Bono, Glamour, and Posthumous TransBaptism: Welcome to the 1950s, 2.0

 

No posthumous messing around with my life by people who never met me, please. I am who I am, not who you think I wish I were.

It’s true when I’m talking about Mormons, who practice posthumous baptising of the dead, and it’s true when I’m talking about transactivists, who are now busily running around “baptizing” dead people into the church of trans.

Carrie-Anne Brownian outlines a few examples in her excellent article,  Transing the dead: The erasure of gender-defiant role models from history. Brownian says:

Women such as Joan of Arc, Mulan, Carson McCullers, Radclyffe Hall, Mountain Charley (Elsa Jane Forest Guerin), George Sand, and Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt, to name but a few, are now being claimed as transmen.

Why? Because they took male names, dressed in men’s clothing, or did men’s jobs. And the only possibly explanation, say the revisionism activists, is that they actually were men, on the inside.

Or maybe there’s a simpler, less sociologically trendy explanation, one that doesn’t include exploiting dead women who can’t defend themselves. Brownian says:

For much of recorded human history, even into the twentieth century, women who wanted to serve in combat, travel or live alone, work in most professions, get published, compete in sports, or conduct research felt compelled to disguise themselves as men.  That didn’t make them transmen; it made them girls and women with no other options in a patriarchal, androcentric world.  No one would have, for example, published George Eliot, or taken her seriously as a writer, had she used her birth name of Mary Ann Evans, just as Kathrine Switzer had to sign up for the Boston Marathon as K.V. Switzer as recently as 1967 because women weren’t allowed to compete.

For the life of me, I can’t understand why more feminists aren’t up in arms over this insanely sexist revisionism. Isn’t it possible that some people are just strong and tough and good at fighting and writing and running and working hard . . . while being women? Weren’t we fighting for acceptance of that very idea? Is this where 21st century progressive thought has brought us: the idea that any women who isn’t filmy, frilly creampuff, with a baby in one arm and a perfume atomizer in the other, must actually be a man?

How is this feminist? How is this anything other than the worst kind of reductionism and objectification?  How is this good or even fair for women in any way? And why aren’t they ashamed of themselves for digging up the dead? Who does that?

Oh, how progressives love to point a quivering, defiantly un-manicured finger at conservatives for trying to put women in a box, for trying to mute and quash and erase them by confining them to rigid little gender roles. And they’re not wrong. I’ve had my say about this more than once.

But look what’s happening now. We say we want to embrace the in-betweeners, those men and women — somehow, it’s usually women — who don’t fit comfortably into narrow gender boxes. But as soon as we begin, we discover to our horror that it’s kind of hard work. It doesn’t make viral headlines to say things like, “There Are Some Traits Which Many Women Exhibit, And Other Traits That Many Men Exhibit, But There Is An Awful Lot Of Overlap Even Among People Who Are As Straight As Straight Can Be; So Maybe Gender Is About More Than What You Look Like Or How You Act; Maybe It Has To Do With Your Soul OH CRAP, THAT MEANS THERE IS A SOUL And That Means Maybe I Should Put My Wang Away.”

And women. Get. Erased. Again. I said “wang” because boy oh boy, it’s always men who benefit from the transing of non-frilly women. Guess who just got named one of Glamour’s Women of the Year? Bono. Bono, the man who is not a woman.

Okay, more accurately, he was awarded a “Man of the Year” award at the Women of the Year Awards. Now, I think Bono is actually a good guy with good intentions. And no, of course Glamour magazine doesn’t matter. It’s just another place for rich people to get dressed up and give each other prizes.

But if we’re really so worried about the example we’re providing for our children, let’s start with deciding not to tell them that we can’t even fumble through a bogus Woman of the Year ceremony without looking to a man for help. The Onion called it back in 2007 with Man Finally Put in Charge of Struggling Feminist Movement. Great. Great. Thanks a lot, progress. I hate to think what will happen after Bono dies. Maybe they’ll decide that he was actually a raccoon, and the world just wasn’t ready to handle it.

And what’s even more terrifying is when, rather than looking to straight men, we come full circle and decide, one more time, that being a woman is all about the shoes, the dress, the pleasing voice. The whole Caitlyn Jenner insanity was worth getting upset about — not because it marked some acceptance of sissified men, but because it showed how ready we are to say, “This is all a woman is.” We were so ready to just erase women, to tell them that anyone could be what they are, as long as there’s enough lipstick and collagen involved.

As Brownian says:

In the brave new world of the transactivists, everyone is a collection of rigid sexist stereotypes, and any deviation from this 1950s-style binary must really be the opposite sex.

Transactivist revisionism, she says, is making the 21st century “like the 1950s 2.0.”

Here’s an idea that came straight out of my lady brain, so you may need to brush some of the common sense off before you’re ready to handle it:

There’s nothing wrong with saying “I don’t know.”

Gender is confusing. Sex is confusing. Maleness and femaleness are mysterious, and they’re not getting less mysterious just because women can now vote and be doctors and stuff. Our roles are not always clear-cut. Sometimes you think you’ve gotten to the bottom of it, and then you discover an exception to your new rule. It doesn’t mean there aren’t rules; but it does mean they are mysterious, and mysteries are truths that keep on opening up and opening up, as long as you keep looking.

So if you don’t know what it all means, can you just . . . shut up? I know shutting up doesn’t help you sell magazines or makeup lines, and it won’t get you celebrity as a specialist or a theorist or a reality TV star, but at least it’s simple.

You don’t know what it means to be a woman? Just say so, and then go do something useful with your life, like digging ditches or baking bread. Or defying your Islamic persecutors even though it means giving birth in a Sudanese prison while under a death sentence. You could do that. A woman did that, without even being even kind of a man.

That’s hard, too. I don’t know if I could do it. But if you can’t bring yourself to stop making the lives of living women worse with your nonsensical, misogynist, transprogressive yapping, at very least you could leave the dead alone.

Image: MipsyRetro via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Don’t be a sex sponge.

Most women bloggers have a loyal reader and commenter who can be described as “Issues Guy.”  Like a dog has fleas, he’s got issues with women — and man, do they bite.

My Issues Guy put himself right in the middle of this post on idolatry, in a tangential combox conversation which turned out to be far more interesting than the post itself  (even though the post itself had “foreskin” in the title!). Issues Guy described his perfect potential wife and marriage thus:

The Plan
Find a woman who:
•wants to/is willing to have sex all the time
•wants to be 100% submissive in a way that feels natural
•wants to/is willing to have all the kids I can give her

It’s a simple three-point plan. Not sure how hard it would be to execute.

In return I will:
•treat her like a middle school girl (which women seem to like no matter what they may say) alternating with treating her like an adult which they admittedly also seem to like.
•work till I black out if necessary
•let her read to me

It’s a perfect plan.

Ouchie, the issues!  A married man tried to correct him, saying,

 Your description of marriage as a contract with its focus on sexual gratification of the man exposes a deep seated fear of intimacy and completely misses the root of our Church Tradition … So you will be physically faithful to one woman. Big shit. So was Hitler.

[…]

As a sacramental vocation, I have experienced that marriage helps me to be a better person ONLY when I am actively engaged in all aspects of our lives. When I slack off and choose to only live my vows by “working until I blackout” it is a sham. And when in such denial, my heart has been clouded from receiving love from any source.

Issues Man responded:

Sex as the foundation of marriage isn’t an error, it’s natural law. That’s why sex is considered the consummation of the sacrament and why people of the same sex can’t marry each other.

Really this whole controversy boils down to a wife’s duty to have sex with her husband.

A few people tried to respond to him, but here is the reply that really lit up my female brain:

The expectation that someone should be available “all the time” speaks to little to no understanding of how important sex really is.

Ding ding! Issues Guy thought that, because he wants and needs sex all the time, he alone understands how important it is; but in fact, it shows how unimportant he imagines sex to be. It shows how little he understands it.

Imagine if someone said, “Most people settle for three-minute pop songs, but I am different. I appreciate the beauty of Beethoven. Therefore, I will put the fourth movement of his ninth symphony on repeat, and will listen to it over and over again at top volume for the rest of my life.”

That would be weird, right? Someone who wants that is someone who maybe started out actually loving music, but his natural desire for its beauty and depth has turned into . . . something else. Something that ruins Beethoven.

Or imagine a child who is presented with a chocolate cake for his first birthday. He’s so excited that, while he does manage to get some of it into his mouth, he also smears it in his hair, squishes it between his fingers, slathers it all over his skin and clothes.

PIC baby massacring cake

 

 

You wouldn’t look at a kid like this and say, “Wow, here is a true gourmet! Unlike the rest of us, who eat three meals a day, he truly understands how important food is.” No, you’d say, “Ha, he doesn’t know any better. Someone get a towel.”

Why is this? Well, when something is profound, we don’t enjoy it best when we wallow in it. We’re not sponges, just an undifferentiated blob of strung-together holes designed for soaking. Someone who soaks, someone who wallows — this is not someone who understands. This is someone who has traded understanding for consumption.

It is the same with sex.  The “want/need/have-to-have/gimme-more-now-now-now” model of sexuality is a sad and poor and foolish one. Yes, we have needs — but we are more than the sum of our needs. We are not made to wallow. When we understand that something is important, we use some discernment, some restraint, or at very least some careful timing.

Now, these analogies — music, food — are useful to explain what is grotesque about the “want/need/must-not-be-denied” attitude . . . but only up to a point. It is true that there is such a thing as too much Beethoven or too much chocolate cake, and that people who yearn for nonstop saturation don’t truly love what they say they love.

But that’s not the only problem, when we’re talking about sex. It’s not just that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. It’s that sex doesn’t mean anything at all when it’s not an expression of a relationship.

Food and music have some element of this need for relationships. It’s nicer when we enoy music together, and it’s a happier day when we can share a feast with someone else. But if we do enjoy these things alone — if we are carried out of ourselves, out and away from the crowded concert hall on a solitary musical wave,  or if we close our eyes in bliss as we taste a spoonful of something exquisite, something we do not have to share?

PIC woman tasting spoon

 

 

This is fine. This is great. This is normal, and nice, and good.

But sex is different. Sex is only meaningful because it is part of a relationship. This is true of sex every single time, no matter who you are, what your circumstances, what your  needs, what your wants, what your desires, what your issues. Sex is about two people, always. “You give it to me” is not a relationship. If you’re thinking of sex as something that you do and the other person must let you do, then you are not really thinking about sex. You’re thinking about holes that need filling. You are being a hole that needs filling. You are being a sponge.

PIC flabby sponge

 

The comments I quoted above came about as a tangent to the central conversation — but come to think about it, they’re right on target. I said that idolatry is when we

replace God with something smaller and easier to manage — and devote your life to serving that, instead.

And there we are. Sex is not small, and it is not easy to manage. It is a vast ocean. One way that we can make it manageable is, paradoxically, to wallow in it — to become an undifferentiated, undifferentiating mass of saturated holes. It is easier this way. Sponges don’t care about tides, or storms, or seasons, or night or day. Some of them don’t even need another sponge to reproduce. They just witlessly bud, and add to themselves more holes to be filled.

Do not, o thou man, be a sponge. Be better. Struggle, suffer, give yourself over to a world of thirst and desire, conflict and deep joy.

Struggle, learn, suffer, love, and be better than a sponge.

 

******

You know that Extraordinary Bishops’ Synod on the Family coming up in October? The Patheos Catholic Channel will be posting a rolling symposium covering all sorts of topics relevant to the Synod. I’m tagging this post #synod and #symposium because it’s about sex, and sex is relevant to everything! Right? Yes?
Anyway, many of my fellow bloggers, many of whom are capable of thinking of things other than sex, are posting clear, insightful, entertaining posts. The Catholic Patheos Synod Symposium Landing Page is already full of great posts, and is being updated regularly. You may not be familiar with some of the fine writers who contribute to the Patheos Catholic Channel. Browse around! We’re an amazingly varied bunch.

Why abortion workers love those graphic images

Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa posted this excellent article from New Wave Feminists on Facebook.  It’s an open letter she wrote to a fellow who insists that it’s essential to use large, graphic photos of aborted babies outside abortion clinics. There ensued a lively discussion about whether or not this practice is (a) appropriate and (b) effective.  The fellow to whom the open letter was addressed boasted that he’s been a pro-life warrior for twenty years, and insisted that it was both right and effective.

O wonder of instantaneous social media:  Abby Johnson responded.  Johnson is the founder of And Then There Were None, which ministers directly to people who want to leave the abortion industry.  She says that, while these graphic images occasionally do change people’s minds, they also often do something else:  they tip the balance toward abortion.

She should know.  She once managed an abortion clinic, and for many years saw protesters march around with their gory posters.  Johnson says (emphasis is mine; and she gave me permission to reprint her comments here):

I watched them be ineffective for many years … from inside the abortion clinic. A perspective that most do not have. I watched for several years as women would literally run away from those holding graphic signs. They would come into my office and ask us why those people were holding them. We used that as an opportunity to point out how crazy the prolifers were and that they would do anything to prevent women from making the choices they felt they needed to. It was an AMAZING way for us to build camaraderie inside our clinic.

Then I saw the signs come down…and I actually saw women changing their minds. They started approaching the people on the sidewalk, asking questions…and then leaving our parking lot and going to the crisis pregnancy centers. Once the signs came down, we started to have volunteer escorts so that we could try to convince the women coming in not to talk to the sidewalk counselors…because they were having such an impact. When the signs were out there, we LOVED IT!!! No one was approaching them. We didn’t need escorts. 

Read that again:  they liked it when the gory pictures were out there.  It made their job easier.  Women literally ran toward abortion.

As I have said many times before, these graphic images are essential for showing ignorant or apathetic people the true horror of abortion . . . as long as the images are used in the right context.  Waving them at women in emotional turmoil is the wrong context.

We are several generations past Roe v. Wade.  We have the luxury of speaking to women who have lived with abortion for many years — women who can tell us what it’s like to make that choice, and who can tell us what would have changed their minds.  We can talk to women who can tell us what doesn’t work.  If our goal is to protect women and babies from abortion, then in God’s name, we must listen to people who know.

——

Note:  I am closing comments because the last time I talked about the proper use of graphic images, I was subjected to months and months of incredible nastiness from people who consider themselves pro-life.  I spend part of every day crying for my lost baby, and I am not up for another round of hearing that I’m not really pro-life.  Please note that I will not respond to any emails on this topic, and anyone who comments about it on other posts, here or at the Register, will be banned.  I have already heard what you have to say, and the rage and condescension only persuades me further that the pro-life movement needs to be purged of misogyny if it will ever gain ground.