Pope Francis recently made a few remarks about women in which he tried to describe the phenomena that I observed over and again when I was a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
He talked about women’s ability to bring “harmony” to the world. That isn’t how I describe it, but I think we are talking about the same thing.
The House District that I represented for 18 years had a large number of illegal immigrants. I refereed the arguments between them and the Anglos of my district on a daily basis. I was the one both sides called to settle disputes, help them with their problems, and often, just to listen to their gripes.
They taught me a lot of things, these magnificently good constituents of mine. They are wonderful, wonderful people, all of them. The hardest thing about leaving public office was worrying about who would take care of them when I was not there to do it.
One thing they taught me in a clear-cut way was the civilizing power of the female.
It is inaccurate to refer to the human race as “he,” or as “man.” Because the human race is not male.
The human race is also not female. It would be just as inaccurate to refer to all humanity as “her,” or “woman.”
The human race is not “man,” and it is not “woman.” The human race is men and women, male and female, together.
Take us apart, and we die. Literally. We go back to the half-humanity uselessness that is man or woman without the other.
I saw this in real-time among the illegal immigrants in my house district. Young men would wend their way across the border to find work. They were young, really just boys, and they were in a strange world with strange customs and a language they didn’t speak. They would rent a house and hole up together; even 15 young men sleeping on floors and existing to work.
They went out and stood on the corners or went to the right employment agencies and were hired as day laborers by the local businesses. There was no lack of work from businesses who wanted to pay slave wages. Then they came back, with money in their pockets and nothing much to do.
It is to their credit that these young men didn’t usually do anything really violent. But they were trouble. All kinds of trouble. Because a group of men without women cannot function. They descend rapidly to the lowest form of their sex. If they hadn’t been believing and sincere Christians, it would have been much more difficult for me to manage the problems they caused, and they might have done much worse things.
Over time, they were joined by women, and as soon as that happened, everything changed. Men, without women, are a mess. They are dangerous, including dangerous to themselves. Their thinking runs along nutty lines of violence and swagger. They are destructive.
Women, without men hiss and spit and turn in circles.
But when you put them together, it’s almost like a science experiment when you combine hydrogen and oxygen to get water. Put men and women together and you get life. You get men who use their strength, aggression, and physical courage to protect, provide and build. You get women who use their incredible moral strength, intuition and insight to nurture and sustain.
Together, men and women are the creative force that has built all the good we call culture, society and civilization. Take them apart, and you get ultimate and uncaring destructiveness.
That is why we need both men and women in our government. Men alone cannot speak for the human race, because they are not the human race. The human race is male and female, woman and man.
Look at societies that degrade and silence women and you will see the backwardness, cults of violence, and determined self-destruction that men who degrade women tend toward.
Misogyny is the human race, at war with itself. It, along with separation from God and death, is the curse of the Garden.
Violence against women, rape and sexual assault in particular, are ugly manifestations of the ravening evil that seeks to split humanity from itself, to destroy it at its core by setting it against itself. I believe that rape is a sin especially motivated by the devil’s hate of Our Lady, striking as it does at the heart of her maternity.
When men, especially men in leadership positions, degrade women and brag about it, they degrade their country and all humanity as well. Men who have to degrade women to feel manly are pitiful and destructive cyphers of what real men are.
I am not a man, but I have had the gift and the privilege of living my life in the company of real men. I know what a loving father who will not abandon his family, who protects his children and who would not tolerate trash talk about his daughter is like, because I had one.
I know what a man who works at a job he hates to provide for his family so his wife can stay home and care for their babies is like, because I married one. I know the tenderness between a man and woman — the life-giving, life-sharing moments of grace that can only come from the touch of your beloved spouse.
I know the great gift to women that genuine manliness is. Because I have been the beneficiary of it all my life.
I have also seen and sometimes experienced the brutality, the violence and the witless cruelty of twisted nothingness that is manhood gone to evil. I have witnessed the distorting, destructive force of misogyny, as it turns both men and women into something God never intended them to be, but which is the devil’s delight.
Make no mistake about it: Misogyny is from the pit. It is evil incarnate. It is a destructive force that acts like a wrecking ball on all the good that men and women together can build.
It is a denial of the simple fact that God made humanity male and female each in His own image. Every human being is made in the Image and Likeness of God.
We may not — ever — degrade whole classes of human beings. We do not have the right. They are made in the Image and Likeness of God Himself. Just as we are. We do not have the right to degrade others, and we have a responsibility, when others seek to degrade us, to resist.
Women have the right to stand against the degradation of womankind. More than that, they have a responsibility to do so. Because they are made in the Image and Likeness of God and no one has the right to degrade or violate them.
Women and men are each essential to what is human. Humanity is an incomplete and dangerous mess without either one of them. But together, they create civilization.
Male and female, created He them. And He made them both in His own Image, in the Likeness of God.