A Person With Breasts

Written by Father Bill 12 Comments

Peggy Noonan trains her sights on Hillary Clinton in this entry  of the Wall Street Journal‘s online Opinion Journal:

Hillary Clinton doesn’t have to prove she’s a man. She has to prove she’s a woman.

A person with breasts, and also with bicepsShe doesn’t have to prove to people that she’s tough enough or aggressive enough to be commander in chief. She doesn’t have to show she could and would wage a war. She has to prove she has normal human warmth, a normal amount of give, of good nature, that she is not, at bottom, grimly combative and rather dark.

This is the woman credited with starting and naming the War Room. Her staff has nicknamed her “The Warrior.” Get in her way and she’d squish you like a bug. This has been her reputation for 20 years. And it is her big problem. People want a president to be strong but not hard.

A longtime supporter of Mrs. Clinton’s spoke with candor some months back of her friend’s predicament. “We’re back where we were in ’92–likability. Nothing has changed.”

Back then, when the Clintons were newly famous, their consultants were alarmed to find the American people did not believe Hillary was a mother. They thought she was a person with breasts in a suit. She had a briefcase and a latte and was late for the meeting, but no way she did she have a child.

The gender-undertones here are fascinating to contemplate. 

On one hand, Noonan understands one of the fundamental planks of regnant feminism:  sexual differnces are merely and exclusively biological.  Individuals are “persons,” some of whom have breasts (the women) while the rest have differently configured tender bits (the men). 

On the other hand, Noonan’s trenchant analysis of Hillary’s campaign shows us that the electorate finds sex to involve more than a candidate’s sexual plumbing.  Evidently the electorate still thinks that sex has non-biological dimensions well.  Somehow notions of war and warriors and waging war and squishing bugs and aggression and being commander-in-chief are tied to masculinity, while femininity is still associated with human warmth, good nature, motherliness, and Celine Dion’s music.  Hillary isn’t feminine, and people notice. 

What a conundrum!  Hillary’s campaign must not break faith with that monstrous regiment of persons with breasts who give continual trumpet blasts against The Patriarchy.  And, yet, it appears Hillary’s campaign is waking up to this inconvenient fact:  they must secure the support of sexual neanderthals who still think that women ought to be and to act in classical patterns of femininity, all of which are scorned by those whose fundamental identity is “person with breasts.” 

Here’s the larger issue Noonan doesn’t even begin to engage:  when women wield great political power in the public arena, particularly the executive power, it trips the sexual identity alarms in those who behold it. As much as I admire Lady Margaret Thatcher’s achievements in temporarily reversing Great Britain’s slide into socialist mediocrity, I would never want her for a grandmother. 

Public executive power invariably masculinizes the women who wield that power, to greater or lesser extent that depends on the woman’s determination to retain some semblance of her femininity. 

These issues are writ large in something like Hillary’s campaign to become America’s first female president.  But, the same issues are alive and active in the workplaces, churches, families, and marriages of America’s Christians.  Noonan is like the boy who says “The Emporer has no clothes.”  Hillary has as much femininity as the Emporer had clothing.  What’s comical and dismaying at the same time is the plight of America’s Evangelicals — the egalitarians, overtly, and the squishy complementarians, implicitly — who are still mired in the feminist fantasy of the Seventies, when the cry of persons with breasts was “We can do anything a man can do.” 

Another person with breasts and manly accesorizingThat was never in doubt, of course.  The question was this:  may a woman do anything a man can do and still be a woman?  If “woman” means “person with breasts,” the answer is yes.  If “woman” means something more than biological factors, then Hillary’s campaign shows us the answer is no.  Hillary and her campaign managers, bless their hearts, are nearer the Kingdom than most American evangelicals.


12 Comments

  1. Michael McMillan   |  Friday, 22 June 2007 at 3:52 pm

    Fr. Bill,

    I enjoyed that. As far as “persons with breasts,” that is what it comes down to so often these days: does it or doesn’t it (have ’em)? So much else has been obscured/obliterated, many times there isn’t much else to go on.

    > Hillary isn’t feminine, and people notice.
    > Public executive power invariably masculinizes the women who wield that power…

    I remember back when her hair was long and she wore a headband. Too feminine and domestic to be seen as a leader, I guess.
    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/images/election98/hc16.jpg

    > What a conundrum! Hillary’s campaign must not break faith with that monstrous regiment of persons with breasts who give continual trumpet blasts against The Patriarchy. And, yet, it appears Hillary’s campaign is waking up to this inconvenient fact: they must secure the support of sexual neanderthals who still think that women ought to be and to act in classical patterns of femininity, all of which are scorned by those whose fundamental identity is “person with breasts.”

    How about a pinstripe or a camouflage apron? I’d settle for a Rosie the Riveter bandana.

    –Michael

  2. Truth Unites...and Divides   |  Friday, 22 June 2007 at 4:43 pm

    “Hillary and her campaign managers, bless their hearts, are nearer the Kingdom than most American evangelicals.”

    Geez Bill, that’s a hard kick in the pants, ain’t it?

  3. Fr. Bill   |  Friday, 22 June 2007 at 5:25 pm

    Geez Bill, that’s a hard kick in the pants, ain’t it?

    Well, it’s no more than what Jesus said when he observed, “For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light” (Luke 16:8)

    Consider … evangelicals of all sorts are enthralled with empowering their women, which in concrete terms means ordaining them to offices of the Church which Christ (through the Apostle Paul) lays exclusively upon men. Egalitarians expressly reject Paul’s teaching in the Pastorals. And a great many ostensibly “complementarian” pastors simply don’t see what the big deal is.

    One staff member at a large Bible Church near us recommended to the board of that church that it staff its adult Bible study classes with women teachers. Only one elder objected, and he was immediately challenged with this: “What’s the big deal? Most men in our congregation have a woman over them in the workplace, and they don’t mind. Why should anyone care if the Sunday School class teacher is a woman or not?”

    Now consider further … if Noonan is correct … Hillary’s campaign managers recognize a genuine aversion to manly women and an affinity for womanly women. They also understand that Hillary’s reputation isn’t very womanly, but far more manly. And this gets in the way of their plans to make her President of America.

    So, what do they do? They begin to place her in clothing that looks more feminine, softer, in low lighting, in settings with flowers in the background. And, why do they do this? They do it to accomodate those whom they understand they must accomodate to get to the White House.

    Of course, this course correction is utterly pragmatic. It’s a sop to those whose sensibilities are still old-fashioned. But, evangelical pastors avoid speaking to the issue because it’s controversial, because it gets the feminists or the traditionalists riled up.

  4. Truth Unites...and Divides   |  Saturday, 23 June 2007 at 7:57 am

    >>> Consider … evangelicals of all sorts are enthralled with empowering their women, which in concrete terms means ordaining them to offices of the Church which Christ (through the Apostle Paul) lays exclusively upon men.

  5. Truth Unites...and Divides   |  Saturday, 23 June 2007 at 7:58 am

    We’re agreed. In fact, I’ve come out from the shadows of lurking and posted for the first time on Stand Firm. Would you care to evaluate my arguments (and others’ too) at:

    http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/3813/

    My first post of several begins at
    06-23-2007 at 01:51 AM.

    I also invite you to add your comments as well.

  6. Truth Unites...and Divides   |  Sunday, 24 June 2007 at 9:39 am

    “But, evangelical pastors avoid speaking to the issue because it’s controversial, because it gets the feminists or the traditionalists riled up.”

    Fr. Bill, if I interpret you correctly, you lay more responsibility for the egalitarian-feminization of the evangelical Church upon pastors than upon the laity.

    Biblically, that’s correct. (James 3:1 if memory serves.) Therefore, your displeasure is directed primarily to your colleagues in the pastorate. And to seminaries that train young pastors.

    Just keep fighting the good fight and leave the outcome to God. Pax.

  7. Fr. Bill   |  Tuesday, 26 June 2007 at 4:59 pm

    … you lay more responsibility for the egalitarian-feminization of the evangelical Church upon pastors than upon the laity.

    Yes and no, depending on what’s contributing to the advancement of egalitarianism.

    As to laity, from this quarter comes a lot of political and financial impetus to change policy and procedures, to the end that women are advanced as leaders and teachers of men.

    As to pastors, this is the quarter from which ought to come teaching that explains the egalitarian error, supports the patriarchal structure of Christian faith and practice, and rebukes those who are recalcitrant. Yes, I report to you that from where I am observing things, pastors who are “personally complementarian” have increasingly retreated from the crusaders among the laity.

    As to seminaries, they are like all academic institutions, liberalizing over time. In the case of religious institutions, this means moving away from orthodoxy toward heterodoxy, and then on to … well, not even heresy (for that is a doctrinal commitment too!), but toward indifference toward theological standards. Obviously, in this climate, 500-octane heretics find a happy home (think, for example, of Singer, the “ethicist” at Princeton who urges killing children up to two years old if the parents decide having it was a mistake).

  8. Kamilla   |  Wednesday, 27 June 2007 at 2:30 pm

    Remember that ridiculous chocolate chip cookie contest Hillary and Barabara Bush had back in ’92? I’ve yet to meet anyone who seriously believes Ms. Rodham actually baked her own cookies.

    This is also your reminder that men should also be doing breast self exams. Men can also get breast cancer and it is more often fatal in men because they’re not looking for it.

    I’m going to set aside some money to buy tickets to the Presidential debates if the nominees are Hillary Clinton and Fred Thompson. That one I would pay to see – not interested in any other candidates.

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled broadcast,

    Kamilla

  9. Michael McMillan   |  Wednesday, 27 June 2007 at 2:41 pm

    > TU…aD: … you lay more responsibility for the egalitarian-feminization of the evangelical Church upon pastors than upon the laity.

    > Fr. Bill: Yes and no, depending on what’s contributing to the advancement of egalitarianism.

    I think the laity casually embrace an egalitarian, diverse, tolerant “sounds fair to me” mindset from the culture: home, school, media, etc., and the pastors gradually adapt, knowing which side of the bread their butter’s on. They don’t want to be seen as intolerant, divisive, unloving, sexist, etc. Opinion poll leadership.

    On the other hand, no doubt there are pastors out to promote egalitarianism from the start, but I imagine the other route is more common, just like how the seminaries gradually change to accomodate the students footing the bills.

    –Michael

  10. Truth Unites...and Divides   |  Thursday, 28 June 2007 at 1:09 pm

    Opinion Poll Leadership.

    Opinion Poll Leadership!

    Now that’s a phrase to shamelessly steal and use as my own! Thanks Michael.

    Eg., when apostle Paul was giving instruction to Timothy, did he instruct Timothy to do a survey of the congregation, and then provide leadership?

    Answer: NO!

    Opinion Poll Leadership is a good part of the problem in the Church today.

    Thanks again Michael for the 3-word descriptor.

  11. Literatus   |  Monday, 12 November 2007 at 3:05 pm

    This is why the Catholic Church prohibits the ordination of women.

    The real question, Fr. Bill, is when are intelligent men such as you (and you’re obviously intelligent) going to understand which church is the true one (I’m a convert myself).

    Otherwise, I agree with everything you’ve said — and implied — here about the role of women. Western civilization can never be restored unless the patriarchy is resurrected. You’ll have to forgive me, though, if I don’t hold my breath waiting.

    God bless you, my friends.

  12. Fr. Bill   |  Monday, 12 November 2007 at 5:16 pm

    You’ll have to forgive me, though, if I don’t hold my breath waiting.
    No problem there, Literatus. I don’t expect “recovery” for several generations. It might happen faster than that, but the price of that kind of speed is likely to be severe calamity (ala the plagues of Egypt, or other disasters from nature or war). Suffering (potential or actual) has a fantastic ability to clear the mind of folderol. The dysfunction from regnant feminism — in or out of the church — is simply not at the present time painful enough to enough people to generate any kind of “movement” yet.

    As to converts, the intractable nature of feminism in evangelical churches is producing an increasing number of converts to Catholicism and Orthodoxy, according to a very knowledgeable observer whom I will not name here.

    It’s not that these evangelical converts think Rome or Constantinople are, after all, the “true” church; rather, those communions are Very Clear about their allegiance to Biblical teaching on the sexes generally. And all the converts of this type that I know personally are young couples, beginning to rear their families, who judge that they don’t want to rear their sons and daughters in ecclesial communions that don’t “get it” about the sexes.

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