"Any woman who chooses to behave like a full human being should be warned that the armies of the status quo will treat her as something of a dirty joke. That's their natural and first weapon." ~ Gloria Steinem

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

On Heresy in the 16th Century

From The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir (emphasis mine):
To Henry, and men like him, heresy was a poison that threatened the very foundations of the superstructure of Church and State as one body politic. It encouraged disaffection among the lower classes, challenged the divinely appointed order of things, and -- worst of all -- meant eternal damnation for those who succumbed to its lure. In sum, it represented every evil that could be manifested in a well-ordered world, and must therefore be eradicated.
In the 16th century, we had religious heresy threatening the foundations of society.  In the 21st, we have feminism*.

It's always something, isn't it?

*I began a search for something blaming feminism for the downfall of society, in order to quote it, but I couldn't take reading anything long enough to find a pertinent quote. Google it. It's not hard to find something.

Monday, April 23, 2012

On 16th-Century Sexual Gender Roles

I'm currently reading The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir. I'm reading it because I'm a nerd and I love Tudor history.

Let's be honest: I also have a crush on Henry VIII. I would have 'succumbed' to his 'charms' and immediately 'relinquished' my 'virtue' had I been present in his court--rather like Mary Boleyn, actually. I could never have behaved as Anne Boleyn did.

Anyway. The book is brilliant, as per usual for Alison Weir, and also relevant to our times (is history ever not relevant to our times?).

Julian Norman, in Ched Evans conviction: the vitriol after the verdict, discusses rape culture in the context of rampant victim-blaming surrounding a case in which the rapist was convicted, no less:
Part of it can be found in a hypersexualised masculinity which dictates that "real" men are permanently, gaggingly up for it and that it is for the woman to keep her virtue intact.
Is there anyone who will still deny the truth of this statement?

The trouble is, nobody will admit it in these terms. And the terms are important, because they are reflective of the 16th century.

When husbands were unfaithful to their wives in the 16th century, as Henry VIII was, for example, the wives were expected to look the other way; it was just what men did, of course! Queen Katherine, when Henry takes mistresses, he doesn't mean any slight against you, he just can't contain his virile masculinity.

On the other hand, Mary Boleyn, if only you'd been as strong as your sister you could have resisted his virile masculinity; you gave up your virtue too easily and every nobleman in Europe has now had a chance to "ride" you. Shame on you.

Is this really where we are--still? Stuck in the 16th century?

Friday, April 20, 2012

On Catholic Fantasy Novels: Part II

[Part I]

Why are these novels terrifying? Well.

There's a point to be made about the daydream quality of these books; they're essentially to Bud Macfarlane, Jr. what Twilight is to Stephenie Meyer--by which I mean, of course, that he wrote the books about the kind of magical Catholic world he must lie awake at night pondering and yearning for.

A world in which, when Y2k crashes society and everything is reset, all the gays and Muslims and atheists and Democrats and feminists etc. either die in the first wave after the crash or see the error of their ways and become god-fearing Catholics or never existed at all.

A world in which, when God stops time and reveals committed sins to each individual in a personal but world-wide Judgement, the people who refuse to accept God's love and forgiveness kill each other rapidly, leaving the saintly to form a Catholic society in which everyone has a farm* and stops in the fields to pray the Angelus when the church bells ring at noon, and everyone does not include gays or Muslims or atheists or Democrats or feminists etc., because either they died or repented or never existed at all.

My point, it is this: I am creeped out by Mr. Macfarlane's picture of a perfect world, because there is no place for me in it.

I don't care what perfect world Catholics dream about--so long as it's on their own time, and not steadfastly creeping its way into the laws of my country.

Did you get that? It is also MY country.

There is no place for me in Catholic Paradise, and it would appear, when considering certain laws recently passed, that it is preferable for me to actually cease living rather than find myself out of place in a Catholic Paradise.

Do I need to clarify that I strongly disagree?

*Bud Macfarlane, Jr., appears to absolutely despise technology. The downfall of society, simpler times, all of that--I guess.

On Catholic Fantasy Novels: I'm Not One of These People Anymore

I am in possession of one of the most terrifying books on the planet. [i explain why it is terrifying in Part II. this got long.]

Hyperbole? Probably. What's a blog post without a little hyperbole? [seriously. this is the internet, after all.]

The book is the last of three by the same author; the first book in the series is likely the #1 Most Terrifying Book on the Planet, but this is not about that book, because I didn't just read that one, and I did just read the third one.

The book is House of Gold by Bud Macfarlane, Jr. The guy writes Catholic fantasy novels re: the end of the world as we know it, essentially, and this particular one includes Y2k as the central plot device. I'm not going to mock him for writing in 1999 what a lot of people were thinking in 1999, so don't think this is a run-down of Y2k and why it turned out to be barely anything at all, because this is 2012 and we all know that already.

The book is, as you might expect, full of misogyny, racism, and Christian supremacy. This is also not a run-down of those things, because 1) unpacking the entire book would take a while, and I have a life, and 2) who fucking cares.

I also found several glaring errors one would not expect in a published and therefore presumably copy-edited work; one was a plot inconsistency involving a character knowing a thing he couldn't possibly have known under the circumstances, said thing being known by said character only somewhat necessary to move the plot along, and therefore unclear as to why error occurred. Another revealed the author's apparently dubious knowledge of non-computerized objects in relation to a computer bug--namely, the assumption that said objects would cease to function after the grid collapsed despite functioning in a primarily chemical and biological manner*.

BUT. None of that is the reason for this post.

I first read this book around 2002 or so, when I was still into Jesus and being Catholic and all of that. Reading it now, I am struck by how perfectly it illustrates my reasons for abandoning Catholicism. And so read on, if you care to know those reasons.

1. As a woman, I'm clearly not a woman at all, but a girl.

The author continually refers to a primary character as a "smart girl".

The woman is in her late 30s and has survived societal upheaval, killer flu, and gun-wielding marauders; she later keeps herself and a baby that isn't hers alive in the middle of the forest without any help whatsoever. And let's not forget the decades of longing for the fertility her god denied her [for no practical reason apart from "suffering"--except perhaps to instill in her a starved maternal instinct that will latch onto Baby Grace when her mother dies, in order to keep the baby alive until her father shows up to start the Buzz-loves-Ellie line of asshats.], and the way she stayed faithful to her god and husband and son through it all, rather like Job, amirite? One might think she's a strong, resilient woman, perhaps?

Nope!--she is just a girl. Her 10-year-old son becomes a heroic man in an instant, by needlessly throwing himself in front of a gun to save the mother he should have been with all along, had he not stopped to put on his goddamn pants. His mother is just a smart girl.

What does a Catholic female have to do in order to be considered a woman?

2.  Free will, or lack thereof.

Speaking of Baby Grace, she exists only to further god's grand scheme. She is a tool used to murder her mother and coerce her father into falling in love with his best friend's widow--and is then neatly disposed of via the killer [and probably painful] flu once god's objectives are achieved and her half-Mel life needs to go away so babies can be made that are half-Buzz and half-Ellie.

The child exists despite her parents' rational and prudent decision to avoid pregnancy during total societal collapse, a goal they attempted to achieve through the Catholic-approved method of Natural Family Planning. But she came anyway. Because god doesn't give a shit about your prudence and/or desire to live through societal upheaval and/or not bring a baby into the world during societal upheaval because FUTURE BABIES MUST BE MADE.

Baby Grace dies as a toddler, for NO REASON. She is brought into the world in a terrible time and taken away from it in a terrible way in order to serve god's purposes. This is a loving god? This is a god who ostensibly cares about me and wants me to be happy or shit like that? A god who would create me for a specific reason, then kill me when he was done? Really?

I can't even.

Stay tuned for Part II, in which I (more succinctly) explain why these books are terrifying!

*This one bugs me enough to further explain, so I will. After the collapse, two characters are hiking from Ohio to New Hampshire, and one of them says the other how the collapse is the answer to the prayers of pro-lifers worldwide, because (paraphrase) "400,000 abortions were performed every year before the collapse, with countless more lives lost to the Pill and the IUD. When the mainframe went down, that all immediately stopped." Yes, abortions performed in clinics would indeed cease under the circumstances, but, ignoring the faulty assumption that the Pill and the IUD cause "countless abortions" (ProTip: it's not generally how they work), the collapse of the grid would in no way cause, for example, a chunk of copper floating in my uterus to stop doing its job. It doesn't have a computer chip in it; it has no moving parts; it's not a fucking abortion machine. It's a hunk of copper. It's going to keep working whether the lights are on or not. Sorry, Bud.