Explosive Question: Should Women’s Suffrage Be Abolished? October 17, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in abdication of duty, Basics, Domestic Church, error, family, foolishness, General Catholic, Revolution, scandals, secularism, self-serving, Society, suicide, Tradition, Virtue.
Reader TT sent me a recommendation to a short book that contains two lectures given by the Catholic Bishop of Denver, CO, J.P. Machebeuf, in 1877. In those lectures, basing his reasoning almost entirely on the Epistles of Saint Paul – that is, inspired and inerrant Scripture – Bishop Machebeuf argues passionately against women’s suffrage – then a growing cause celebre among the nascent progressive faction in this country. I read this book months ago, and have been meaning to blog on it for some time, but never took the time to sit down and try to frame the matter in a way I thought would provide a reasonable discussion, as opposed to instant recourse to emotion.
Machebeuf relies principally on the following quotes from Scripture in his argument:
I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ and the head of every woman is the man and the head of Christ is God; the woman is the glory of the man, for the man was not created for the woman but the woman for the man (I Cor xi:13).
Let women be subject to their husbands, as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the woman as Christ is the head of the Church. Therefore as the Church is subject to Christ, so also let the women be to their husbands in all things. (Eph v:22).
I will therefore, that men pray in every place……..In like manner the women also, in decent apparel, adorning themselves with modesty and sobriety…..as it becometh a woman professing Godliness with good works. Let the women learn in silence, with all subjection, but I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to use authority over man, but to be in silence, for Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not seduced, but the woman being seduced was in the transgression; yet she shall be saved through child bearing, if she continue in faith andlove and sanctification in sobriety (I Tim ii: 6- 8)
To the woman also he said: I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband’ s power, and he shall have dominion over thee. (Gen iii:16)
From these scriptural quotes – which are not being relayed outside modifying context, I would judge – and a few others, Bishop Machebeuf argues against allowing women the vote. He also uses his assessments of the peculiarities of female nature as arguments against women’s suffrage, finding women perhaps more inclined to emotionalism, less inclined to the broader, long-range common good (as opposed to their own perceived, individual good), and perhaps less well disposed for making such decisions. He also feels women’s involvement in politics, even simply as an involved voter, would detract time from women’s primary duty in providing for the household and rearing the (hopefully many) children. Primarily, however, the bishop finds women’s suffrage an affront to what he understands as God’s divinely revealed order, an order which places women, in such matters as the public trust, if not subordinate to men, at least in no position to dictate to men, through their vote, how public affairs should be conducted.
Bishop Machebeuf also presciently notes that the matter of women’s suffrage was simply the tip of the spear for a much broader move towards “women’s rights,” or the general trend towards feminism we have seen wreak such havoc on the family and culture over the past several decades. He had the foresight to see that the then very small women’s movement would metamorphose into a mass movement dedicated to the destruction of the moral order ordained by God. A couple of quotes on this matter suffice to reveal the whole:
[The woman] cannot perform the duties of both man and woman at the same time, which makes it impossible for a woman to be a faithful wife and mother, attend to her household duties, and hold a public office – which seems to be the main object of the friends of women’s rights [Demonstrating that the Bishop foresaw, quite rightly, that the women’s suffrage movement was not just about giving women “equality” with men in terms of voting, but even putting them in positions of authority over men in the temporal realm by seeing women elected to public office. Now we stand on the precipice of seeing perhaps the most amoral character in American political history elected to the highest office of the land. And that character is a woman]
You know, beloved brethren, what some of those discontented women want; they want to shake off the authority of men, they want to turn upside down the order established by a just God, they want to rule over man.
What are we to make of this? Is this just some uncomfortable relic from a bygone, far less enlightened age, or could the bishop perhaps be onto something? Obviously, his thinking is entirely absent from the public mind of the Church today, at least outside maybe a few isolated individuals (who are treated as crackpots), but we also know the “public mind” of the Church, as expressed by the large majority of bishops, priests, cardinals, and lay people, is at divergence with the perennial belief and practice of the Faith on a vast panoply of subjects. That is to say, simply because his belief seems very much at odds with the beliefs posited by the vast majority of those who claim the name Catholic today, that does not mean they are necessarily wrong because of it.
One way to look at this subject, perhaps, is to look at the course of history in the many nations that have adopted practically universal suffrage, including women, over the past century or so. Has that trend not been overwhelmingly towards the left, towards self-seeking, and towards the undermining of the moral and religious order and its replacement with an entirely new and hostile order oriented towards paganism, immorality, totalitarian government, and selfishness? Polls in this and most every Western country reveal that women are far more likely to vote for the left-wing candidate than men. They have played a vital part of the left-wing coalition in this and many other countries. The rise of the Left has been a disaster for the Church and for the moral order, generally.
Interestingly, Bishop Machebeuf predicted that this would happen, that as women diverted attention from the home and rearing of children, towards what they were told would be the greener pastures of political and economic “empowerment,” that the rearing of children would necessarily suffer, and that neglect and the relaxation of familial and societal moral discipline would soon lead to a general, and grave, moral decay.
Bishop Machebeuf does not say in so many words, but what he is arguing in favor of, and what he reveals to be divinely ordained by God through Scripture, is that virtual curse-word today, a patriarchal society. It is very clear today, and has been for some decades, that the radical feminist movement, which was given birth (apropos turn of phrase, no?) by the women’s suffrage movement (and has continued to use many of the same methods), has developed into a movement oriented towards the destruction of the traditional patriarchal society and its replacement with something different and far more destructive. Since patriarchy is so clearly endorsed by Scripture, feminists have both waged war, and sought to co-opt, Christian leaders into their movement, even though in so doing, those leaders have helped hasten the destruction of their religion and the entire moral order. It is little wonder that it was only ten years from the institution of women’s suffrage in the United States, and the approval of contraceptive use by a major non-Catholic ecclesial body (Lambeth Conference, 1930). The decline of the moral order has unalterably advanced since then.
Am I calling for the abolishing of women’s suffrage? Perhaps in theory, though not very strongly even there. I think the bishop basically right in his assessment, but I do wonder why there are not more texts of this type that have come down to us. Was Bishop Machebeuf an outlier, even 140 years ago? Or is his rare “hardness” or orthodoxy in this matter simply an early indication of the grave problems inherent in the American episcopate all along, but which would not reveal themselves en masse until about a century later?
Either way, we are about 500 billion miles from this being even a remotely viable issue or something to push for, publicly. The vast majority of people, even – or, especially – those who call themselves Christian and/or Catholic, are so totally convinced that women voting is such a natural good, such an inviolable right, that even broaching the subject (outside a specialty audience like those who tend to read this blog) would be, at present, simply to instantly discredit oneself, or have oneself labeled as a member of the lunatic fringe. Then again, Catholics – true Catholics – have always been perceived as such by the society at large.
Having said that, another thing TT sent me, a link to a post by Mundabor, contains relevant argumentation that is probably better than I could make. It’s said a bit more strongly than I would phrase things (as you know, I am always so milquetoast and diplomatic), and overlooks one reality – that the female readers of my blog and probably his, too, are far better informed and make far better choices than the vast majority of men out there in the general populace – but he does provide a helpful condensation of the arguments it would take me many hours to frame. So take this for what you will, and I look forward to the discussion that will follow (emphasis in original):
It fills me with rage at this stupid age to know that, in the most crucial US election in the last decades, there is such a discrepancy between female and male voter orientation. It seems that this wave of Reprobation (make no mistake: voting for Clinton can only be a mortal sin) is mainly fueled by the female sex, who is more prone to swallow hook, line and sinker all the rubbish about the “first female President”, the “objectifying of women” and all that insignificant noise meant to cover the real issues: the fact that Christian heritage and fundamental liberties (besides the Country’s security) may well be at stake.
Women of past ages knew very well that it was better for them that only men could vote, or be a judge. It helped a lot to keep the emotions out, and preserve an ordered society. It prevented the brutal emotional manipulation of serious issues we see today.
In a society in which only males can vote you can’t get very far with the emotional appeal to the “poor pregnant girl”. In a society in which only males can vote you could never attack the Second Amendment. In a society in which only male can vote not only Trump would clean up, but you would probably have a better Democrat opponent in the first place……..[I don’t think this goes nearly far enough. If there had never been women’s suffrage, I don’t think there would have ever been a Trump, or a nation fallen far enough to give us two such unworthy candidates.]
…….Women suffrage has done great damage to women. It has allowed them to hurt themselves in so many ways: with abortion, with divorce, with a stupid push for an “emancipation” that has become a double burden, with the attempt to dismantle a patriarchal society that served them so much better than making of them the toys of many men…….
………It would be better for everyone, and particularly for women, if they were not allowed to vote. In time, this would cause a reversion to what every Catholic (that is: sensible) woman must wish: a solidly patriarchal society honoring women for their real qualities and helping them to give the best of their feminine nature, whilst stifling the self-destructive tendencies unavoidably generated by their (otherwise so beautifully) emotional nature.
Two thousand words is very long for a blog post, so I’ll end here, but I’ve really only scratched the surface of a very complex, and important, topic. I may err above where I say debating this will confine one to a lunatic fringe; not that I’m wrong about how people would receive such an argument, but as to whether that matters or not. That is to say, the truth must be revealed no matter how it is received.
So, perhaps we’ll have more on this topic in the future.