Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wumpick and the Slews

My dear Wumpick,

I closed my last letter with a promise, you may recall, to look at the temptations your woman faces in living within the modern world—more precisely, those temptations that regard her femininity or, as the modern humans would put it, her "self-image." I said, and it is fortunately unquestionably true, that her perception of herself as a woman will be affected by the images of femininity around her, even if—mark you—even if she disapproves of, dislikes, or actually despises those images of femininity which the culture upholds.
She knows in her heart and her mind that they are a lie, but she cannot help having a great many of them in her imagination and memory, so saturated is her world with their forms.

Now the best thing of all would be if your patient could be made not to attend to the presence of these forms in her mind at all. If they could continue their slow saturation of her brain, stretching their cancerous little tentacles further and further and delving deeper and deeper into its chambers and shadowing more and more of the innocent images therein—that would be a triumph indeed, especially if she continued to execute all the outward actions of a good Christian. We would then be witnesses to the spectacle of a woman who, though attending church, saying her prayers, and speaking and dressing (for the time) modestly, would carry inside her an image of an "ideal woman" wholly at odds with the exterior she presents.

This modern ideal woman (and to us, of course, she is really very near ideal) possesses a great many attributes that are in their definitions innocuous: power, boldness, independence, practicality, moxie, sophistication. The value of these attributes lies in their connotations. One has only to compare them to their more old-fashioned synonyms to sense a difference: strength, courage, resourcefulness, common sense, hardiness, elegance. In the former list each word hints at the self; if the hint has room for another, it is an other estranged from and dominated by the self. The powerful woman, the independent woman, has power over and independence from. But the strong woman, the resourceful woman, is strong and resourceful for—certainly for supplying her own needs, but also for supplying the needs of her husband, her children, her parents, her friends, the beggar on the street corner and ultimately the world. Florence Nightingale was strong and resourceful. Hillary Clinton is powerful and independent.

Thus in the Modern Feminine Model (or MFM), as in all our doppelgangers, the real virtues are not denied or removed or replaced: they are merely adjusted, like figures on an income tax return ...

But your woman is probably not capable of conversion into an MFM; she is already too Christian for that. If she only were a man ... ! With men it is oftentimes possible to prevent the integration of the exterior and interior life—to create, for example, a man with his daily Mass and rosary who at the same time carries an image of the opposite sex that confessors and preachers of an older time would have unequivocally described as lustful. Men are idealists, and find it easy to ignore the disparities between their professions of belief on the one hand and the concrete realities of their lives and their day-to-day behavior on the other; one has only to look at Augustine of Hippo to see that. (And with most men, the lack of integration need not—should not—even rise to this level of conscious conflict.)

Women do not, usually, posses the male luxury of self-ignorance—more's the pity for us! They are more introspective; and they lack the male's natural barriers between theory and practice; they feel, even if they cannot see or articulate, the inconsistencies between the ideals upheld by their religion and the realities (we must teach them to call them that; "realities"—the word has a ring of finality and unchangeability to it) of the world around them. They recognize the cancer before it can metastasize. We must therefore awaken in them an irrational fear of the cancer.

I asked you last time whether your woman preferred pink or black. You sneered at the question in your reply but, believe me, it is not as trivial a one as you make it out to be. For the more "womanly" your religious woman is, the easier it will be to catch her in the trap of her own womanliness.

In the infernal offices we call it SLWS or the Sweet Little Woman Syndrome. The woman who has SLWS, who is a "Slew," has repulsively feminine tastes (pink, tea, dresses, Jane Austen, knitting, cookery, babies ...) which align to make the MFM an object of natural disgust to her. (Of course, the MFM ought to be an object of natural disgust to any right-thinking (by the Enemy's standards) human, but there are allowable (according to the Enemy) varieties of taste which make it less so. Tomboy Pat is not likely to be as repulsed by, for example, the assertiveness of the MFM as Mary Slew Homemaker is.)

Slews "love, honor, and OBEY" their husbands, avoid working outside the home, prefer the dress and the skirt to the sweat pants and jeans, speak melodiously (remembering Lear's praise), eschew verbal conflict (Slews are seldom mathematicians, scientists, or philosophers; the ones who are so inclined study theology instead), and probably harbor a deep affection and respect for their parents. In short, the Slew is our natural enemy, the embodiment of many of the most disgusting principles the Enemy has chosen to force upon or extract out of humanity: humility, patience, charity ... But even those virtues can be twisted, Wumpick; oh, yes indeed! And the key to twisting them is to turn them into pride, or exaggerate them until they become so silly as to be no virtues at all.

Turning the Slew's virtues into pride is usually not difficult—only witness the vast numbers of women who confess that sin and its little sister vanity on a regular basis. A mere once-and-a-while pat on her own back with regard to her feminine credentials will do your woman a world of good. Better still, if she is a genuine Slew, try to get her to see her decisions in dress, behavior, etc., as meritorious not merely in and of themselves but in comparison to the choices of other women. Get her to look down on the MFM in her skanky tank top. Better even than that, make her dogmatic in her own Slewishness. Fevered assertions as to exactly how much "give" is needed in a blouse, how many inches below the knees a skirt should fall, how much makeup and jewelry should be worn—these are meat and drink to us. The restrictions themselves are useless, and sometimes even harmful to our cause. But the egregious lack of charity and humility with which they are insisted upon is a glorious tribute to the genius of Our Father Below.

Your affectionate uncle,


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