Monthly Archives: April, 2008

Girls Gone Mild

Over winter break, I read Wendy Shalit’s Girls Gone Mild. I meet with the lovely ladies of the CSC once a month to talk about the issues Shalit discusses in her book. It’s a very well-written book, and our meetings have been great. Part of our goal is not just to sit around in our Catholic bubble, talking about things, but to do something. Kaitlyn and I collaborated on our something: a guest column for the campus newspaper, The Diamondback. If it gets published, it will be one of the boldest, most terrifying, most exhilarating things I’ve ever done, but I am confident that I’m doing it for all the right reasons.

Update (4/22/08): It was published today! The responses have been about half positive, half negative. I’ve been called some interesting and profane names, but I don’t regret submitting it at all.

To all girls: You are beautiful. You are not gorgeous because of your hot body or sexy clothes. You are so lovely because you are the crown of creation. To all guys: Help us realize our dignity as women by being real men. We know we’re not blameless, but you can show strength by living up to the challenge of showing all women that they are loved—and by ignoring the alleged Skirt Day. We are all human beings, not just human bodies. When we’re inching toward middle age, and the minis start to look ridiculous, shouldn’t we be assured that love will remain?

Those are sweet sentiments, I know, but words are worthless compared to action. It’s spring. The sun has returned, the cherry blossoms are at their prime, and the girls’ clothes are getting smaller. With warm weather comes the return of super-skimpy clothing. Here at Maryland, where we’re all trying to learn something, eventually get degrees, and have some fun along the way, we’d like to think we’re building a respectful culture. Maybe the women are even finding empowerment, The Vagina Monologues notwithstanding. But when a girl can’t take more than two steps without pausing to pull down her skirt and cover a little more leg, that doesn’t signal power. It signals defeat.

We live in the aftermath of the sexual revolution. Our mothers fought long and hard for the right to wear the micro-minis their moms wouldn’t let them leave the house in. They felt free, but that freedom has been twisted back on our generation. The new oppression makes young women, especially on college campuses, feel compelled to wear immodest clothing. The new feminism emphasizes the innate, dignified, and unique roles of men and women. It is more interested in a cute skirt from Old Navy than a feathered thong from Victoria’s Secret, bought to peek over low-rise jeans accidentally-on-purpose. The detractors against modesty remain, and they don’t even realize they’re complicit. “It’s what in the stores,” says my own mother about my 16-year-old sister’s tight tank tops. “That doesn’t mean you have to buy it,” I think, “and if you keep buying it, they’ll keep making it.”

Don’t think guys play no part in the new oppression. If a guy turns his head after you because you’re not wearing enough clothes, then it’s his fault, too. But if he told you that your modest clothes made you look pretty, wouldn’t that be infinitely better? Guys, who would you rather date: the girl who respects herself—and you—enough to cover up, or the girl that doesn’t care, and won’t care even when your friends start to check her out? Don’t encourage the wild girls. Show the mild girls that you respect them, you want to protect them, and you still desire them.

I have to admit that my own modesty kick is a recent development. I remember the way my ex-boyfriend and male classmates looked at me in miniskirts and low-cut tops. The only reason I felt good was because I knew they were looking at me instead of the other girls, so they had to pay attention to my thoughts and words…when they looked up. Men are inherently visual. Women know this; that’s why the girl is bothering to pull down her skirt instead of moving right along and blaming the men for their lack of self-control. She knows that the spring breeze shouldn’t be hitting that part of her thigh. She doesn’t want to dress that way, but what else can she do?

Rebel! It’s as simple as putting on a t-shirt under that tank or buying a longer shirt for those jeans. You don’t have to ignore your heart when it reminds you that you’re more than a bunch of body parts. You have more to offer than skin. If you don’t want to be treated like an object, don’t give the world a clear view of the objects you want it to look beyond. Grab some leggings for that mini; the 80s are in right now. No one’s saying you have to grow your hair into long pigtails and find dress patterns from Little House on the Prairie. Try some modesty on for size. You might be surprised at how beautiful you become.

Catholic Carnival 165

Catholic Carnival 165 is has been up at A Catholic Canadian. Sean, the “Duct Tape Guy,” has outfitted the Carnival as both a blog post and a podcast this week. I’ve never been a huge fan of podcasts. I can only listen to Sunday Sunday Sunday because it averages about eight minutes. Podcasts are meant for people with iPods, so since I’ve never had an iPod, I think I prefer to stick with the Carnival blog post.

Kate Wicker posts about breastfeeding in public. This has been an issue for a long time, but I especially enjoyed her discussion. I’ve come around about a lot of Catholic-related issues over time, but I have to admit that breastfeeding still makes me uncomfortable. I could never quite figure out why, though. At our last Bible study before Spring Break, Lynelle’s maid of honor, Martha, visited with her six-day-old daughter, Gianna. She had covered baby Gianna before I arrived in the lobby, so I couldn’t tell what she was doing at first. Once I realized she was nursing, I started to feel uncomfortable. I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation with a woman while she was nursing her baby, let alone one about faith and the Bible.

Kate was inspired by a Christopher West article in which he muses on why people from first-world countries are so appalled by public breastfeeding. His conclusion is that our culture is so “pornified” that we can’t see breasts as non-sexual anymore. We feel uncomfortable because we’re used to breasts signaling pornography. Either we think seeing that should be private (which is a lie), or we just dislike pornography (which we should). But even the Bible uses images of motherhood that include nursing (Luke 11:27). We’re so conditioned. Motherhood is beautiful. Breastfeeding has always been part of that. If we really want to support women and their natural ability to bear and raise children, we have to support breastfeeding. I need to work on that.

Teresa gives her Two Cents on taking her young son to the Great Easter Vigil. I went to the Vigil at the CSC. It was a blast; I’m going to miss that place terribly. I had invited a (non-Catholic) friend to join me this year, warning him that it would be a very long Mass, but he didn’t come. I commend Teresa for the effort it took to keep her son interested. I’m also ashamed that regular parishioners couldn’t even wait one additional minute for the priest to recess after Mass. We are Christians. Easter is kind of a big deal. If you’re not willing to put in some extra time, perhaps you should consider attending a different Mass…or ask God to change your heart.

Ebeth at A Catholic Mom Climbing the Pillars remarks that it’s vitally important for Catholic parents to study the Faith. It’s good for them, but it’s essential in bearing good witness to children and being able to answer their questions. Her point about the easy accessibility of Church teaching is important. When I wanted to read Spe Salvi for the MOE dinner, all I had to do was Google for a few minutes to find a handy English PDF. I can only imagine having to wait to buy a book—or even to get a translation!

Esther at A Catholic Mom in Hawaii (there are so many Catholic mom blogs!) gives a good overview of sacramentals for use in the home. The only one I can’t go for is the scapular. I’m allergic to wool; I scratch until my skin is bright red. I could wear a scapular medal, but I’ve got five holy medals already. Piety can only go so far.

Why Grammar Matters

Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events—the movie—holds a special place in my heart. Aunt Josephine reminds me of me; that is, the often paranoid grammar lover. Grammar isn’t the greatest joy in life, but it’s pretty darn cool. As a bonus, you look much smarter if you avoid making common mistakes (very slight language warning). My heart dies a little bit when I see an allegedly professional document with “loose” where “lose” was meant. It’s really not that difficult to understand that “could of” is always wrong.

This has been a public service announcement from your favorite unofficial Grammar Girl.

Crisis Averted!

Whew. I tried to upgrade to WP 2.5 over the weekend. I was exhausted, and it was late, so I figured I’d just get everything uploaded and head off to bed. Yeah, not so much. I wound up breaking things so badly that it took at least another hour of fiddling around to figure out what I’d done wrong. My blog disappeared for two days! In the end, I just had to delete the .htaccess file I created recently. I’m not sure what was so bad about it, but I’m back in business and trying to get used to 2.5. It doesn’t look different from the front, but everything on the back end is new and shiny. I like it, though…now that it works.

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