What I would like to do, Lord willing and the crik don’t rise, is respond to Karen Swallow Prior’s objection to my pretty women post in a bit more detail, and then take a moment to respond to Rachel Held Evans’ objection to the fact that Prior even engaged with me.
First, I want to commend Karen for her post because she took care to get my position right. She checked with me before publishing to ensure that she had understood my position correctly. Her care in double-checking was highly admirable.
And then she went on to appeal to a standard I accept and want to live by. Paul tells Timothy to treat the younger women as sisters in absolute purity (1 Tim. 5:2). My customs in this regard very much line up with what she urges — when I have been criticized here in the past, it is usually because I am too cautious, too conservative, too up tight. Window in office door, not real huggy, keep personal compliments right where they ought to be, i.e. directed at my wife, and so on. In short, we agree on the principle.
Her objection was that my post was an unfortunate example of the offensive behavior writ large, applied to a demographic group instead of simply to Suzy Q. Her critique saw my post as simply a larger version of the problematic behavior. Now if what I wrote made women of my acquaintance think that I spent a good portion of my time silently checking all the ladies out, she would be quite correct. That would be bad.
I was aware of that possible reaction, and tried to head it off in my original post by saying, “I make these observations, not as some kind of creepy journalist, but simply as someone with eyes in his head.” To this admirable sentiment of mine, one editor at CT retorted by saying, in effect, that in her mind nothing is creepier than saying “I am not being creepy right now.”
And actually, I think that this might be a fair cop. Show, don’t tell. Instead of “I am not being creepy,” it should have been something more like “I am not being creepy. ,” Just kidding. Just a little humor to lighten things a bit. Stultum iocum. I really did need to put more in there than just one sentence to head off the implication that I was doing on a large scale what would be unsettling on a small scale. I was writing as an observer of the human condition. Not creepy eyes in my head, but as I said, just eyes in my head.
And what I was doing, as I trust my two posts on the subject together made clear, was not evaluating who was hot and who was not, but rather talking about what the apostle Peter enjoins all Christian women to cultivate, and which I think they largely do. We are talking about inner beauty, valued by God, but which works its way out and can be seen by men. This is the other reason I appreciated Karen’s riposte — she actually agreed with the central point I was making, and had made that same observation herself. There really is a difference that Christ makes, and I have no objection to including Karen’s qualifiers and variables. I had included some of my own. At the center, I don’t think there is a disagreement.
And to the extent any disagreement remains, I really appreciate the way she brought it.
But now, let us turn to faux-compassion of Rachel Held Evans’ language mangling. I can’t confirm the exact wording because RHE blocks me from following her tweeteries, but I did see this somehow a few days ago. In effect, RHE was remonstrating with KSP because my reference to lumberjack dykes was an attack on women. This is really remarkable. If someone has access to the exact wording of the tweet, I would be happy to post it here.
Now this captures the demolition job that is being run on Western civilization, and it does so in a nutshell. How so? There are two things to remember here. One is the legitimacy of generalizations, and how generalizations are not falsified by a smattering of counterexamples. But the second thing — quite apart from the generalization — is what exactly is being said.
Let me flip it around. Go back and look at my statement about lumberjack dykes, and I will now make a comparable statement about men.
The unbelieving world is at war with the concept of a biblical masculinity, a masculinity which gladly sacrifices for others. But when this option is rejected, two remaining options offered by the world are either that of the metrosexual pantywaist or the testosteronic rapist.
Okay. So first there is the issue of generalizations. Do I really believe that there are no examples of unbelieving men who are not effeminate or beastie boy thugs? No, I don’t believe that. It is a generalization, and a pretty good one too.
But suppose we get past that, and suppose a male equivalent of RHE objects to the language itself, saying that I demean men by calling them rapists. To use the term rapist like that is an attack on men. Wait a minute. To be a rapist is an attack on women, and an assault on masculinity. The rapist is at war with masculinity, not the person who calls the rapist a rapist. To call a rapist a rapist says nothing about men generally, one way or the other.
In the same way, to say that a dyke is a dyke is not to attack women. Being a dyke is an attack on women. And this is why RHE’s approach to these things is so toxic. “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; That put darkness for light, and light for darkness; That put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Is. 5:20).
In our new order, women must be allowed to insult the very concept of femininity, and they must be allowed to do so ad libitum. They must have complete freedom to do this, and if anyone comes to the defense of women, RHE will summarily describe it as an attack on women.
And this is why if I call her a feminist, it needs to be an Orwellian one.