At least, not in a vacuum. That’s a gross oversimplification of the problem. And women, girls, and anyone favoring democracy or democratic ideals must stand against the poison that gives way to the status quo.
What conservative Catholicism and Christianity does to men, how they think and perceive the world, and by extension, their families, and the societies and cultures they have built to uphold the traditionalist status quo both contradicts and parallels the ideals set forth in the United States Constitution.
You are damn straight I am coming for the First Amendment… but just not in the way we usually talk about it. I am talking freedom of religion, that poisonous legacy of conquest that the West was built upon. (Not to mention the Far and Middle Easts; though in my limited knowledge this is not true of indigenous/aboriginal groups native to the Pacific Islands and North American continent. By all means, if this is wrong, I do hope some kind reader will correct me on this.)
It’s no secret that in “Judeo”-Christian America, “fringe” cult movements like Quiverfull dovetail with the outcomes of the Jesuit missions in opening American Universities in the United States. For those who are unfamiliar, Jesuits, as adherents to the Order of Jesus, are one of the most liberal Orders. But the Order of Jesus is still Catholic, whether or not conservative Catholics in the US and in Europe think Jesuits are heretics or promoting heresy… including today’s most famous Jesuit (and current leader of all Catholics), Pope Francis. Which is hardly surprising since there are high stakes: poorly educated and religious Americans need to bring those votes to a party that lies to them, promoting the formation of a political elite ruling class comprised of incredibly wealthy robber barons, while giving them some
onething to blame (other than the sainted Stars and Stripes which ensures their right to enact whatever religious delusion they want).
And let’s be real to the voter who believes the lies and empty promises of man like the TrumpDumpster, it really is something to blame. The politicians that are elected in a populist movement, the orange Dump himself included, are acutely aware that Americans who are women working outside the home, LGBTQ, and the Black descendants of those stolen from their homes and enslaved to build the very Capital (and Capitol!) which they legislate from within are people… because their representation in those austere halls would have dwindled to like… three sets of Duggar families and some Catholics… since the 1970s if not for Evangelicals bringing the votes, and Catholics bringing the brains, ideologies and strong opposition to family planning to the
But that leaves all women and girls getting the shaft (and no, that’s not a rape joke. But it might as well be, even though drawing that parallel is more depressing than it is funny.)
At any rate, there are two options as a woman in an Evangelical or Catholic family, church, and community (and in America at least, they do tend to crop up all around each other like that):
Be subservient to the dogma and maintain 1980s John Hughes teen movie ideas about how “our” men should behave, and follow suit as a woman, protecting their reputations and careers at the expense of your own dignity, bodily autonomy, self-efficacy and livelihood.
Act as like Jezebel Jezebel and buck every rule, time after time, until all those men can point at the crazy shrew who can’t hold her tongue or her temper.
Of course, this is only applicable to white women. And as previously discussed, in the modern America Religion, White Supremacy is the theology and the dogma.
Women always need to know their place, whichever of those two options they choose, and anyone outside this man/woman dichotomy shouldn’t have one at all, even if the Synod isn’t going to come right out and say that… (and no, that’s not a gay joke). At the end of the day, making more people feel welcome and comfortable to proudly believe in your absolutely mad special guy in the sky stuff means that there are more people PTS (proselytizing that shit).
This is mostly a problem because the sociocultural interests of traditionalist men broadly are not oriented in the direction of women being autonomous about anything, let alone their bodies. Or having self-sufficiency, of having careers and financial independence at all.
Being raised by or in faith systems (of any kind) upholds the status quo. And while it’s not all bad, it does first and foremost benefit the men ascribing to that faith, and its
theology = dogma. Which does not make it any less absurd. Nor surprising that the US is a disaster because of this: a nation founded on the ideal of welcoming anyone of any faith, and protecting all faiths.
But it’s even more absurd that women continue drinking that Blood of Christ Kool Aid (and I’m not talking about all the teens and wine moms at your parents’ church taking longer-than-appropriate swigs of that virus-laden Jesus Juice after mumbling “Amen.”)
All religions have vested interest in ensuring that its adherents believe they need absolution from a spiritual authority within said institution, so any such group’s leadership and institution will be diametrically opposed to values like tolerance and acceptance, though they will preach the exact opposite.
This is true both of one’s own perceived flaws, and those proscribed by the institution itself. They need you to keep believing you are bad, you are a sinner, you need absolution (specifically their sainted absolution).
But this is 2018, and that is no way to live life, here on earth, in America, today. Even if you, personally, are not surrounded by people of all different kinds of lifestyles and backgrounds and ideologies, and the only people where you live in whatever neighbourhood you live in all look exactly like you and go to the same churches and send their kids to the same schools, public or otherwise.
There have always been other Americans who are not like you, in looks, in thoughts, in opinions. They have always been in government too… but it’s a big enough place that you never have to see or hear them or be around them… until now, with the proliferation of the digital media, when everything is televised 24/7.
(If this is a thing that bothers you, to see other people having
more the same basic human rights because when they’re different from you, I suggest turning off the TV to remedy this. TVs have made America worse, and you want to Make America Great Again, don’t you? Good. Stop it. Turn it off. Same with talk radio.)
There is no absolution. At all. Ever. There are only other people… which is to say (within a faith-based framework), there are men and there are boys.
There have always been girls and women and girlfriends and wives and mothers who will forgive and pretend to forget, who will uphold the values of the Church, who will not only uphold that “boys will be boys,” but whose non-actions ensure that “boys and men can and will get away with behaving like savage cavemen, and acting in a dominant if not always sexually predatory manner.”
That is the sole purpose, function, responsibility and role of a Good Catholic Woman (outside of a nun’s habit. Nuns can engage in social activism surrounding issues like environmentalism or homelessness and poverty prevention, but need to be celibate, and not tempting to men in any way, shape, or form.)
Any woman who wants to know why those are the only two options, who dares ask, is a bad Catholic… and worse, is a bad member of their family, their family’s Church, community, maybe even their school, but hey, she doesn’t really need to read more than Beatitudes, Proverbs and Luke anyway.
And women who want to tear up a storm because the priests and youth ministers and bishops are not being held accountable for their actions, and scores of men do not and will not admit that they don’t see their women as people, and that men of the cloth do not need to be held accountable for their actions because they are accountable only to a higher power? Well, they are a threat. They are scary.
And the Church needs to shut them up. Because they are also right. Both logically and morally. Which is important because that is all a religion is: an institution to police morality in its adherents.
Good religious folks will then go proscribe that ish on everyone around themselves, PTS on more people and more people… In their homes, in their families, schools, communities, etc.
How the hell do I know?
Well, if you knew me three years ago I’d have been able to explain ridiculous minutiae about my life based solely on my birth chart (Sagitarrius/Gemini Moon/Rising Libra yo!) and read the tarot for you. Shit, I even paid my rent for 2 months in the summer of 2016 by reading tarot! I’m an atheist now, but witches are inherently queer and powerful women, with power outside the scary, fucked up patriarchy, so coming from the toxic faith background I did, I can’t be too hard on myself for that. Shit, I still want to call myself a witch. Maybe I will. They’re the only women in history with any agency, after all, and often some of the most pioneering freethinkers, for all that they and their writings were burned.
Once you’re raised in a faith, it’s hard to leave all of it. There’s a bit of spiritual or metaphysical Stockholm Syndrome at play. Love your captor. Embrace what binds you. Cling to magical thinking because it’s not abnormal or weird in your family anyway, and it is your Constitutional right to have some kind of magical megastructure, even if the dirty and nasty politics of the whole instituionalized ones are just so vile. The patriarchy doesn’t have any riot grrrl or queer best interests at heart, after all… shit, it hardly has any ethical interests at all! And it never will.
Of course, there’s an economic interest in this as well, since the amount/size of parish memberships contribute to the amount of tithes paid, the clergy’s salary. This is usually a share of one’s income, or in America, $20 or $50 or $100 per week for an activity you take part in for roughly and hour on a Sunday morning. My queer grrrrl lifestyle and ideas aren’t going to make a buck for me.
But that does not and cannot strip the truth, and sense in what I’m saying about the church and these religions either, even if some of it is a bit extreme and that alienates some people from absorbing the message.
Think I’m being unfair?
This is the parish I grew up in, where I was one of the most senior altar servers when I was 17. Not in the Church pictured in that article though! My parent donated quite a bit to the construction of that church, constructed in 2010, notably on the same razed swamp as the house I grew up in (built in 1975, replete with a sinking basement!) Its pews are a panopticon built around the altar where the priest who instilled so many moral lessons as a queer teen trying to figure shit out in my formative years not this one, though, thank God! (And really in this case, praise be for my second class meat sack avatar for ONCE).
Of course, I had summarily dismissed most of those lessons long before… once I realized that the heroes like Joan of Arc whom I’d looked up to (she saved France! …only to be killed by the English, who were still Catholic then, by the way...)
But still, total bullshit either way!
So the fact that clergy critical of the megastructure that upholds these abuses (like my mom and dad’s neighbor!) are not allowed to speak up against this in the church community in 2018 wasn’t really a surprise to me.
What’s more weird to me at 30 is why my role model at age 16 was both a martyr and a saint. Both really sound like incredibly boring if not downright miserable, ridiculous things to be. But this probably has to more to do with a different Freudian complex than the Madonna-Whore Dichotomy.
But I’m not going to go into much more detail here about the family I was raised in. Suffice to say that there is quite unfair treatment of women and girls versus men and the boys, which plays out across generational divides a little bit. My dad’s relationship with his daughters has suffered greatly over the years because he chooses to stand by his brothers rather than in solidarity against wholly Catholic ideals… but then, there’s really been no room for moderates in American Catholic families since The Feminine Mystique was published, even though Freidan never had such honors bestowed upon her as Simone de Beauvoir did (but then the Index Librorum Prohibitorum was abolished only a couple years after its publication, and back in those days, American Catholics weren’t Catholic enough anyway.)