Some commenters on this blog are upset about my insensitivity towards transgenderism. I was beginning to feel bad about it but then I read this very good review of the latest GQ issue, and then I also ran into one of the articles, here, and I stopped feeling very guilty. The thing that I love best in the world today is Rod Dreher calling whatever it is that Pharrell Williams is wearing a Sleeping Bag. Amen.
I have to go start my school day and cook food and all the stuff that is allotted to my proper sphere—I’m listening IFB twitter, I’m listening—but I just wanted to say something obvious, and probably offensive.
A year ago, I would not have touched the term ‘feminist’ in any kind of personal way with a hundred foot pole. Feminism has told so many lies over a half century, at least. Lies like getting rid of the baby will make you happy. Lies like muscling in and doing the work of a man only better than he ever would will make you respected. Lies like follow your heart. But honestly, those can’t all be laid at the door of feminism. Everyone in the West is following their collective heart straight down the broad gently sloping road that leads to eternal distruction.
But now? As the ‘T’ in LGBT blows everything to smitherens? I’m turning into a first wave feminist. I am very happy to leap onto the internet and affirm that women are human and should be regarded with dignity and honor. That they should be allowed to go to college and stuff. That they should be allowed to be who they are, without the oppressive constrictions of superficially and thoughtlessly derived cultural expectations.
What, do the men have to have everything? Even femininity? They can’t be satisfied with their own wardrobes and jobs and quoth manly pursuits? Must they take the gorgeous dresses, make-up, hair, mannerisms? Will they have it all, leaving weaker, smaller, less flamboyant actual women with the left over scraps of autumn dungarees and tucked in sweaters?I mean, I know, I get it. In many cases, including the one I linked, it is women who are apparently tired of having to live in a man’s world who think it will be helpful if they can get some of the men to be more like them, because the men are so dangerous and everything, and peaceful women are the peace makers who will bring about peace on earth. Which idea, I would like to point out, is just absolute, unmitigated drivel. My advice to them would be to stop it.
It’s hard for me to be lectured about anything by people who want everyone to look the same, to act the same, to flatten out the curious range of gendered expression on both sides of the human equation and make it all about shoes and power. The people shouting about women staying in the kitchen with their long hair are about as nuanced and interesting as the people at GQ shouting about men learning to be more womanly. As if it’s the external expression that makes the gendered person.
One of the things about Christianity that I think we should bring back for such a time is this is that you can sidle up to a deeply mysterious and profound truth,
-like Jesus being at the same time fully God and fully man,
-like, God being both three and one,
-like, the uncomfortable knowledge that the Kingdom of God is already here and yet the kingdom of this world is also the one in which we live and move and have our being,
-like the strange mystery of God’s sovereignty and humanity’s choices,
and you can say a certain number of things, but then you have to fall silent before their beauty, symmetry, and truth. Because when you insist on explaining every theological verity to your own complete satisfaction, you commit heresy. We, all of us, are constantly invited to hold two things together that seem impossible, letting go of neither one, insisting on both, and yet not, in a human sense, understanding how they come together.
Men and Women, I would argue, fall into that category. We can say a lot about gender and sex and the way that men and women should be, but at some point we should fall silent. We are created by God in his own image. We are both the same and yet very very different. God wants us to live in a certain kind of order without letting go of the ground of our created ontology. How does that work out? When you begin to explain it all the way, you ruin it. You end up making something ugly. You end up hurting people one way or another.