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Are men and women different? The Pope says so.

 
 
Foxfyre
 
Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2004 12:37 pm
I would like this not to become another debate re pros and cons of abortion and/or homosexuality/gay rights/gay marriage etc. as both are discussed in depth on other threads.

What the Pope is specifically addressing here is the whole concept of gender and that there are biological differences between the sexes with resulting equally valuable but differing roles in the proper structure of things.

Agree or disagree? Are men and women different? While of course there will be exceptions, overall are men and women biologically gifted for differing roles?

Pope warns feminists


Bishops told to take hard line on issue of gender


John Hooper in Rome and Tania Branigan
Saturday July 31, 2004
The Guardian

The Pope will call on leaders of the Roman Catholic church today to attack feminist ideologies which assert that men and women are fundamentally the same.
The Vatican is concerned that this belief is eroding what it regards as women's maternal vocation. But a paper on the subject which is due to be published today - the Vatican's third major pronouncement on women's role in the quarter century of John Paul's papacy - has drawn scornful criticism from feminists and academics.

According to a leaked extract, the document accuses feminists of "blurring the biological difference between man and woman".

But it is also understood to break new ground by appealing to governmentsto give help to women so they can cope with their broader modern responsibilities.

It emerged yesterday that the Vatican itself had taken a further step towards incorporating women into the previously all-male leadership of the Roman Catholic church. A nun, who was not named in Italian media reports, was said to be working as a high-level aide to the Pope's "foreign minister", Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo.

The statement of doctrine on gender issues is the first serious attempt by the Vatican to come to grips with a world of working women. But it is just as clearly intended to prevent any erosion of the church's resolute opposition to gay mar riage, the incorporation of women into the priesthood, and trends in gender studies which the Pope has damned as "misleading conceptions of sexuality".

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The Vatican's sights are trained in particular on the view that while people's sex is anatomically determined their gender identity and roles are entirely a product of conditioning. In a letter to bishops on the participation of men and women in the church and the world, the Pope's chief theological spokesman, the German cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, stresses, as the pontiff has done on several occasions, that the book of Genesis is unambiguous on this point.

The letter was drawn up inside Cardinal Ratzinger's Vatican "ministry", the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. However, as a statement of doctrine, it would not have been sent for publication without the consent of the Pope.

The Vatican's letter ack nowledges that the emancipation of women, which the pontiff applauded in his earliest pronouncements on the subject, has given them a vastly increased presence in the labour market.

Recent decades have seen a plunge in birth and fertility rates, particularly in the Roman Catholic heartland of southern Europe, as women struggle to combine jobs with their traditional roles as mothers, homemakers and carers.

Church representatives have argued that this is symptomatic of a breakdown in values, and particularly a greater selfishness among young couples more interested in consumer goods than creating life. Feminists have long held that it is a result of the reluctance of men to share household tasks and the failure of governments to provide adequate support for families.

Cardinal Ratzinger's document appears to have embraced implicitly the feminist view on this point, though in language unlikely to win over many feminists.

According to the leaked extract in the German tabloid Bild Zeitung, his letter to bishops calls on governments to "create conditions that enable women not to neglect their family duties when they enter into a job".

Dr Helena Cronin, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics, said: "It's absolutely true that we are different, in a variety of ways." She said that in all mammals, females showed a greater propensity to caring for the young than males did. But she added: "That's not saying that women have no other vocations, or that they should be devoted [to motherhood]."

The feminist author Natasha Walter questioned whether there were essential differences between men and women at all.

"We have centuries and centuries of acculturation towards a 'vocation' of maternity, and men have only had a couple of generations of acculturation towards active paternity. Until we encourage men [to do more] it's too early to call on whether there are innate differences. The weight of tradition is so strong that it precludes the freedom to choose."

However, Eva Figes, whose book Patriarchal Attitudes was one of the major works of feminism's "second wave" in the 70s, said: "I have always thought men and women were different - we have better linguistic skills, for instance - but it wasn't politic to say so when I was writing 30 years ago."

She added: "The trouble is we all know the Pope's opinions on issues such as abortion and contraception.

"There is another agenda there: he will think maternity is more important than public life. I don't see why women should not have both - and it should be their choice."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/pope/story/0,12272,1273140,00.html
(edited to add link)
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2004 12:49 pm
So nobody will think I was 'waiting to pounce' here, I'll say briefly that I do concur there are distinct differences between men and women and that these differences make no difference in some cases and make a critical difference in others. To refuse any discrimination for any reason based on sex is, in my view, short sighted and fails to recognize the wonder and importance of the different sexes.
0 Replies
 
cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2004 12:51 pm
Sheesh! You don't the bible to prove the differences. One good argument with a spouse will show you that. How you work it out is what's important, and you also don't need the Pope's blessing for that either. My aunt was 'Supermom', a high-profile lawyer who made it her business to always be home on time to make dinner for the kids. Her career never suffered for it, nor did she feel obligated to do so out of religious dogma. It was her personal choice.

Here is how I picture a loving couple reading this post of yours foxfyre (I'll be non-gender specific, because I do believe that the laws of love cross all barriers, call me a hippie, I don't mind):

"Hmm, this article does bring up some interesting points. What do you think?"

"Well..."

"What, you don't agree?"

"It's not that, it's just I think there are more important things to think about."

"Like what?"

"A house, a baby, and what are we going to do for dinner tonight..."

"You know what, you're right. Let's go out, get some good Italian and go dancing."

"Sounds good to me."
0 Replies
 
Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2004 12:56 pm
Cav, some would quickly counter with, how come your aunt worked hard all day and was the one to come home to get dinner on the table for the kids. How come it wasn't your uncle?

Which raises one of those other mysteries of life. It would seem that men are better equipped for cooking as virtually all the world's great chefs are men. Yet it is seen as the women's role to be chief cook and bottle washer at home. Why is that?
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bromeliad
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2004 01:02 pm
I don't give a flying f&@% what the pope thinks.

About anything.
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2004 01:03 pm
Sigh. I knew some wouldn't be able to separate the messenger from the message. Hopefully some can.

Editing: Sorry Brom. Didn't mean for that to be so harsh. But can't we leave the pope out of it and deal with the thesis he presents?
0 Replies
 
bromeliad
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2004 01:12 pm
Your subject says 'Are men and women different? The Pope says so'
as though the pope saying so gives the affirmative some weight or importance.

As for the question itself, my answer is:
All individuals are different. Each human being is unique.
0 Replies
 
cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2004 01:16 pm
Foxfyre wrote:
Cav, some would quickly counter with, how come your aunt worked hard all day and was the one to come home to get dinner on the table for the kids. How come it wasn't your uncle?

Which raises one of those other mysteries of life. It would seem that men are better equipped for cooking as virtually all the world's great chefs are men. Yet it is seen as the women's role to be chief cook and bottle washer at home. Why is that?


Some might counter that way, irresponsibly, but again, it was her decision. Uncle was around as well, and he makes a mean BBQ flank steak. Auntie had Martha Stewart syndrome. What can I say? I would disagree with you that "virtually all the world's great chefs are men". This is a 'boys club' myth that has been propogated over the years because of an outdated idea that women couldn't handle the physical and emotional stress of the job. Well, let me tell you from personal experience in professional kitchens, a whole lot of men can't handle it either. Check out Alice Waters, and Chez Panisse. www.chezpanisse.com as one example. She wasn't even a pro! She established this world-reknowned resto in Berkeley on a whim, and it survived, and it flourishes. She is a personal favorite 'personality-chef' of mine, and her works and philosophy were standard reading for us at Chefs School. M.F.K. Fisher, another wonderful writer on Gastronomy to check out. Smile I live and work in a world of sensuality and experience, and a job where people have to be happy, with the product, and in the kitchen. I can't possibly imagine working without a mix of men and women for any job I do. All-male kitchens are frigging nightmares of misdirected testosterone.

As for the thesis, I would say that yes, men and women are different, but they are complimentary as well.
0 Replies
 
Debra Law
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2004 01:25 pm
Re: Are men and women different? The Pope says so.
Foxfyre wrote:
What the Pope is specifically addressing here is the whole concept of gender and that there are biological differences between the sexes with resulting equally valuable but differing roles in the proper structure of things.

Pope warns feminists
Bishops told to take hard line on issue of gender


. . . Recent decades have seen a plunge in birth and fertility rates, particularly in the Roman Catholic heartland of southern Europe, as women struggle to combine jobs with their traditional roles as mothers, homemakers and carers.

Church representatives have argued that this is symptomatic of a breakdown in values, and particularly a greater selfishness among young couples more interested in consumer goods than creating life. . . .


Yes, we can agree that men and women are biologically different. A man has a penis and a woman has a vagina and a uterus. This biological difference allows the human species to create life and perpetuate our species.

However, the gender that sports the vagina and uterus are not inferior baby-making machines put on this earth to satisfy the Pope's concept of values and to increase the holier-than-thou membership of the Roman Catholic Church.

I think the decline in birth rates is a good thing. How many people can this earth support anyway? How barefoot and pregnant and stuck in the kitchen do I have to be to satisfy the Pope?

Gender indoctrination starts with telling little girls that they are "selfish" if they do not embrace their maternal role and the "proper structure of things." But how does that indoctrination solve the problems of poverty, famine, disease, and wars that sweep through this world? Perhaps I shouldn't worry my pretty little head about those things.

Nevertheless, I think women are capable of making significant contributions to this world and should not be stifled by the "traditional" gender roles that have oppressed women for centuries.
0 Replies
 
timberlandko
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2004 02:18 pm
Just a bit of trivia:
The "German Cardinal Ratzinger" referenced in the Guardian article is a bit more than "the Pope's chief Theological Spokesperson" with a "Vatican Ministry". In his office of Prefect of The Congregation For The Doctrine Of The Faith, he is easily the second most powerful, and likely most influential, personage in the Vatican's hierarchy. Any Letter to The Bishops issuing from that office would have the full weight and authority of a doctrinal directive from the Pope himself. In times past, Ratzinger's "Ministry" was known as The Papal Inquisition, and the post now held by Ratzinger was then titled Grand Inquisitor For Mother Rome, Chief Defender of The Faith.

Entering the Vatican's internal panoply in the early '60s, he was considered among the more progressive, less doctinaire theologians, and personally was responsible for much of the relative liberalism embodied in the tenets of the First and Second Vatican Councils. With time, and increasing authority and influence, Ratzinger has come to be considered as among the staunchest, and most formidable, of The Church's conservatives. Though 77, Ratzinger is high on the shortlist of likely successors to the current Pope. Whether or not he is accorded The Succession, his doctrinal influence will be a feature of The Church for generations to come.

BTW, having read Ratzinger's 30-some-odd-page letter "On global and in-Church collaboration between men and women", I surmise the authors of the Guardian piece have not.
0 Replies
 
Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2004 03:03 pm
Here is what I found on that letter Timber - less than 30 pages though:
http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20040731_collaboration_en.html
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2004 03:10 pm
Two observations: Cav disputes a difference between men and women in the kitchen while affirming that there is an 'old boys' network' supposing male superiority in this department. (Is your lady chef friend common you think? Or an acception to the norm?)

While anecdotal is a curiosity but not proof of most things, in my opinion, I see a difference between my own culinary skills and those of my husband. While I can quickly whip up a mostly edible meal using whatever ingredients happen to be available, he uses a strict formula and methodology when he cooks anything, even scrambled eggs. While I can put together a pretty good tasting omelet, I am unable to assemble and serve it in the artistic form that he seems to be able to do effortlessly. An anomaly do you think? Or biological?

Debra asserts a point of view common to the women I grew up with. I wonder, however, if the Septuagenarians and Sexgerians in the forum believe the new society with 'emancipated' women has produced greater happiness than existed when men and women were expected to assume more traditional roles?
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cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2004 03:19 pm
One observation, you totally misunderstood me, and it could have been awkward writing on my part. I think that women and men are indeed different in general, with strengths and weaknesses on both sides. I also believe that these strengths and weaknesses compliment each other, when men and women are willing to work with each other. The kitchen scenario was an example of where pre-conceived notions of 'roles' get blurry. Cooking is a skill, it ain't rocket science, and it can be learned by anyone. My feelings on the difference between you and your husband's approach to cooking is that he is too rigid, and you are too fluid, and too willing to accept that your more creative, intuitive efforts in the kitchen are in some way inferior. If you two met in the middle somewhere, you would have a fine restaurant, as an analogy,
0 Replies
 
Debra Law
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2004 03:23 pm
70 year old woman commenting on emancipation?
Foxfyre wrote:
Debra asserts a point of view common to the women I grew up with. I wonder, however, if the Septuagenarians and Sexgerians in the forum believe the new society with 'emancipated' women has produced greater happiness than existed when men and women were expected to assume more traditional roles?


Female emancipation is the downfall of civilization and the ruination of the family unit. The world was a happier place when them wimmins just "loved, honored, and OBEYED."
0 Replies
 
Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2004 03:30 pm
LOL, no I don't think I misunderstood you Cav, though I may have inadvertently misinterpreted your intent.

I don't see my culinary skills as inferior in any way to my husband's; in fact if I had to choose between eating only his cooking or only my cooking forever, I'd pick mine hands down. On the other hand, what he likes to do he does very well, and he does have talents (such as that artistic omelet) that are simply beyond my ability. I don't see that recognizing another person's superior ability in any given area as in any way diminishing ourselves or anybody else.

There were a couple of years however that we reversed traditional roles. I was working a very demanding and stressful job requiring long hour but earning us a good income while he was mostly at home with a lot of time on his hands. So he took over all the cooking and housework. He had supper on the table for me when I came home and the laundry and vacuuming were done. The laundry and vacuuming weren't to the standards I required from myself and I ate some very strange things. But was I going to criticize or complain in any way? Absolutely not. It was all very much appreciated.

We're back to traditional roles now and both of us like it better though we do help out with each others' chores.

Do you think women sell out if they choose the traditional role?
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timberlandko
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2004 03:33 pm
Yup, Foxfyre, that's the web version of the letter. As originally published, it comprises a 37-page pamphlet, the title page, the Nihil Obstat, Imprimatur, and publishing information, a pastoral greeting, the introduction, each succeeding individual topic, and the footnotes and annotations, all individually essentially occupying a page or pages to themselves, as is customary with such documents.
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cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2004 03:34 pm
Yes, I do actually feel that way regarding women choosing a traditional role as a sell out of sorts. However, I would never deny a woman the right to do so if it made them happy. On an intellectual level, what bothers me is the acceptance by many people, both male and female, that they are 'not capable' of doing something. If they choose not to do something, that is fine, but to insist that are incapable does seem to me to be some form of self-deprecation.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2004 03:42 pm
Well, knowing Cardinal Ratzinger's works and deeds since my school time, having met him personally once, I agree with most of German catholics, that's better he is in Rome (= "Rome is far away") than that he stayed here.

Even for our most conservative bishops he was too conservative.

Complete "LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON THE COLLABORATION OF MEN AND WOMEN IN THE CHURCH AND IN THE WORLD"
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2004 03:45 pm
Sometimes it is simply recognizing one's limitations and being realistic however. I could want to be the world's most accomplished mathematician and work toward that end until I was blue in the face and would fail. My brain just doesn't work that way. I think most women's brains don't work that way. Person for person, on average, I think men are naturally more right brained and this makes math easier for them. That does not say there are not exceptions and no accomplished female mathamaticians.

I love football and basketball, but there is no way I'm gonna be quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys or guard for the Lakers, no matter how hard I work at it. I simply do not have the size, speed, stamina, and strength that would be required. I think it would be an extremely rare woman who could make even the first cut, much less the starting line up.

Is it possibly that it really is ingrained into men to go out and hunt giraffes and it really is ingrained into women to be nest builders? That does not rule out overlap of roles of course, but the question remains of where we are most content and at peace with our place in the world.
0 Replies
 
cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Sat 31 Jul, 2004 03:50 pm
Smile I do think that a world ruled by men would quickly lapse into complete chaos without womens influence. I think sports are a bit of a narrow example in terms of defining what men and women are capable of. I'm thinking of roles on a broader, more circular perspective.
0 Replies
 
 

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