From dysphoria to dysfunction?

gender-wars

Pia de Solenni is an American moral theologian. Last night she talked in Dublin to a group of people who came to hear her views on issues related to gender and the deconstruction of millennia of understanding about human nature and the sexes which is now in progress.

While the question was asked, and answered, about where all this has come from – with Descartes being something of a villain of the piece – and the question of where it was all going being at least tentatively answered – down the tubes being one scary option, the real quandary was something we had to go home and think about: what can be done to save the day?

My notes from her talk were not very comprehensive and  I would not dare to try to recapitulate all that she said. However, in 2013, the National Catholic Register published an article which she wrote. In it some of the key influences and observations which underpinned last night’s talk are contained in it. They offer some clues as to how we might escape from this quandary.

It was entitled ‘Theology of Women in the Church’ Only Beginning to Be Revealed. It harked back to some words of Pope Francis on this now famous exchanges with journalists on this flight back from World Youth Day in the summer of that year, when he simply observed that  ‘we don’t have a deep theology of women in the Church.’ Her article continues :

His comments were a timely preface for the 25th anniversary of John Paul II’s apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem (The Dignity and Vocation of Women), marked by this year’s Solemnity of the Assumption.

When I was doing graduate theology work in Rome, the document had been out for many years. John Paul II had continued to teach on the topic and had articulated the need for a “new feminism.”

However, as one of my friends observed, the common translation of this “new feminism” was a type of elitist feminism. It was applicable to women who were well educated, had successful careers and were married with children and household help.

While I was on my way to being well educated, I certainly didn’t have the rest of the ensemble. I was studying with priests and seminarians, mostly. I had no desire to join their ranks, despite our common discipline. At the same time, my friend was educated and married with small children. But working outside of the home would have placed too great a burden on her family. We also knew there were plenty of other women who didn’t fit the mold. I was convinced that the new feminism had to include all of the various states in the lives of women, not just educated, affluent wives and mothers.

This became the impetus for my doctoral work, in which I surveyed various feminist and gender theories to explore why the questions of feminine identity and vocation remained. I then used the thought of Thomas Aquinas, a saint and a brilliant doctor of the Church (sometimes inaccurately identified as a misogynist), to develop a feminism of complementarity or an integral feminism, one that sees the sexual differences as constructive. I wanted a feminism that considered a woman in her entirety, not just in terms of what she did or didn’t do: a new feminism.

As I progressed in my research, I realized just how visionary Pope John Paul II had been. He wasn’t offering a Catholic version of a fascist salute to motherhood. He was taking the concept of motherhood in a wholly different direction. After all, by the time he was writing, the developed world knew that women could match, and even surpass, men in most things. Instead of answering a question that had long sought an answer by defining women in terms of what men do, he focused on who a woman is, a much more elusive topic.

Still, my first reading of Mulieris didn’t satisfy me. I thought it was fine, but not meaty enough. It took a while before I saw that it was both subtle and groundbreaking, particularly in light of his other work. Six years after this apostolic letter, he wrote another, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone). For such a controversial topic, it was certainly a short document, just a few pages. He summarized Church teaching and almost abruptly concluded, “I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”

From this point on, John Paul II stopped talking about women’s ordination. He focused on Mary, the woman, whom, in Mulieris, he had set up as a paradigm for all humanity, including himself and every other priest, by virtue of her response to God’s call.

The shift to Mary emphasizes the change in emphasis from doing to being. We actually know very little about what Mary did. But we know who she is: the Mother of God. Her ability to become a mother fundamentally enabled her to be open to God in a relationship that only a woman could have. Her response, uniquely feminine, paradoxically, became the model for all humanity.

Toward the end of John Paul’s life, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, issued a letter to the bishops, The Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World, which emphasized that women “have a role in every aspect of society.”

If we follow the example of Mary, that means working from within, wherever we happen to be, whether as chancellor of a major archdiocese, a mother home with small children, in business, politics or countless other places. It means recognizing that women bring something to the table by virtue of who they are rather than simply by what they do.

If Mary’s role as homemaker had been so vital, Jesus would have left the preparation of the Passover meal to her and not to the apostles. (I’m willing to bet she would’ve put on a better spread.) She was defined by who she was, by her relationship with Jesus, not by what she did. Similarly, we know that the apostles weren’t the smartest or the holiest bunch of men. But Jesus didn’t pick them for their accomplishments.

Twenty-five years after Mulieris Dignitatem, women have more positions in Church offices, and certainly women could have more leadership, but the vocation of women can’t be limited to a clericalist framework. Women, like men, exist in every sector of society, and both have critical contributions to make, regardless of what they do, because being a woman or a man should constructively influence the outcome. Within the Church, women need to be able to have a unique voice, not one that mimics that of men.

Pope Francis’ comments indicate that this work has only just begun.

Much, much more will be required to get us to the point where we understand both women and men for who they are.

On the more explicit gender confusion issue which she spoke about last night this article which she posted on Crux last year covers many of the points she made to us. Again, they give us something to chew on and think through about what might be the best way to rescue ourselves from the quagmire into which we find ourselves sinking fast.

Throughout history, women have been denigrated and oppressed by men. While I don’t always agree with some feminist activists, I certainly acknowledge that I would not have had the opportunities that I have without feminist efforts to right so many wrongs.

Despite these advances, today’s “trans movement” (particularly the transwoman sector) inadvertently takes us back to a time when women were valued based on their appearance, and whether they fit someone else’s preconceived notion of femininity. In essence, all it takes to be a woman today are [fake] breasts and good hair.

As a culture, we are telling women that the feelings and sentiments of a particular group of men – in this case, men who regard themselves as women – matter more than they do. That’s patriarchy by definition, even if women happen to agree to it.

Yes, some individuals suffer from gender dysphoria, but I am very hesitant to say that their struggle gives them the right to identify with the sex of their choice. As a woman, I cannot concede that being female simply means that one wears makeup, sexy lingerie, and a hair-do.

In fact, I was raised in a post-feminist environment where my femininity was not measured by my bra size and whether I could arouse a man. Rather, my female identity was confirmed by science, which demonstrates that every cell of my being is female no matter how I look or what I do.

My being a woman literally has to do with my being, not my doing. Hence, I can live out my life without fitting some ideal of a woman, whether it’s Mad Men’s or anybody else’s.

Let’s be clear here: No one cares about a woman using the men’s restroom. The Target debate has focused on men using women’s restrooms, because most people understand that women and girls are physically vulnerable in a way that men are not.

Whether we’re talking about Target, or states that have passed legislation along the same lines, the practical result now is that any man, whether he’s identifying as a woman or looking for his next victim, may use the women’s restroom because he feels like it.

So much for women’s rights.

Nevertheless, the bathroom discussion is couched in the language of civil rights and discrimination. Talk about a culture-war trap. In fact, on Monday the Justice Department filed a civil-rights suit against the state of North Carolina because it refuses to rescind a bill that requires individuals to use the bathroom correlating with their biological sex.

Some forms of patriarchy include attempts to protect women from other males, but that’s really more of an excuse to protect women for a particular man or group of men. Worse types of patriarchy utterly disregard the dignity and significance of a woman.

Rather than a civil rights issue, I would argue that the bathroom wars indicate that we’re entering an entirely new phase of patriarchy which declares victory every time it destroys a safe space for women, including bathrooms, fitting rooms, locker rooms, and so on.

This new patriarchy scored a breakthrough when Bruce Jenner, in his April 2015 interview with Diane Sawyer, casually commented that he looked forward to becoming a woman so that he could paint his nails and drink wine with his girlfriends. Jenner equated being a woman with the most trivial accidentals, while mainstream media outlets, including awards from Glamour and ESPN, celebrated his courage.

Never mind that he couldn’t even stand for his Vanity Fair debut, lest we see that his male anatomy remained.

Another defeat for women came after Jenner’s transition to a new identity as Caitlyn, when he (perhaps channeling his inner Dionne Warwick) famously stated that the hardest part about being a woman was deciding what to wear each day. Patriarchy triumphed again.

Time after time, the new patriarchy reinforces that being a woman is simply about the externals, what you look like. Cue Hugh Hefner.

Again, some individuals suffer greatly from gender dysphoria, and they should be treated with respect and dignity. But their struggles cannot justify yet another era in which women are reduced to nothing more than body parts and their ability to satisfy a man, even if it’s one and the same person.

Pia de Solenni is a moral theologian and cultural analyst. She serves as the Associate Dean of the Augustine Institute – Orange County, California.

Camille Paglia bursting the PC bubble – again

Camille Paglia has been talking sense for decades and she is still doing so – but it appears that no one has been listening. Here she talks about her desperation at the state of America’s youth culture – which will be tomorrow’s general culture.

At its root is an appalling ignorance about the world, Camille says:

“They have no sense of the great patterns of world history, the rise and fall of civilisations like Babylon and Rome that became very sexually tolerant, and then fell. If you’ve had no exposure to that, you can honestly believe that ‘There is progress all around us and we are moving to an ideal state of culture, where we all hold hands and everyone is accepted for what they are … and the environment will be pure…’ – a magical utopian view that we are marching to perfection. And the sign of this progress is toleration – of the educated class – for homosexuality, or for changing gender, or whatever.

“To me it’s a sign of the opposite, it’s symptomatic of a civilisation just before it falls: ‘we’ are very tolerant, not passionate, but there are bands of vandals and destroyers circling around the edge of our civilisation who will bring it down.”

And she thinks Hilary Clinton is “absolutely corrupt”.

See more, a great deal more, at Spiked.com or MercatorNet here.

 

A breath of fresh air

Costanza with her two daughters

Costanza Miriano’s  Woman, Get Married and Be Submissive – on being the perfect wife – has sold over 100,000 copies. The media, trying to be ironic, has branded it a Stepford Wives’ Guide.  The Stepford Wives being a 1972 satirical novel by Ira Levin – he of Rosemary’s Baby fame. That story concerns a young mother who begins to suspect that the frighteningly submissive housewives in her new idyllic Connecticut neighbourhood may be robots created by their husbands.

Miriano’s book includes advice to women and wives along these lines – and don’t take it too literally for she’s not beyond a bit of satire and irony herself to drive her points home:

“Women forget that they can’t have it all: working like a man and being at home like a woman. Power is not designed for women.”

Shocking? But before you pass judgement on that you have to take on board the fact that Costanza is a working journalist fighting it out with the best of them on an Italian television channel, writing best-sellers at home and “submitting” to her husband as both of them raise their four kids.

She has no problem whatsoever declaring, “We are not equal to men. When you have to choose between what he likes and what you like, choose in his favour.”  And this: “You must submit to him… When your husband tells you something, you should listen as if it were God speaking,”

As you might expect, a book expressing those ungarnished sentiments has also created a storm. An ultra politically correct Spanish government minister – a woman – wants it banned there. But apart from having a laugh all the way to the bank, Costanza is also having a good laugh at the simpletons who are misreading her book and her intentions. In summary she has done nothhing more than present us with a very sane and rich view of marriage in a guise so alien to the pc mores of today that it is ‘way-off-the-scale post-modern, a very refreshing antidote to the vacuous and poisonous Briget Jones of our time.

As yet we don’t have any of Miriano’s  four best-sellers in English translation. Her latest book is the other side of the coin that is Woman, Get Married and Be Submissive. It is a shot in the arm for the age of chivalry – 21st century-style. It is called Marry Her and Die for Her. What we do have, however, is her blog and that has an English language version on which you can read some extracts from her books. The Italian exuberance of the books is lost in translation but the excerpts do give some idea of the fresh and ultra-human, truly Christian-humanist ideloogy running therough what she has written.

One excerpt is a letter to a married friend whose wedding she attended with her own famiy. It was meant to be a letter written before the wedding, a kind of wedding gift, but chaos seems to have put an end to that intention. As it turnss out it seems the letter-writing had to wait a few years. She writes:

Dear Margherita, I had intended to come to your wedding with a beautiful letter for you – Holy Cow, I am the maid of honour!   

She digresses and in the process gives us some pen-pictures of her own children.

To be honest, the boys especially remember that fatal day (her friend’s wedding, we presume) because that was the day of the Roma F.C. vs. Sampdoria soccer game, which cost the “maggica” the Premier League Championship that year. What can you do with them? They are male, the basic model. Despite it, they are not rednecks, at least not yet. Bernardo is a model student, he can’t get less than an A at school, a little soldier always ready to carry out orders.

 Tommaso, a little less precise, called me the other night to ask me when the Teheran Conference was held – a historical episode totally unknown to me. The latest historical fact I knew was the fall of the Western Roman Empire. And, a few evenings ago: “Mom, what is dialectic materialism? I’m calling Dad if you’re not sleeping now” – I tried to scare him while I frantically browsed the Philosophy section of the encyclopaedia or the History handbook that I learned to keep close at hand, together with the fundamentals – like the West wing DVDs or Mother Speranza’s novena.

 But, belonging to the male gender, he also has an almost universal taint. His brain turns dumb when he sees a rolling ball. I know men who can be defined as normal, even as special as the one I married, that undergo a mutation at the starting whistle of a game and they instantly turn without batting an eyelid, from the violent films of Sam Peckinpah to La Signora in Giallorosso – a talk show on a local Rome TV -, from a re-reading of Dostoevsky’s The Idiot to Big Mario’s radio, losing any restraint. I’m only telling you, so that you can get ready, as you took one of the same species for yourself, and not for a weekend getaway, but for all of your life, until death do you part.

Then she ges to the meat of her letter, her “gift” to her fiend, Margherita.

It is the secret for a holy wedding, which is the same as saying a happy one. The secret is for a woman, in front of the man she chose, to take a step backwards. And, as you know me well, you also may well know this is not in my nature at all. I’m not exactly a docile person, but I have turned into one I believe, I hope, because I think this is what being a spouse means: to embrace, first of all.

 And you know that I, just like anybody, don’t like losing. I’ve been more than competitive at school, at university. Even more in sports…But when it comes to life as a couple, you have to compete in the opposite way: two steps backwards. And you must do it even when you don’t understand why, even when you’re convinced you have good reasons. In that very moment, perform an act of trust towards your husband. Get out of the logic of the world, “I want to get the better of him”, and enter the logic of God, who put at your side your husband, that saint who bears you after everything, and who, incidentally, is also a handsome guy. And if something he does is not fine with you, it is God Himself you have to confront, to begin with: get down on your knees, and most time you’ll solve everything.

 Luigi is the way God chose to love you and he is your way to heaven. When he says something, then you must listen to him as if God was talking to you; with full discernment, clearly, in wisdom and cleverness, of course, because he is a creature, but with respect, because he often sees more clearly than you do. Our vocation, whatever it is, is the source of our happiness. As the Russian Orthodox theologian, Pavel Evdokimov, says, if the objective end of the wedding is generating children, the subjective end is to generate ourselves. Margherita is not fully herself without Luigi!

 Can you realize how great and invaluable a thing you have in your hands? In this enterprise you just started, with the grace of God, you will generate yourself. “But how do you do that?” you asked on the phone some thousand times. Do I have to let him have the better of me even when he’s wrong? I say yes. In the first place because it seems to you that he’s wrong, and if, as we were saying, he’s the one who leads you to your wholeness, to your completeness, it is exactly when he thinks differently from you that you have to open up to him, and embrace him. It is exactly then that what he tells you has a precious meaning for you, it adds something, it makes you whole, makes you grow, lets you make a shift.

 If you just embrace what you agree with,  what you think, you are not married to a man, but to yourself. You must submit yourself to him. When you two must choose between what you like and what he likes, choose in his favour. And this is easy. When there’s a decision to take, and after you weighed the pros and cons the answer is still not clear, trust him, and let him have the last word. This is a little difficult sometimes. When it seems to you that his is completely wrong, for the the sake of both of you, even for the kids, maybe, still keep trusting his clearness of mind. This may seem to be an unbearable effort. You will be afraid, because abandoning your beliefs is scary. But you’re not jumping into the void; you’re jumping into his arms.

 You’ll see, I can swear on it, a man cannot resist a woman who respects him, recognizes his authority, who makes a sincere effort to listen to him, to let aside her own way of seeing things, who tramples on her ever-biting, teasing, failure-highlighting tongue (we’re very good at that, no doubt), who accepts to walk on paths that are extremely different from those she would naturally choose, just out of love.

 Day by day, he will start asking you what you think, what to do, which way your family should go. And this respect you achieve through respect, this devotion through submission. This is why, having finally won my husband’s respect, I now feel ready to calmly explain to him how greatly beneficial it would be to build a garden walk. And even when the fruits seem to be late, we Christians must know they are ripening. We are happy in hope, aren’t we? We know what happens to us is not to be measured on the world’s meter. We know any suffering, even a little one, produces sometimes mysterious, yet never lost, fruits, if accepted with love.

Later in the book, in a less than submissive mood, she writes:

Warning: the reading of what follows is strictly forbidden to my husband, and the noble words that follow apply to any wedding but mine.

She is about to consider the tragedy of broken marriages and other disasters of the kind.

But even a woman who is betrayed has a possibility to defend her love, which is in a serious life-endangering condition: she can remain faithful and keep on loving. It is a terrible storm, but not a shipwreck. It is a vase that breaks, and that will not be new anymore, but even if the signs of where it’s been glued are visible, it will hold until the end. We as women also defend life this way, flying its flag high even when everything seems lost.

 To forgive doesn’t mean to forget what happened. It is not refusing to look at the face of grief. It is not refusing to give it its importance because in the end the good and the bad are indistinguishable. It is not indifference. It is deciding to stem disorder, and to let the good win. The women who manage it are the stronger, the most capable of love, their shoulders are wider, and they are able to perform the miracle you need to overcome a betrayal.

 

The same cannot be said for men, because a man and a woman love in a different way: the woman with a specific love, capable of understanding originality. Man is fragile, and not always capable of understanding the differences between women. Only these, in the most painful, entangled and despairing situations can proclaim hope and stay up on their feet to give courage again to everybody.

But even without getting to the real, consumed, enacted, betrayal, to the menace of death to the relationship, there are many possible small betrayals.

 Even the wife of Robert Redford, – not the wrinkly director of Sundance, but the legendary man who made himself in ‘The Great Gatsby, – seeing him wandering about the house in underpants and unmatched socks, clinging to the remote control in front of a Lakers match, would probably be tempted to start exchanging messages with the young and good-looking greengrocer from West Hollywood. Even in these cases love works if you make a decision, and you don’t follow your emotions, your needs, your instinctual part.

 How sad are most contemporary films and books: a lamentation on nothingness, a boring tautology. They are a demonstration that by obeying your own selfishness you are unwell, you are disquieted and never satisfied. They are all about grains of wheat refusing to fall in the soil. They are celebrations of “I’m not like that,” or “I don’t feel that way.” Wojtyla told the couples he went camping with during summer: don’t say “I love you.” Say, “I participate with you in the love of God.” A very different kind of music.

Costanza Miriano appeared recently on BBC Newsnight, interviewed by a somewhat incredulous anchorwoman. How did she ever think that she would get away without enraging the worldwide sisterhood if she dared to proclaim that wives should be submissive to their husbands? Costanza explained, with the confidence that sales of 100,000 will give any writer, that submission meant being under someone, or something, in the sense that columns were under the upper structures of buildings and were their supports. These were the essential elements of a building without which any building would be worthless.

 

 

 

 

A health and safety alert to really take seriously

For Irish readers this is all about paid-up membership of the Vincent Browne/Fintan O’Toole club in The Irish Times. For anyone else it is also a terrific insight into what may be the number one malaise of our contemporary culture. It is currently online on Spiked-online.com.

As the shifting status of men and women plays itself out across society, it is all too easy to attribute men’s changing fortunes to some natural defect of masculinity, as if economic stagnation and decline was a natural phenomenon, like a comet hitting the earth and sealing the fate of the dinosaurs. It is equally tempting to believe that women are prospering because they are better suited to today’s conditions. Neither case is true. The tragedy is that no one benefits from the end of men and all that it implies: not men, not women and not society. What appears to be an equalising of men and women’s status is really the degradation of the human potential of both.

For men, it’s not merely that they no longer personify authority; their masculinity itself has become inherently problematic. It is blamed for everything from rape and violence to the lack of development in Africa. At best masculinity is said to make men too inflexible, at worst it creates dangerous emotional automatons cut off from themselves and one another, prone to see women as objects and predisposed toward sexual violence. Masculinity is increasingly regarded as something young boys must be educated out of: they must be taught not to rape.

By contrast, women are deemed inherently vulnerable. They are always at risk, be it of date rape by men who use alcohol as a weapon, or of developing an eating disorder brought on by images in fashion magazines.

These caricatures of men and women destroy the basis for equal partnership and mutual cooperation. When men are seen as useless or dangerous and women are thought likely to be undermined by men’s privilege, is it any wonder that marriage, the institution though which a life-long partnership between men and women took place, has become more trouble than it’s worth?

http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/the_triumph_of_the_maternalists/14346#.Uy3uRKh_uSo

A ‘story’ that may or may not come true

The inevitable retreat of big government, third wave feminism and selfish individualism – all of them inherently unsustainable, –  was proposed as a golden opportunity for the rejuvenation of the institution of marriage, the rescue of the family,and the well-being of society over the coming decades at a conference on marriage in Belfast, Ireland, last weekend.

In seizing this opportunity men and women would need to change their attitudes to themselves and to each other. The family had no future without the engagement, commitment and support of its young women. Women had been profoundly misled by radical feminism, by the myth that they can be happy and fulfilled by a career that provides financial independence, making men and marriage optional, the conference was told.

Gerard O’Neill, Chairman of Amárach Researchamárach means tomorrow in the Gaelic language – was speaking in a personal capacity on the future of marriage to Ireland’s Catholic marriage care service, Accord, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its foundation. Mr. O’Neill spoke of the “new and often hostile forces arrayed against marriage as an institution and preferred choice in the early 21st century.”

He began by examining  marriage rates, past and present. Back in 1962, he said, there were 7 marriages per 1,000 people in Northern Ireland; in the Republic of Ireland there were just over 5 marriages per 1,000. Fast forward fifty years and the marriage rate in the North, part of the UK, has fallen from 7 to 4.5 marriages per 1,000, and in the Republic from 5.2 to 4.6 per 1,000. He put these rates in a European context, pointing out that  the rate in Cyprus was 7 per 1,000; Slovenia’s was the lowest at 3 per 1,000.”

He then moved to look at another significant social change over the past fifty years impacting on marriage and the family – births outside marriage. He described the trend here as “alarming”. Back in 1962, he pointed out, fewer than 3% of births were outside of marriage in Ireland. Today, the proportion is close to 40% and it is well over 50% in the cities. He set that in a European context where the rate today varies from a low 7% in Greece to a high 64% in Iceland.

“I say ‘alarming’ because the life prospects for a child born outside of marriage (to a single parent or even to a cohabiting couple) are worse on virtually every single measure we can derive than are the prospects for a child born to a married couple. Not for every child everywhere, of course, but for the vast majority consistently over the past fifty years. We have every cause to be alarmed.”

He then looked forward and began by looking at the forces which he believed would – one way or another – shape the future of marriage in Ireland and everywhere else for that matter. He didn’t offer forecasts or prophecies: only a ‘story’ that may or may not come true, perhaps all of it or just some of it. Reasuringly – somewhat, depending on your reading of half a glass of water – he quoted Herb Stein who said “If something can’t go on forever, it won’t”.

He suggested that in the coming years Western societies would face a number of surprising, even disturbing ‘stopping points’. He referred to the dire prediction known as “peak oil” – which describes a trend whereby global oil output reaches a peak as oil reserves are consumed faster than they are replaced and from that point on the flow of oil goes into decline. His view is that this peaking phenomenon can apply to more than oil and that it may affect three important factors which determine our lives and our society today – “big” government, radical feminism, and individualism.

We have already hit “peak government”, he suggested, in that we are living through an epic economic crisis in the developed world. That crisis has flowed from the finance and banking sector on to governments through sovereign debt. The bottom line was that a growing number of governments would be unable to fund their financial commitments into the future and so their spending would have to be cut, he said.

He connects this with marriage in a very simple way:

“in many parts of the world the Government has become the ‘daddy state’ – replacing fathers and husbands with expanding social welfare provisions.  But the ‘daddy state’ is about to become the ‘miser state’ – and so the dependency culture that was allowed to grow up around the expansion of profligate state spending will have to rapidly go into reverse.”

O’Neill moved into very controversial territory when he approached feminism. The second and third waves feminism, he said, had expanded rapidly throughout the second half of the twentieth century, especially in the Anglophone world, on the back of economic, cultural and technological changes.  The first wave had wanted equal citizenship for women – the right to vote at the beginning of the twentieth century. Second wave feminism wanted equal economic access for women – the right to paid employment. Third wave feminism, however, wanted, and still wants, much, much more, namely: “the transformation of society to the detriment of men. In case you haven’t noticed, feminism is no longer about equality.

“Of course, many feminists will deny this. They will point to the gender wage gap or other such controversies. But they then ignore gender gaps that are to men’s detriment: higher rates of unemployment, of emigration, imprisonment, sucide, as well as greater victimhood from violent crime. Men are also failed by our educational system (a growing majority of third level/university students throughout Ireland and the developed world are women). Men still die five years younger than women on average despite all the advances of science in the past fifty years.”

As he sees it, many feminists talk about the glass ceiling, while conveniently ignoring the glass cellar that traps their brothers, fathers, sons and husbands – or should that be partners, he asked? A Western culture sadly afflicted in the past by misogyny was now one afflicted by a strident culture of misandry – both equally intolerable.

“But as Herb said, if it can’t go on, it won’t. The thing is, most of the ‘success’ of gender feminism in the late 20th century has been the result of substituting men with the state: as employer, provider and defender. Ergo, Peak Government means Peak Feminism. Again, it won’t be pretty after the peak has past”, he promised.

In describing his third peak, he locked horns with the arch-priest of individualism, Abraham Maslow, in a full frontal assault. Maslow, an American psychologist, was at the centre of an unprecedented global revolution in values, culture and behaviour which took place over 50 years ago. Maslow’s description of the human “hierarchy of needs” said that security and sustenance were at the bottom while “self-actualisation” was at the top.

Abraham Maslow

“All very hippy, all very self-centred,” O’Neill said, “but a perfect charter for the radical liberal agenda of autonomy and individualism that has swept the world over the past fifty years. And also very wrong: we now know that the deepest psychological drivers of people relate to bonding, parenting and belonging.”

At this point O’Neill opts to read the glass of water as half-full rather than half-empty and states his optimistic belief that we have now reached the point of “peak individualism”. The tide which began to sweep over us form the 1960s onwards is now ebbing – along with “peak government” and “peak feminism” – because of “our ageing populations; the emergence of new types of communities and networks; and the resurgence of an older, deeper wisdom about what makes life meaningful and worthwhile. And it isn’t self-actualisation.”

O’Neill then suggests that if we are to realise the opportunity for positive change which our descent from these peaks presents to the institution of marriage, the family – and as consequence, our society – three things will have to happen.

Firstly, men will have to find their purpose again. Unemployment among young men throughout the world is the biggest threat to the future of marriage bar none, he said.

“It is also the biggest barrier in the way of our future wellbeing as a society. No civilised society can survive without the engagement, commitment and support of its young men. And right now we are failing an entire generation of young men throughout the Western world. Nor will men be civilised without the pre-requisites that historically have given them purpose and identity, namely: a job, a wife and a child – preferably in that order!”

Secondly, women, for their part must ‘woman up’

“we are all familiar with the call for men to ‘man up’ when the circumstances call for it. We’re less familiar with the call for women to ‘woman up’. Just as civilisation has no future without its men, so the family has no future without the engagement, commitment and support of its young women. Women have been profoundly misled by radical feminism, by the myth that they can be happy and fulfilled by a career that provides financial independence, making men and marriage optional. It doesn’t. The bottom line is that the family will only be saved by young women realising that marriage and motherhood are more important than a career.”

Thirdly, people of faith and Christians in particular must go on the offensive. While fifty years, he said, is a long time for a human being it is but a mere blink in historical time. Institutions like the Christian churches can and should take a longer term view of the future.

“Peak Government, Peak Feminism, and Peak Individualism”, he warned, “will unleash new forces in the world, not all of them benign. But it will also open up new spaces for organisations like the Catholic Church and other faiths (including Muslims) to use their wisdom, authority and resources to provide guidance and inspiration through the turbulent times ahead.”

He concluded by declaring that marriage and parenthood are as relevant to our wellbeing today as they were fifty years ago – or 2,000 years ago for that matter – and that marriage will be even more important to our wellbeing in the “post-peak” future we are now entering.