Mary Daly, feminist theologian who broke into the bigtime in the late Sixties, has died.
Her photograph (print edition only) shows a Roman-consul type of haircut that on first glance might have given you un-Correct thoughts, but mercifully she and the ‘Boston Globe’ have spared you the anguish: she had declared herself a lesbian.
Well, no problem with that particularly. There are lots of gay theologians – and few who came out as early as she did – everywhere, including Boston College, her initial base of operations.
Her sexual orientation is not at issue. I myself am of the strong opinion that orientation is not a matter of choice in the first place, and is somehow an operation of Nature (and, I will say, of God’s mysterious Plan, Will, Providence, and – yes – Love).
What one does with that orientation is a separate issue, and everybody can go back and forth on that huge field of possibility.
But there was always something about a particular element of what she did in her classroom praxis that disturbed me: for a while she forbade ‘men’ from taking her classes in ‘feminist theology’ (this was in the benighted era before ‘women’s studies’ and the ludicrously named ‘gender studies’ (where one entire gender is off limits for study, though always available as a conceptual piñata).
It got me to thinking and wondering, and increasingly so as the ‘gender wars’ intensified over the decades and it seemed that the best of ‘elite’, ‘liberal’, and ‘progressive’ though held that the interests of ‘women’ and ‘men’ were not only antithetical, but that ‘men’ were the natural enemies of women … and they and their traces needed to be expunged from culture and society.
Strange indeed, considering that the two genders had gotten along with so many notably constructive and productive results over the course of millennia. Nor could I accept that the mythical ‘patriarchy’ had simply repressed more than one half of the human species thoroughly, coherently and consistently over the course of those millennia (how could they, really, since feminist orthodoxy also held men as being such brutish and primal lumps?).
Nor – noting the remarkable competences of the female of the species – could I accept that for all those millennia most ‘women’ – sort of like the European Jews – simply didn’t fight back, a sempiternal and universal example of the Stockholm Syndrome avant la lettre, if not of outright slave mentality.
Men, it seemed to me, were never considered by the majority of females, by ‘women’ if you wish, to be implacable and brutish enemies. Which is not to say that there are not some lumpish and brutal examples of the species, but then Lucrezia Borgia was no prize, nor the assorted females over history who – say – served in the SS or egged on the Iron Guard or played according to their lights and capabilities the many dark and sometimes lethal games of which human beings – at their less evolved levels – are so indefatigably capable.
Men and women were not rivals in some long, life-and-death stakes game.
Then it came to me: men and lesbians are, at least from the point of view of the radical lesbians.
At one point, now more than 15 years ago, I read Christina Hoff Sommers, who in her book “Who Stole Feminism” broached the same thought: she noted the curiously “lesbian core” to much of what past for mainstream feminist thought (especially in its radical variant).
The thought stuns: is it possible that such a radical lesbian-core has determined the thought and praxis of much of what passes for mainstream feminist thought, especially in those formative years when ‘gender studies’ were suddenly erected in universities and ‘governance feminism’ began to impose its stunningly anti-male virulence into matters criminal, domestic and even military?
Is the ‘gender war’ really not between ‘women’ and ‘men’ but between radical lesbians and men, with the lesbians actually doing most of the warring? Using ‘women’ as merely the cover or – like shrewd bank-robbers – as shields and ‘covers’?
And has the government actually indentured its authority – perhaps its legitimacy, most certainly some of its integrity – to such a noxious and treacherous gambit?
Is this possible in these oh-so-modern times?
Could this have happened – is it going on still – under Our very noses?
Is it possible that what fuels the ‘visions’ of ‘empowerment’ are to some extent a radical esbian dampdream along the lines of Amazonia and the Xena-Gabby axis: that ‘women’ can actually form a perfectly competent and self-contained society all by themselves, thank you very much, with the subset of a subset - those artistes formerly known as ‘mannish lesbians’ - providing the security and heavy-lifting and the rest of female-kind providing – as it were – ‘the women’?
Not that this vision promises much for the heterosexual female, a dynamic that has raised its head in the what passes for a military now, where ‘straight’ females have been enticed by the hugely deceptive advertising that the military is simply an employment opportunity to which all females have a ‘right’ and which can be subjected to all the feminist-inspired restrictions imposed by government employment and anti-discrimination laws so as to make the ‘employment experience’ as enjoyable as it is on the campus of Google or the Beltway.
(Although, in a marvelous irony, the lesbians in this scenario have failed to appreciate a vital aspect of the Xena imaginarium: there are very real and implacable gods of War and Combat who have to be dealt with on their own terms, and will take no orders from ‘feminist-friendly’ pols standing at the edge of Combat’s yawing, frothing abyss to issue ‘regulations’ as Canute once storiedly stood at the water’s edge, waving his scepter to impress and order the tides.)
Is it at all possible that such a Looking-Glass deformation could take place in a 20th century Western nation? In the 'world hegemon' - as it once styled itself?
Folks were asking themselves the same question in Europe in the early 1930s, and assured themselves that horror and frakkery on the scale imputed to the Germans was simply unthinkable after centuries of hard-won civilization.
Worse, that what Hitler was doing in Germany, and Mussolini before him in Italy, was seen as ‘good’, as an imposition of order on chaos that would ultimately benefit their own people and – hopefully – the rest of the civilized world. ‘Progress’ most genuine, and the world would be the better for it.