Monday, May 26, 2014

Quote for Day: Alan McCornick on Bowtie Controversy at San Francisco Catholic School — "Powerful Men, All. But Maybe Not All That Powerful"

Alan McCornick at Hepzibah, commenting on the recent controversy at San Francisco's Sacred Heart Prep School, where student Jessica Urbina chose to wear a tux and bowtie in her senior picture — to the consternation of school officials: 

Powerful men, all.   But maybe not all that powerful, if a group of schoolgirls wearing neckties can turn around a Catholic high school’s policy of not including a girl dressed as a boy in its annual yearbook.  
Slowly but surely the world comes around to recognizing the harms that can be inflicted on ordinary people by would-be do-gooders working in the name of “tradition.”  It has taken centuries to raise the consciousness of white people about the evils of white supremacist notions.  Centuries to move women out from under patriarchal beliefs in the inherent right of men to rule over women, beliefs still espoused by official Catholicism.   Centuries to recognize that anti-Semitism lay not only in tribal notions of us and them, but in Christian organizations using the writings of leaders such as Martin Luther and the Scriptures themselves to justify brutality and exclusion.  And centuries to recognize that same-sex attraction is not a moral evil, but a variation on human sexuality, a reality still being fought tooth and nail by the official Roman Catholic church hierarchy.

As Alan notes, when other female students wore bow ties to protest the decision of the school to yank Jessica Urbina's yearbook photo, the school then backed down and apologized to her. As Bob Shine points out at Bondings 2.0, the Catholic community still needs to address the question of why these things keep happening: how have we worked ourselves into such a strange lather that the way a young woman chooses to dress in a high-school picture becomes tantamount to a doctrinal issue?

And how do Catholics expect their moral teachings to be taken seriously when those teachings are presented in such an irrational, fragmentary, off-center way, with such an apparent compulsion of Catholic pastoral leaders to bash women who refuse to accept traditional gender roles, and to treat LGBTI people as cannon fodder for their culture wars?

The photo of Jessica Urbina is from the Twitter feed of her brother Michael.

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