Jane Austen is rolling over -- a discussion of womanhood and what it means to be a man


"The most incomprehensible thing in the world to a man is a woman who rejects his offer of marriage."
Jane Austen, Emma

I am sorry to say, but this entry applies to real life (thankfully a rare occurrence). It's bad enough when us ladies have to deal with the modern, untamed, unshowered, unruly, and sex-obsessed boys. The opposite extreme of unrealistically idealizing woman can actually be just as demeaning, especially since it occurs with men who should know better.

According to St. Louis Mary De Monfort, when a man treats Mary with indifference, he is rejected by Christ. Jesus respected Mary's word at Cana, because it is a woman's right to give her consent, even when it comes to God. God even asked Mary for her permission to send His Son into the world using her as a vessel, which implies her immense dignity; God gave Mary the right to say no, even though the consequences would have been extreme.

Yes, a woman is subject to her husband. But she is subject to her husband -- not all men. No man has the right to tell her what to do unless she allows him that privilege. It is man's role to protect the physically weaker sex; it by no means undermines her strength in other areas, such as virtue, purity, prudence, wisdom, intelligence etc. It is not through lack of purity or self-control that she needs protection, moreover; rather, it is because she is more vulnerable physically, and must often bear the shame of an action that she did not even consent to. St. Joseph, before learning the truth, sought to protect Mary's reputation. This shows that, regardless of a woman's virtue, it is man's role protect and respect women before judging them, regardless of their culpability or fault.

Moreover, it is customary (traditionally . . .) for a man to ask a lady's consent to dance, to go on a date, or to marry her, not from a social technicality, but because it is a woman's inherent right to approve or reject the man who she will be subject to for the rest of her life. A man has to earn a woman's trust if he wants the right to take care of her, and this need to earn her trust is what teaches him the meaning of true chivalry. However, if a man treats a woman disrespectfully, for instance, calling her a feminazi for speaking her mind, he has no concept of chivalry. Just as a man treating Mary with indifference loses Heaven, a man who treats a woman with indifference and disrespect loses her trust, and thereby he loses his his capacity to be a gentleman. It is a woman's right, and it always has been to reject a man if he doesn't suit her. Until a woman allows a man to be her lord and master, she is the one who has the authority. And even in marriage, she has authority, although it is a passive one -- non-critical, yet strong; and a marriage cannot survive so long as the man does not respect and appreciate the woman and all the beauties God has given her (which includes an intelligent mind and a strong will); not only because this lack of appreciation causes strife in the family, but because it causes the man to lose his manhood, for it is the wife's trust that makes it possible for him to be a man.

Even in literature, woman were idealized, not only as something that woman should aspire to, but as a reflection of the internal beauty of their nature.

A man who, in convoluting the idea of Christian femininity, treats a "common" woman with indifference, and judges her for having an opinion, and is idealistically waiting for one of the elves from Lothlorien to suddenly appear on his doorstep accompanied by angels and winged horses, is in for a very long wait. What he doesn't realize is that, the more virtuous the woman, the more she will reject someone who doesn't know how to respect women. The only kind of girls they will get are ones who are so painfully insecure that they are willing to put up with abuse rather than suffer rejection. Why else would a woman want to attach herself to a man who constantly puts her down for her intelligence?

Notice how, in the above picture, the knight kneels before the woman to receive his knighthood. The only other time we kneel is before God, or when we are being blessed by a priest. We don't kneel before God because He is subject to us; we kneel before God because we are asking Him to help us become who we are more perfectly. And this is why a man kneels before a woman when he proposes; because she has the power to make him become the man that God intended him to be.

1 comment: