Carrie Gress: To renew culture and restore families, women must embrace again the beautiful order that comes from valuing true, honest, and strong men.
Five decades ago, radical feminist Kate Millett and her eleven friends in New York City recited a type of litany, a feminist manifesto of sorts, that has proven to be remarkably effective:
“Why are we here today?” the chairwoman asked.
“To make revolution,” they answered.
“What kind of revolution?”
“The Cultural Revolution.”
“And how do we make Cultural Revolution?”
“By destroying the American family!”
“How do we destroy the family?”
“By destroying the American Patriarch.”
“And how do we destroy the American Patriarch?”
“By taking away his power!”
“How do we do that?”
“By destroying monogamy!”
“How can we destroy monogamy?”
“By promoting promiscuity, eroticism, prostitution, abortion, and homosexuality!”
I’ve always been struck by the last line. Did those 12 women ever dream that their tiny effort would be so wildly successful? We witness their success daily, from half-time shows to celebrities insisting their careers and awards are more important than their children, from royal tantrums even to the tragic gender confusion foisted upon children.
Recently, several female friends, old and new, gathered in a Virginia restaurant to celebrate the pending arrival of my fifth child. After opening gifts, I asked this remarkable group of souls if they would humor me.
Since writing The Anti-Mary Exposed, I have wanted to gather a group of women for a special purpose. Would they be willing to say with me a prayer to reclaim all that has been destroyed by radical feminism? Would they be willing to try to reverse the astronomical damage that had been unleashed through feminist ideology?
Although I didn’t plan it, there were exactly 12 women present, the same symbolic number of Millett’s anti-apostles, who had gathered five decades ago, intent on destroying our culture.
My friend Dawn and I took to rewriting the old script. I had never actually thought about how to rewrite their litany. It seemed straightforward enough – get rid of the Marxist overtones and reclaim all the things the radical feminists had claimed for themselves. What I didn’t expect from our quick rewriting, however, was a new insight.
Our litany, preceded by an impromptu prayer to Our Lord and His Mother, read:
“Why are we here today?” said Dawn.
“To reclaim our culture,” the 11 of us replied.
“What kind of culture?”
“A Christian culture.”
“How would we build that culture?”
“By restoring the American family.”
“How do we restore the family?”
“By restoring the American Patriarch.”
“How do we do that?”
“By restoring his power and authority.”
“How do we do that?”
“By reclaiming monogamy.”
“How do we reclaim monogamy?”
“By rejecting pornography, eroticism, prostitution, and homosexuality.”
Most feminism has been a relentless quest to help women figure out who we are, and what we can do to be happy. The problem, however, is that it takes our vices and uses them against us.
Feminism, by its nature, is a vain effort to look to ourselves for answers, at the cost of constant comparing of ourselves to others. Its first impulse is to have what men have. Starting with Eve, women have always sought that which we don’t have – from the forbidden fruit to the perfect job, partner, property, wardrobe, body, etc.
The feminist quest has left no stone unturned, no rule or duty un-flaunted, and no commandment sacred. The evidence shows that it continues to disappoint, leaving a trail of broken and wounded women, while leading to further confusion about what makes us women.
Our new litany claims that the answer to restoring the culture and the family doesn’t focus upon women at all, but starts with restoring what we deliberately called the “American Patriarch,” by which we mean the natural authority of men, real men. The old litany was effective because it started by destroying the authority of men.
In rewriting the litany, we realized that the restoration of manhood was required, and with it, what would follow was the restoring of the women, the family, the culture.
A wise priest has often reminded me that in the Old Testament, whenever the Israelites are disobedient, God takes away their leadership, which results in weak kings or corrupt rulers – at best – or at worst, slavery and widespread slaughter.
If you consider women over the last fifty years and the annihilation of every virtue, particularly with respect to our fertility, the question arises: Has our disobedience led to the decapitation of leadership in our families? Our Church? Our countries?
If we look around, we see profound evidence of weakness and corruption everywhere, in society and the Church. Human trafficking is now rampant, with women and children treated like sexual chattel. And we live daily with the slaughter of U.S. children, now well into 60 million. These are similar to what the Israelites suffered for their disobedience.
What if women start looking for answers beyond themselves and to start asking instead, What is God’s will? We have plenty of evidence of what it looks like when we flout His will. But history also shows that a return to obedience is powerful. Mary’s obedience produced more fruit than Eve’s disobedience.
Men, of course, carry their own share of guilt, but women’s continued efforts to look to ourselves as the answer hasn’t gotten us anywhere. We have instead enshrined a matriarchy that grasps at power, while neglecting the relationships that have so animated the lives of women since the beginning of time. We have grown comfortable with the lie that men and children are the obstacles to our happiness and not avenues to it.
The Israelites learned the hard way, over and over again; the way back requires a return to obedience, a return to faithfulness to God. To do that, women must surrender the desire for power and control that is so en vogue today. As the old and new litanies inform us, to renew the culture and restore the family, women must, once again, embrace the beautiful order that comes from valuing true, honest, and strong men.
Carrie Gress has a doctorate in philosophy from The Catholic University of America. She is the editor-in-chief of Theology of Home and the author of several books, including The Marian Option, The Anti-Mary Exposed, and co-author of Theology of Home. She is also a homeschooling mother of four and a homemaker.
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