Call me sheltered, but I had no idea what the pink hats at the American "Women's March" meant until I read Kathy Shaidles' mocking piece in Taki's Magazine. (Trigger warning: if you're even the slightest nudge to the left, you will hate Taki Mag, and the combox is a sewer.)
How can women be so upset by the crudity of the American President's 2005 locker-room comments and then celebrate it?
I have looked up the context of Trump's remark, and it wasn't a confession: it was a conversation about how [some] women relate to male celebrities.
What struck me is that in his gossipy anecdote, Trump repeated that the woman under discussion was married, and yet she let him take her furniture shopping. He admitted that he did not get as far as he wanted with her, but continued on to marvel at how far [some] women will let a man go. "And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Whatever you want. You can grab them..." We know the rest. We don't know that he ever actually did that, or if he did it to anyone who didn't think it a fair exchange for a suite of furniture or whatever.
For those of you who have seen Sex & the City, I am reminded of the otherwise level-headed Charlotte's bizarre behaviour when she meets a movie star. And I have not been entirely immune to the glamour of FAMOUS PEOPLE. In my youth I worked in a sandwich shop and when a famous Canadian comedian walked in, my hands shook as I made his sandwich. For some completely irrational reason, I was overwhelmed by the presence of Bruce McCulloch. (Nota bene: All Bruce wanted was a sandwich, and if he had as much as asked for my phone number I would have thrown up from nerves.) On the other hand, after another Canadian celebrity saw my smile and nod (I vaguely and wrongly recalled meeting him somewhere) and he gave me a saucy wink and a megawatt smile in return, I saw his face on a poster, realized who he was and felt vaguely annoyed.
But quite apart from star-befuddlement, there are women who put themselves up for sale to celebrities and merely rich men, and that's just the way it is. It is fashionable to judge these women, or pretend they don't exist, but for all I know it is as natural to female humans who don't believe in chastity as it is to female penguins to cheat on their mates for the price of a few stones. I am not sure which is worse, allowing a man to maul you because you lust after him or allowing a man to maul you because he has bought you a living-room suite. The two justifications aren't mutually exclusive, of course.
Was it in high-school that I bumped into an acquaintance whose adult boyfriend had sent her to the mall with his credit card and permission to spend? I was shocked, mortified and worried for this teenage girl, but she seemed perfectly sanguine about it. What is the difference between a "relationship" and what Georgette Heyer calls "elegant prostitution"? Frankly, I think it's whether or not the chap is willing to introduce the girl to his mother, just like in the bad old days.
But my subject is not Trump--whose can-ya-believe-it wonderment about what women will allow celebrities makes him sound like a bumpkin or an overgrown teenage boy--but a vision of womanhood which does not include crude shouting about reproductive organs or wearing symbols of them as hats.
There are two documents to guide us in fashioning--or being true to--an authentic, life-affirming femininity: Mulieris Dignitatem by Saint John Paul II and Woman by Saint Edith Stein. The latter greatly inspired the former, and her respect for femininity is incredibly liberating in that we have been taught to be ashamed of what comes naturally to so many women: a preference to serve, to put oneself second, to support men rather than to lead them. Oh, how shocking, but oh, how true for so many women.
It can be difficult to be true to Saint Edith's teachings. Mea culpa. When a girl tells me she wants to be a nurse, I say "Why not a doctor?" as if being a nurse were second-rate instead of an entirely different profession with its own dignity. (To be honest, though, I wouldn't do this in the USA, where nurses are paid much better than they are in Canada or the United Kingdom.) I really shouldn't do that (and I should have such a useful profession).
On the other hand, it is not so difficult to question man-bashing on Facebook. A woman I know who has been very unhappy in her relationships with men posted a page taken from a 1950s home economics textbook on how a wife should treat her husband when he comes home from work. She held this up for mockery, as the provider of this page clearly expected her to do.
But all the suggestions were quite nice and even insightful. They included such things as a quick final tidy of the house, making sure the children are presentable, taking a bit of care with one's own appearance, offering the chap a drink of something when he gets home, asking him how is day was instead of complaining about your own, and suggesting he take a seat or have a lie-down. Okay, taking off his shoes was a bit much, I admit. But those other things seemed to me possible and kindly. The obvious intent behind them was to make the working-outside-the-home spouse look forward to going home and feeling grateful to his wife for making it so hospitable. After all, we do all those things for guests.
I wrote something like that on Facebook, and my poor acquaintance argued along the lines of how difficult all those things were and why should the woman have to and her day is hard, too, etc. And indeed I do know young mothers with small children who literally do not have five minutes of freedom to tidy their hair, never mind their sitting-room. I am not sure why they don't stuff all the children in a playpen or lock them in a padded room for the critical hour. Perhaps they are too kindhearted or too tired to think of it.
I also seem to recall that my father came home to a tidy house, dinner in the oven and small children yelling "Daddy's home!" Of course, my mother always did her best to give us the impression that she thought our father was a semi-divine being. Going to great lengths to make the house and children nice for a man you utterly despise must be extremely difficult.
Well, I do not have children, so I really cannot judge how difficult it is to control their destructive ways and keep their clothes on for their fathers' evening appearances. However, I am married, so I have a pretty good grasp of male psychology, and treating your husband with daily loving-kindness, made manifest partly by providing a pleasant place to sit, the offer of a cuppa, and a listening ear is a really good idea. I am proficient at the listening ear stuff, but I could improve on the housework and the offer of a cuppa, so I will work on that.
Another thing I recommend is to ponder one's own good luck in having such a good husband. I hope all my married readers have good husbands. No doubt it is hard to ponder the excellence of a husband when yours doesn't have any. (But if he doesn't, why on earth did you marry him?) I had a birthday recently, and so I had ample opportunity to appreciate B.A. He bought me a mug and a bracelet, took me out for lunch and then fell in with my suggestion we go to a very girly bar for a cocktail. Naturally I told him how extremely splendid he is and how lucky I am. Even the best husband needs to hear that. And, frankly, I think that is more important than that last-minute tidy.
It's important to children, too. Until my dying day, I will remember my mother saying things like "Oh, children, what a clever and kindly father you have!" Years of propaganda convinced me that I am descended from greatness.
Nota Bene: Of course, B.A. did not come by this woman-like respect for birthdays naturally. Men are not women, so it is really important to tell them early on what feasts and festivals are of crucial importance to us. It is also important to be honest about which presents you love and which presents are kind of....although you probably should delay your reaction to the disappointing present until much later, e.g. when he asks you what you want for Christmas. Then you can say, "I most definitely do NOT want a clock shaped like a dog."