“Do you think the word ‘feminism’ can be rehabilitated?”

I recently came across a post with the above title, on a social media site not typically noted for its preponderance of thoughtful, reflective posts, and it caught my attention. The person posting, who happens to be female, and with a background in law, noted that

Although I applaud women like these [see image, below] for making a valiant effort… I’m afraid that — like the term “conservatism” — the word “feminism” has been abused, misused and propagandized beyond reclamation.

Bruner on feminism

As I responded, this issue is far from a new one! The late great G.K. Chesterton wrote this back in the late 19th or early 20th century:

Chesterton - feminism

His point remains valid today, in my opinion.

If “feminism” means according women their proper due – that is to say, recognizing them as equal in intrinsic value / inherent worth with men, not necessarily identical in role but equal in importance and honour – then I am all for it.

If it means lowering, as the meme she posted points out, the standards for women to the abysmally low standards to which men are often held, or if it means either feminizing men or masculinizing women, as seems too often the case – or if, as one commentator described the “third wave” feminism of today, it is about “fighting for the right of women to engage in self-destructive behavior and get away with it while making sure men do not” – it is in my estimate a detriment rather than a benefit to society.

She further noted in response,

The always perceptive Chesterton was making a similar point to what I was making this morning:

“Why are millions of women taking the day off work today? To draw attention to a world where the shackles of the Patriarchy have been cast off — giving them the opportunity to be wage-slaves too — and as waves of liberation have swept further through the economy and society many women have now realized the dream of having two or even three unfulfilling jobs necessary in order to keep their family afloat.”

It is rarely mentioned that just as liberation was kicking into gear in 1973 (the same year, not so coincidentally, that Nixon closed the gold window) the economy started to warp; and one of those warps was fewer “breadwinner” jobs — jobs that pay a sufficient salary to support a family — and that is a trend which continues to this day.

Socially and culturally this stuff ended up not just dragging women down to the worst flaws of men, but dragging men even lower. Feminism incorporated the Sexual Revolution (which should no longer be called a revolution, because they won and are now the establishment). This aspect of feminism became increasingly central and more disgusting in Third Wave. Former Cosmo editor Sue Ellen Browder wrote a good book on this: Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution Hijack the Women’s Movement.

But there has been a backlash among younger women to this trash. Millennials (especially the younger tier) really are the “Pro-life Generation” — polls consistently show them to be pro-life — they are Planned Parenthood’s greatest nightmare. And there is a repulsion to the “hook-up culture” and all that among younger women — which is not surprising, that is just not the metaphysical nature of women.

The pendulum nearly always swings, thankfully, as I commented in my follow-up post. And as I wrote there, I, too, have seen the beginnings of a shift back, in the younger generation, to a more traditional — and, in my view, healthier and saner — approach to sexuality and procreation. Encouraging! But it is unquestionable that the connection between morality and economics is a closer (and, likely, less coincidental) one than most people realize.

It is ironically interesting, although sad, to track the way in which the breakdown of what are often considered “traditional family values” has marched practically in lock-step with the breakdown in the traditional family itself — in part, at least, due to the fact that, as my interlocutor commented, it is now much more rare for a single “breadwinner” to be able, economically, to support a family, meaning that both partners need to work.

This in turn tends to fragment family ties and devolve “child care” (which used to be called parenting) onto paid professionals, who may or may not share the parents’ values, background, and intentions for their children. It is difficult indeed to maintain a close, cohesive family structure, and engage in focused, intentional child-rearing, when both parents work outside the home!

A vicious downward spiral, which will likely take much more time and effort to arrest and reverse than it did to initiate. That, sadly, is the recurring pattern! Good things are easily destroyed, but not easily created… or re-created, once lost.

Is demonizing Putin and Russia a smart move? (Wow! Forum For 03-06-17 | Stately McDaniel Manor)

Source: Wow! Forum For 03-06-17 | Stately McDaniel Manor

I have heretofore been fairly intentional in trying to keep modern politics out of this blog, with only a few exceptions (Brexit being a major one, but that is very much in keeping with the “Anglophilic” aspect). I am beginning to question whether that position remains tenable.

We live in challenging times, politically, morally, economically, and socially. At present, this blog is my only real “voice” in that discussion (leaving Facebook aside, which I do for a variety of reasons, including that it’s such a chaotic cacophony of voices that it is hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, and also that FB posts have such a short shelf-life).

Therefore, you may be seeing an increase in posts with a political theme here – coming, of course, from the same generally conservative, traditionalist, and pro-British (and more generally, pro-European) perspective this blog has always held.

In any case: lots of good stuff in the linked post. The topic for the day is, “Is demonizing Putin and Russia a smart move?” Unsurprisingly, the contributors tend to agree that it’s not. As I say, quite a number of good points raised! But I am especially glad to see Mike McDaniel, author of the awesome blog “Stately McDaniel Manor” (if you don’t know it, you owe it to yourself to pay a visit), basically echo a point I have made before, in a number of fora:

“Speaking ill of the Russians is, mostly, a no-lose proposition for the Democrats. Sure, it’s insanely hypocritical for the party of Ted Kennedy, who actually sought the aid of the Soviets, an evil empire bent on the destruction of America, to help him sabotage Ronald Reagan. The same party’s presidential candidate, John Kerry, betrayed his fellow military members, and his picture hung, for decades, in the North Vietnamese war museum as a hero of the struggle against America. The dishonor role goes on and on, yet it is the same party now indignant that members of the Trump Administration may have had the slightest contact with the Russian Ambassador, a man whose job it is to have as much contact with Americans as possible.”

In other words, as I have pointed out, it’s the height of irony for a party – and in many cases, some of the same people (those who are still alive) – who appeased, accommodated, and apologized for the Soviet Union during the Cold War to suddenly be all up-in-arms over the Russian Federation now.

That does not mean that our interests will always be congruent with the Russians, or that we should not stand firm when they are not. It behooves us to be as friendly with Russia as is reasonable and prudent, without forgetting that the “Russian Bear” is called that for a reason. But it’s legitimate to wonder why global Communist hegemony was perfectly all right with the Democrats, but Russia actually having national interests of its own is not?

Why It’s Important to Know History | The Art of Manliness

churchill-18-look-back-to-look-forward

Men the world over should embrace a nostalgic and balanced love for history.

Source: Why It’s Important to Know History | The Art of Manliness

“Churchill’s love of history was abiding and his knowledge profound. Memorizing dates and place-names has always been the bane of schoolchildren. Yet for a few, Churchill assuredly among them, history is more than a time line, more than the sequencing and parsing of collective memory. In those such as Churchill, history, by way of imagination and discipline, becomes part of personal memory, no less so than childhood recollections of the first swim in the ocean or the first day of school. Churchill did not simply observe the historical continuum; he made himself part of it… He did not live in the past; the past lived on in him.”

Churchill believed that history was not simply a matter of intellectual interest or a source of cocktail party fodder, but rather offered invaluable insights on how to proceed in the present and plan for the future… To immerse oneself in history is to discover that rather than being some disconnected being floating in the meaningless ether, you are part of a long line of progenitors, and your personal story is a continuation of a narrative thousands of years in the making. It roots you — inspires you to add something worthwhile to the tale, not only on the macro, but on the micro level as well… You are treading a path that was once even more difficult to traverse; your ancestors made it through, and so shall you…

While being nostalgic for the past often gets criticized as a narrow, ignorant perspective, it can in fact be a springboard for building something truly great in the present. It is perfectly possible to be fully aware of the faults and flaws of a previous period, and the men who sometimes stumbled through it, and yet still be thoroughly inspired by the myth of that heroic “golden age”… At its best, nostalgia doesn’t result in an effort to entirely recapture a past age, but instead inspires an attempt to take the best aspects of that past, and wed them to the best parts of the present in order to create a magnificent synergy of tradition and modernity.

The Art of Manliness is a blog / website / niche social media platform which I cannot possibly recommend highly enough. This essay is only one of the many jewels that can be found in its storehouse.

Denial is a river in Londonistan | MelaniePhillips.com

Source: Denial is a river in Londonistan | MelaniePhillips.com

In which Melanie Phillips, a British-based commentator on issues of contemporary concern, addresses the failure of governments in Britain and elsewhere to adequately address the problem of Islamic extremism: not merely violent extremism, but non-violent extremism as well.

In both Europe and America, the problem of Islamist aggression is matched by the inability or refusal of the governing and intellectual classes to acknowledge the nature and scale of this threat to the west…

Of course, most Muslims are not aggressive religious fanatics who want to conquer the west. But the overwhelming majority of aggressive religious fanatics who want to conquer the west happen to be Muslim.

It’s not a form of bigotry to try to protect ourselves against that threat. It’s essential to do so. But we can only protect ourselves if we correctly identity the nature of this threat, and specifically its roots in Islamic religious belief.

For sure, many Muslims do not subscribe to this particular interpretation of their religion. But enough do subscribe to make it a desperately serious threat. And it is a legitimate interpretation of Islam. Only one interpretation, sure; but it’s rooted securely in the theology, and has been expressed throughout the centuries in Islam’s colonialist and warlike history.

Indeed! And as the old saying goes, “those who do not learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.” And not just history, but current events as well! We here in the States should look at what is happening in Britain, France, Germany, Sweden, and elsewhere in Europe as a cautionary tale, and ensure that it does not repeat itself here. But are we doing so? Sadly, it does not appear that we are.

Ash Wednesday and the Lenten Fast

Source: St. Mary’s Anglican Catholic Church › The Lenten Fast

With the coming of Ash Wednesday, and its sobering reminder — “Remember, O man, that thou art dust: and unto dust, thou shalt return” — solemnly recited as we are marked with ashes upon the forehead, we embark upon the season of self-examination and penitence known as Lent.

The linked article comments,

Easter, the Day of the Resurrection, is the most important celebration of the Church. From the beginning, the Church observed a period of fasting before Easter to prepare for the feast.

This season of fasting was eventually lengthened to forty days to correspond to the forty day fasts in the Bible: The fast of Jesus in the wilderness before he was tempted by the devil (Matt. 4:1), the fast of Moses on Mt. Sinai while he was receiving the Ten Commandments (Exodus 34:28) and the fast of Elijah when he fled from Jezebel (1 Kings 19:8).

The Sundays of Lent are not counted as days of fasting. It is forty days from Ash Wednesday to Easter if we do not count the Sundays. The church observes Sunday perpetually as the Day of Resurrection. The lenten Sundays are properly observed as a slight relaxation of the fast, a slight anticipation of Easter, but not a full party.

It is often said, these days, that one need not give something up for Lent, but rather take something on. This is true, to a point, and some of the things we might appropriately take on are discussed in the linked essay. But this should not become an excuse for laxity in the fast, either! The Lenten fast (details below) is itself important. Furthermore, some of us already have lives over-stuffed with things to do; Lent can be a time to step back from doing – again, if this does not lead to laxity.

The keystone is found here:

“We decrease our intake of food, pleasure and entertainment and increase our practice of spiritual disciplines. This helps us to focus less on selfish concerns and more on our relationship with God.”

The essay then goes on to give us some specific guidelines for our Lenten abstinence, both traditional and contemporary: “the general rule for Lent that has come down to us in our tradition is this: Each day consists of one full meal and two smaller portions of food. Wednesdays and Fridays in Lent are days of abstinence from flesh meat. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of complete fasting. No food is eaten until sundown. Medical issues and age are reasons to moderate the fast of food.

“We ought also to abstain from other foods, pleasures and entertainments for the forty days in keeping with the spirit of the season. Consumption of alcohol and desserts should be eliminated. The lenten fast should also include things that occupy too large a place in our lives and run the danger of becoming idols. It is essential, in our time, that the lenten fast include electronics and media. We should reduce the amount of time spent with the computer, T.V., radio, iPod and other media in order to create an atmosphere of silence and stillness that is conducive to prayer.”

This is indeed true, in our current age of constant bombardment by sensory stimuli. Our senses – sight and hearing, in particular – and our mental faculties, including both cognition and reflection, are under constant assault by electronically-mediated pseudo-experiences in these days. Many of us spend all too much time in what amounts to a “virtual reality” bubble! Silence and stillness, conducive not only to active prayer but to contemplation and reflection, are in short supply, and often require a conscious effort to attain. Lent is a time when it is especially appropriate to make that effort.

The essay then goes on to suggest things we may appropriately take on, as part of, or complementary to, our Lenten fast, including prayer, Bible reading, confession, and of course, good works.

One important point to note, that is not always realized: “The Sundays of Lent are not counted as days of fasting. It is forty days from Ash Wednesday to Easter if we do not count the Sundays. The church observes Sunday perpetually as the Day of Resurrection. The lenten Sundays are properly observed as a slight relaxation of the fast, a slight anticipation of Easter, but not a full party.” Sundays, penitential season or not, are always Feasts of Our Lord, min-commemorations of Easter, and thus not fast days. Though as this points out, that doesn’t mean they should be viewed as occasions of excess, either!

In this as in so much else in life, a right balance is essential. Lent helps us to practice that balance, or return to it if we have fallen away.