I guess we hurt poor Mr. James Poulos’s feelings with all our mockery. At this point he’s been reduced to regurgitating nonsense he didn’t fully understand when he took PHIL101: Introduction to Philosophy during his freshman year in college. Maybe getting so much attention was too disorientating. While we were passing around his original column and saying, “take a look at this incredible dick,” Mr. Poulos was interpreting our behavior quite differently:
The wave of anger and condemnation that has come from some quarters is dramatic evidence that the column’s central contention is right.
Of course, one of the problems with his column was its lack of a central contention. That is, his column didn’t make any sense because it started out by insisting we ask what women are for, and then it didn’t even attempt to answer the question in any straightforward way.
His rebuttal for his critics includes some interesting tidbits (at least for this philosophy major). For example, what are we to make of this?
After all, as some have pointed out, Christianity itself — often associated with Aristotelian views tightly tying sexual biology to social role — is in fact a creed that in many ways profoundly liberates individuals from their natural bodies. In practice, however, and probably inevitably, Christianity has become tangled up in an institutional mess of competing moral and natural claims.
If he thinks the Church developed its views on the relationship between sexual biology and appropriate social roles from Aristotle, well, I guess I feel sorry for him. In Aristotle’s Greece, women were locked-down in the home, much like what we see today in Saudi Arabia. Aristotle didn’t really question that arrangement, although he did think husbands should treat their wives better than their slaves and, ideally, as equals. If you want to understand the Church’s position on sexuality and marriage, the best place to look is in the Bible. And if you want to delve deeper, look to Roman society of the Fourth and Fifth Centuries.
But, whatever. His ending is classic.
I’m not alone in thinking that women are uniquely able to help humanity avoid becoming enthralled to the more sterile cultural creations of men. But this sort of insight is far more circumspect and modest than the central principles of virtually all social conservatives. If my claim is doomed to be met with an avalanche of contempt, it seems likely that in our lifetimes social conservatism as we know it will be mocked, despised, and shamed right out of existence. You might be deeply uncomfortable with that even if you do hope to see an America without a social conservative movement.
Now, here I am told that an avalanche of contempt aimed at Poulos is a guarantee that social conservatism will be shamed right out of existence. So, if you want to know why I am writing about this…