Standing Up Against Sexism

I have been challenged by a commenter to ‘stand up against sexism’.

I have to admit I’m not really sure just what ‘sexism’ is. If it means men being nasty to women just because they’re women, (or women being nasty to men just because they’re men) well I’m against that for sure, but then that would be because I’m opposed to people being nasty to others straight across the board.

Men should behave like gentlemen–treating women with honor and respect as the gentler and superior sex, and women should behave like ladies–treating men with honor and respect as the stronger and superior sex.

Maybe ‘sexism’ means excluding women from certain jobs that are traditionally associated with men. Call me old fashioned, but I don’t think it’s a very nice thing to expect women to take on nasty and disagreeable jobs like being soldiers or policemen or fire fighters or septic tank cleaners or butchers or slaughterhouse workers or politicians or trash collectors or bankers or stockbrokers. These are dirty, filthy, and demeaning professions. Women are better than that.

I think a woman’s place is in the home. But then, I think the man’s place is in the home too. A woman was made to be a mother and a man was made to be a father. Everything they do should revolve around that vocation, and if a man has to go out into the world and provide for his family by doing some filthy, dangerous and difficult job like being a miner or a salesman or a truck driver or a telephone engineer or a college professor or a professional wrestler or a company vice president, then he should regard that job as a hardship he has to endure in order to support his wife and family.

One of the great lies of our age is that a ‘career’ is most important and that men and women must both pursue their ‘career’ above all else. This lie has been put about in order to get men and women to work harder and longer for less pay doing things they don’t really like to please people they don’t really like. It’s the saddest thing in the world when a person wakes up in their forties to realize they have been slogging away for twenty years to succeed in a ‘career’ that they never really liked in the first place.

Maybe ‘sexism’ is the assumption that certain jobs are ‘for women’ and other jobs are ‘for men’. It’s pretty hard to escape this altogether. I mean, a ballerina really should be a girl because they’re prettier and easier to lift up and twirl around. I think you really should have a woman sing the part of Gilda in Rigoletto for instance, and I think Romeo and Hamlet should be played by actors rather than actresses. I think men make better waiters and women make better nurses, and I wouldn’t like to see a man win the Miss America contest nor would it be a very nice thing if a girl became a prize fighter.

Men really are better at some things and women are better at others. They should do what they do best, but in the workplace there is plenty of room for flexibility and men and women should be given a fair chance to try any job, and should be paid equally for an equal job.

But then there are other ‘jobs’ which aren’t jobs at all. They are vocations. A vocation really is linked to a person’s gender. We can’t get around that. A man really can’t be a mother and a woman can’t really be a father. A man can be a monk, but he can’t be a nun. A woman can’t be a priest. It just can’t happen because a priest not only stands in for Christ, but he represents the ‘father’ in the faith community. A woman being a priest is like a man getting pregnant.

I am called on to stand up against sexism, and I admit to being confused about what exactly ‘sexism’ is. However, I suspect that what sexism really is, is a lie from the devil himself in order to further confuse human beings about the proper and beautifully complementary and loving roles of men and women. Satan wants Adam and Eve to be at war. He wants men to be confused about what it means to be men and he wants women to be confused about what it means to be women. He wants to blur the distinctions and make women masculine and men feminine. He wants the procreative functions of sex to be obliterated with artificial contraception and abortion so that women are no longer primarily mothers and men are no longer primarily fathers. He wants the masculine women to become lesbians and the feminine men to become homosexualists, then he wants the feminine women to ‘fall in love’ with the masculine women and for the masculine men to ‘fall in love’ with the feminine men-which is another way of saying they are really falling in love with themselves. All of this is part of the culture of death, and ‘sexism’ is one of his key concepts and stratagems.

In that respect, I can assure you that I am most heartily and firmly opposed to sexism.

UPDATE: For a wiser and less ‘smartass’ response to the role of women you should read Mulieris Dignitatem which you can find here.

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  • Joel

    I didn't think we were allowed to say this stuff. But you just did! Spot on too…

  • Matthew the Curmudgeon

    This is a late April Fools joke, right?

  • paul


  • Stella Oriens

    Ten points to Griffindor!

  • shadowlands

    'He wants the procreative functions of sex to be obliterated with artificial contraception and abortion so that women are no longer primarily mothers and men are no longer primarily fathers.'One of the main introspective fruits I have experienced in regular praying of the rosary, is an acceptance of myself, as a woman in God's and indeed, Our Lady's eyes. Sometimes, when meditating on a particular mystery, I find I am a young girl again, revisiting my past (positively) then sometimes back to being a middle aged woman but always 'identifying' with myself? Sorry if that's unclear (pray the rosary to see what I mean).From an extrospective perspective, (blimey! I didn't even know I was capable of one of them) I have noticed that I am beginning to view my fellow humans, in a motherly way, no matter who they are! I found this quite sweet, as I had probably been quite self seeking in the past, regarding people, places and things in general. Oh, all in a damsel in distress sort of way ofcourse. Our Lady does teach and help you to mature as a woman. A bit like C. S. Lewis said, when speaking of what God wants of us "I think he wants us to grow up, to love and be loved".Pain can become joyful then, sometimes. One day at a time.I wonder what the rosary does for men, in these areas?

  • Alfred

    Take a look at what Pope John Paul II had to say about this, Father:" I cannot fail to express my admiration for those women of good will who have devoted their lives to defending the dignity of womanhood by fighting for their basic social, economic and political rights, demonstrating courageous initiative at a time when this was considered extremely inappropriate, the sign of a lack of femininity, a manifestation of exhibitionism, and even a sin!""there is an urgent need to achieve real equality in every area: equal pay for equal work, protection for working mothers, fairness in career advancements, equality of spouses with regard to family rights and recognition of everything that is part of the rights and duties of citizens in a democratic state." "Unfortunately, we are heirs to a history which has conditioned us to a remarkable extent. In every time and place, this conditioning has been an obstacle to the progress of women. Women's dignity has often been unacknowledged and their prerogatives misrepresented; they have often been relegated to the margins of society and even reduced to servitude. This has prevented women from truly being themselves and it has resulted in a spiritual impoverishment of humanity. Certainly it is no easy task to assign the blame for this, considering the many kinds of cultural conditioning which down the centuries have shaped ways of thinking and acting. And if objective blame, especially in particular historical contexts, has belonged to not just a few members of the Church, for this I am truly sorry."I for one am glad that we live in a time when women are not barred from holy communion because they are menstruating.(An ancient practice that conservative apologists against women's ordination conveniently seem to forget)

  • Elizabeth from Sussex

    Well said Father.

  • Fr Longenecker

    I agree with JPII. Thanks Alfred.

  • Anthony Brett Dawe

    The Anglicans are gonna get their women bishops, and some of us WILL NOT forget that they accomplished this by FRAUD and LYING. And all the innovationists in the RC church who favor the same course of action should head right out the door to our former churches – as we were 'robbed by the congregations of the ungodly' as the Psalmist says and get on with it. When and if you repent perhaps you will be allowed back, if not get on with your 'experimentation' and reap the just reward. We've wasted quite enough time and treasure arguing with heretics.

  • Etienne

    I am with you Father on this. Thanks for saying what many of us still believe despite the pressure to pretend otherwise. God bless.

  • .

    Thank you for this post, I agree 100%.

  • Steve

    Father, you may say that you think people (male and female) should be treated fairly. All well and good as far as that goes.However, every time someone prominent (or semi-prominent, in your case ;) says that women should not become politicians, police officers, firefighters, surgeons, etc., it makes it easier for others to mistreat or underpay women who work in those professions. (The operative thought process: She does not belong here. She's in male territory here. Let's send her a message so she won't want to stay.) Anyone who has a daughter and believes she should have equal opportunity, equal compensation, and fair treatment in the professional world should understand that Fr. L does not think sexism is a real problem. He thinks it's something that's made up, one more "ism," one more example of political correctness. He would rather mock efforts to rid society (and the church) of sexist policies than commit himself to taking on sexism. Yep, Alfred, I'm with JPII on this as well. I hope the good Father will apologize for the mocking tone he took on the very real problem of sexism. Bigotry is bigotry. And bigotry is a sin. (Fortunately, Jesus is willing to save us from our sins. Let's pray, each of us, that we will repent from our sins–including all forms of bigotry.)

  • Steve

    Just a quick follow-up. I anticipate, Fr. L., that you'll point out the tongue-in-cheek tone you were trying to employ. The problem, though, is that the "keep out" attitudes you endorsed (even humorously) were once standard practice in this country. Suffragists were told that politics (yes, even the act of reading the front section of the newspaper and voting) would pollute their minds. Women who wanted to attend medical school were told they did not really want to see a cadaver, much less engage in the complex thinking inherent in reaching a diagnosis. It's reckless to take a joking tone when discussing real roadblocks women have faced. (You would not, for instance, joke about reinstating Jim Crow laws. You know better than that. Truly, the situations are not all that different.)

  • Denita

    I agree that women should not be priests. But it hurts me to think you believe they should only be wives and mothers. I'm a virgin, never married at 49, not called to religious life, and I want so bad to remain a devout Catholic.But it's people like you who make it hard. Now you're saying I'm not fulfilling my duties as a woman because I have no family.THIS HURTS. And coming from a priest, too! :(

  • Fr Longenecker

    Denita, I'm sorry to have offended you. My piece was meant as a somewhat light hearted diatribe.For a wiser and fuller understanding of the church's teachings, and not just my own smart aleck opinions, I encourage you to read Mulieris Dignitatem.Also, when I say women should be mothers I also say that men should be fathers. Did you miss that point?What I mean by this is that we should all find some way to fulfill our call to bring new life into the world and serve others in compassion teaching and love.So, single people, older people and child less can also learn to be 'mothers' and 'fathers' through their involvement with others in the wider community and the whole church.

  • Anthony Brett Dawe

    if the 'smartass' is meant to be the good Padre himself I say keep jawing with that jawbone of an ass!Come on folks… we ain't never gonna survive unless we get a little 'crazy' we gotta laugh- it is a lot better than 'crying in our beer.'

  • Christine


  • Palmetto Papist

    Equal pay for equal work — a pernicious doctrine. A living wage is the Catholic position.I'll believe in "equality" when women come up with their own sports and men form knitting clubs.

  • Katie C.

    If this was supposed to be funny, it wasn't. Can you remember the 1950s, Father? I can. Bright girls were encouraged to take home ed and typing rather than college prep English and math. Women were supposed to be teachers, but not professors; nurses, but not doctors; secretaries, but not executives or attorneys; cashiers and assembly line workers, but not managers. There was just enough "flexibility" in the workplace for an occasional woman to pursue a challenging career, but it was rare. Is this the world you would prefer?

  • Natasa

    Katie C,I doubt that Father wants all the world transmitted back to the 1950s America. The problem is that people identify themselves with their career, they prize it above other things and human beings are valued in terms how much they earn. If we truly lived like people of God we would not prioritise work and ambition. The worst choice a woman can make today is to stay at home and care for her family. Open-minded feminists (oxymoron?) despise them and do not respect their choice. Men and women have to work because they have to provide for themselves and for their families. That's reality and Fr. is not pretending otherwise. So work is a necessity but not the point of life.

  • Savia

    Alfred and Steve,The question you should be asking is what is the priesthood? Abraham's ancestors were ruler priests who married the daughters of other ruler priests. This continued among the Jewish people. The expectation was that the Messiah would be born from the seed of woman one day.Mary, Father Jochaim was a priest.The priests offered sacrifices in the temple, and were set apart for this.The Christian priesthood is not genetic, but is based on sacrifice.The Mass/Divine Liturgy is a participation in the heavenly liturgy in the company of the angels and saints, and in the presence of Christ, both priest and victim.Christ offers the same sacrifice that he did on calvary, although in an un-bloody manner.The priest is a stand in for Christ, the one priest.A woman priest cannot offer the sacrifice of Christ.We cannot put up a picture of St. paul and call it the Virgin Mary. In the same way, the form for the sacrificial priesthood cannot be female.Alfred,Women were never barred from communion.Upholding the Apostolic faith is not conservative or liberal.All this confusion started with changes to the liturgy. You change the liturgy, you change the religion.Savvy

  • Denita

    I'm sorry if I was hard on you, Father, but to explain further, I suffer from a mental disability and cannot work, I also don't drive. While I go to a rosary making group when I can, it's hard for me to be active in my parish, as I go to an FSSP Latin Mass which doesn't have many activities here in Fort Worth. They are based in Irving, and like I said I can't drive. That said, I wan't to add that I can get pretty jealous of other women who are married as well as those leading normal lives( ie-not mentally challenged. I suppose I feel I hav to defend my single vocation, because the Church seems to forget us a lot. I hope this explains a little.

  • Savia

    Denita,Being single is a vocation too.1658 "We must also remember the great number of single persons who, because of the particular circumstances in which they have to live – often not of their choosing – are especially close to Jesus' heart and therefore deserve the special affection and active solicitude of the Church, especially of pastors. Many remain without a human family often due to conditions of poverty. Some live their situation in the spirit of the Beatitudes, serving God and neighbor in exemplary fashion. The doors of homes, the "domestic churches," and of the great family which is the Church must be open to all of them. "No one is without a family in this world: the Church is a home and family for everyone, especially those who 'labor and are heavy laden.'"

  • Donald Becnel

    Good morning!How are you today?The only line that even slightly "bothered" me, was: "These are dirty, filthy, and demeaning professions."My Pere (my Mom's Dad) felt that ANY honest job brought dignity to any of God's creatures. And he knew that being a good janitor was equal to being a good bank president was equal to being a good carpenter was equal to being a good doctor…I hope that you have a very enjoyable week!Thanks, Donald

  • Anthony Brett Dawe

    I'm with Donald totally.'dirty, demeaning, et al' torqued me the wrong way too…this is just a teeny weeny hint of jean calvin kleinism in the good Padre's words, but hen he also went to Oxford in an even more 'classist' time.bro Daryl will sort him out so not to worry.

  • Fr Longenecker

    The post was meant to be rather hyperbolic, and not to be taken too seriously…

  • BurgoFitzgerald

    I feel for you, Father. I just had about every single one of my second-year English students call Jonathan Swift a "f*****g sicko" and "crazy a** mother f*****" after I let them read "A Modest Proposal." One woman in the class asked me why he didn't get into trouble with the authorities for planning "a massively huge epidemic of eating people." I don't know what would happen to you if I let you be a guest lecturer.

  • Denita

    BTW, Father, I did read Papa John Paul's letter. Thanks for recommending it to me. Sometimes, though, I feel Our Lady is a "tough act to follow". I mean she's so perfect! But she has been more of a Mother to me than mine ever was.

  • Anthony Brett Dawe

    @Fr Longenecker'the best of times, the worst of times'in true 'Benedictine' tone i pray for better times for allnothing will changehe beter until we take it upon ourselves to change itand yes, mea culpa primusdoes go without saying

  • Anthony Brett Dawe

    'change for the better'should readwhacky transmission from these Isles