Some Girls, Part 2: What Words Mean

Continuing from Part 1, Intern 2 extrapolates on the consequences of vagueness in rhetoric

It is a little alarming that the following assertion should need to be made. It would be a relief it turned out to be unnecessary. But please bear with me a moment, as I’ll breathe easier knowing these words are out.

Women, like men, are creatures of God, and therefore are possessed of individual souls and unique vocations. Please trust me when I say that women do not function together as a vast hive intelligence. Women are not only not a vast hive intelligence, we are more specifically not a vast hive intelligence that, created for the sole or main purpose of serving the needs of men, was corrupted by the Fall into a vast hive intelligence that functions solely to drive men to sin. (Just like men do not and never have existed as a vast hive intelligence that functions solely to make women miserable, a viewpoint comfortingly less common than its vocal espousers make it appear.)

There is a distinction between what some women do as individuals and what all women do as a sex. There is also a distinction in how to approach the determination of what some individual women do and what women as a sex tend toward.

There is a distinction between making a statement about “some women” or “that woman who” and making a statement about, plainly, “women.”

One is an observation of something that individuals or an individual did or does.

The other is an observation of something that a whole half of the living population of humanity did or does.

Clearly these types of observation are not equivalent.

It is not accurate to state that “Women have been indoctrinated by feminism to think they enjoy working fourteen hours a day,” or “Women are naturally overjoyed to spend the whole of each day in their homes with three toddlers, two of whom are in diapers,” or “Women like to drive trucks” or “Men like to get exfoliation treatments” or “Ladies prefer salad” or “Gentlemen prefer steak.” While in some contexts the statement is clearly a generalization and not actually applicable to an entire sex, the actual meaning doesn’t change and the ambiguity can turn off-putting. And worse than off-putting, when discussing divorce, abortion, or abuse (or, as described in Part 1, false allegations thereof), this vague rhetoric becomes unjustly accusatory.

But put a “some” or a “many” in front of the sentence? Or the number from a reliably obtained statistic? Then it becomes true, if not empirically proven, and we can acknowledge that women, and men, are possessed of unique souls, and that no sin or virtue or struggle or preference can necessarily be attributed across the board.

Our nature as God’s image remains fundamentally the same; the good things we strive toward for joy and salvation are simple, few, and alike; but the details, and the means of striving, are richly varied.

We are given the means to express this in language, in rhetoric. Let’s use language carefully, for the fullness of truth.

(If you see an instance where this blog hasn’t used language carefully for the fullness of truth, please speak up.)

Sincerely yours,

Intern 2

Some Girls, Part 1: Use Your Words


(In which Intern 2 raises the major moral implications of a minor rhetorical imprecision.)

The first time I heard the problematic phrasing was in a high school class. We were being educated about date rape.

A boy in my year, an athlete, commented, “Girls sleep with you at parties and then lie and say you raped them.”

We were very young, and most of us only beginning to consider the issues of sex and its abuse in much depth. The boy was expressing what was likely a very present and legitimate fear among his teammates. He’d probably picked it up from older boys on the team, and they’d have all been aware of the relevant stories of accused college and professional athletes. The boy was just relaying this fear to our class, in such words that occurred to him to use.

This was understandable. I understand it now. But all those years ago I didn’t think it through. All those years ago the comment was absolutely infuriating.

And it wasn’t so much the comment itself that was infuriating, though I did unjustly fail to what its context or cause or intended meaning might be (I was very young).

What got me, and what I got hung up on, was the phrasing.

Because the boy, who was very young as well and hadn’t thought this through, didn’t say, “Some girls sleep with you and then lie.”

And he didn’t say, “There’re girls who’ll sleep with you at parties and then lie.”

He said, in effect, “Girls sleep with you and then lie.”

Which my very young, very reactionary, very dramatic self interpreted as his saying, “All girls can and will sleep with athletes and then lie that they were raped, so they can get money or look innocent. All girls believe that gain for oneself is worth a lie that could destroy someone else. All girls, inlcuding Intern 2 and all her female friends and loved ones and all the girls and women she knows and has heard of, are capable of monstrous dishonesty. All girls are liars who hurt guys.” Which implied, conversely, (thought my brain that had only recently grasped the proof processes of logic), “Rape is not real. Girls, all girls, are just making it up.”

This cannot be what the boy wanted to say. One word, one “some,” would have made his real meaning clear. But he was a young boy making an impulsive comment in a high school class. I acknowledge that now: now I would like to discuss the same issue in a different context.

There is a tendency now, in the online conversation about the impact of feminism on our contemporary culture, to use such phrasing as the boy used. The discourse at hand happens occur mostly in written form, mostly among adults. “Rhetoric” is a more fitting term here than “phrasing,” because “rhetoric” implies the careful consideration of the meaning of words we choose and how they’re arranged.

This is not high school: this is the Internet.* We are not young teens grappling with the world’s troubles for the first time: we are maturing and continuing to gain degrees of perspective, experience, and understanding. We have the outward and inward resources to shape and perceive what our writing means to readers.

In short, we have no excuse not to try our hardest to say what we mean. Which includes employing the vital word “some” when we talk about women and feminism and all the ensuing issues we find relevant.

I forgive my classmate his statement, such as may be necessary to forgive. But I call us now to do better by our language.

Please see Part 2 for why.

Sincerely yours,

Intern 2

*Which, as a free public forum, is as good or bad as we make it.

“This is What Title IX is All About”

President Obama’s recent statements on Title IX:

“In fact, more women as a whole now graduate from college than men,”Obama wrote. “This is a great accomplishment—not just for one sport or one college or even just for women but for America. And this is what Title IX is all about.” –685,000 men and 916,000 women graduated from college in 2009 (the latest year for which statistics have been published)

How is this what it is all about? Even if you believe in the magical unicorn of equality (in the liberal sense), why are skewed numbers in the other direction a good sign? Our friend, blogger Wintery Knight, does not share in the president’s enthusiasm about the situation either and writes about what he thinks are some of the damages done by such thinking.

Getting Religion and Getting Informed (today, related to women, and men too.)

Happy Friday, Salvo Blog Readers. Put on some fresh afternoon coffee before you read any farther, because you’ve got yourself a few rabbit trails to follow and it may be a while before you surface.

Get Religion is a site dedicated to the critique of the coverage of religious topics in the mainstream press. It doesn’t preach, it doesn’t yell, it simply combs through a given piece, identifying bias—in exaggeration, alarmism, omission, and word choice—crossing over to other resources to reveal the fundamental facts (or lack thereof).

Rife with commentary on both weak and strong examples of clear, fair journalism, Get Religion is a worthy addition to your morning blog cycle.

Today, complete with links to several in-depth articles with long Comments sections, Get Religion (check the comments here too!) has posts up that are of interest and importance to men and women alike, but especially prescient to the issues women of faith face as they navigate their lives and roles in Western culture.

Like this piece, which examines one instance of the media vilification of religious leaders who oppose the HHS Mandate. Watch out for a link in the middle, to a source that questions the validity of the oft-cited Guttmacher Institute stat on birth control use among Catholic women. Say you are the 2%…or say you’re not so alone after all.

And this one, in which a comment from Cherie Blair about careers and children makes us wonder, as we often do, about doing best by our families and our vocations, and the distinction between “having it all” and “having enough.” Don’t neglect the links here either, and be sure to speak up if you have something you want to say.

“Jesus, what are we doing?”

No one survives an abortion encounter unscathed. Even though he’d been raised in a family that was “thoroughly pro-abortion” and believed that abortion was “always the best option,” after his wife’s abortion, one post-abortive father was surprised by his own reaction. Despite the fact that he’d wanted it, insisting on it so vehemently he’d threatened to leave her if she didn’t consent to it:

“I found that I felt guilty, like I’d stepped over a line that shouldn’t have been crossed. There was also a feeling of dread, of impending doom. I sensed that some sort of divine punishment was waiting for me, and it was frightening.”

Dr. Arthur Shostak, who describes himself as “unswervingly pro-choice,” also confessed distress after involvement in an abortion:

“While I believe my lover and I chose the least-worst of the options available to us over two decades ago, I have lingering regrets about the situation.”

And that paragon of virtue, Steven Tyler, wrote this about witnessing his girlfriend’s abortion, which he also had coerced under threat of abandonment:

“It was a big crisis. … they put the needle in her belly and they squeeze the stuff in and you watch. And it comes out dead. I was pretty devastated. In my mind, I’m going, Jesus, what have I done?”

Jesus, what have I done? Whence cometh these reactions from decidedly pro-abortion fathers?

What have I done? indeed. One of the three, the one who opted to remain unnamed, eventually let that question penetrate his emotional defenses. But it wasn’t easy:

“I kept trying to find ways to run from that feeling of punishment. I wasn’t a Christian at the time, and I had no idea what I was feeling, or why. Our country’s lawmakers had made abortion legal, hadn’t they? They said everything was fine about it. So, why did I have these feelings? Why was my wife having these problems? During that time I started drinking more. I got more actively involved in sports. I did anything I could to try and cover up the feeling. I just wanted to quench it.

I didn’t want to think about the abortion or have anything to do with the subject, but my wife’s distress was a constant reminder. I tried to ignore her. If I allowed myself to believe that her problems were the result of the abortion, then I’d have to admit that what I did to her was wrong. I was very stubborn and very prideful. I had a heart like stone.

But one day I had a revelation. It was almost like someone removed scales from my eyes, allowing me to see clearly for the first time what I had done. My heart softened and I saw what abortion really was–not a solution to a problem, but the taking of an innocent life.”

He faced the difficult reality of it, and that opened the way for him to process the distress and lay it to rest for good:

“Several years later, my wife got involved with a post-abortion counseling ministry in the local area. One day they had a men’s outreach. I went, but I really didn’t want to share anything personal with this group of strangers. … But I took a chance. I opened my life to these Christian men and told them what I had done to my wife.

I expected anger . . . but what I found instead was compassion.

I expected judgment and condemnation . . . but what I found instead was forgiveness and acceptance.

I expected hatred . . . but what I found instead was Christ’s love being expressed through His people.”

His answer to post-abortion distress?

“Jesus truly is the only answer to post-abortion guilt.”

Father’s Day is this Sunday. Feminists will tell you that abortion is a women’s issue. It’s not. It’s about men just as much as it’s about women. Maybe more. Look at how all three of these pro-abortion men found themselves deeply troubled in the wake of a real abortion. Those feelings are saying something important. We would do well to listen to them.

For as much as loud voices of the day insist that everything’s fine with it, the conscience knows better. It’s not fine. The taking of an innocent life is never okay, and the conscience knows it. Face up to it, and Jesus can deal with the guilt of it. Ignore it, and it will remain. It’s as simple as that.

May God bless fathers today, including the post-abortive ones. May God inspire more men to face up to what we are doing. And lay the abortion holocaust to rest for good.

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