Thanks to all the linky love (oh sheesh, did I just say that?) from real websites like Mark Shea’s, Bearing, Betty Beguiles, And Sometimes Tea, New Advent, Betty Duffy, Darwin Catholic, Korrektiv, Alexandria, and others, I got a lot more attention than I’m used to for all this pants stuff. And, as Mark Shea’s readers pointed out, with great pants comes great responsibility. Which is to say that with a bigger audience comes many more misunderstandings.
Some of that is my fault, because I dwell in the land of hyperbole.
Some of that is their fault, because they are stupid.
Some of that is no one’s fault, exactly — it’s just that it’s human nature to hear what you think you’re going to hear, rather than what the writer is actually saying.
Danielle Bean once shared a quote from St. Therese of Liseiux:
Why should we defend ourselves when we are misunderstood and misjudged? Let us leave that aside. Let us not say anything. It is so sweet to let others judge us in any way they like. O blessed silence, which gives so much peace to the soul!
And so, even though I heard all kinds of foolish and outlandish statements attributed to me, I really didn’t get all that upset. I heard, for instance, that:
- I never wear skirts (false – I do)
- I think women who wear skirts are married to monsters (false – some are, some aren’t, just like us two-legs)
- I think it’s stupid to try and look feminine (false – I try hard)
- I think it’s impossible for any busy woman to do her work in skirts (false – I happen to be a hypothyroid clod with fat, chafe-y thighs, but maybe you’re not)
- and also that I think women should be able to wear whatever the hell they want (false – I believe it’s a matter of charity to dress modestly)
- and that men should just use some self-control, and then it won’t matter what women wear (false – blame Adam).
Weirdly, none of that bothered me very much. Usually nothing upsets me more than to be misunderstood, but there were so many smart and funny people who saw what I was saying, it was like being at a fantastic party with all your friends — and a couple of drunks. Annoying, but not enough to spoil a great evening.
But I got really worked up when they started saying stuff about Mary. I have always felt an uncomfortable distance from Mary. I teach my children to call her “Mama Mary” in hopes that they would feel a closeness and affection to her that I never did. Every once in a while, though, she breaks through to me. This was one of those times.A few women in various comment boxes said that we must wear skirts because Mary did — that even if Mary were on earth today, she would never wear pants. They KNOW this.
Okay, you ladies who know what Mary would do. If you can’t imagine Mary wearing pants, then try this: imagine Mary wiping her nose, or yawning, or having heartburn. Imagine her giving birth. Or heck, imagine her having to go to the bathroom, but not being able to get up yet because she didn’t want to wake up the baby, who was nursing and allllmost asleep. . . and then He bit her! He always does that just as He’s falling asleep. Oh, and now He’s poopy again, and she still has to go to the bathroom.
Weird, eh? Not used to it, are you? But there’s nothing immoral about these images. If they bother you, because it’s not what you’re used to. It’s not what you’re surrounded with. Just like you’re surrounded with earnest, hard-working, kind, sincere women who have chosen to wear skirts, and so it seems utterly natural and obvious that Mary, too, would wear skirts.
How about this: when Mary said “Fiat” to the angel, she wasn’t doing what everyone else was doing. She wasn’t following the norm. She wasn’t doing what all the other holy ladies in her circle were doing. She was doing something that made her stand apart — she was responding directly to God’s will. Mary was a BIG WEIRDO, don’t you see? She was courageous and outlandish and incredibly tough. She didn’t long for olden times. She did something new.
I know it sounds like I’m equating the wearing of pants with the eternal Yes of the Mother of God. Sorry about that! That’s not what I mean. I just mean that sometimes we can be blinded by what we’re used to — and that’s not a good thing, even when what we’re used to (say, good women always wearing skirts) is a good thing.
So would Mary wear pants? I don’t know, and neither do you — she was a strange and unpredictable woman, like no other. But she was a real woman. If you think that Mary actually always wore blue, always had a look of fond melancholy on her face, and always held her arms at a 45-degree angle from her sides, then you are paying homage to a statue, and not to God’s real-life Mama. And if there’s anything worse than a woman in pants, it’s an idolator. That’s in the Old and the New Testament.
O real life Mama of God, intercede for us. Help us to understand each other. And if I ever sit down to write another post about pants, please make the roof fall in on me before I hit “publish.”