Reflections on loving God, being Catholic, being a woman, being ill, loving life and anything else that comes to mind.

Monday, April 02, 2012


(This post was inspired by a friends post at The Emperor Has No Clothes. Follow the link in her 1st sentence to the article about which inspired her question.)

Bluebeard (Edna St. Vincent Millay)
This door you might not open, and you did;
So enter now, and see for what slight thing
You are betrayed.... Here is no treasure hid,
No cauldron, no clear crystal mirroring
The sought-for truth, no heads of women slain
For greed like yours, no writhings of distress,
But only what you see.... Look yet again—
An empty room, cobwebbed and comfortless.
Yet this alone out of my life I kept
Unto myself, lest any know me quite;
And you did so profane me when you crept
Unto the threshold of this room to-night
That I must never more behold your face.
This now is yours. I seek another place.

A male friend directed me to this poem when he learned I was beginning to work on a women's webzine. It made me pay attention to all the professional women I knew, had known & kept hearing about who, after a time, hated their jobs; to the new mothers who wanted to be with their babies; to the disappointed women who had been convinced that law or accounting or business or medicine was their calling only to discover 20 years later that they were engaged in boring, repetitive activity no matter the level they had achieved. I've known vicious managers & meek receptionists (& vice versa) who after a drink or two tell me they hate their jobs, their lives - people talk to me a lot. With birth control, we peeked behind the forbidden door, into the male world which ought to have been full of glorious treasure only to find that men had sacrificed their souls to care for their families..We insisted that we could do as they did but we never asked what we might be losing or what we might be taking from them.

By & large, we now live in a culture that emasculates men & defeminizes women. Women have been taught to be tough but so many of us never learned to love, never learned to defer because often, being right is much less important than loving another, never learned to be obedient because we began rebelling as teenagers and didn't know how to listen to anyone unless involved in negotiations for our own benefit. We don't know how to be women, made in God's image & the crowning glory of His creation just as men don't know how to be man, made in God's image & the lord of His creation. It's not at all surprising, therefore, that neither men nor women are happier. There are, of course, happy individuals but on the whole, our behaviour is not that of happy people.

I shan't revisit the contents of the article in my friend's post but there are a few additional indicators of unhappiness that aren't mentioned: So many men have given up not only on marriage but on any relationships at all: men have been so traumatized by women who screech at them when they hold a door or fail to hold it, they sit at home alone in chat rooms & playing games & yes, on porn sites. In the past five years, I've met a dozen or more men who go on bride meeting holidays in Asian, Eastern European & Latin American countries because non-American women are willing to be wives; those men tell me such trips are numerous & packed. Many women have given up as well. We too have growing relationships w/ our computers & 1/3 of us visit porn sites - it's not just for men anymore.

Birth control gave women everything we were convinced we were missing. Some women are glad. Many of us simply wish we had had mothers to teach us to be wives & homemakers, to be gentle & loving & feminine, to be partners to men rather than competitors. And a very few of us are working to help women who want to be women, who know they can do almost anything but who want to learn to love & support & care for a husband & family & help build the Body of Christ or at least their community in ways that men can't. Certainly that includes work when that is a woman's calling or a family's need but because it's her calling or the family's need not because she is just as good as a man.

And maybe that's why we're so unhappy, because it has always been silly to make male/female relationships into a competition to determine whose better. We're both fallen, we're both rebellious and, if we choose to accept it, we've both been redeemed. Which means being a woman has been redeemed and might be something so glorious, so much more than we imagine if we will be obedient to Christ.