If the wind was blowing from the south when you were conceived — in case you are a woman, a “misbegotten male” — it is to blame for your gender! You didn’t know? The man who said so was canonized, so, it must be true. I am referring to Thomas Aquinas, 1225 – 1274, one of the founders of the church and theology as it exists now.
Thomas Aquinas’ “Summa Theologica” — written from 1265 or 1266 until 1273 — can be found here; it makes an enjoyable read.
Not so entertaining is what the Catholic church still has to say nowadays, concerning homosexuals and their wish to be able to marry, as well as what it has to say about women and their role in partnership and society.
It shouldn’t concern me the way it does, as I am not even Catholic. Yet, many people try and bend their lives around the imposed rules of the Vatican, and as I know quite a few who suffer from this impossible task to comply to arbitrary and contradicting rules — at least this is how it seems to me — it is somehow my problem as well.
Another thing is, as little as people realize, those long-past opinions, one might say, still influence us nowadays. It always annoys me when our government, e.g., stresses the “Christian values” our society is founded upon. In my perception, our society and the things we value most, as they affect our daily life — the freedom of speech, and of actions that won’t harm others — are no Christian traits. It has to do with a process that started in the Renaissance, and hasn’t stopped since, through the French revolution, the American declaration of independence which states for the first time that all men are created equal (even if at the time it wasn’t clear at all if women or slaves were included) and still continues whenever someone asks the simple question how something can be changed for the better. This question is a process, it is never solved — which doesn’t mean one should ever stop trying.
Yet, however modern we claim to be in our western civilisation, those long-past opinions still seem to be present somehow in the human psyche. When I was young, which isn’t so long past, in the village where I come from the old ladies told me (more than once) that having your period is the punishment put upon you for Eve’s sin. Oh, and that the lettuce would go bad if you walk past the field when you are in that state, etc. etc… They were serious, too. Nowadays people tend to forget, but the level beneath the very obvious which is harder to perceive, and thus, to attack, is still there. I cannot count how often I have read (in fairy tales or in quotations) or heard (on the street as well as in interviews,) that a man had “only a daughter.” I refused to even really hear it; I only do so more again since I have a daughter myself and am bound to notice what opinions she is exposed to. I don’t want her to grow up with the slowly accumulating belief that persons of female gender are second class. And by the way, to quote Aquinas once more:
“…for the agent is always more honorable than the patient…” If you are a Christian; what is with Jesus then? He is the essence of patience, in the Latin sense, which also means suffering or to endure. The argumentation and the quote was hilariously stupid even back then.
Concerning homosexuals, I somehow have the impression that the underlying disrespect of society for women is applied to them as well. Worse than being gay is — be gay and look like a bottom. For comparison, just look at the public reactions (as in youtube comments etc.) various gay or bi actors and artists are getting. Why isn’t Daniel Craig (has been reportedly kissing a man, according to sources Perez Hilton seems to have at hand) being picked upon the same way as Chris Colfer is? Because — this is my theory — Daniel Craig just doesn’t look like a bottom.
I will inquire further on this, though it is hard to find any statistically significant proof for this theory, or proof against it.
The idea persists that a woman is the evil one, the seductress, and the one spreading diseases (because a man can wash, and it’s gone, right?) They are of inferior intellect too, of course, as Aquinias states, and as it still is mirrored in many “blondes” jokes in German, e.g..
People incessantly express their disrespect for the receiving part, the patient one, by the greatest archive of historic beliefs and judgements there is: language. There is no such thing as neutral language. “Now you’re boned. / F* you…” etc. says it all. The one who does it is the hero, the one who gets it is the victim. This is in complete agreement with Aquinas, and the quote we all most probably had a good laugh about just before. A bit scary, isn’t it? If he lived nowadays, I have the notion that Aquinas wouldn’t even really stand out.
Yet, I won’t only pick on a man’s flaws. One of the good things he has done — he has written the “Pange Lingua,” a hymn which has been set to music quite a few times. Without him, those pieces of music would never exist, which I would consider a great loss. So, one “plus” for Thomas Aquinas. If it is able to weigh up the incredibly sexist rants (even for the time) he wrote — who can judge. Judge for yourselves 😉
annotation: The featured picture was typeset with LaTex…. IT IS SO DAMN SEXY! </nerd>