Archive for February 26th, 2006

This guest post is from "Robin" who posted a comment on my last Sunday Night Journal entry in which she said she
disagreed with Franklin Salazar about the origins of the feminist
movement but didn’t have a reply formulated (Franklin attributes it mainly to the weakness of men). We corresponded a bit and she sent me the following remarks, which I thought were very much on target and particularly striking in the way they connect the question with that long-term concern of Caelum et Terra, the exaggerated separation from nature–or should I say reality–in the way we live now. So I asked for her permission to post them.

Maclin Horton

My disagreement with Mr. Salazar was primarily that I don’t think "unprotective" men caused the feminist movement.  I think women instigated it and men became "wussy" afterward.  I really think the causes that led to The Vagina Monologues are very complex, including movement away from agrarian society, outside employment that did not require physical strength, outside employment that made children a competitive disadvantage, and, of course, "reproductive technology," which made preventing or destroying children possible.  Other causes, I think, were Freudian and pseudo-scientific disparagement of mothers and their wisdom and their unique womanly talents. ("Don’t breastfeed your baby – that’s dirty!  Only immigrants do that!  Feed your baby our homogenized formula, with vitamins added!")

As women became more alienated from their nature, they naturally began to want male economic and political rights – what else was there for them to do?  But at some point – I’d say around the 1950’s – male reaction set in (including the wimpiness that Mr. Salazar describes, but also irresponsibility, sexual and otherwise), and women as a group really began to fall into the sin of Eve (envy) and Lucifer (non serviam). We crossed a line when our society accepted artificial birth control, but we crossed a much more significant line when we accepted abortion. Once "we" had accepted the latter, our decline into sin has accelerated dramatically.

You can see two strains of feminism from around 1960 to 2000:  one emphasizes women’s mental and professional equality with men and decries the use of women as "sex objects"; the other emphasizes women’s sexual equality with men – in other words, we can be just as lusty, promiscuous, and "free" as a man. Whereas the first strain would have been appalled at women dressing like prostitutes and displaying their bodies in public, the second strain embraced such. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, the first strain was predominant. But beginning in the 1980’s (after Roe v. Wade) and continuing, the second strain has predominated, and by now has just about obliterated the first.

Hence The Vagina Monologues. We are no longer "women" through and through – with every cell of our being – and with our own unique "charisms," as Pope John Paul II would say. The only thing that distinguishes us from men are our sex organs. 

In the past 200 years, most women have lost their "femaleness," their children, their entire "purpose in life." What’s more, reproductive technology has caused them to descend into grave sin. Given this background, a play that celebrates the only "female" thing we have left was inevitable, and it also should be no surprise that it’s hugely successful.

Robin Shea lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and is a lawyer and mother of two grown sons.

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