Filed under: Culture and Catholicism | Tags: Carrie Bradshaw, Christ, feminism, Islam, Jesus, love, purity, sex, Sex and the City, sexual freedom, the rosary, veil, women, women in the marketplace
Let’s not talk about Wall Street, let’s talk about love!
Let’s commune for a second with the spirit of poor Carrie Bradshaw, who wanted Real Love (but got registered as Third Wife).
Love is hard to find! Now sex, on the other hand, is easy. Almost any combination of organs, in whatever numbers (threesomes, groups, solitary self-abusers) can achieve it. You can have sex with or without consent. You can have sex with a sheep. You can definitely have sex with a sheep without consent (because, how would you know?).
But love is hard to find.
People are still looking for love after the sex. Some people give up and live the most alone you can live, twanging vaginas and penises around and then going home. What the hell, they often think, is this what they mean when they talk about love? I came, he came, we came. Is that it? They go home alone, and they often die alone. It’s possible they have some insights right there at that rupture between life and death, but have yet to blog about it.
Sex has always been easy to find. Cavemen had sex, and so did the Greeks and the Romans and the Goths. There was a lot of sex without consent, and there was a lot of sex with unequals, slaves and so forth, because first of all most people were slaves, and second, women were unequal by definition. We all know what Plato said, right? That ‘the souls of the wicked will be punished in their second generation in the body of a woman, and in the third, in that of a beast.’ (All the other groovy stuff he said, don’t get mixed up, that was for the menfolk.)
Plato’s teaching just sums up most of the ancient theory and practice. Women were second-best. Women could be given to seal land-deals—that was what went for marriage then, almost as cold as what goes for marriage now (the kind Carrie got when she got registered like a dog). Women could be traded or sold or abused or killed (you know, like the porn industry).
But there was a small voice raised for love. It was the God of the Jews, this tiny tribe with some big kind of talent for godding. In their God’s tale of creation, their God said that woman was created for man as a helper like unto himself. Like unto. They talked that way then, but we get the distinction: not made as some kind of second class humanity conveniently positioned in the hierarchy to punish wickedness, but like man.
This simple distinction was a platform for all else that followed. What followed?
God loved the concept of mankind for strange reasons of His own (some angels thought it strange, anyway, and it caused a war in heaven). God created a universe, and then humans to fill it, but they screwed up and knocked themselves out of paradise. The Second Person of the Triune God pitied us humans very much, and decided to come down to earth and save us. But how to enter the world?
He had options. There was the coming down in a chariot of fire thing, a favorite in the stories of the Jews. Or blooming like a rose from a burning bush, they had that bit. But the Second Person chose a different way: he chose to be born from the body of a woman. Furthermore, he paid humans the compliment of asking for her consent first. That woman was Mary, and she gave her consent even though she was young, she wasn’t even married, she’d never had sex (but knew that’s where babies came from), and was standing in front of a shining angel maybe seven or eight foot tall.
And so the Second Person of the Trinity of God was born into the world, and saved us. Without her it couldn’t have happened. God put a woman at the center of it all. He had set it up by creating the woman equal in the first place, but now she was—more than equal. She was the door through which the Good News came in.
So when you see her in her pink gown and blue cape with the gold stars, on the dashboard of some illegal immigrant’s ’88 Chevy Blazer, that’s who she is, in her Guadalupe gown. A woman more than equal. Or maybe you’ve seen the Polish one, a dark-skinned woman dressed all in silver. Or the German version, or the Swedish version, or the Indian version. All manifestations of the woman from whom even God begged consent, setting the elevated, mystical western standard of womanhood and motherhood for the next two thousand years, and which we are throwing away to return to those wonderful, wacky pagan times where every sheila’s a bitch.
There is a contradictory element of purity in the Judeo-Christian beliefs about woman-as-mother-of-the-savior, and it’s curious. Because you know what they sing, ‘Love and Marriage, love and marriage, they go together like a horse and carriage,’ and they mean love and sex but they couldn’t find a good rhyme for sex, so. Love and sex go together. And yet Mary conceived the Son of God without sex, so says the bible.
The Virgin Queen. A highly useful concept. Perhaps not needed in societies where each woman stays unto her own, in the kitchen, in the nursery, and seldom ventures into the world. Perhaps not needed in a society where the market place is protected from undisciplined sexual urges by covering women head-to-toe. But supremely useful in a society where women expect to have it all while dressed in damn near nothing. The concept of purity gives women a little time-out space where penises are not supposed to rise, where the ears instead listen to the woman’s voice and her ideas, or respond to her need . But only a time-out space! Not to do away with the whole penis/vagina concept! Mary was an exception; the rest of us conceive the old-fashioned way. And yet we claim her and her purity when we want to, when we need to.
See, we really do want it all!
As you might imagine, this is a genius concept of God’s, that western women have used—and abused—for two thousand years. Christ explicitly taught it. And it’s the teaching that could make you fall in love with the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.
Because the phony Pharisees were trying to trick him one day, as always. They asked him about women and veils, because even then it was the question that could stun a good man like a well-placed stone to the head. Because then as now, the sexual urge is real and strong, and it has to be, and because, then as now, the hard task of keeping the rest of the world before and after sex always falls, along with the stones, on women. So should the sexual urges be controlled by putting a veil on women? They hoped to discredit him among women.
And Christ looked at them, those men who liked the status quo (just like now, with Christianity a receding dream). And he leaned forward to answer, and challenged them for all time: put the veil in your own hearts, he said. Well, he actually said, “If you lust after a woman in your heart, you have already sinned.” The sin is in you, not in her. In your heart. So put the veil there. With that, He changed the world.
And me, I fell in love with Him, for saying those words. Any woman would. You too. Even men love the justice of it, at least men who love justice.
Because we women want it all, and a fair man knows it’s no crime. We all want to be in the world, really in the world, up to the hip, up to the neck, fighting the good fight and going home licking our wounds. Warriors all, after the babies are big. And at home we want somebody to love us forever, just us, for our minds and for our bodies, yes, and for our souls. Somebody who lets us be soft, and smart. That’s what Carrie means by Real Love. And Christ in His wisdom, as God, saw how it was. He understood that women’s sexuality is all of a piece with their genius, a genius the market place needs, never doubt it, for a beautiful, sweet woman’s a cheering beauty both spiritual and physical that the world hungers for. Christ understood that men can compartmentalize ever so much more easily than women. So Jesus bravely told them, put the veil in your own hearts. (And if that doesn’t make you love Him, too, your heart is dead.)
Oh, if only good men would come forward again. If western men would only come forward again and put the veil in their own hearts. If they only would, the world would get better! One huge barrier to peace between us and Islam would evaporate. If they would reject pornography. If they would disdain playahs, and punish them, as men can, in-house, at the gym and on the job. If they would just do one thing a day to help to allow women our space in the market, just the way we are, with breasts and hips and lips and hair, with ideas and insights and energy too, all so precious, and distracting, loving us, yes, but not that way. That way saved for a special woman. What a good world that would be for good women!
Mary is the key. Pray the rosary, her personal recommendation . Learn it for the first time, if you don’t know it. Here’s a link, for the prayers of the rosary. Pray that western men step up to the challenge of Christ and confect a public place where women are so safe they don’t need a veil, where Mary’s purity lives. It could change the whole world—again.
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