Equal not Exactly the Same

02-03-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

Anything you can do
I can do better.
I can do anything
Better than you

— From "Annie Get Your Gun"

The New England Journal of Medicine recently reported that since women now smoke like men they have lung cancer rates the same as men. This is what gender equality is all about, right? I know that I am hopelessly out of touch with the present day view of gender roles but I guess this is the logical next stop on the march toward gender equality. The underlying rationale of gender equality is that women must take on the roles of men in order to be equal. That in itself suggests that women are intrinsically unequal. 'Only by imitating a man can a woman really be a woman' is the message our young girls are being taught.

Case in point the Pentagon lifted the ban on women serving in combat roles. Somehow this does not seem like an advance in gender equality. In fact it is an act of cowardice by wimpish men who are willing to sacrifice our women, daughters and sisters on the battlefield instead of insisting on their solemn obligation as men to take up their responsibility to keep safe and defend the welfare of women and children. This is not mere sentiment but wisdom garnered from human experiences across societies and cultures.

Ironically this probably will not lead to greater equality just more violence against women. Because of legalized abortion, the cohort of 14-17yr olds born after Roe v Wade is much more likely to commit homicide then those prior to 1973 so I wonder how much more violent will the generation of women be after women start coming home from fighting battles. Sometimes when we mess with gender roles, which are not mere societal conditioning, there are all sorts of unintended consequences. Often things are the way they are for a reason and that reason usually has a rational basis. Over time societies have learned something and in this case that something is that women are not sent into battle.

Right now the Pentagon says this is a "choice" for women who choose to go to serve in combat roles. But you can be sure this will soon become a requirement since different standards for men and women is Gender Equality heresy. So our daughters at eighteen will eventually have to register with the Selective Service and if there is ever a Draft again they will be drafted. Unless of course you happen to be the daughter of one of the rich and powerful. Somehow I think Sasha and Malia Obama or the Bush twins won't be on the frontlines.

These types of policy changes usually come from the ruling elite who in this case would never send their daughter or wife into combat. But little do they care, as this is just another example of the poor and uninfluential bearing the brunt of an "enlightened, egalitarian" society. The poor are certainly useful.

This is not a question of talent or ability. I am sure women can be good soldiers like men and can and do play important roles in the Military. That is not the issue. The issue is placing women in combat. There are practicalities that are difficult to overcome. For instance since we have admitted women to the Armed Forces the military spends more and more funds and time investigating and adjudicating sexual assaults, rapes and sexual harassment claims. More recently the US Congress OK'd Military Hospitals to perform abortions because, guess what, when men and women are together in close quarters… Also since the revocation of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" the numbers of complaints of same-sex harassment and discrimination have sky rocketed. Seems not to be the stuff we want to take up the time of our Military leaders.

Sex and pregnancy are only two of the many challenges arising from this policy change. I'm sure a woman can pull a trigger like a man but there is lots more to life on the battlefield and there is no specificity to the General Orders. How did we get here? Is this history progressing to its fulfillment or is something else going on here?

One of the hallmarks of our postmodern age is a resurgence of the old heresy of Gnosticism, which at its core denies that redemption has anything to do with the material and historical. The human body is a prison the soul must be freed from and has no intrinsic worth and therefore is not a vehicle to achieve that which is good. Its contemporary form is seen in the insistence that there are no givens in human nature, nothing fixed and that there is plasticity to our physicality. Hence everything is malleable and can be changed to fit our ends. So things like gender, marriage and the Family can be whatever we want them to be as long as they fulfill the requirement that everyone is equal and exactly the same.

The heresies of the first five centuries of Christianity have a way of reappearing through the centuries. The early Church clearly identified them, which was cause for the Church to articulate the orthodox or correct-thinking position. Once we deviate from the orthodox teachings of the Church we see culture derailed and human solidarity weakened. We need to recover a correct understanding of human nature and that it is directed to certain ends in order for human fulfillment to be possible. These ends or purposes can be known by human reason. But if the ends are whatever we make up or want them to be then technique and utility supplant truth. Once truth is supplanted then so is love. We then arrive at the cold, controlled, loveless technocracy of Orwell's "1984".

Fr. John B.