Sunday, June 19, 2011

Maureen Dowd on Dolan v. Cuomo: "Gay Sera,Sera"

Maureen Dowd's op-ed piece in today's New York Times on Mr. Timothy Dolan's battle with Gov. Andrew Cuomo--"Gay Sera, Sera"--is going to raise the hackles of all the centrist media powerbrokers who continue, even now!, to make one apology after another for the sorry men leading their Catholic church.  And, can we talk?, the primary reason those centrist media powerbrokers and the men they're defending get such vapors when Dowd opens her mouth again is that she's a woman.

A mouthy woman.  A woman who dares to say what many other people see and think, but often lack the courage to say themselves.  A woman who, like Catholic theologian Mary Hunt, dares to say that the emperor and his theology have no clothes. 

What I find so refreshing in Hunt's theological analysis--and in her recent statement about Mr. Dolan's latest logic-bare blast against the gays--is that she speaks the truth with refreshing, unvarnished clarity, saying what many of us see but don't find the words to say.  Speaking the truth from where she stands as a woman in a heavily patriarchal Catholic system.  From all she has seen and learned over the years as a woman theologian in an overweeningly (pretend-) heterosexist male Catholic power structure.

And so when Hunt dares to turn the misogynistic argument used for millennia against outspoken and powerful women in the Catholic context on its head, when she uses it against the resplendently naked old boys of the Catholic church like Timothy Dolan, I prick up my ears.  When she writes that Dolan's latest threadbare argument vs. the gays is "high-strung" and that "'please, not here,' he squeals several times," I listen intently.

Since this is precisely the rhetorical tactic the old boys have used for ages against women and the gay men they envisage as feminine, to undercut the authority of our insights and of the hard-earned truths we try to tell about how power functions in heterosexist, male-dominated institutions like the Catholic church.  Hysteria, they shout.  Laden with emotion.  Has taken leave of logic.  Doing what women always do--succumbing to their feelings.

Dolan's illogical outburst against the gays is "high-strung" and he "squeals" as he clutches his pearls and gets the vapors over the possibility of gay marriage coming near him: I love it.  I love seeing the tables turned and a modicum of justice being done, for a change, in a world in which only one set of people has ever owned the right to use these kinds of rhetorical strategies, while the set of people against whom the big boys have employed these tactics has had only the right to be objectified and turned into powerless victims.

Just as I love it when Mary Hunt writes, 

Fortunately, we live in a society where citizens like Mr. Dolan are entitled to their opinions, however spurious their claims may be. 

Mr. Dolan, indeed: you can be assured that more than one monsignor choked as he sucked on his cigar last week and read that line while the woman who cooks and cleans for him brought him his postprandial brandy and coffee.

As the same set of folks, along with their centrist media apologists, will be choking and spluttering today today when they read Dowd's column.  Whose opening sentences alone will cause monsignorial and episcopal blood pressures to skyrocket across the land as the men of God open their papers today:

With his cigars, blogs, Jameson’s and Irish affability, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan prides himself on his gumption.

Certainly his effort to kill the gay marriage bill, just one vote away from passing in Albany, shows a lot of gall.

The archbishop has been ferocious in fighting against marriage between same-sex couples, painting it as a perversity against nature.

If only his church had been as ferocious in fighting against the true perversity against nature: the unending horror of pedophile priests and the children who trusted them.

Read the article, and see where Dowd takes it from there.  You won't be disappointed.  Not if you enjoy--as Aristotle told us we're hardwired to do--seeing high and mighty men whose pretensions to morality don't match their real behavior get just a tiny dose of the medicine they've dished out to powerless others for far too long.

P.S. It's just fascinating to me that some of the centrist powerbrokers making apologies for the bishops want to keep blaming the New York Times for giving the Catholic church a black eye--as a high-profile figure of that ilk (who's also persistently gay-disdaining) does in this Commonweal thread.  Can they still not see that it's Dolan and the bishops who are churning out the bad news for the church?  Not the Times.

The graphic is from results of a study done by the Public Religion Research Institute and Religion News Service in October 2010.   More than two-thirds of Americans see a connection between anti-gay messages of religious groups and gay teen suicide.  Fewer than one American in five gives high marks to religious groups for dealing with LGBT persons.

No comments: