My first temptation was not to comment on this one, but seeing as someone sent it to me to get my goat up, and I have had some biography with this particular issue, I thought I would share this Simcha Fisher post and then jot down a few thoughts. Honestly, I have no issue with women wearing pants whatsoever, and even having to write that felt weird. My mother has always worn pants on a daily basis. My wife wears pants. I see nothing wrong with pants. If you want to do a minor web anthropological study, just google all references to this particular essay and read all of the comments. The Internet makes all of the weirdos come out of the woodwork. Or better yet, don’t do it. I know you have better things to do.
My first exposure to the idea that “pants are immodest” came with my stint at the SSPX, where the good Bishop Williamson wrote that women had no business wearing trousers (or going to college, or giving their man lip, or… well, you get the idea). I didn’t really agree with it then, and certainly don’t now. Honestly, when I was in Argentina, I experienced much glee in seeing that the SSPX women, at least at home, wore pants unapologetically, for many of the same reasons that Mrs. Fisher writes.
While one can admire Mrs. Fisher’s gift of gab, one cannot help but think that she has been hoisted on her own petard. To put it another way, she touts the fact that she is a mother of eight who helps make ends meet by writing on Catholic issues. That should say a lot by itself. With the company she keeps, and the way she sells her schtick, it is no wonder she ends up with people on her blog coming up with all sorts of bizarre arguments as to why women should never have trousers. It is sort of like locking yourself in an insane asylum and complaining about the noise.
One has to wonder about this in another recent short essay where she talks about the daunting task of clothing her eight children. She writes:
I generally take anything that anyone offers, and — let me repeat — I really am really, really grateful. I have no idea how much it costs to outfit eight children, because I almost never have to buy them anything. It’s actually been a long time since anyone has dumped a boatload of junk on us without asking first, and most people are extremely tactful, almost apologetic, when offering me things. To any donor to the Fisher family who’s reading this: I’m not talking about you! If I said “thank you,” I meant it!
The first phrase that comes to mind is: “hobo chic”. I am presuming that because Mrs. Fisher can string a sentence or two together that she is not akin to one of those working class mothers who absolutely, positively has to work (I know many, and was raised by one). Her husband, thanks be to God, probably has a good white collar job, and I presume that her children aren’t starving. For me, that would make it seem that at bottom her lifestyle choice to have eight children and write about it all over the Internet is supplemented by the kindness of strangers who donate clothes that they don’t need. An interesting thought experiment would be to figure out how much clothes sharing would need to take place if all of those “bad Catholics” started doing what the guys in the pointy hats say and cranking out the eight children as well. Would there be enough clothes to go around then? Or food or shelter?
Like I said, reading the right wing Catholic Internet can at times seem like reading the Talmudic disputations of an emerging, Judeo-Christian fertility cult. And questions as to whether one can wear pants or not, or what people should donate to my family and what they should keep to themselves seem to be rather minor disputes in the midst of a bizarre program to crank out more white (let’s face it, they’re all white), culturally conservative, middle class babies. Only, if everyone started doing this, they wouldn’t be so middle class anymore, would they? Call it, “the Catholic slum strikes back!”
So pardon me if I think this is the pot calling the kettle black. Or an inmate in an insane asylum claiming to be Abraham Lincoln accusing another of insanity for pretending to be Napoleon (“You don’t even speak French!”, could be the iron-clad reasoning). Lie down with dogs… and all that jazz.