There are two basic reactions from Vatican apologists you get when you write a pointed criticism of the dippy shit that the Catholic Church does: incoherent, bed-shitting rage and unbelievably sexist condescension. Both reactions are hilarious but disturbing, because they tend to be effective at the ultimate goal, which is silencing critics of the church. Most people really don't enjoy getting dog-piled and will think harder next time they dare suggest that the god-botherers are assholes. But it's hard to decide which is a more fucked-up reaction. On one hand, there's a fear factor in the incoherent rage response. But the condescension is really over the top in the "silly girls can't be expected to understand stuff, which is why the church expects them to submit and stop asking questions" kind of way.
Take this amusing head pat I got from Jennifer Fulwiler, who, despite being female, is MRA-level sexist. I think she literally touches on every single condescending stereotype about women: that we're emotional children, that we're easily deceived, that we're incredibly stupid, and above all, that we cannot make decisions on our own, but instead are natural followers who are just doing what we're told. And that therefore it's a matter of giving women the correct masters, because women, being basically like dogs, don't really have free will or moral agency.
And no, I'm not exaggerating. Let us examine:
Amanda Marcotte’s article in Slate about World Youth Day is making the rounds this week. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by suggesting that she was very upset when she wrote it. What was it about the event that got her so flustered?
Sure, lady, tell yourself I was flopped out on my bed, weeping like a child who has been told she has to clean her room before she goes outside. Actually, wait, no. Actually, what was going on was I read the article about World Youth Day and thought, "Man, the pope is a real choad, isn't he? I can totally make fun of this." I'm not saying if I was actually laughing at my own jokes while I wrote it, but let's just say it's happened before. I'm also pretty sure that if I was "flustered", I wouldn't have written a piece that hit so close to home. All these things seem really obvious from the piece, which has more of a "eat my poo" tone than a "waaaaaah the pope is a meanie" tone, but I'll bet Fulwiler's audience eats this crap up, because it fits their image of women as emotionally unstable children.
There’s not a clear thesis to the piece, but it seems that the Church’s anti-abortion stance, emphasized when Pope Benedict offered forgiveness to women who have had abortions, is what triggered most of her angst.
Fulwiler can cram as many synonyms as possible in for "bitches be crazy", but it's not actually changing the fact that my tone was not upset, flustered, angsty, or in any way comparable to a teenage girl furiously writing about being rejected by a boy in her diary. The correct adjectives are "amused" and "mocking". And I think we all know what the thesis of the piece was—again, relying more on stereotypes of women as childish and not doing our homework properly!—but I'm happy to spell it out: The pope is a dickbag, and increasing numbers of Catholics are clueing into that. See, that wasn't so hard!
She then goes on to accurately enough describe the pro-choice view that women should have control over our bodies. But, you know, we've already established that she thinks women are just too damn stupid for choices. So now the fun really begins. If you read anti-choice stuff, you can probably guess where she goes next. That's right! To "contraception is an evil conspiracy to hoodwink ladies, who are really really stupid".
And, like a lot of crazy ideas in our culture, we have contraception to thank for it. Now that there’s widespread access to contraception, our young women are told not that sex creates babies, but that unprotected sex creates babies. They’re assured that sex can be safely separated from its life-giving potential, as long as they use artificial birth control. From a secular point of view, it might sound like a nice, pro-woman message.
Only if you think women are full human beings who can make their own decisions, which she most certainly does not. She goes on to point out that contraception some times fails, citiing the Guttmacher (who she erroneously claims is owned by Planned Parenthood—they're actually an independent organization with no connection to Planned Parenthood) statistic that half of women who have abortions were using contraception at the time. Actually, she misinterprets the data, saying, "were using contraception when they conceived their child." Actually, the statistic is "Fifty-four percent of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method (usually the condom or the pill) during the month they became pregnant." Of this group, only 13% of pill users and 14% of condom users report correct use. She's fudging the numbers to imply that contraception is less effective than it is.
But let's get back to the "women are incredibly stupid" portion of the program!
So, let’s summarize the situation: Women are handed contraception and assured that they need not have a second thought as to whether they’re ready for pregnancy. Then, when their birth control method fails, they’re encouraged to undergo a painful medical procedure performed on the most sensitive part of their bodies.
Because you know what isn't even a remotely painful event in the most sensitive part of your body? Childbirth. Man, she not only thinks women are stupid, but that her audience is stupid. I'm beginning to think she's just projecting a personal problem on everyone in sight.
I love the way she characterizes how contraception and abortions happen. It's not that women seek these things out! No, the contraception man comes to your door and hands you your bag of contraception. Prior to then, it would have never occured you to do something like put a penis in your vagina. But suddenly, without even thinking about it, you're rolling a condom on a penis and boom! Next thing you know, pregnant. And then the abortion posse shows up to your house and takes you to the clinic. You probably didn't even realize that you'd get a baby if you didn't go with them. Because you have no will or mind of your own.
And so, to Amanda Marcotte and others like her, I would say, as I’ve said before: You’re right to be angry. You are correct in sensing that women’s freedom is being taken away. You’re just wrong to blame the Church. Not only does it not “punish female sexuality,” but it’s one of the few voices in our culture that respects it.
Yeah, they respect it so much that they'll respectfully force a 9-year-old to bear a rapist's child.
Seriously, she has a strange view of respecting women: treat them like overgrown children, portray them as having no real will of their own, condescendingly tell us we have no understanding of our own lives and relationships, and push for laws that "respect" 78,000 women into their graves a year. I think I'll stick with the old-fashioned definition of "respect" that involves treating women like grown adults who should have the right to make important decisions about their own lives.
Also, because I know it's important to Jennifer Fulwiler, here's the thesis of this post: Jennifer Fulwiler is a sex-phobic, misogynist crank who does a poor job concealing her contempt for all women besides herself with condescending head pat tone. And she can eat my poo.