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Sunday, January 31, 2010

"Even to the weaker sex..."

I have to say last year when I first ran across the collect done for EF Masses for virgins and martyrs I was really irritated with whomever wrote it.

The collect in question is from the Mass "Loquebar de testimoniis tuis..."

Today's Mass was for St. Martina, a virgin/martyr of the 4th century.

The beginning of the common collect reads:

"Deus, qui inter cetera potentiae tuae miracula, etiam in sexu fragili victoriam martyrii contulisti:...."

Translation: "O God, who among the other marvels of Thy power, hast granted even to the weaker sex the victory of martyrdom...."

I couldn't decide, at first, to laugh at him, or punch him in the nose...but considering he's long dead and GONE, GONE, GONE....

I think Aloise Buckley Heath (eldest sister of William F. Buckley) probably had the best thing to say about this "weaker sex" business. She has the author of the collect's "number."

In a humorous article she penned for National Review entitled "Merry Christmas to Every One in the World Except Men" (Dec. 31, 1962) she says:

[some paragraphs into the essay] "Now here, for the first time published ever, is the absolutely definitive list of the fields in which men excel women: athletics, arithmetic, musical composition, physical strength, singing baritone, and superiority.

Woman, is, of course, a much better physical specimen. She operates more efficiently, under greater stress, with fewer breakdowns, on less fuel, for years longer than men. Men, on the other hand, at all ages eat like horses, die like flies, and suffer from constant malfunctioning of the relatively simple apparati. They are also susceptible to exclusively male conditions like distichiasis, hypertrichosis, ichthyosis and nystagmus, which are, respectively, double eyelashes, dense hairy growth on the ears, barklike skin and rhythmical oscillation of the eyeballs. (Men who have all these conditions at the same time usually die without issue because no one will marry them.) In between times, men don't feel very well. BUT: the average man can lift 75 pounds and the average woman can lift 62 pounds; so that nakes women the weaker sex; what else?

The average man is well into his twenties before he is able to get angry without trying to fight; and he is well into the next world before he stops losing his temper, shouting, slamming doors, swearing. Twice as many men as women have nervous breakdowns, three times as many commit suicide, four times as many have ulcers, and there are fifty times more unpremeditated attacks and a hundred times more unpremeditated murders by men than by women . But you know what women do, don't you? Women cry! Women cry because women are more emotional than men, that's why."

Later in the essay [after she rips on St. Paul, who she believes reinforced this sort of attitude] she had this to say:

""Tennyson is the poet who is commonly considered to have given definitive expression to this thesis of St. Paul's [i.e. "man was not created for women, but women for man"-gem] - not presumably because it drove him to unprecedented heights of un-rhyme and un-rhythm, but because it inspired in him the requisite heights of un-reason.

"Man for the field and woman for the hearth," wrote the parson's desk-bound son; "Man for the sword and for the needle she," proclaimed the ex-soldier who never met an enemy;
"Man with the head and woman with the heart," declared the man who never could remember where he had lost his money and his manuscript; "man to command and woman to obey," announced the in-and-out-inmate of mental institution after mental institution; "all else is confusion," concluded poor confused Alfred Lord Tennyson."

And, I might add, besides the apostle John, who was the only one with the guts to remain with Mary and the other women - where where those other 11 guys? One offed himself, and the other 10 were cowering, hiding from "the Jews" wondering how to make a quick exit stage left, as soon as John escorts Mary back so she can sit shiva.

[Aloise later goes into high gear in this same and gives gives St. Paul the best smack-down, EVAH - that I've seen . I'd first read this essay of hers when I was in my late teens, and had been doing a burn re: Paul since my early teenaged years when I'd first read Corinthians. I keep meaning to get around to posting that part of the essay, but for now this will do.]


Mulier Fortis said...

All my sources say "Martina" not Marina...


(small point, I know!)

gemoftheocean said...

Yes, you're right, I'll go correct.

[You're up mighty early -- did you get up to throw up or something? Sorry you're not feeling well.] I'm still proofing this thing!

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Love it! Though I love St Paul too!

Elisabeth said...

Oh, I don't know. Women have kept their strength a mystery for ages upon ages. And part of that strength has been to build up men, perhaps to make them a bit more civilized and companionable?

Yet women have been weaker - more likely to be the victims of violence forced upon them without provocation, legally bandied about and given away, without options for vocation, without a voice in the arts or anywhere else.

Yet the Judeo-Christian world, of which our St. Paul is a voice (and I do love St Paul!), elevated women to a status of dignity and worth that other, pagan cultures have denied us, and continue to deny.

And what has "equality" done for us? Sure - it's given us a chance to explore individual vocation, legal rights, personal liberties. It's also subjected us to trashy fashions, being overtly exploited as sex objects, to cheap and crude masculinazation. I'd rather be mistakenly called "the weaker sex" and treated with gallantry and delicacy than considered "one of the boys" and have one of those boys think there's nothing wrong with telling me he'd masturbated that morning (true story - he's no longer a "friend" on Facebook; a woman has to draw a line somewhere).

Besides, the Mother of God was a woman. Nothing weak about her! - Steve Ray says she was "a tough little Jewish girl with dirty feet," had to be tough to endure the living conditions of that part of the world. And look at the honor and devotion she is given!

gemoftheocean said...

Laura, I agree with a lot of what you say...but Dear old Paul just doesn't cut it much for me in the "elevating" business.

JESUS Christ elevated the status of women, and far and away Christianity, when practised[!] gives women the greatest status, but I still think Paul was largely a creep of the first water in these matters. At best he talked out of two sides of his mouth.

His way of thinking is where that "EVEN" in the collect comes from.

If he had said "also" [like, hey, guys, women are capable of this too - I'd have been okay with.] It's the "even" that rankles. "Weak" as in "can't bench press 200 pounds overhead" is one thing -- it's Paul's constant tatto of women being weak in character [moreso than men] that really ticks me off.

Elisabeth said...

Where, in heaven's name! does Paul cant about women being of weaker character???

Listen. Women do more to lead men astray than not. There are a helluva lot more Proverbs 5 women than Proverbs 31 women.

But Paul is the one who insists that, in Christ, there is no... male or female. Paul who reminds of the complementary ideal of marriage, and of the greater obligation of the male -

What's your beef?

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

If I need a laugh at St Paul, I can always come here and start laughing, hahaha, funny : ::waves, Hi Karen::

gemoftheocean said...

Well, Laura, the "no male, no female all even in the sight of God" is exactly where Paul is speaking out of both sides of his mouth. He says that...but immediately after his famous harrangue in Corinthians about the head coverings, he compounds his mistaken belief that all women are temptresses (like women might not be distracted by good looking men? This thought doesn't occur to him?) he ramps it up by the power of the ten.

It would be a "disgrace" according to Paul for a man to pray with his head covered because a MAN, by God, unlike those unworthy temptresses, reflects the GLORY of God. Nah, never women...just men...any crumbs she gets from God are supposed to bounce off her husband.

Why in hades are little 5 year old girls slapped with a stupid head covering at EF masses? What HUSBANDS are they "subject" to? The HELL with that. IF people want to wear a head covering so be it -- but don't put that crap up to me and expect me to swallow it.

Besides, if you believe that, then I guess you'd have to say the rubrics in the EF high Mass go against dear old Paulie...because there the priest sits sometimes and takes his hat off and on then puts it back after certain phrases are said. So I'm supposed to believe the priest is sitting there thinking: "no, not me, I'm not praying here with my hat on,- oh, wait, here I'm praying...but I'm not praying any of the rest of this prayer..." That or realize that the hierarchy knows old Paulie is lame on this one too.

Then there's his men in long hair thing..Well, Paul the ROMAN (the one who was always sniveling that you couldn't kill him because he was a ROMAN and deserved a trial by Romans) who wore short hair (as was the custom) bags on the long hair worn by the Jews of the time, including Jesus. I guess I'm supposed to believe that Jesus was praying in a disgraceful manner.

I'm also not buying your contention that women are more wicked in regards to men than women are to men. For centuries women knew that if THEY misbehaved sexually, they'd get a baby and a guy who'd say "not mine." Men alley catted around a lot more than women. What half way decent woman does NOT tell her daughter: "Be careful...some men will tell you ANYTHING to get in your underpants, don't believe him." If not in those exact words, similar. Far too many men turn a blind eye to when their sons go out on a date [not all by any means] ...but that same guy....his _daughter_ goes out on the date and he wants an armed guard. In the case of a guy who had a misspent youth, he knows EXACTLY what kind of youth some boys are...probably because he was one himself!

And Paul was always accusing women of gossip. In these social matters, I think Paul was a boob. That doesn't mean a blind groundhog doesn't find some acorns from time to time.

I disagree about there being more proverbs 5 women than proverbs 31 women. The proverbs 31 women are unsung good women who go about their business, work and let their love of God shine through to their families and friends. And she doesn't have to get the left over crumbs bounced off her husband to her. God doesn't ingore her and give all the attention to her husband. As usually the tramps (proberbs 5 women) get all the press.

And don't even go there with me that some things areN'T outmoded- that we can't "pick and choose." We don't exactly care whether or not we eat meat from strangled animals do we? St. Peter thought that was essential.And Dear old Paulie seemed to think slavery was a-okay.

Now JESUS, OTOH. Never ignored the women, never favored the men over them, was always correcting his dumb apostles not to shoo the women and children away....he was quite radical in speaking to "even" Samaritan women..when the men of those times normally wouldn't say anything to an unknown woman in the street or marketplace But then He was God, and Paul was not.

gemoftheocean said...

[And hi, Joe, brave man! ;-D ]

gemoftheocean said...

Oh, and frankly, if I knew that heaven was going to be filled with people who had Paul's attittude for women - I'm not so sure I'd want to go where the women were all subjected to all the men. CAn they revive Limbo?

X said...

I thought the veiling of women (not little girls) had something to do with the Holy of Holies or the Tabernacle as it was veiled.

X said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gemoftheocean said...

That's what "they" try and say in an attempt to pretend it's something other than shoving women "in their place." If that were the case, then why aren't men "veiled."

Reread 1 Corinthians 11 again, and you'll see what I mean. I do know that at the time Greek women (of the wealthier classes anyway) had extremely elaborate hairstyles. Now if he had said soemthing along the lines of "Hey, you punk rockers with the purple hair, do you mind wearing a hat so the rest of us don't think we're at some rock concert can concentrate." that would have been okay...then it only applies to the problem children. Then he goes off into flights of fancy about how inherently superior men are to women and prattles on about "angels" like they have something to do with it. If you look at the Jerome Bible commentary on the passage even the scholars essentially say "We have no idea what in hell he is talking about re: those angels, the boy is sometimes crazy" and they gave a Gallic shrug.

In the process he manages to insult Jesus. Sheesh. There'd better be a resurrection of the body, because if I make it to heaven I want to hold Paul's head under some of those "restful waters." The beauty of it is I won't be able to kill him. The line might be long, but I'd be content to know I'd eventually have my number come up.

Packrat said...

Very, very interesting. :) Since I live in an area where there are many, many extremely fundamental "Christians" (Woman, thou shalt submit and obey every command...), this is a breath of fresh air. Thanks!

gemoftheocean said...

Packrat, by no means am I saying that a lot of times men aren't in the right -- I just don't like the assumption that they are the ones who are right in every matter.

I always, for instance the husband in "A Doll's House", Torvald, always got a bum rap. His wife was a TOTAL airhead and twit. He was lucky when she split.

The ke to the whole thing is how he treated the "Karen" character -- there was a woman down on her luck that he treated as a competent person - he gave her employment and she did her job well with no histrionics. That's because she wasn't an air head and had it together -- contrast to his wife who was a total fluff head.

[I can't stand Ibsen, BTW, but "whatever."]

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