Catholic cry babies

2 08 2010

There is a whole genre of Catholic writing that makes us out to be a bunch of dysfunctional individuals who can’t hack it in society. The latest is this particular gem of false victimhood. This is the catalyst for this author’s short essay:

Our son, encouraged by a romantic interest in one of his classmates, secretly placed a white, long-stemmed rose in the young girl’s desk. When the object of his affection opened her desk, she coughed loudly to get the class’s full attention, stared at my son, and ripped the flower to shreds, slowly dropping the destroyed petals to the floor…

Since my son’s experience, I’ve heard stories of girls throwing gifts from admirers out the school bus window, sharing a “break up” note with the whole class before handing it to the rejected boy at day’s end, and posting vicious, ridiculing comments online — all after having coaxed, urged, and encouraged the boy in his affection. “That’s how girls are,” the educators shrug, without explaining why the boys are taught to respect a strict code of behavior, while girls purposefully flaunt it and emotionally debilitate, injure, and humiliate boys.

I have to say in the interest of full disclosure that I was not one of the “cool kids” in high school. I didn’t have my first girlfriend until my late 20’s, and she turned out to be my present wife. Maybe I was smart enough not to get interested in relationships until I was actually ready to get married. So I don’t sympathize with this boy’s plight all that much. But the author has proven herself what one has called a “helicopter mom” too much before (once recommending that the Church change its perennial confessional discipline by allowing parents to sit in on their children’s confession). Is there a whole generation of self-described “orthodox Catholic” parents who are setting their children up to be a bunch of emotionally stunted ninnies?

First of all, I think it a bit ridiculous to consider the “mean girls / ice queens” some sort of “sexual predators”. If anything, such a classification from a Catholic website seems extremely inopportune considering the heat our clergy has been taking due to its criminal indiscretions. The absurdity of this line of thought is continued by the author:

Stories abound of boys looking for healthy dates and relationships only to unwittingly encounter sexually experienced, aggressive girls who, in their neediness and emotional instability, employ guilt and temptation to coax middle school and high school-age boys into sexual activity. To turn them down, these predators know, the boys will be subjected to further ridicule and assertions of “unmanliness.”

One commenter said the obvious: “I wish I had that problem when I was in school”. All jesting aside, it seems that the author is too entangled in her argument to realize she is placing on the same moral footing a pedophile priest, a serial rapist, and a particularly bratty girl in a Catholic school girl uniform. We are all victims now. If someone doesn’t treat me with the kid gloves that I need to be handled with, I am emotionally scarred, and my mother has a right to shout my plight to the four corners of the Internet.

Seriously, have we come to this? Have we come to the point where the Catholic Faith is our secret weapon to play the part of the arch-victim? Where certain Catholics feel “victimized” by Catholics who are less “Catholic” than they are?

For me, this stuff brings to mind what an acquaintance of mine once said. He was a gentleman in his early thirties, an ex-Catholic Latino man who has a particularly bad personality. He complained how American women were too stuck up and mean to be good wives, so he could only see himself marrying a foreigner. I have heard such criticisms echoed in other quarters. Being married to a good American gal (with a Ph.D. to boot), I can’t express how sorry I think these people really are. And I feel that is what some “orthodox Catholic men” are being steered towards: being a cranky old bachelor with newspapers piled to the ceiling and too many cats. I hope this author’s children are spared such a horrid fate.


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23 responses

17 08 2010
MRDA

This response gets it where all the others fall far of the mark.

6 08 2010
dymphna

I thought it was a silly piece written by an over protective mom. Her son got rejected so now there’s a whole new class of sexual predator? What’s she going to do when the next girl says no?

3 08 2010
Hilarious Post!

The crime here is the lack of courtesy. Of doing worse than looking a gift horse in the mouth.

While the author may be a tad hysterical, she’s on to something.

Had the girl been politely (though even disinterestedly) courteous, showed appreciation that another human being thought nicely of her, and by doing so taught her friends what courtesy was about – it would have been a great teaching moment for all.

I mean – would you mock someone with Down Syndrome who gave you a flower? I wouldn’t be surprised if these sorts of kids would.

(And one day, these kids when grown up will have their fingers on the big red button at NORAD. God help us all!)

Instead, she gave into the sort of peer pressure to be expected in a raw and decadent democracy, castrated the poor slob, felt good about gaining power over him and maintaining the phoney “respect” of her peers that won’t surpass her Sweet 16 party, and set herself up one day way into the future – if ever – to regret the pain she caused this silly innocent fool.

The next step for her lot is dishing out a cup of hemlock, or releasing Barabbas because he medaled at the Penn Relays, or voting for the guy with the funny mustache because the boy-next-door got a promotion with his group for wearing the brown shirt that fits so tight and snuggly!

What did Orwell warn us about?

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stomping on a human face — forever.”

It starts with roses.

Don’t blame the victim, bro!

2 08 2010
angryart

FREEZE.

“Woman are much worse than the men, more out of control”?? I don’t believe
this for a second–we’re both sexual creatures and express this differently as a group and as individuals. I’m NOT trying to play the feminist martyr but this is bollocks! Even if you somehow quantify whatever you and Marjorie mean by “out of control,” how could you stamp the entire gender of an entire generation that way?

Like Arturo says, she’s diagnosing problems that just aren’t there. Honestly, if this is the biggest problem at this middle or high school, I’m stunned, and I hope she pays the big bucks to send him there.

2 08 2010
KarlH

“Too many kids from the fundie homeschool clique pull a mad rumspringa at 18. Should that be the result of “Christian parenting”?”

Hey, that would be me! 😀

2 08 2010
KarlH

This is very interesting, thanks.

2 08 2010
KarlH

Heh, my parents just kept me in line by giving me good books to read. If you can understand fiction, you can understand real life.

2 08 2010
angryart

Ha ha. Agreed.

2 08 2010
Mike

AG,

What an incredibly lucid response. That should be posted in the comments for the original article. I especially liked this inclusion:

I also don’t get this notion that girls are ‘out of control’ in some way that boys aren’t. It reminds me a bit of the whole Amy Fisher story as told by the prosecutors and mainstream media, where the sexual potency of this average teenage girl was just so overpowering that much older men – from whom she contracted STIs – just couldn’t resist her, even though she was being pimped out by her married male lover who joked to her about killing his wife. Yet, SHE was totally to blame for oozing some irresistible sexuality. Yeah right. It’s the Lolita myth, the fantasy of middle-aged predatory men like, say, Woody Allen and Roman Polanski, about teenage girls becoming so accepted in our culture that people actually think that the fantasies of these perverts is how girls in our culture typically behave, and it’s the girls’ fault.

The worst about about that whole line-of-thinking is how easy it is for women to fall for it. I once had a discussion with a female coworker in which she expressed sympathy for men who were committing sexual assaults because of the way young women dress nowadays (men are so visually stimulated, after all).

You know, as a man it’s borderline insulting to be looked at as a rutting beast with no self-control. But I suppose historically that kind of sentiment has come in handy, should you ever find yourself in a court room being accused of a crime by a woman in a miniskirt.

P.S. That sparkly pencil cost me a whole day’s milk money! How could you have been so cruel?

2 08 2010
AG

When AV first told me about this article, my reaction was very similar to one of the commenters at “Inside Catholic:” how humiliated did the girl in question feel? As a middle schooler (not two decades ago), I was the subject of a classmate’s crush. He left a note and gift (a sparkly pencil) on my desk, but as I was not remotely interested – I had been nice to the boy and talked to him, cause that’s the way my mom raised me, but I certainly never meant to foster any affection – and as he was not at all “popular,” I was mortified to the point of tears that any of my classmates would find out, and so grateful that I had been the first back to the classroom after recess to crumple up the note and push it all the way to the back of the desk. My best friend in junior high endured even worse humiliation because the wrong kind of boy had a crush on her, with the pressure heavily on her to publicly reject such an undesired suitor. This behavior reached its crescendo when I was in my 20s, with the “you aren’t really going to talk to that guy, right?” look of horror and pressure from girlfriends at its strongest.

The dynamics of romantic relationships – specifically, of the ‘acceptability’ of such within the larger peer/social group and the need for social display – have, I easily imagine, always been around. The classification of some form of this, however, as sexual predation, is what is so disturbing to me about the original article. Girls acting meanly towards rejected suitors, even girls acting/dressing in a titillating manner, does not equal sexual predation. In my high school years, wearing tight tank-tops that said “cherry” with bra straps exposed and very short shorts with sexually suggestive words written across the ass was very popular; not allowed by my public school dress code, but easily done in any and all after-school activities, or school trips. Most of my female classmates were sexually active, etc., because this behavior was normal for teenagers in the 90s (and I surmise, just as normal now), and I was living in a quite affluent suburban community with varying levels of parental involvement. Boys pressure girls to have sex, girls pressure boys, and so it goes. In high school, I recall a couple of girlfriends crying on Monday morning, because they’d gone to a party, had too much to drink, and some boy had had sex with them (and I wouldn’t even label these incredibly stupid boys as sexual predators). I don’t condone this lackadaisical attitude towards sex, but I do not see sexual sin as trumping all other sin in the evils of the world, and I think we play way too heavily into our sex obsessed culture when we Catholics show signs of the same obsession.

I also don’t get this notion that girls are ‘out of control’ in some way that boys aren’t. It reminds me a bit of the whole Amy Fisher story as told by the prosecutors and mainstream media, where the sexual potency of this average teenage girl was just so overpowering that much older men – from whom she contracted STIs – just couldn’t resist her, even though she was being pimped out by her married male lover who joked to her about killing his wife. Yet, SHE was totally to blame for oozing some irresistible sexuality. Yeah right. It’s the Lolita myth, the fantasy of middle-aged predatory men like, say, Woody Allen and Roman Polanski, about teenage girls becoming so accepted in our culture that people actually think that the fantasies of these perverts is how girls in our culture typically behave, and it’s the girls’ fault.

Sexual predation is not a term that should be lightly used. One cannot logically group girls behaving flirtatiously, even suggestively, and being mean to potential suitors with people pursuing the rape of adults or children. It’s not even on the same spectrum, and it’s very dangerous to suggest that it is.

Rather, the whole article to me read like a need to claim the “victim” label, no matter how preposterous. Ice queens aren’t just bitches, they are ‘sexual predators.’ As mentioned above, it also speaks to a whole obsession with sex among Catholics and just about everyone else, as if sexual matters trump all else. If I think of the problems in our educational system, especially where I’ve lived on the south side of Chicago, very close to the ghettos of Oakland, CA, and now back in N.O., sexual manipulation in schools is not even in the top 5.

2 08 2010
sortacatholic

Jared:

I chalk this whole thing up as Reason #85,088,991 to Home-School whenever possible.

Homeschooling has its own problems. I wasn’t homeschooled, but I’ve spent enough time with fundies to know how this game plays out. Many times the parents are so focused on protecting their kids from perceived threats to “Christian values” and an ideal “faith-based” lifestyle that their kids end up being emotionally incestuous with the family and church. This is the path that Marjorie’s traveling down if she doesn’t let her kids deal with humiliation/failure/licentiousness/”bad influences” and the rest of life’s rich pageant. Maybe I was a bit cruel earlier when I told Marjorie and her kid to “toughen their hides”. Parents should provide their kids with reasonable validation and healthy self-esteem. Helicopter parenting and neglect are polar opposites of reasonable parenting. The creation of a “Christo-bubble” is also an extreme, and potentially damaging, response to childhood social variables. Moderation is difficult when your kid’s hurting, but sometimes parents need to find moderation in difficult times.

Too many kids from the fundie homeschool clique pull a mad rumspringa at 18. Should that be the result of “Christian parenting”?

2 08 2010
Jared B.

I’d be pretty mortified if I that were my mother’s exact words / attitude back when I was a teenager, but the column had some salient points.

* No boy would dare similarly humiliate a girl — much less touch, push, or harass a female peer — without fully anticipating swift, certain, and painful consequences, including expulsion.
Right. Double standards just shouldn’t be tolerated, no excuses.

* “Well, yes,” I was later told by a teacher. “Girls can be a bit mean at this age.
This just shows how adults’ expectations of kids & teens behavior has hit rock-bottom. Any suggestion of requiring some civility is treated like some huge violation of liberties or privacy or whatever bullsh** cry-wolf works best. The result: schools and teachers don’t feel they have the right to require that their students treat each other with even the most basic humanity.

* …public school educators were far ahead of Catholic schools in prohibiting this sexual display called “dance.”
That’s to be expected, if many Catholic schools desperately imitate their government-run counterparts; they’d be at least a few years behind, so they haven’t yet come around the bend and realized they once again have permission from secular society to enforce some code of conduct.

I chalk this whole thing up as Reason #85,088,991 to Home-School whenever possible.

2 08 2010
Tom

He/She’s just not that into you.

2 08 2010
FrGregACCA

Over the top? Yes. However, at the same time, approaches to parenting are cyclic.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generations_(book)

2 08 2010
Mike

One commenter said the obvious: “I wish I had that problem when I was in school”.

Arturo,

Glad somebody liked my comment.

I think you’re being kind of hard on Marjorie, but I can’t disagree with the content of your response. I liked this:

For me, this stuff brings to mind what an acquaintance of mine once said. He was a gentleman in his early thirties, an ex-Catholic Latino man who has a particularly bad personality. He complained how American women were too stuck up and mean to be good wives, so he could only see himself marrying a foreigner. I have heard such criticisms echoed in other quarters. Being married to a good American gal (with a Ph.D. to boot), I can’t express how sorry I think these people really are. And I feel that is what some “orthodox Catholic men” are being steered towards: being a cranky old bachelor with newspapers piled to the ceiling and too many cats. I hope this author’s children are spared such a horrid fate.

I think Marjorie probably feels bad for her son, but these types of blunders are not uncommon in high school. These are the experiences where you laugh at your own stupidity later in life. Yes, MacKenzie/Ashleigh/Krystal is really pretty, but it would be prudent in the future to do a little bit of investigation beforehand to find out if she is really into you, before you perform romantic theatrics with the potential for humiliation. This is a learning experience for him, and will do a lot to disabuse him of any notions of entitlement. And entitlement is exactly what you’re talking about with the ex-Catholic Latino man. “Women are too stuck up,” essentially means “I think I’m great but women don’t, and instead of wondering whether the problem lies with me, I’m just going to assume that there is something wrong with women.”

A few months ago I read a mewling Catholic rant about how the “hook-up culture” was ruining the chances for “regular” guys to find a good-looking wife. I bet you would have liked that one too, Arturo.

Take it easy.

2 08 2010
M.Z.

I didn’t think I would disagree with both the original and the rebuttal. Anyway, here goes.

Maybe I was smart enough not to get interested in relationships until I was actually ready to get married.

This is a part where we agree. 6th graders should not be pursuing each other. Yes, it happened when I was that age. I think fewer than 5% of the students were partnering up at that time. I didn’t have my first date until after high school.

[From Campbell] Stories abound of boys looking for healthy dates and relationships only to unwittingly encounter sexually experienced, aggressive girls who, in their neediness and emotional instability, employ guilt and temptation to coax middle school and high school-age boys into sexual activity.
This is certainly a very real phenomenon. It is unusual to hear it coming from a woman, because usually it is men that are surprised to learn that women are sexual creatures who not only enjoy it, but seek it. And while it may be fun to joke about, wishing girls were like that when I was in school, it isn’t a good thing. Immature people having sex leads to all sorts of bad things.

He complained how American women were too stuck up and mean to be good wives
More typically the complaint about American women is that they aren’t interested in making a home, haven’t even acquired the skills to cook – let alone desire to do so – have no interest in the actual raising of children, have almost no household utility and are too obsessed in themselves. The critique is largely accurate. On the other hand, a lot of American men don’t have the skills or ability to support a family and don’t know how to properly relegate hobbies like videogaming to hobby status. That complaint is often raised by women and is also largely correct. There are certainly people that will go to old age alone because they are unwilling to compromise. More likely, children will just suffer for it. At least they won’t die from it.

As to what should be done about such things, the public schools handle it very simply: they don’t allow it. Gift giving and all the other nonsense is relegated to outside of school at that age level. In most times and places, dating was done and influenced in the public square. Until the advent of the automobile, it was difficult to have a largely unsupervised life. Roughly half of the kids in my children’s public elementary school live an undirected life. Just yesterday, a 4th grader in the neighborhood used “Two Girls and a Cup” in casual conversation. I wouldn’t be shocked if he’d actually seen the video. It is “Lord of the Flies” out there. I don’t think people realize the degree to which children are undirected (supervision is no where near to in loco parentis), and I don’t think they understand the degree to which this is historically abnormal. Of course helicopter parenting is an extreme reaction to this. At some point, kids will see the real world and have to react and adapt to it.

2 08 2010
sortacatholic

Hey, I have an even better idea: a while back Arturo mentioned the “litany” that Russian priests used when hearing confessions (the priests couldn’t be trusted to keep the sacramental seal.) This is a good way to eliminate face time altogether. I just see it now.

Church full of high school students.

Priest: Are you guilty of schism, apostasy, or idol worship?

Students (unison): Yes.

Priest: Are you guilty of perjury, usury, embezzlement, and/or grand theft?

Students: Yes.

Priest: Are you guilty of regicide?

Students: Yes.

Student 1 looks at Student 2. “That word isn’t on our vocab sheets.”

2 08 2010
sortacatholic

I partly agree with Ms. Campbell that children should hear confession as a group until the age of majority. In all fairness, she calls for a general confession of minors and not the privilege to hear the private confessions of her children. It’s an obvious double standard to permit general confession for minors and require private confession for adults (what, people don’t really sin until they’re 18?)

She strongly suggests that many priests coerce children into later abusive situations. At one point or another a priest has to be trusted within prudent protective measures. The new “penance service” where a priest quickly absolves queued penitents (“just whisper one sin”) is a public, out in the open sacrament that limits a priest’s verbal contact with penitents. The penance could be assigned beforehand and the act of contrition recited in unison after individual absolution. Twenty seconds face-time with each minor penitent. That’s a good compromise. Better yet: do not administer Holy Communion to those under 18.

As for helicopter parenting: yeah, I was a total helicopter child. My parents thought I was some sort of genius. They even went as far as to pull me out of the public elementary school and put me in montessori because the principal wouldn’t put me in gifted. whatever. I ended up dull and poofteriffic. Wouldn’t helicopter my kids. But I’m not having kids. So this is all sorta irrelevant.

Anyway, Ms. Campbell’s transformation of standard childhood behavior into a faux-Christianized diatribe on immodesty is absurd. So your kid’s blastocystic puppy love was rejected. Deal. In many respects, life is a series of failures punctuated with brief flashes of brilliance. Marjorie, your boy will toughen his hide. Maybe you should toughen yours.

2 08 2010
Arturo Vasquez

I fail to see how any of the concrete examples posted in the cited essay show that these are examples of “predatory” behavior. This is more a rhetorical failure on the part of the author than the actual existence of real problems. In all of these cases, I would like to know what Mrs. Campbell would have school officials do about it. Punish the offender who tore up the rose in front of him? Force her to go out on a date with him? Suspend Sally from school since she “forced” Timmy to have sex with her? (I suppose female on male rape is possible, but I can’t quite figure out the logistics of it).

In other words, I can’t possibly conceive of a solution to these problems other than a cure for original sin. No doubt the school system has problems in this country. The public schools in the ghetto are basically war zones, in the public school that I went to grew up, there was de facto segregation in terms of the “college prep” classes, and kids are exposed to sex and drugs, etc. But “mean girls” ARE NOT PREDATORS! The local drug dealer is, the pervert cruising in his car looking for an underage girl to pick up, the actual bullies who tease and assault people who are different… that is what a predator looks like.

2 08 2010
Henry Karlson

Arturo

You are quite wrong about Marjorie. The issue is not as you make it, being a cry baby, but rather, the way we have let our youth down by what we accept in our schools. And, the shock of the system is, women are much worse than the men, more out of control. Sociology also shows where women go, so does our culture, since they have the biggest connection to the children. The same is true with linguistics…

2 08 2010
KarlH

(I didn’t mean to sound like a pretentious intellectual a-hole with my initial sentence, I meant to point out that I never attended a “real school,” and thus, my experiences with peers are from the position of one who is inside [as I’m part of the same age group], but not necessarily personally invested in the drama of teenage living [making me an insider-outsider]).

2 08 2010
KarlH

I’m about high school age, even if I’m halfway through college, so I feel qualified to comment on this attitude a bit, even though I never was directly involved in typical high school drama for very long—I was/am more interested in old literature, deep friendships, keeping my morals by choosing solitude over conformity, and meat-and-potatoes relationships (God, that sounds so off-putting).

First off, this victim mentality isn’t the sole property of parents. I’d say it’s much more common with the “nice guys” who feel as if women owe them something. A direct example: the other day, a friend of mine approached a girl to say hi, complimented her, stared at her boobs for awhile, and she was, understandly, not interested. He called her a frigid bitch, came back to our group, and everyone agreed with him. She was just being a “bitch,” apparently.

Some time before that, I was out with “friends,” and an unattractive but very nice and friendly girl said hi to this same guy. He grunted a few answers, gave her the cold shoulder, and called her a fat whore to everyone else (with their agreement) when she walked away.

The hypocrisy is obvious. Most people don’t deal well with rejection. I’d like to think I handle it better than most, but it’s really only because I grew up as the “faggy” younger guy no one understood, the odd one. I’m perceived differently now, I’m sure—I have an air of confidence, and maybe I’ve developed confidence, but I think it’s because I’ve adopted a I-don’t-give-a-fuck-what-they-think attitude (not to give off the air of aloofness or disrespect—I try my best to think the best and treat every person with the respect, I don’t start things). I really never could have developed this small piece of maturity if I hadn’t grown up as such an insider-outsider, if I hadn’t given up my effort to live authentically, even if it hurt.

And that’s the only way to deal with rejection—to realize that it sucks and no one owes you anything. Many people never realize this.

Also, another critique that comes to mind is that this doting mother (who reminds me of most of the other suburbanite “Christian” moms I know) is quick to label these girls as sexual predators while even realizing that, even if they are “predatory,” these girls are probably coming from broken, sick homes. This is why I’ve always thought my mom is better than most everyone else’s: even if in disagreement with someone over values, she never rejected anyone and taught me to acknowledge the source of lessened values: suffering. The key to getting along with someone is realizing that it’s a world of sin out there, and that’s just sad. There’s no reason to gloat over our own piety and play victim.

2 08 2010
angryart

That article is incredibly absurd! I don’t doubt that this stuff happens, but aren’t kids just at an emotionally rough time in their life and all of them (boys, girls, bullies or not) are testing their dominance in relationships? And yes, that quick leap to “sexual predator” made me reread that a few times, scratching my head. Don’t we have a handful of nasty words for those girls, and good parents just tell their sons to toughen up and steer clear instead of making them out to be the victim?

(As an aside. . . I really dig your blog and added it to my blogroll.)

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