Who would have guessed that someone with prudent sensibilities rose to a position where they might be so well applied:
BBC children’s television should not have presenters that are “too sexy”, a editor has insisted, as she discloses she has asked presenters to remove their red lipstick before going on air.
Melissa Hardinge, executive editor of CBBC Independents, said programme makers were increasingly concerned with the sexualisation of young girls, and worked carefully to prohibit it.
I don't know the names or shows to which she refers later in the article, but I am grateful that she took the impressionable nature of children seriously--and stepped in to make a difference wherever possible. Bully for her!
National Review's Rich Lowry summarises the stupidity that passes for policy, and the absurd thought-processes that pass for thinking on the left. The hysteria began in response to Mike Huckabee's comment:
“If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it.”
Whatever one thinks of the content of that statement, it has to be noted that it is a complex sentence containing a sophisticated verb tense: namely, a subjunctive clause. Whatever one thinks of the war on women, it has to be noted that a more fundamental difficulty in the country seems to be a war on literacy. The response illustrates the standard ignorance:
The comedienne Sarah Silverman professed herself freaked out that Republicans like Mike Huckabee want to control her private parts. If that’s what Huckabee was getting at, he had an odd way of conveying it — by saying the opposite.
Prior to his offending sentence, Huckabee said, “Women I know are smart, educated, intelligent, capable of doing anything anyone else can do.” This was ignored, or evidently taken as a dastardly false-flag operation to conceal his hostility to women.
The Huckabee flap establishes a new standard in War on Women gaffes. The old standard was: Don’t say something outlandish, most notoriously violated by Republican representative Todd Akin during his misbegotten Senate campaign in Missouri last cycle. The new standard is: Avoid saying something that can be distorted to sound outlandish if your intent and meaning are ignored by people who make a living out of ignoring intent and meaning.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, whose feast we celebrate today, explained the three-fold effect of sin, which darkens the intellect (as well as weakening the will and distorting the senses). Or to summarise: sin makes you stupid. With grace comes prudence, and while it may not infuse the recipient with the ability to dissect sophisticated sentences, it would at least let the real meaning rest easy in the ear.
Children are the enemy, don't you know? Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) recounts how women began to take jobs outside the home during World War 2, and have remained in the workplace since then:
"And now, in very, very significant numbers, women are...a part of the workforce and have contributed greatly to allowing families to get ahead in the economy. What permits that is women being able to control when or whether they have children and how many. And it is so basic to our economic prosperity that women have that control."
With this sort of reasoning, one can then make the claim that limiting access to birth control will result in an economic downturn, except that it doesn't. A few random thoughts:
there are more women than men in the workplace in many fields (not to mention college) which means that the high unemployment rate puts a lot of fathers out of work (and yes, I know many women are single mothers);
the economy has grown to accommodate two-income families, which put single-income families behind at the outset;
the economy has grown to accommodate two-income families, which means that the price of goods trends higher, adding to inflation for all;
dual incomes within a family often adds to dual concerns, leading to arguments over each family's mission and priorities;
acceptance of birth control was predicted to increase the rates of promiscuity, divorce, and abortion--all of which have come to pass;
the promiscuity and out-of-wedlock births have put a social and financial strain on the country that threaten to collapse the economy if we don't regain our moral footing soon;
at this point, to insist that more birth control will restimulate our failing economy is insulting madness.
If the ostriches still want to say that children are the enemy, motherhood undermines the economy, and broken families are simply the price we pay for marching stalwartly into this Brave New World, then that is their prorogative. Of course their key word for women is "control," but that doesn't translate to teaching either self-control or NFP--this approach side-steps a variety of virtues, and simply squelches the natural consequences of vice.
Thus, as ever, it remains to us to point out that there's a better way to order society, where marriages are more stable and children more secure. At this point, the choice is increasingly clear to those who heads aren't muddled by misunderstandings about the human person.
According to the most "retro" version of male-female complimentarity:
The man gave names to all the tame animals, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals; but none proved to be a helper suited to the man. So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The LORD God then built the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman. When he brought her to the man, he man said: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of man this one has been taken.”
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body (Genesis 2:20-24).
It only stands to reason that if Biblically-based morality is passé and public officials can cohabitate with impunity, then the wider culture will not grasp what good a wife is. France is facing the challenge of having chosen a President with four children, no wife, a series of long-term girlfriends, and a new quasi-public extra-marital affair:
Unlike in the U.S., there is no tradition in France of presidents’ wives or partners being accorded official status and using their position to promote favourite causes. (Think Michele Obama and childhood obesity or Barbara Bush and combatting drug use among young people.) Rather, they are supposed to look decorative, appear in public with their husbands — and, above all, be discreet. They have no official position or budget.
And until Ms. Trierweiler they have all been wives. The women the Americans dubbed “the First Girlfriend” is the first unmarried partner to move officially into the Elysée.
Perhaps unease about her marital status is to blame for her poor image. Taxpayers were resentful at having to shell out to support her — unelected, unmarried — especially when many are struggling to make ends meet.
It didn’t help that Ms. Trierweiler showed herself prickly and vindictive — not for nothing has she been dubbed “the Rottweiler.” She threatened lawsuits for media coverage she deemed intrusive and publicly attacked Mr. Hollande’s former partner, Ségolène Royal, the mother of his four children. The president appeared henpecked.
So instead of wondering what the difference between a wife and a girlfriend might be, or whether marriage is itself a good thing, or how healthy marriages differ from toxic relationships, the French have decided to continue down the post-Christian slippery slope into human chaos. At a gut level, they may dislike bossy women or fatherless children, but the über-secular society has nothing to say about the institution of marriage itself or the vocation of woman.
This columnist (a woman, no less!) has a view of woman that, while embarrassing, explains the shallow scope of the chattering classes in regards to wives:
Apart from anything else, Hollande’s complex love life is the sole interesting thing about the man: it proved he was almost human. He should remember what purpose First Ladies serve in modern politics. They add lustre to tarnished middle-aged males and sex appeal by association. There’s the implication that if a woman as gleaming and smart as a Valérie, or a Carla, chooses a François or a Nicolas, then he must be witty and alluring in the bedchamber. The same is true in Blighty. Gordon Brown was unelectable before Sarah, while David Cameron gains incalculable points through his cool, tattooed wife.
These women provide set dressing of the highest calibre and, one feels, advice of the utmost subtlety. After all, they’re not just wives, they’re high-flying professionals, who can sniff out dissent and neutralise it before their grumpy husband has lost his composure.
Ugh. Yes, women have a different sort of radar, but when engaged in this sort of mission, it undermines every one involved--not to mention the wider culture. Could someone please remind France--the eldest daughter of the Church--what marriage is all about, and where women's true dignity lies? Could someone revisit the most basic of institutions that provides the foundation of every society?
For almost nine years, I've managed to stay pretty close to the theme of authentic femininity, but I've just found a woman who has taken her vocation in a unique direction. I don't even know what creed she espouses, but she does have an awesome mission!
For those curious about details:
While the rink isn't pebbled, it does have circular targets at each end and home-made stones.The rings were created by cutting up vinyl tablecloths, while the stones are made out of plastic containers (weighted with pea gravel) and kitchen cabinet handles.
Queen Maria Cristina of Savoy (1812-36), whose husband ruled the largest of the Italian kingdoms before national unification, was beatified in Naples on January 25.
The daughter of King Victor Emmanuel I of Sardinia and Archduchess Maria Teresa of Austria-Este, Maria Cristina married King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies in 1832. The queen died following the birth of their only child.
In his homily at the Mass of beatification, Cardinal Angelo Amato, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, discussed the queen’s innocence, modesty, and mortification with respect to food and entertainment, as well as her love for the poor and sick. All Christians, the prelate emphasized, are given opportunities to become holy, whatever their state of life.
Following his Sunday Angelus address, Pope Francis described Queen Maria Cristina as a “woman of deep spirituality and great humility.”
“She was able to bear the suffering of her people, becoming a true mother of the poor,” he added. “Her extraordinary example of charity shows that the good life of the Gospel is possible in every environment and social status.”
Perhaps we can meditate on the temptations in our own walk of life, and how we can act with authentic Christian charity therein. Obviously Queen Maria Cristina embraced motherhood, but she also managed to live poverty in her own way, and to use her office to provide tremendous acts of kindness.
Dear Maria Cristina, pray for us and for mothers everywhere!
That would be the message to the women of one province in Pakistan, where a book launch was planned to introduce them to the heroics of one of their own:
A launch ceremony for education activist Malala Yousafzai’s book at a university in her native Pakistan was cancelled after pressure from the provincial government, organisers and officials said on Tuesday. Malala, now 16, survived a Taliban assassination attempt in the country’s restive northwest in 2012 and has become a global champion for the struggle for all children to go to school.
An event to launch her memoir I am Malala at the Area Study Centre of Peshawar University on Monday was called off after police refused to provide security, organisers told AFP. She had not been due to attend in person.
So the message of making education more accessible for girls is not welcome, and the UN doesn't seem to care. Nor have we heard much from feminists concerning the issue:
While it has had a positive reception around the world, reaction to the book inside Pakistan has been mixed. Some private schools banned it from their premises in November due to what they called its “anti-Pakistan and anti-Islam content”.
A senior police official said allowing the ceremony to go ahead would have meant attracting Taliban attacks in future. “Everyone knows that Taliban are against Malala, so we do not want to open another front for ourselves,” the official said, requesting anonymity.
I think the "anti-Islam" charge would be a natural outgrowth of the argument for women's fundamental dignity, no? If The Taliban is enforcing shari'a law, and the Taliban doesn't want girls educated, then by the transitive property Malala's desire to educate girls would be ... anti-Islamic. We don't make that connection, the local residents do.
Not only is there no desire for basic education, but there is a fear of immunisations, which has resulted in the deaths of dozens of polio teams who are trying to stem an epidemic there. The impact on women is two-fold: they cannot go to school and they cannot help their children to thrive.