knowing that they respect me and would be disappointed if I was too coarse or rude or immodest. It’s nice to be held to high standards, and I return the favour. And I do appreciate that it can be difficult to find someone who fulfils all your expectations – and that guidelines can be helpful sometimes.
But…. sometimes the line wears very thin.
I think the problem is that young men, especially Catholics, pride themselves so much on being different from all the other men out there (you know, the scumbags, the users, etc etc) that they forget that dismissing feminism as an evil of society doesn’t instantly make you a gentleman; it’s possible to go too far the other way.
Please, boys – don’t patronise us. Don’t talk about us like we’re poor, pathetic, innocent, helpless things, infected by that terrible plague, Feminism. We’re not. We may not be the same as you, but we are equal. And remember that if you apply such exacting standards to us, we will do the same to you. When you talk about us, remember that we are worthy of your respect, not your scorn; remember that we are not perfect, and that it is not fair to expect us to be so.
Feminism may have some nasty connotations, and I myself am uncomfortable with using the label (see my many posts about it…), but that doesn’t mean I do not consider myself an independent woman quite capable of paying half the bill, if I feel it is necessary or applicable. Reducing my independence to potential ‘heartache, arguments, cuckoldry, a sexless marriage, and/or divorce’ is hurtful and, frankly, sexist. For me and for many young Christian women, feminism is not about being anti-woman; it’s about embracing our femininity, but also acknowledging our courage, our strength, and our value. Women should not be passive; we have a role to play as much as men do!
If you’ve got this far and still have no idea why I didn’t like the article, let’s try a little experiment and flip round the subjects.
Ladies, if you want to be happily married, discern carefully. Being young, handsome, and Christian is not enough. He may be the most attractive man you have ever met, but run for the hills if you encounter any of the following:
- “I am a gentleman! I hold the door open for women all the time! But I don’t have many friends who are women; they find my humour too crude.”
- “I have to go to Brosary with the other guys. It’s a man-only prayer group. But of course women are welcome too if they really want to come along.”
- Making lists of undesirable traits in the women they would consider dating, or saying “I expect my future wife to be [….].”
- “Women are so emotional and difficult. They take offence way too easily.”
- He shows off his looks and is too conscious about them, spending hours on his hair, looking in mirrors, etc – vanity is a very unattractive trait.
- “I would never date a girl who doesn’t wear a mantilla.”
- He refers to women who have ambition for a career as ‘feminazis’ and claims that they would be best in the kitchen, baking for a man.
- “Eww!! I don’t want to know about your feminine problems!”
- He is not absolutely amazing with children, and shows impatience with babies.
- “It’s so disgusting when women wear immodest clothes. They should all be wrapped in curtains from head to foot. I don’t want to see your ankles, temptress!!!”
- “Girls are always complaining about stupid stuff like their periods. How hard can it be to be a woman?”
- “The liturgy has become way too feminine lately.”
Get the idea?
The problem with having this attitude towards the women you may consider as your potential mate is that it presupposes certain things about us. It’s like we are supposed to just wait around, being a feminine damsel, wearing our nun-like clothes, and blushing at the mere mention of marriage, until a Catholic Gentleman ™ gallops towards us on his white horse and rescues us from our servitude. If we show the slightest indication of having our own will, of wanting to make something of our lives, of having ambition, we are told that we are unwomanly and too feminist. This is just not fair! (And also sets us back at least two hundred years.)
If you have to make lists, let them be of positive things. There is a big difference between “I would never date a girl who was crude/unchaste/immodest” and “I admire and respect girls who make an effort to be modest/chaste”, in the same way that there is a difference between “I would never date a guy who hated feminists” and “I admire and respect men who cherish the role of motherhood”. Simples.
Alternatively – girls, if you make sure to shun feminism completely and introduce yourself as a weak, co-dependent woman in desperate need of saving from herself, you might just get lucky enough to win yourself someone like Mr Maccabee…..