How can we get beyond the battle of the sexes?

Photo by Juan Marin on Unsplash

How is the war between the sexes treating you? Nice, isn’t it? I enjoy knowing men loathe and fear me because I might decide out of the blue to destroy their lives, and I know my husband really relishes his popularity as a white, Catholic, beer-drinking male with teenage sons. Life in 2018 is good. It is so good.

Folks, this is no way to live. Literally, life cannot continue unless male and female meet and cooperate. Figuratively, life is just too horrible when men cannot trust women and women cannot trust men. And yet this is where we stand, apparently by choice.

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Before the Kavanaugh confirmation, CatholicVote.org put out an astonishing bit of emotional propaganda overtly telling Americans that our fathers, sons, brothers and husbands were in terrible danger of having their lives shredded just because women feel like shredding men’s lives.

Women have reached a similar boiling point of rage and fear, albeit with far, far more cause. One woman wrote in The Washington Post about giving herself over to “30 minutes of from-the-gut yelling” at her husband of 50 years because he made a small “patronizing comment.” She was “screaming...as if he represented every clueless male on the planet” and “announced that I hate all men and wish all men were dead.” She later felt bad, but still expected her husband, who is 70, to go out and fix manhood, in some way.

Life is just too horrible when men cannot trust women and women cannot trust men.

Why don’t we take a moment to catch our breath on this frantic sprint to dehumanize half the human race? This is not some lame attempt at both siderism. I’m simply asking everyone who’s angry to ask sincerely, “How likely is it that I’ll win this war using the tactics I’m using?”

Because this broad brush approach, which pits one entire sex against another and demands utter capitulation, is no way to live. Not only does it offend against justice, it will not work. Fear, panic and demonization do not lead to greater safety. Picture a security guard with hatred and panic bubbling over in his heart and his finger on the trigger. Now stroll past him in the twilight and the mist on some innocent errand. How safe do you feel?

It gets worse and weirder. Conservatives have long argued it is in men’s nature to be strong, protective providers and that adhering to traditional gender roles will lead to peace and happiness. And liberals have always insisted equality, freedom and consent are sacrosanct and that tolerance and the rejection of prejudice will lead to peace and happiness.

Now here is where we stand in 2018: Conservatives teach that men should assume the role of bitter, frightened prey, always scurrying away from the bogeyman of feminism and false accusations. And liberals advocate for a sort of “tolerance-shmolerance” approach, where we gather our slavering young around the fire to teach them the virtue of pre-judging strangers. That scraping sound you hear? That is William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal turning over in their respective graves to gawk at each other in mutual disbelief.

All of us are responsible for all of us, all the time.

But apparently everyone is so afraid of breaking with their ideological group, they just cannot help themselves. The allure of being miserable and frightened all the time is just too strong.

Maybe the way forward is to stop trying to force people to see things our way. People want to cling to their ideologies? Let’s work with them. Let’s begin to enlist both left and right in service of the vulnerable—using the ideological language they already accept.

You hate conservatives? Fine, hate conservatives. Just focus on being kind and generous to the person in front of you, without wondering what his politics are, and you will be a good and tolerant liberal. You despise liberals? Fine, despise liberals. Just focus on being decent and just to the person in front of you, without wondering what her politics are, and you will be a good and strong conservative. I do not care why you protect the weak, just as long as you protect the weak.

Let conservatives be conservatives, and let them push that “real men protect the weak” thing, just so long as that includes any weak person who is not dressed modestly or behaving soberly or speaking genteelly or voting sensibly. (Though it’s probably worth reminding them that women have a grave duty to protect the weak, too.) And let liberals be liberals, and lean really heavily on “protecting everyone’s opportunity to enjoy liberty and self-expression according to their individual desires” thing. (Though it is probably worth reminding them that in hypersexualized situations, women and children always get the short end of the stick).

Call it whatever you like, whatever you need to call it to make sense to whichever group you are speaking to—but really hammer home the idea that we are responsible for each other. All of us are responsible for all of us, all the time. Do this, and we will build community. Do this, and we will strengthen the family. We will be defending the vulnerable. We will be asserting our individuality. We will be pushing everyone’s favorite buttons, without pushing anyone to abandon their precious identity.

If this sounds familiar, it should. It is just simple charity, which means loving our neighbor as ourselves. If you have to tell yourself you do it because it is the way to be a man or because it is the way to defend choice and consent, then go ahead and tell yourself that. We are allowed to choose the lens through which we see the world, as long as it shows us the need to care for the weak.

It is not the answer to everything. But it is something, and right now, I will settle for anything because the way we are living now is no way to live.

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Robin Smith
1 month 3 weeks ago

Great reminders, Simcha. This is how most of us were brought up to be.
Get off the internet & talk with your neighbor!

Martin Ford
1 month 3 weeks ago

Great article!!

Nora Bolcon
1 month 3 weeks ago

This is a truly wrongly hearted article. Our church thru articles like this one, and thru Catholic Women even, teach women when they demand same treatment in society or in church or in culture that they are being feminist - liberal - hypersexual in their critique of this treatment, instead of being just human beings demanding same and fair treatment.

We dehumanize all women when we tell them to cooperate with the belief that sexism is merely conservatism and should just be considered a normal choice for anyone and women should not fight vehemently against it as a matter of self-preservation. We don't tell black men that if they are called negative slang names by whites that they should just understand that there is no need to correct that hideous darkness of heart and sin that their comment is expressing. We don't tell them that they are acting in a liberal or hyper-racially sensitve manner when they are enraged and let us know about it.

Everyone deserves same treatment per Jesus Christ - this is not a liberal idea as this article seems to spout but a Christian one because Jesus is the one who commanded we act this way in order to prove we love God. There does exist right and wrong - not all subjects are grey.

Our church needs to start treating women the same as men because that is the definition of justice and righteousness given to us by Christ in the Gospels.

If being a conservative in the world or U.S. now simply means to be sexist and treat women like they are the weak, and work to prove they are weak by supporting and creating laws that weaken their human rights, then conservative now is synonymous with being sexist and outright misogynistic and all women should make certain that this truth is pointed out. No women ever gain from shutting up about the attacks of men or women against the humanity of women in the world or church. The shutting up of women regarding sexism in our church has led to a patriarchal run church which has historically been and still is extremely abusive of women and its children. A Prime Example of this abuse is the current Synod where no women are given a vote and those who protest this inhumanity are accosted by police wearing bullet proof vests.

This is a truly sad article on how women cooperate and cause sexism to thrive in politics, work, social justice areas like poverty and sexual slavery and in places of ritual and faith. It is very destructive in its shut up and put up recommendations.

Sisters and Brothers when are you going to open your eyes!?

Colin Jory
1 month 3 weeks ago

This article is well-intentioned, but it is set within a feminist suppositional framework which renders its message futile. Simcha supposes that the whole feminist, Marxist-derived ideological narrative of a sex-war with males being a culturally-conditioned oppressing class and females an oppressed victim-class is correct; and her message is that despite this, in most everyday existential, here-how, as-is, concrete situations (don't I sound like Pope Francis?) women should put the narrative temporarily out of mind and treat the males in their lives with condescendingly tolerant benignity. The truth is that the feminist narrative is a gross distortion of reality, and that nobody who accepts it has any chance of recognising what is natural and proper in maleness, femaleness, male-female romantic relationships, marriage, or child-parent relationships. (Yes, Simcha, there are such things as the natural and proper -- not everything is socially constructed!)

Phillip Stone
1 month 3 weeks ago

Good points, Colin.
We have alternative sources of information and insight.
In this twilight of my life I have come across a recourse I can recommend to provide insight into the womanly part of the redemptive work of the Cross, explored deeply during the Stations of the Cross.
It is called the Seven Sorrows Devotion (Dolors) and an online introduction can be found at http://www.themostholyrosary.com/appendix1.htm

There are numerous aspects of both devotions, but I can recommend praying through both while meditating on the central figure Jesus as a male and Mary as a female facing the same momentous process.

Roger Noether
1 month 3 weeks ago

"Simcha supposes that the whole feminist, Marxist-derived ideological narrative of a sex-war with males being a culturally-conditioned oppressing class and females an oppressed victim-class is correct; ..." Wow are you kidding? Have you bothered reading Das Kapital? Have you read the works of Mao Zedong? Have you bothered to study about the position of women in Contemporary China, how about contemporary North Korea? If these are not model "Marxist states" I don't what other examples I could point out. I have been blessed by God to live in the People's Republic of China (PRC) for 3 years, my wife for 10 years (after 20 or more years in the USA). Sorry, I have not had the opportunity to live in North Korea, but rather know about it from interviews a close friend of mine conducts with escapees from there. There is no overt war of the sexes in the PRC it is just endless suppression of women period (please make no mistake I am a male!) . You might want to educate yourself about a Chinese women's group engaging the PRC government to provide more adequate public toilette services for women. You might wish to note their unfortunate treatment at the hands of that regime. Have you counted how many members of China's ruling Politburo are women? How many CEOs of China's leading corporations (all of which are funded by the Communist Party) are women? Please take a look at the people surrounding Kim Jong En (especially as he was negotiating a rapprochement with South Korea) in the published news pictures. How many were women? Before you talk about Marxism and equate it to feminism. I rather suggest you review the documents and histories of two authentic Marxist regimes. Thank you for your attention to this minor detail.

Judith Jordan
1 month 3 weeks ago

Roger Noether, your extraordinary comments are greatly appreciated. I don’t understand why every time people start clamoring for their God given unalienable rights to freedom and equality, someone always accuses them as having derived from Marxism. During the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and the 1960s, individuals who argued against segregation and demanded equality for blacks, were accused of being Communists. People were brutal in their accusations about Dr. King, while actually, he was trying to make us live up to our proclaimed American values.

It is ironical that people accuse those who fight for equality as being Marxist. Why give the Marxists that compliment when we should be giving it to the promises of our Declaration of Independence?

Nora Bolcon
1 month 3 weeks ago

Amen Judith - Dr. King also was trying to make us live up to our proclaimed Christian Values - Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This means all others: Male, Female, Black, Asian, Hispanic, Immigrant, Poor, Rich, etc. No one is excluded by Christ within this commandment - absolutely no one and that means we owe all baptized members in our church same sacramental opportunities too.

Jesus would never back keeping women from ordained priesthood. Jesus called the original 12 Apostles to be judges, not priests, and they had to be Israelite males only. This was for the sole purpose of inheritance, according to the law, in order to incorporate the Body of Abraham into the Body of Christ and vice versa. Ironically, since the 12 apostles fulfilled the law, there was no longer, after them, any need to be male or have the blood of Abraham to become anything in Christ's Church. Ironically, we have so poorly interpreted the purpose of the 12 Apostles, that what was done to free us from any need of future patriarchy became the false reason to continue useless and harmful patriarchy in the church.

Tatiana Durbak
1 month 3 weeks ago

Would it not be possible to write about the need to behave charitably towards one another, without suggesting that we are each at another's throat?
Yes, the blogosphere is rife with shouting and put-downs. But that is no different from what used to happen in the heyday of print media. The difference is that it took time to respond to each other. But the temperatures used to get quite high.
In real life, everyone is not shouting at each other. Pieces like this that insist that it is happening are distorting the truth and making everyone feel even more polarized.

Tatiana Durbak
1 month 3 weeks ago

Would it not be possible to write about the need to behave charitably towards one another, without suggesting that we are each at another's throat?
Yes, the blogosphere is rife with shouting and put-downs. But that is no different from what used to happen in the heyday of print media. The difference is that it took time to respond to each other. But the temperatures used to get quite high.
In real life, everyone is not shouting at each other. Pieces like this that insist that it is happening are distorting the truth and making everyone feel even more polarized.

Phillip Stone
1 month 3 weeks ago

As this is ostensibly a Christian forum I will use all wisdom available.
We are creatures and were made, once did not exist and now do exist and are held in existence by our creator.
Our creator never was not. No beginning in any sort of time, no limitation in any sort of dimensions, the maker of space-time in its entirety and is present to his creation but not contained within it.
OK?
It has been revealed to us that the maker of numbers who pre-exists numbers is both one and three. So, the Judeo-Christian fullness of awareness of the creator is that of being one, and personal and loving. Triune Deity. A singularity and a community of persons.

The absolute genius of Jesus, the Son, is revealed in His making a race of creatures in the image and likeness of God by inventing sex, a race which consisted of persons who exercising free will can know, love and serve amongst themselves living at the same time 'same' and 'different'. The Father is not the Son, nor the Son the Father and they both participate in relationship through the Holy Spirit.

Now, we are informed that there is no taking and being given in marriage in the world to come and at the same time have the mother of Christ reigning as Queen of Heaven. She stays being female.

We are then a divine gift of grace to each other, essential for preparing us to live in eternity in peace, love and joy in service to God.
Who ever told you it was meant to be easy, simple and automatic?
Yours is a North American, 21st century political and psychological problem and if you cared to study widely would reveal itself as arising from materialisms of Marx and Freud.
The male and female difference issue is a divine gift and recourse and we must not try to avoid it.
Courage - go to Matthew 10:34 and keep reading.

Nora Bolcon
1 month 3 weeks ago

Your comment is utter nonsense which neither the Gospels or Genesis or Science supports as correct. Christ said there is no marriage in heaven - as we become like the angels (which have no gender by the way). Jesus told us to treat all others the same period - no exceptions which means men must treat women like they want to be treated as men or people. Sharks, dogs, etc. have sex but there purpose is exactly the same in the world. We don't refuse to use female horses to do all the works they are capable of doing and the same work as male horses in the field because they are the weaker sex. Nature does not support sexism. There are countless forms of natural arrangement of sexuality in the world of animals. We have fish that start off male and become female and vice versa, there are animals that are unisex yet reproduce, there are animals that have both male and female organs and use both or can choose to use one or the other.

Sexism like racism is hatred used to take from people what they should not have taken from them for any logical reason.

A Fielder
1 month 3 weeks ago

This is a frustrating article full of straw person arguments and polarizing and exaggerated stereotypes. The author proposes that it is OK to hate people with opposing viewpoints, as long as we love our neighbor as ourselves. How exactly will anyone benefit from this kind of cryptically divisive advice?

I don't understand why the editors publish her work monthly. Is this part of the advertising agreement with Ave Maria?

JANET VINCENT
1 month 3 weeks ago

The title, War Between the Sexes, reads like the marquee of a low budget film meant to tantalize and entertain. For me, it (and whole hunks of the article) play into that theme. Our society is beginning to raise up what has been mostly unconscious functioning. It’s about power and privilege. Please don’t trivialize.

J Brookbank
1 month 3 weeks ago

Simcha, I am dismayed by your title after reading your essay.
It seems likely, by the content, that you are writing in the aftermath of the Kavanaugh hearings.

That conflict is about the nature of a just process for addressing allegations of sexual assault in all contexts. A just process, grounded in best practice investigations conducted from start to finish by law enforcement, protects everyone, including alleged victim, alleged perpetrator and all community members.

As the crisis in the RCC has taught us, victims are just as easily men and boys. Perpetrators are not identified by gender but by assaultive actions against their victims. Thus, women can be and ARE perpetrators of sexual assault. This is not about "the sexes". This is about justice and care for all.

By framing in this way your very necessary reminder that person-to-person encounter is what Jesus calls to, you participate in and perpetuate this deflection of the real issue.

Justice "requires utter capitulation to facts" revealed by a best practice investigation conducted from start to finish by law enforcement, not capitulation to "one gender or the other".

I am disappointed in what feels like intellectual dishonesty from a woman who I respect, though I disagree often with you. This is different from disagreement. I am disappointed in you.

And I want to be clear: my closest friend, my best friend, my most constant companion is a conservative Republican. I am a progressive Democrat. We have the person-to-person encounter down.

But we do require intellectual honesty of each other.

I am disappointed in you, Simcha. Your title suggests you reject the "battle of the sexes" but you then choose not to engage the non-gendered issue: the right of all --- alleged victim and alleged perpetrator and the community --- to the true facts, which can only be derived through a best practice investigation conducted from start to finish by law enforcement.

America Magazine's Editors understood this. The state of the RCC should make that clear to you also.

When news began to break about the clerical abuse crisis, if Catholic advocates had focused only on respectful person-to-person encounters with Catholics who "saw it another way" in that they refused to believe clerical sexual abuse was possible in epidemic proportions -- as opposed to demanding a focus on the systemic conditions and factors that led to thousands of individual and specific and discrete acts of abuse against individual and specific and unique victims when news broke of all the assaults in the Church ---- we would be politely agreeing to disagree and we would not be where we are today in the RCC.

Which is NOT a place of "peace and happiness".

It is, however, a place where allegations of violence and betrayal are addressed, investigated and resolved as fully as humanly possible using the best and most credible tools and processes. That is a painful process for all involved ........and there is near universal consensus in the RCC and the broader community that this approach is both essential and worthwhile.

As a consequence of justice advocates' refusal to "play nice" with those who "saw it another way", the RCC is increasingly a safe place when it comes to sexual assault.

Those difficult, argumentative, unwavering, shout-it-to-the-rooftop, pound-on-the-door Catholics started the groundswell of reform that is making the RCC a safe place for you to raise those ten kids of yours, Simcha.

Would you deny the rest of society that safety?

PS

If your words "care for the weak" is a reference to caring for sexual assault victims, you have confused "weakness" with "vulnerable to persons who abuse power" and, thus, you would have overlooked the reality that EVERY human being is "vulnerable to persons who abuse power". And that latter reality tends to scare the daylights out of a lot of us, making it important --- consciously or not --- to dissociate ourselves from those who HAVE been victimized. It is wildly unChristian. And just as Catholic victims discovered and demonstrated their strength, victims in non-RCC settings are discovering and demonstrating their strength and will not be shamed into believing that conflicts with the person-to-person encounters to which Jesus calls us.

Ellen B
1 month 3 weeks ago

I'm not quite sure what to make of this opinion piece. I think much of the "outrage" is generated by those with something to gain if people are "outraged" - not by an actual "battle of the sexes". And those people can be easily identified by their willingness to demonize anyone who doesn't agree with them (calling others Nazi, Racist, Communist, Socialist, Lib-tard, etc.) In general, they usually stick to on-line comments. The other group are those who know they have done wrong and are now wondering if they will be revealed.

I've appreciated the recent articles in the Washington Post & NY Times where men voluntarily told their stories of participating in/ allowing things to happen to women that they have carried the guilt for in the years since. It's better to acknowledge that it's not a rarity, that things are said or done to women all the time & to acknowledge the sense of guilt and fear its left with the person who did wrong. That's human. That also shows contrition for having hurt someone else.

As for the statement in the article that women might now worry if they meet a security guard with a gun at twilight in the mist? I (& most of the women I know) have been worried walking by that lone man in the twilight for decades. We know someone who did not fare well walking by a lone man at twilight. I only wonder how the author avoided it for so long.

Crystal Watson
1 month 3 weeks ago

Many women are sexually harassed and many are assaulted. That's not an opinion - there are statistics. The number of men wrongly accused is much lower. That doesn't mean that all men are potential attackers. I was really encouraged to see the male Democrats on the Judiciary committee stand up for Dr. Ford and other victims of assault. If only the Catholic church would stop teaching complementarianism and contempt for women's equality - no big surprise that Kavanaugh is a conservative Catholic.

Molly Roach
1 month 3 weeks ago

This does not describe every day life as I live and experience it. Sure there's tension between men and women. But I'm not at anyone's throat nor is anyone at mine. This article seems to mistake all of the noise in the media and on line for life as it is lived.

Crystal Watson
1 month 3 weeks ago

I think Molly's right. I haven't noticed any increased tensions between men and women. It's just that now women feel more able to speak up about abuse, and conservatives hate that things are changing.

Frank Pray
1 month 2 weeks ago

Politics is a toxic crust that conform over the core dignity of each person. Looking past the crust may be the answer. Frankly, most people I know have change their politics at least three times over the course of their lives. I’m off an amused at how some radical liberal became an orange conservative, or vice versa. it is a pair of the whatever makes us valuable as human beings has something to do with values deeper than politics.

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