In the words of Jacques Herbert in 1790, ‘Fuck the Pope‘.
Mr. Ratzinger has saved the opponents of Catholicism from the bother of producing a ‘reductio ad absurdum’. Apparently confused by the similarity between ‘conservation’ and ‘conservatism’, he has ranked gender-bending alongside environmental degradation as a threat to creation.That means not just homosexuality, bisexuality, and transexuality, but all the efforts of feminists to smash gender roles.
Now to be fair, this is a slightly uncharitable reading, but I don’t think it’s hugely inaccurate. To quote:
“[The church] must defend not only the earth, water and air as gifts of creation that belong to all, it must also defend the human person against its own destruction…That which is often expressed and understood by the term ‘gender’ in the end amounts to the self-emancipation of the human person from creation and from the Creator…disregard of [the language of creation] would mean self-destruction of the human person.”
It is quite nice, I tend to feel, when someone you completely disagree with expresses themselves in exactly the same language you would. Ratzinger speaks of gender-bending as ‘self-emancipation’, as being based in the human desire to control our own destinies. This is a great improvement from the muddles and lies of saying that it’s about ‘sickness’ or ‘madness’. He has accurately described the whole feminist-and-GLBT-movement as being about freedom – and he opposes it for precisely that reason. It’s nice when the battle lines are drawn out clearly in this way.
So the main thing I thought when reading reports of Ratzinger’s speech is that hopefully, he’s right. Hopefully, we are currently on a path that will destroy altogether the sort of humanity that we know, that we have been mutilated by for these last few millennia.
Ideas and arguments about personal freedom and respecting diversity are all well and good, but ideas absorbed rationally are often weak when confronted with the built-up habits of thought of years. We’ve all been trained for our whole lives to know what a man is, to know what a woman is, to know what they do with each other. That training will be hard to shift simply by debate: it’s likely to sit there and influence us, making women depressed or eating-disordered, making police and juries reluctant to convict rapists, making employers underestimate the contributions and prospects of female employees, making men fly into rages and beat people senseless.
Perhaps the best possible way to fight this training would be for radical subversion of gender to start training us differently. For a third of the population to identify as neither male nor female, and make themselves a new pronoun. For hormone therapies to be taken as commonly as birth-control pills, so that new sorts of bodies can produce new sorts of relationships and new sorts of sex. For people to walk down the street, look at the people passing by, and not be able to tell inwhat their genitals look like.
The consequence of such developments would of course be enormous confusion and stress. And that’s good. When we’re confused, we’re more likely to ask, to listen, to respond to the reality of who people are and who they want to be, rather than the categories and labels we already have. Perhaps our problem now is that we’re too confident about men, women, and sex. Perhaps we should welcome and encourage the kind of defensiveness and confusion that’s necessary to replace closed minds with open ones. Perhaps we should be pleased to see that the grand defenders of maleness, of the transcendent Him, becoming frightened that our society is shifting towards complete disregard of “the language of creation” and “destruction of the very work of God”.
Perhaps feminists should be celebrating the Pope’s latest speech?