Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tracy Clark-Flory on Gender Issues: Catholic Right Continues to Attack Contraception, "Mad Men" and the Latest "Menaissance"

Finally today, a great round-up of recent news clips about discussions of gender issues, by Tracy Clark-Flory at Salon.  I’m especially intrigued by the article to which Clark-Flory links at, discussing whether a marriage consummated by partners (one sacramentally married male and one sacramentally married female, bien entendu) using artificial contraception is valid.  Is even consummated at all.

In the vein of “Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You,” E. Christian Brugger of the Culture of Life Foundation provides the answer.  Which is, in short, “No, silly!  A marriage consummated with contraception can’t be valid or even truly consummated.

Because I say so.  Because the pope says so.”

That’s what the Catholic right is saying, at least, and what it intends to keep saying.  Whether anyone is listening is another question altogether—particularly the women whom this position wants to put back into the posture of child-bearing machines to combat the end-times threat of Islamic hordes now presumed to be taking over Europe as families throughout the developed nations limit their size.  And as women refuse to be returned to the status of child-breeding contraptions with no control over their biological destinies and their futures.

Because, as Colleen Kochivar-Baker brilliantly explains in a recent posting about this take-Christendom-back-from-Muslims demographic argument, that’s what this rhetoric is really all about, in the final analysis.  It’s about putting women back into their places and decisively keeping them there.

As this retrogressive attempt to stem the tide of women’s rights around the globe plays out wherever the religious right can gain traction, we’re also seeing—as Clark-Flory notes—signs of yet another “menaissance” in Western culture.  Of yet another a retrieval of poor tattered and bedraggled masculinity, in an era in which women are purported to be walking all over men in the educational system and work world.

As the two articles (here and here) on this theme to which Clark-Flory links argue, this perennially recurring theme of embattled masculinity fuels the “Mad Men” craze.

And I’m happy to find that I’m not the only commentator who sees our infatuation with that series as a half-guilty secret infatuation with a notion of manhood that we keep wanting to imagine our culture is losing at its peril—even as we count its steep cost to our humanity over the years.

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