Monday, August 20, 2007

Communism and Woman

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen goes to the heart of the matter in one of his most fascinating essays. To quote:

This idea of the emancipation of women through industrialization is not altogether a Communist idea, but like many others has been derived from Western bourgeois capitalistic civilization which thought of the liberation of woman in terms of equality with men. The only difference is that the Communist merely carried the idea to its logical extreme, and if it scandalizes us now it is because our bourgeois world never understood the full implication of its error.

The two basic errors of both Communism and a capitalistic liberal civilization on this subject were: 1) Women were never emancipated until modern times. Religion particularly kept them in servitude; 2) Equality means the right of a woman to do a man's work. First, it is not true that women began to be emancipated in modern times and in direct proportion to the decline of religion. The fact is that woman's subjection began in the seventeenth century with the break-up of Christendom and took on a positive form at the time of the Industrial Revolution.

Under the Christian civilization women enjoyed rights, privileges, honors and dignities which have since been swallowed up by the machine age. In eighty-five Guilds in England during the Middle Ages, seventy-two had women members on an equal basis with men in such professions as barbers and sailors. They were probably just as outspoken as men because one of the rules of the Guilds was that "the sister as well as the brethren" may not engage in disorderly or contumacious debates. In Paris there were fifteen guilds reserved exclusively for women, while eighty of the Parisian guilds were mixed. Nothing is more erroneous historically than the belief that it was our modern age which recognized women in the professions.

[....]

The cause of tragedy in woman today is that by stressing equality, they have lost those specifically feminine qualities which have given her superiority of function. These qualities are devotedness and creativeness. No woman is happy unless she has someone for whom she can sacrifice herself, not in a servile way but in the way of love. Added to the devotedness is her love of creativeness. A man is afraid of dying, but a woman is afraid of not living. Life to a man is personal; life to a woman is otherness. She thinks less in terms of perpetuation of self and more in terms of perpetuation of others — so much so that in devotedness she is willing to sacrifice herself for others.

To the extent that a career gives no opportunity for either she becomes de-feminized. If these qualities cannot be given an outlet in a home and a family, they can nevertheless find other substitutions in works of charity, in the defense of virtuous living, in the defense of right as other Claudias when their political husbands as Pilates rely only on expediency, then her work as a money earner becomes a prelude and a condition for the display of equity which is her greatest glory.

The level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood. This is because there is a basic difference between knowing and loving. In knowing something you bring it down to the level of your understanding. But in loving we always go up to meet the demand of the one loved. If you love music you have to submit to its laws and disciplines. When man loves woman, it follows the nobler the woman the nobler the love; the higher the demands by the woman, the more worthy a man must be. That is why a woman is the measure of the level of our civilization.
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5 comments:

JustMe said...

We look at both man and woman from every conceivable angle, and have been doing so for a lot longer than 2000 years, but what do we really learn, except that each bring a unique value to the world, are actually quite indispensable to the world, and are to work together. That God made them male and female, neither femme-males nor male-ettes, but male and female. And called that good. So do I.

Having grown up through the 50s and 60s (I skipped the 70s and 80s) through til today, when I see what woman has done with her "liberation" -- how it has nearly killed her in body and soul -- I see how much more simple it would've been to just cling to the book of Sirach and the Gospel of Matthew who speaks most of Mary, and the Gospel of John who shows us how much the Lord upholds women for all time. One can be as happy teaching someone to ride a bicycle as teaching someone to fly or think or walk again.

hwalk said...

I like it when people think in similiar terms as I do--I totally agree that the liberation of women has really caused quite a bit or problems.

alaughland said...

The so called Womens Liberation 'threw out the baby with the bathwater' as the saying goes. It profited men more than it did women.

Anonymous said...

The subject is rather complex and does not lend itself to simple generalisations. For example, nursing always has been a "feminine" occupation, and in Russia most of the physicians are women. Do I find agreement that this is a natural outgrowth of the feminine gift for nurturing?

For instance, I read an excellent excerpt from the memoirs of a woman who was an army surgeon in the Second Great Patriotic War. I would submit that no man could have offered the wounded the same care and compassion she offered from the depths of her woman's soul. She spoke of the deaths of three soldiers, and how each affected her spiritual development. She offered insights that could have come only from the pen of a woman.

That is why we women cannot be priests. It is not because we are unworthy or impure, rather, it is because our feminine vocation precludes such a podvig. Remember, some of the greatest elders in the Faith have been women (I am thinking in particular of St Matrona the Blessed of Moscow and Mother Varvara of Pyukhtitsa (still alive))! Our gift is more that of "femina orans", whilst a man's gift is to be that of "homo faber".

Pray for this poor sinner.

Vara

elena maria vidal said...

I agree that nursing and teaching small children are vocations for which women can add a special touch. As Archbishop Sheen said, in the middle ages women had their own guilds.