The Corrosion of Courtship: Defeminization and Emasculation
A few nights ago, I was curled up on the couch scrolling through Pinterest as my mom watched reruns of The Pacific, a TV series that follows the lives of soldiers who fought in World War II. In this episode, one of the soldiers, dressed in uniform, walked over to the house next door and proceeded to ask his love interest on a date. He was straightforward and totally confident in his pursuit of her. And I found myself lamenting, “I wish I had been born in that generation.”
These days, we are living in an age where many men don’t act like men and many women don’t act like women. In fact, men in particular are chastised if they act too much like a man. Their masculinity is labeled “toxic”—something for which they must apologize.
It shouldn’t be necessary for me to emphasize that I’d like to meet and marry a masculine man when I explain my taste in men to others, yet this is what it has come to. In my experience, men are sadly not masculine—at least, not the way they were in my grandfather’s day. Men are no longer encouraged to hold doors, help women into their coats, pick women up or drop them off at their homes, or walk on the outside of the sidewalk. In fact, they are discouraged from these displays of chivalry, because our society has bought into the lie that chivalry implies that women are incapable of taking care of themselves. And therein lies the root from which emasculation has stemmed: women are no longer encouraged to be feminine, because true femininity has been deemed archaic and insignificant.
I would consider myself to be an independent woman. I have been in the corporate world for a little over a year, and am used to either going out with my friends or simply by myself with only a Steinbeck novel for company, because I’d rather genuinely enjoy the company I keep than go out with someone I’m not interested in simply for the sake of dating.
Despite my independent streak, I am about as feminine as can be, from my bi-weekly manicure touch-ups to the way I weep every time I watch the live action version of Beauty and the Beast (of course, feminine traits vary among women). I expect a man to pick me up when he asks me out, and to come to my door rather than text me from the car when he arrives at my house. Why? Because these behaviors demonstrate respect.
Feminism has been grossly distorted to suggest that a woman must become more like a man in order to be successful, while a man must become less masculine in order to enable female “empowerment,” which encompasses everything from getting ahead in the workforce to taking an innocent life. Some aspects of female empowerment might stem from noble objectives. Most, however, insinuate that a woman has the right to do whatever she wants, whenever she wants—even at the expense of another person.
We need to re-establish the roles of men and women in our society and in our relationships, because our natural inclinations are complementary, and lend themselves to the most amazing romances that have presently been reduced to something we only read about in books. True masculinity and femininity acknowledge the truth of their complementary natures, and do not seek to detract from what comes organically to the opposite sex. We each possess unique tendencies that bring out the best in the other, and each needs to play his or her role as God intended.
No matter what anyone tells you, men: hold doors. Pick her up, and be on time. Protect her, and protect her virtue fiercely. Women: let yourselves be taken care of. Enjoy feeling delicate, cherished, and sought after. Christ pursued His bride, the Church, all the way to Cavalry, where He died for her good. He demands: “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord…Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy” (Ephesians 5:22; 5:25-26).
Rest in the knowledge that this was God’s intent for men and women from the beginning of time, and that in embracing your God-given masculinity or femininity, you are adhering to His perfect design for your love story.
Lindsey Todd graduated from West Chester University in 2016 with a B.A. in English, and currently works as a technical writer for a Fortune 500 company. In her free time, she enjoys creative writing, singing, playing with her dog, reading, and exercising. She also loves art, fashion, and deep political and theological discussion. She has a special devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and a special love for St. Pope John Paul II. Lindsey is passionate about sharing the beauty of pure love with others, particularly as a Catholic writer and as a retreat leader for young women. She currently resides in Bucks County, Pennsylvania with her family.