femininity, rant, sci-fi, spinning, Thoughts, TV, Uncategorized

Seven Quick Takes

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1. Am I the only person who, when they read sentimental Pinterest lists of what girls want their marriage proposal to be like and the list includes some variation of “he’ll ask my father’s permission”, has an immediate urge to sneak out and elope? In all honesty, what’s with this thing? The Catechism says that although (adult, obviously) children should ask for and respect their parent’s advice on the choice of a spouse, the parents do not have authority to interfere. Besides, I’m not property; I don’t need my future husband to ask my dad to make sure he’s willing to hand me over. I’m thinking this idea is some ill-considered method of showing that you’re a traditionally feminine girl who still thinks obedience is important. I consider myself traditional, but as far as I’m concerned, this custom is at least somewhat opposed to the way the Church treats marriage. The only person whose consent is relevant is mine and his. In fact, the Church discourages the custom of giving away the bride at a wedding. So when/if I marry, my parents’ blessing? Yes. Permission? No.

2. I’ve been preparing for the Tour de fleece by spinning up some unfinished projects and miscellaneous bits of fiber. I’ve done about all I’m going to get done until it starts, I think, so for the next week I’m going to work on knitting projects. I think I can finish the second sock of a pair and a small scarf pre-Tour. Indeed, I just finished a pair of Moody Stockings this morning. It took me just nine days to knit them. That might sound like a long time, but at a fine gauge and interspersed with quite a bit of spinning, it’s very good time for me.

3. One of our toilets overflowed again. This is the second time in two years. So right now there is a very large yellow truck in front of our house. Alas.

4. I’m going to start watching Babylon 5 soon. I got Season One from my best buddy, the public library. I don’t know whether I’m going to like it or not, but I believe Jimmy Akin of apologetics fame watched it, since he has a few posts about it at his blog (do a search), and it’s rated PG so I’m thinking it shouldn’t be too inappropriate. I haven’t watched it yet, though, so don’t take my word for it.

5. We got some really delicious almond butter from Trader Joe’s the other day. I had a tablespoon in my oatmeal with a teeny bit of nutmeg in place of the cinnamon since we were out, a couple drops of vanilla, and some brown sugar as well as the obligatory milk. Yummy! (Note that nutmeg is actually a dangerous hallucinogen in high doses, as in 1-6 whole “nuts”. But then, no one is exactly in danger of consuming that much in a sitting by accident, unless you’re the type to make a batch of luscious nutmeg muffins and then eat them all.

6. I got an Amazon gift card for my birthday recently and I used most of it to buy Super Mario Galaxy. (Don’t tell me I’m stupid, I already know that.) To my dismay, it requires the use of the nunchuk extension, which I loathe. So I guess I’ll have to get better at it before I can really play it…

7. I originally said I had nothing here, but I see Bloglovin’ wants me to put a link up again if I want to claim this new address. So there, Bloglovin’. Take that. (Actually, I really like Bloglovin’, except once in a while it takes weirdly long to update, as in I’ll visit the blog and see they have new posts up several hours before Bloglovin’ puts them up. That doesn’t happen very much, though.)

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femininity, movie, Music, review

My Fair Lady

Yesterday night I went to see a local production of the musical “My Fair Lady”. I thought it was quite well done, though I don’t have much to compare it to. This review will not further discuss the particulars of that production; rather, I will speak about the aspects of the musical itself, apart from any one presentation of it. (Let it be known, however, that last night’s viewing and the Audrey Hepburn movie are the sum of my acquaintance with the play.)

It’s good entertainment. The songs are catchy and pleasant to hear, the story is romantic, and it is quite funny in parts (particularly the scene at the races). However, there are serious deficiencies in the play as well. WARNING: spoilers from now on.
Firstly, the character of Eliza Doolittle is not sufficiently developed pre-transformation. She’s not much more than a yowling, greedy, dirty child, and her sudden change into a lovely, clear-voiced, romantic young woman after learning how to correctly pronounce her A’s injures the suspension of disbelief which is already under strain. I love the song “I Could Have Danced All Night”, and I think her emotions under the circumstances are completely believable. However, it is almost as if it is the first time we meet Eliza. There was not the slightest hint that she was capable of such affections earlier in the play, save perhaps the short scene with her father in the street. I recognize that the entire point of the play is Eliza’s rebirth, and I can swallow the huge implausibility of the plot, but the change needed to be at least a bit more gradual, and there needed to be some sign earlier in the play that Eliza had more personality than a feral cat.
Then there is the character of Henry Higgins. He’s certainly amusing, but as the play goes on he almost seems to become worse as Eliza becomes better. By the end of the play he swears at her almost continually and even lays hands on her. Her words to him after he does this are cutting, and I could feel his horror at his own behavior; but it never comes to anything. After her magnificent song “Without You”, she returns to him, apparently leaving poor Freddy completely in the lurch, and he returns to asking her rudely where his slippers are. This might have made sense if she had heard Higgins singing “I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face”, but as far as we know, she had no idea. By the end of the play, Eliza still unreasonably loves him, despite the fact that as far as she knows he’ll still treat her like dirt, Higgins continues to curse at her, and not a word is said in apology for his outrageous treatment of her.
What the play needed was a scene where Higgins clearly repents his behavior, tells Eliza that he is unworthy of her with tears in his eyes, and she consents to marry him after he desperately apologizes to her. Or, at least a scene where he confesses his contrition to Colonel Pickering, who goes on to tell Eliza of his sorrow.
My dissatisfaction with the play consists in this: Higgins predicts repulsively that she’ll come back to him. And she does. She has no idea that he’s sorry; she simply cannot live without him, even at the expense of her self-respect. I find this deeply unsatisfying. Certainly, there are many men and women like this, but to portray Eliza as one of them undermines Eliza’s character arc and makes the song “Without You” meaningless. Evidently, the world won’t go on without him. (And what’s with Higgins’ mother? She is clearly a strong-minded woman, but she puts up with his yelling and cursing at her, and even comes when she’s called. If he were my son I hope I wouldn’t put up with it. So much for honoring your mother and father.) He never apologizes.
Yes, Higgins shows jealousy and suffering when Eliza leaves, but that’s not enough (and she isn’t even aware of that when she opens the door!). He needs to show that he’s truly sorry that he manhandled her, swore at her, and ignored her. He doesn’t. I’m no feminist, but you don’t have to be a feminist to see that this is unacceptable on his part. I still like My Fair Lady, but it will never be a favorite of mine.
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Family, femininity, movies, review

In Defense of Beauty and the Beast – Part I

Before I start writing this, I will mention as evidence against my defense, that Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie of all time. If you disagree with me, you may be tempted to use this to disprove my thesis. However, keep in mind the ad hominem fallacy; do not think that you can dismiss my arguments simply by saying that I am biased. The arguments must be dealt with on their own terms.

My other disclaimer is that I am most certainly NOT a feminist. I believe in all the tenets which St. Paul taught about the submission of wives to husbands;  I even think there is evidence that in certain intellectual aspects (certainly not all aspects) woman qua woman is inferior to man qua man, and that the dominance of men in almost all fields of learning is at least partially due to a real superiority in these fields. However, I also think that man and woman are equal “in Christ Jesus”, and that any given woman may have equal or greater skill, even in those aforementioned fields, than any given man.
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Certain Criticisms of Beauty and the Beast
It is common now, among orthodox Catholics, to criticize Disney unfavorably. (The ‘unfavorably’ is not redundant; criticism is not necessarily, by its nature, negative.) I will not name names, but you know who I am talking about. Far be it from me to disagree, on the whole. There are many detestable aspects to Disney, including some of its movies. I may later mention a few of the other movies which have fallen into this category of criticism, but for now I will confine myself to the case against Beauty and the Beast
I will divide these criticisms into four parts.
1) Criticisms of its perceived anti-domesticity.
2) Criticisms of its portrayal of men.
3) Other criticisms.
1) most closely involves the character of Belle herself and her aspirations. She longs for ‘something more’ than she thinks she can find in this ‘poor provincial town’. She is bookish and dreamy; besides, she is beautiful and conceivably considers herself superior to the peasants who live around her. This shows, some argue, a contempt of what G. K. Chesterton called the ‘wildness of domesticity’. She believes she is too good for the plain life found by the other villagers, and too good to settle down to a normal married life with Gaston. That is for other poor souls who have no higher aspirations. Besides, it reaches beyond and is opposed to her proper feminine role, which is to nurture a home (for most women, anyways, whose vocation is marriage). In other words, she is a feminist.
2) is the second most serious criticism brought against Beauty and the Beast. Gaston is a macho brute, Belle’s father is an ineffectual dimwit, and the Beast is, well, a beast. There are no positive male role models in Beauty and the Beast. Gaston, who is the only young male in human form throughout the movie, is a mockery of true manhood. It is anti-male; it is emasculating; it is feminist; it breeds contempt for fatherhood in the minds of the children who watch it.
3) primarily concerns the portrayal of the enchantress. She performs an evil action (turning the boy into a beast) for the sake of a good result (his repentance). This is an example of evil means working for a good end, which is unacceptable.
It also concerns the modesty of the dress and behavior of the characters. I am sure there are some others I intended to write about, but at the moment I am unable to remember them.
Many conclude, looking at all this, that Beauty and the Beast is unsuitable for children and that they will not show it to their family – a reasonable conclusion, if it is as poisonous and anti-family as this evidence would seem to suggest.
Part II – still working on it.
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Christianity, femininity, language, Latin, Modesty, philosophy

Concerning Modesty – Part I

Today, it occurred to me that it might be a good idea to do a blog post on modesty. So here it is.
Note: I am not a Latinist. I really like Latin, and I am a high school student who has been studying it for over three years, but no expert. I do not wish anyone to think that my speculations based on the words are facts on how the words were used. I am using them to illustrate the many concepts that play roles in true Christian modesty. There are also other words that can mean “modesty” in Latin, but I’m only using these three right here.
My initial idea for the title of this post was to render it in Latin. So I got out my handy-dandy notebook Latin-English dictionary and looked up “modesty”. I got three renderings; modestia, pudicitia, and verecundia. I then looked up each word in the Latin part of the dictionary to see which rendering was the closest to the meaning I wished to convey, as the dictionary will usually give several translations for each word. This gives me an idea of the connotations of each word. Here is each one:
Modestia-moderation, restraint; discretion; modesty, sense of shame, sense of honor, dignity; propriety; mildness (of weather).
Pudicitia-chastity, modesty, purity.
Verecundia-bashfulness, shyness, modesty; respect, awe, reverence; sense of shame, feeling of disgrace, disgrace, shame.
So modestia would seem to be similar to one English use of modesty; the sense of being restrained, of not putting on a big show, of outward humility. Pudicitia is closer to the sense of modesty as related to purity and chastity, as is obvious from the translation; and the translations for verecundia are similar to those of modestia, with, apparently, the additional connotation of awe and reverence.
When we talk of modesty in dress, pudicitia seems to be the nearest to our meaning, yet all three play a role. For instance, modestia; the Christian should desire not to make an exhibition of himself* or draw attention to himself. He should also cultivate a sense of decency and propriety, of dressing with decency, and his behavior should also be decent and fitting. Lastly, verecundia reminds us of what modesty is all about; a sense of awe, reverence, and dignity towards our bodies, which are the temples of the Holy Spirit. Shame and disgrace are what we experience when they are (mis)used or exhibited in a way not in accordance with modestia or pudicitia. 

Part Two will be here shortly!
*As customary in the English language, I use the masculine pronoun to mean both men and women. Obviously, this applies to women as well.
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