October 15-21, 2001
volume 12, no. 152

The Egalitarian Revolution    part two

Oh! That difficult question of immodesty and women wearing men's clothing

Women Wearing Men's Clothing

    One of the most dominant errors that underlies today's revolutionary spirit in clothing is egalitarianism. This egalitarian revolution has stimulated a constant process to do away with almost all differences in sex and in age. The very notion is absurd, because these inequalities exist in nature itself.

    One factor that played a large role in this "feminist revolution" was women adopting the dress of men. That women should dress differently from men, as a symbol of their distinct roles in the home and society, is affirmed by Scripture: "A woman shall not be clothed in man's apparel - neither shall a man use a woman's apparel .… such are abominable before God" (Deuteronomy 22: 55). That is to say, clothing is not an indifferent topic or a simple matter of covering the body. I know many traditionalists who have argued it is a matter of modesty that women should always wear skirts. I believe that this argument is faulty, since it can be claimed that at times modest and loose fitting trousers cover a woman's body more completely than do some fashionable skirts and dresses.

    However, there is a much more profound principle at stake here. The promoters of the feminist revolution encouraged women to abandon their traditional dress that emphasized the delicate and feminine aspect of women. In the name of efficiency, comfort, modernity - women donned the pants of men. Along with the trousers of men, in their tendencies, they came to take up the ways of being and sitting and walking of men. They entered the workplace, joined the road crews, trained in the army, and even are invading the sanctuaries. The motive that impelled women to wear men's dress brought about a mental attitude of being "like a man." An ironic side note is that with this frantic attempt to be masculine instead of striving to perfect their femininity, women unconsciously admit a dissatisfaction with their womanhood and, ultimately, God's plan for creation. This un-natural imitation destroys the complimentarity of the sexes, whereby the woman and man complete and fulfill each other; instead it sets up a relationship of competition.

    This kind of erroneous and revolutionary way of thinking naturally found expression in clothing. The "pantsuit revolution" progressed to blue jeans, and has ended in a kind of androgynous youth pictured in the photograph on this page. Something more serious has occurred than the fact that the youth are dressed in the same clothing: the young woman's whole way of being appears to be almost more masculine than that of the young man. The primary reason I would encourage good-spirited reasoning good women to always wear dresses is to fight this egalitarian urge that would level the sexes and smash any symbolic expression of the marvelous natural differences placed there by God. This is to concretely and heroically counter this egalitarian revolution that ultimately represents a tearing down of the human order established by God.

Two prophetic warnings

    Already in June of 1960, Cardinal Giuseppe Siri of Genoa sent this discerning warning to his diocesan priests about the increasing use of men's trousers by women and the foreboding dangers this represented. He begins the circular with these words: "The first sins of late arriving Spring indicate that there is this year a certain increase in the use of men's dress by girls and women, even family mothers." He notes with a certain shock that it is no longer just the American woman tourists who have begun to wear men's trousers in public, but his good Catholic Genoese women.

    It is not the issue of immodesty per se that most concerns him, but a graver three-fold result: "First, The wearing of men's dress by women affects the woman herself, by changing the feminine psychology proper to women; second, it affects the woman as wife of her husband, by tending to vitiate relationships between the sexes; and third, it affects the woman as mother of her children by harming her dignity in her children's eyes. … This changing of the feminine psychology does fundamental, and, in the long run, irrepa-rable damage to the family, to conjugal fidelity, to human affections and to human society."

    Today we are witnesses of that "fundamental and irreparable damage" that the Cardinal warned would happen with the changing of the feminine psychology. In passing, I mention here a subject that could be analyzed in another article: In the trail of the masculinization of women came the feminization of men. As women usurped the headship of the family, relationships in the entire family were disoriented. Children were deprived of their natural roles models for children and a confusion followed. Both sexes suffered a loss of identity.. At the university where I taught, I was constantly shocked to see how much effort and time was given over to the discussion of "what it means to be a man" and "what it means to be a woman." These would be moot points for these youths' grandparents, who would be amazed to see so much high level academic discussion about such evident first principles.

    Cardinal Siri also asked his priests to speak out on the topic of women dressing like men: "They must know they must never be so weak as to let anyone believe that they turn a blind eye to the custom which is slipping downhill and undermining the moral standing of all institutions." Their action to correct this fault should be "sharp and decisive." His words indicate that the fathers of families should also be alert to correcting this revolutionary custom.

    Cardinal Siri then invited those in the fashion industry to find suitable but dignified solutions as to the dress for women when they "must use a motorcycle or engage in this or that exercise or work." "What matters most," he quite judiciously observed, "is to preserve modesty along with the eternal sense of femininity. For that, good sense and good taste should always find acceptable and dignified solutions to problems as they come up." That very few dress designers or couturiers have accepted this invitation should not be a motive for discouragement for the present generations, but a challenge to take it up.

A Revolutionary Process

    The revolution in women's clothing and the accompanying change of mentality was not some spectacular and isolated incident. It was a process that gradually rooted itself in the customs and then began to dominate the culture. Little by little, women and men became accustomed to increasingly immodest and revolutionary clothing trends.

    A very respectable lady whom I know gave me a trenchant example of the process at work: She said that when trousers for women began to be stylish, at first she resisted. They would be fine to wear at home, she decided, but never in public. A little later, she changed her mind: a nice slacks suit (the polyester pantsuit of the 60's) worn in public was not offensive, but women should never wear trousers to Mass. Just a little later, it didn't seem so horrible to wear a pair of modest, tailored slacks to Mass - it was certainly better than the short skirts that had become the fashion of the moment. The door opened an inch, and it wasn't long before it was wide open… How much responsibility do we bear for the indecent and immodest trends and androgynous fashions of the day? It seems to me that the culpability belongs at least in part to the lethargic compliance of many Catholics to this revolutionary process that has completely transformed sound customs.

    When we consider the restoration of Christian Civilization, there is a tendency for serious Catholics today to turn almost strictly to the religious plane and one's personal prayer life to initiate this restoration. To pray another novena or add another devotion to the mandatory daily rosary are excellent things and should always be encouraged. It is extremely important not to sin against chastity, to follow the Commandments, to read edifying religious books. But there is another true duty of the spiritual life that has been ignored: that is, to fight the bad customs, revolutionary clothing and ways of being, - and especially the immodest and egalitarian clothing that make up a significant part of that total corruption of customs that Our Lady forewarned would dominate in our times.

Marian Therese Horvat, Ph.D.

Next Issue: Part Three

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For past columns by Dr. Horvat, see Archives of Echoes of True Catholicism

October 15-21, 2001
volume 12, no. 152
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