Why Feminism is Cancer

Feminism is cancer because it is built on a lie. Actually, it is built on a whole pyramid of lies, but there is one gigantic one at its base.

Here it is in its most diabolical form. The author is Ludwig Feuerbach, his translator the novelist George Eliot, the work his Essence of Christianity, published in English in 1854:
But here it is also essential to observe, and this phenomenon is an extremely remarkable one, characterising the very core of religion, that in proportion as the divine subject is in reality human, the greater is the apparent difference between God and man; that is, the more, by reflection on religion, by theology, is the identity of the divine and human denied, and the human, considered as such, is depreciated.... To enrich God, man must become poor; that God may be all, man must be nothing....
The monks made a vow of chastity to God; they mortified the sexual passion in themselves, but therefore they had in heaven, in the Virgin Mary, the image of woman—an image of love. They could the more easily dispense with real women in proportion as an ideal woman was an object of love to them. The greater the importance they attached to the denial of sensuality, the greater the importance of the heavenly virgin for them: she was to them in the place of Christ, in the stead of God.
Do you see what Feuerbach did here? Do you see how he foreshadowed almost every argument made ever since about the meaning of Mary, God’s mother? About how she was, in effect, the monks’ pin-up girl because they were deprived of the company of actual women? About how, whatever devotion they had to her, it must have been about sex—and putting a woman in place of God?

Do you understand why this argument is literally diabolical? Do you understand the pride in insisting that God takes away from man his identity, making man poor so that God—in Feuerbach’s formulation, the abstraction of all human values projected onto the imaginary object which is then imagined as acting as a subject back on man—might become rich? Do you understand how it undercuts everything in the proper relationship between the sexes, not to mention between God and man? Satan himself could not have phrased it better—or more deceptively.

Do you see the lie yet? No? Let’s fast forward then to 1949.

Here it is, even more explicitly, in the founding manifesto of modern feminism, Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex:
Paradoxically, it was Christianity that was to proclaim the equality of man and woman on a certain level. Christianity detests the flesh in her; if she rejects the flesh, she is, like him, a creature of God, redeemed by the Savior: here she can take her place beside males, among those souls guaranteed celestial happiness....
Of course, the divine Savior who brings about Redemption is male; but humanity must cooperate in its own salvation, and perversely it will be called upon to manifest its submissive goodwill in its most humiliated figure. Christ is God; but it is a woman, the Virgin Mother, who reigns over all human creatures. Yet only marginal sects restore the great goddesses’ ancient privileges to the woman. The Church expresses and serves a patriarchal civilization where it is befitting for woman to remain annexed to man. As his docile servant, she will also be a blessed saint....
For the first time in the history of humanity, the mother kneels before her son; she freely recognizes her inferiority. The supreme masculine victory is consummated in the cult of Mary: it is the rehabilitation of woman by the achievement of her defeat. Ishtar, Astarte, and Cybele were cruel, capricious, and lustful; they were powerful; the source of death as well as life, in giving birth to men, they made them their slaves. With Christianity, life and death now depended on God alone....   
Nature is originally bad, but powerless when countered with grace. Motherhood as a natural phenomenon confers no power. If woman wishes to overcome the original stain in herself, her only alternative is to bow before God, whose will subordinates her to man. And by this submission she can assume a new role in masculine mythology.... 
As a servant, woman is entitled to the most splendid apotheosis.
Yet again, it is God who is the thief, here, however, acting in the service of “patriarchal civilization,” according to which the only value—horror of horrors!—that women have is in being an object for men. Mary supplants Christ in reigning over human creatures, but God still reigns over her, the Son forcing her to kneel before him. Christianity—or so de Beauvoir insists—is the author of the lie keeping women in second place. The pagan goddesses were divine in their own right, enslaving men even as they gave birth to them. Mary, on the other hand, is a mere servant in her elevation.

You believe de Beauvoir, don’t you? You believe that Christianity has been bad for women. You believe that Mary, in humbling herself before God, lost everything that made her a potential model for women. You believe that Christianity stripped the goddesses of their rightful womanhood—and that Christianity honored women only insofar as they were subordinated to—or became like—men, rational and purified of the flesh.

Of course you do. Erich Neumann said so in The Great Mother, his magisterial account of the archetypal feminine published in 1955. Here is the lie again, in Neumann’s words:
Thus the spiritual power of Sophia [Wisdom] is living and saving; her overflowing heart is wisdom and food at once. The nourishing life that she communicates is a life of the spirit and of transformation, not one of earthbound materiality. 
As spirit mother, she is not, like the Great Mother of the lower phase, interested primarily in the infant, the child, and the immature man, who cling to her in these stages. She is rather a goddess of the Whole, who governs the transformation from the elementary to the spiritual level; who desires who men knowing life in all its breadth, from the elementary phase to the phase of spiritual transformation.
In the patriarchal development of the Judaeo-Christian West, with its masculine, monotheistic trend toward abstraction, the goddess, as a feminine figure of wisdom, was disenthroned and repressed. She survived only secretly, for the most part on heretical and revolutionary bypaths.
There it is again! The claim that Christianity—or, rather, the Judaeo-Christian West—was “patriarchal,” hellbent (to coin a phrase) on repressing the “feminine figure of wisdom.” Elsewhere—Neumann points to “the Orient”—the goddess managed to hold her own. But here in the West, she was pushed into the shadows by the “masculine, monotheistic trend toward abstraction” (see Feuerbach, above) to return, according to Neumann, only as a witch.

Have you spotted the lie yet? Here’s a hint: it has to do with God.

How do you know that Christianity is “patriarchal” and concerned more with monotheistic abstraction than with the flesh? How do you know that it suppressed the feminine and made Mary a figure of submission for women? How do you know the only reason medieval monks devoted themselves to Mary was because they were not allowed to have sex? How do you know that Mary’s submission to God represents the victory of the masculine over the feminine? How do you know that Christianity made women the second sex?

I’ll tell you. Because enlightened idiots like Feuerbach and de Beauvoir and Neumann told you so—and lies, as Satan knows, are always easier to believe than the truth.

*

The medieval Christians whom modern philosophers, feminists, and psychoanalysts loved to despise had a much more sophisticated understanding of the feminine—and of God—than their cultured despisers ever allowed. Not only did they not “disenthrone and repress” the Virgin; neither did they use her as a kind of porn. (They had God for that.)

Quite the reverse. Medieval Christians put Mary on a magnificent throne, elevated high above every creature in Creation, because she herself was a throne for God. “Come, my chosen one,” they imagined Christ saying to her, “and I will place my throne in you because the king has desired your beauty.” And what a throne she was! 

“O truly blessed, O truly stable throne,” the Franciscan preacher Conrad of Saxony (d. 1279) hailed her in his popular Mirror of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a commentary on the Ave Maria,
just as it is said in 3 Kings 8:13: Thy most firm throne for ever. This most high throne is in the intellect, raised up on the affections; it is most high over men, raised up over angels.... On this throne, Mary, on this throne, I say, of her mind, the Lord was seated, and the house of her body was full of the majesty of the Incarnate Word.... Therefore, it is said in 3 Kings 8:11-12: The glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord. Then Solomon said: “The Lord said that he would dwell in a cloud.” Therefore, the house of the Lord, Mary, was filled with the glory of the divine majesty by the cloud of the humanity assumed by God; that cloud, I say, of which it is said in Ecclesiasticus 43:24: The medicine of all is in the speedy coming of a cloud. And again in Ecclesiasticus 50:6: [He shone in his days] as the morning star in the midst of a cloud. For like the star in a cloud is the Word in the flesh assumed by him.
Far from rejecting the flesh assumed from the Virgin—as de Beauvoir would have it—God reveled in it, taking her flesh and glorifying it in the flesh of her Son.

Likewise, far from denying the spiritual power of the feminine—as Neumann would have it—medieval Christians like Conrad and his contemporaries Richard of St. Laurent (d. ca. 1250) and pseudo-Albert the Great (the heroes of my new book on Mary, if you haven’t guessed) identified her explicitly as Wisdom and the Mother of Wisdom, her mind the most perfect mirror of the divine in which the Lord took up his throne.

In pseudo-Albert’s words:
That the most blessed Virgin was wiser than any other creature, is indicated by the fact that the book which is entitled Wisdom is especially interpreted concerning her: the Church interprets what is said of the Lord’s wisdom as if it is said of her, as is evident in the epistles [that is, the lessons for the Office and Mass] which are read of her. In wisdom, however, there is nothing of stupidity or ignorance: therefore the most blessed Virgin was full of wisdom. But in faith, wisdom is not full, but only in part, as it is said: For we know in part, and we prophesy in part (I Corinthians 13:9). Therefore, the most blessed Virgin did not have faith, but full knowledge.
And what did the Virgin know? According to pseudo-Albert, everything: all the arts, all the sciences, the whole of the law, both canon and civil; everything in the book of the Sentences (the textbook of theology used in the schools); everything pertaining to the Trinity, to angels, and to the six days of Creation; everything pertaining to the Incarnation of the Word, the sacraments, and the Resurrection, to the past, present, and future, and to the kingdom of God. (How’s that for an empowered woman? STEM fanatics take note.)

Indeed, Richard insisted, so perfectly was Mary illuminated by the Divinity whose dwelling she was, that
...in God, so to speak, she was deified (deificata), made a participant in divine eternity, without corners or turnings. From behind [Richard is commenting on the description of Solomon’s throne, 3 Kings 10:18-19] means the end of the body: because in life there is no perfect happiness, but only in the life to come. Then the likeness of the divine image (divine imagines similitudo) will shine forth in our mind or understanding through our memory, reason, and will.
Feuerbach would insist that God exists only insofar as human beings, having consciousness of themselves as a species, see themselves acted upon by the object of their abstraction. In his words:
The divine being is nothing else than the human being, or, rather, the human nature purified, freed from the limits of the individual man, made objective—i.e. contemplated and revered as another, a distinct being.
In Feuerbach’s thinking, God exists insofar as the attributes of human nature exist; man mirrors God because God mirrors man. For Richard, it was Mary who was the most perfect mirror, the one in whom Wisdom saw Wisdom made flesh:
Mary is an unspotted mirror for the souls of the faithful, in which they ought to gaze continuously. For so great is her purity that anything greater [than she] under God cannot be thought, just as blessed Anselm says; for she was worthy to conceive him, as Jerome says, who reformed in us the image deformed by the old Adam, when through her love and obedience the wax of human nature was made warm and pliable and was impressed once again with the seal, that is, the Son of God, in her virginal womb.
Mary, the Mother of the Word, was herself the most perfect human being because in her body and soul was realized the most perfect reflection of the divine. Far from being subjected to her Son by her love and obedience, Mary became his most perfect likeness. As woman, in other words, Mary realized—made real—God.

Some pin-up girl, eh?

*

This is the great lie of feminism, the cancer at the heart of modernity: the claim that Christianity made less of humanity, made less of woman in its meditation on the relationship of Mary to God. All the lies on which the modern critique of the “patriarchy” rests are metastases of this great cancer. 

The lie that in Christianity the created, material world was considered evil or worthless. The lie that in Christianity only the masculine virtues were valued. The lie that because God became incarnate as a man motherhood was demeaned. The lie that God demands our subjection because Mary humbled herself to serve the Lord.

No wonder the feminists are so angry. Everything they believe about the relationship between women and men, humanity and God, is based on a lie about Mary’s relationship with her Son.

I wonder where that lie came from. Or from whom.



Sources

Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity, trans. George Eliot (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1957).

Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, trans. Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier (New York: Vintage Books, 2011).

Erich Neumann, The Great Mother, trans. Ralph Manheim (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1963).

Rachel Fulton Brown, Mary and the Art of Prayer: The Hours of the Virgin in Medieval Christian Life and Thought (New York: Columbia University Press, 2018). 

Image

Miguel Cabrera, The Virgin of the Apocalypse (1760)

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