Are Women in the Workplace a Good Thing?

Jerry D. Salyer,
Crisis Magazine.

American conservatism has certainly come a long way since the days of Richard Weaver, the Southern philosopher who identified “contempt for natural order” as the underlying ailment of the modern mind. Back in the 1960s, when he was known and celebrated as a conservative intellectual icon, Weaver saw “the foolish and destructive notion of the ‘equality’ of the sexes” as a prime example of said contempt. Today, Weaver’s critique of gender equality would trigger not just “woke” activists but many Republicans, too:

“What but a profound blacking-out of our conception of nature and purpose could have borne this fantasy? Here is a distinction of so basic a character that one might suppose the most frenetic modern would regard it as part of the donnée to be respected. What God hath made distinct, let not man confuse! But no, profound differences of this kind seem only a challenge to the busy renovators of nature. The rage for equality has so blinded the last hundred years that every effort has been made to obliterate the divergence in role, conduct, and in dress.”

Weaver concluded that there is no surer way to make women miserable than to treat them as if they were indistinguishable from men. He also had some especially sharp comments about would-be “slavers” of Big Business, believed by him to have promoted women in the workforce as a means of lowering wages. To say that Weaver’s conservatism is alien to that of Fox News is an understatement.

It is also an understatement to say that counter-feminism is not solely confined to Protestants such as Weaver. There is a tremendous quantity of Catholic commentary about relations between the sexes. Yet at some parishes we would not know this from paying attention at Mass, as awkward Scripture such as Ephesians 5:21—“Let women be subject to their husbands, as to the Lord”—are simply censored out of the liturgy in some cases. 

So, needless to say, few American Catholics are familiar with Pope Leo XIII’s extended remarks on the nature of the family: 

“The husband is the head of the family … The woman, because she is flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone, must be subject to her husband and obey him; not, indeed as a servant, but as a companion, so that her obedience shall be wanting in neither honor nor dignity. Since the husband represents Christ, and since the wife represents the Church, let there always be, both in him who commands and in her who obeys, a heaven-born love guiding both in their respective duties.”

Even John Paul II leaned on “sexist” assumptions when critiquing global capitalism, as when he declared that “a workman’s wages should be sufficient to enable him to support himself, his wife and his children.” The point here is not to make any claim about whether or how these teachings might be applied to modern life, nor to claim that these few quotes represent the last word regarding family authority or women in the workplace. No, the point is the extent to which many centuries’ worth of Catholic commentary about sex differences has simply been filtered out as if it were nothing. It is almost as if those responsible for handing down Catholic tradition would just as soon jettison whatever parts of said tradition happen to jar with modern sensibilities.

Indeed, a certain kind of unbeliever is more likely to take phrases like male and female He created them far more seriously than do some Church spokesmen. For instance, the sociologist Steven Goldberg has long insisted that feminist ideology has distorted the science of sociology and that sex differences are ultimately grounded in nature rather than in upbringing or oppressive stereotypes. 

Writing that “psychophysiological differences between males and females engender in males a more-easily-released tendency for dominance behavior,” Goldberg goes on to explain that “as a result, all societies, without exception, exhibit patriarchy, male status attainment, and male dominance.” Revealingly, Margaret Mead—sometimes touted as an authority in support of the very feminist position Goldberg refutes—described Goldberg’s The Inevitability of Patriarchy as “persuasive and accurate.”   — Read more

[SH / Note: This is certainly not prejudicial to the intellectual or physical abilities of women. Catholics believe women can do much or most of what men can do in many or most professions. But, absent mitigating circumstances, it is clearly against nature / creation (God’s revealed plan for the world), to deliberately reject or postpone having a family during the prime child-bearing years when most women (and men) are strongest and most capable of nurturing and protecting children to a happy outcome in bonding a family.]

— See also, The Radical Feminism Trick