[I’ve updated the post with new thoughts. Look towards the bottom to find them.]
In his guest post The Irrational Female, commenter mdavid offered his thoughts on why many modern women have gone “feral.” At the time I was too busy to offer my own thoughts, and intend to give them now on that subject. Since it has been a few days, and a few other posts have intervened, I think a new post on the topic would be appropriate.
Having read through mdavid’s post, and the responses to it, I have to say that while I agree with many of his observations, I disagree with many of his conclusions. Family size is tied to the phenomenon of “feral” women, but I don’t think it is a causal factor. Rather, it is a symptom of the actual forces at work.
My personal theory on the matter is that in our present “fallen” state, all human beings start out as feral. It is our “natural” state- or perhaps better termed, “base” state. In order for a human being to not be feral, he or she must be reared and socialized appropriately. Furthermore, since our “base” nature is feral, then it is the norm towards which we revert. Absent other forces at work, human beings will slowly revert back towards being feral. A failure to properly socialize and raise a child means that the child never leaves a feral state in the first place, or will quickly revert back to being feral once left to their own devices.
In order to keep humans from reverting to our feral nature, civilization developed and evolved various structures which promoted civilized behavior. In other words, we incentivized good behavior, and decentivized bad behavior. Laws, cultural codes and mores were all put in place in order to keep humans from going feral. These tools are, or rather, were, in place at every stage of a person’s life.
They were no means fool-proof, either. There have always been those who bucked the laws and customs of civilization. Various names have been used to describe them: criminals, outlaws, malcontents. However they are described, for the large part most have rejected the institutions and tools by which civilization was maintained. At the same time, civilizations would do their best to contain and isolate these individuals. A failure to do so almost invariably ended with the destruction of the attendant civilization.
What we see now in the West in the form of “feral women” is the natural result of the slow dismantling of the tools of civilization. Women, no less than men, needed strong social institutions and customs in place to keep their “wild side” in check. However, in the last few centuries those checks have been either removed or weakened. For the most part, women are no longer punished for socially destructive behavior. They are shielded in many instances from the worst consequences of their conduct. Everything that used to be in place to coerce women to behave is either going or gone.
Even worse, women are often encouraged to engage in this self-destruction. It isn’t enough that women no longer face barriers in the way of their exercising their feral nature. Simply being allowed to engage in what they want doesn’t go far enough. Instead, they must be affirmatively enabled in this. All of which is to say that “empowerment” as used today is nothing more and nothing less than the creation of a new social structure whose purpose is to allow women to go feral.
So, for a brief summary:
- Human beings start feral and need to be socialized throughout their lives in order for them to become “civilized”
- The tools civilization created in the past to socialize women so that they could be civilized have been weakened or dismantled
- In recent years this has been taken a step further and new tools have been put in place which make it easier for women to act feral
Based on the comments below, I have reworked my original theory. First some background, and then I will start at the beginning.
Ours is a God of Order. (1 Cor 14:33). It stands to reason then that harmony with the will of God is in natural alignment with Order. On the other hand, that which is not in harmony with God’s will must be consistent with chaos, or Disorder. With this in mind, we might imagine a simple continuum, with Order on one side and Disorder on the other. The further we are towards Order, the more in line we are with God’s will. And the further towards Disorder, the less in line we are with God’s will. With this in mind lets to move to human beings.
Human beings have a couple of different forces acting upon them. First, you have our sinful inclinations as result of the Fall. Sin leads us away from God, and thus is inherently a tool of Disorder. Second, you have “the law written in our hearts.” This is our latent understanding of the Natural Law. Since the Natural Law is in harmony with God’s will, it is inherently a tool of Order. Thus, human beings are at their core conflicted- we have the effects of the Natural Law and of the Fall both working within us.
This conflict between those two forces within us, between Order and Disorder, form our base nature (not us being “feral” as I asserted before). Unfortunately, the Fall damaged our ability to understand the Natural Law. This impairment means that, by ourselves, we can only ever have an imperfect understanding of it, and will only be able to imperfectly follow it. Hence, it is extremely rare for human beings to, on our own, live an Ordered life. But it isn’t impossible. Some individuals are gifted with a greater ability to reason and act rationally. This permits them to act more consistently with the Natural Law, and thus create Order. These individuals are the ones who build civilizations. Especially when they can work in concert, they can instill Order in the world around them. However, as stated before, most individuals aren’t like that. By themselves, they will act in a Disordered way.
One way this can be overcome is of course through careful parenting. Scripture is filled with numerous admonitions of the importance of disciplining children. And for good reason- this is essential to help them develop the tools necessary to live an Ordered life. When parents fail to properly raise their children, they risk those children “backsliding” and becoming captive to their passions.
Another method for instilling Order is through Law. Whether it be formal laws imposed by whatever government exists, or informal customs or conditions, they all have as their function the imposition of restraints on human behavior for the purpose of instilling Order. These social tools are essential to maintaining Order in any society. St. Paul explained why:
8 Now we know that the law is good, if any one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 immoral persons, sodomites, kidnapers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine…
(1 Timothy 1:8-10)
There are some who are just inclined towards disobedience. There are others who will have trouble obeying. Thus, social restraints are essential for keeping them in check.
Throughout history, numerous civilizations have tried to impose their own version of Order. However, as noted earlier, they were operating under an imperfect understanding of the Natural Law. This means they would never, could never, achieve true order. They were always conflicted. Thus, you had the Aztec Empire committing human sacrifice, and the Romans maintaining a slave state, and various Indian empires using an inflexible caste system, just to name some examples. Because they lacked a complete understanding of the Natural Law, they were doomed to fail. Any civilization that is founded only on worldly things is so doomed. If an external threat doesn’t destroy them, internal conflicts will. [Incidentally, those civilizations that were closest to obeying the natural law were also the most secure.]
What changes this is Christ. With Christ and the sacraments, human beings can overcome the limitations placed on their understanding of the Natural Law by the Fall. This means we can determine the means to create a truly Ordered society that is in harmony with God’s Will. But at the same time, we are still human beings who sin. So we can reject the Grace extended to us. Because of that, we still need law, as there will always be those who are disobedient.
In the West now there are several things going on. First, we have a widespread rejection of Christ- a rebellion against sound teaching and doctrine. That invariably leads to Disorder, as it brings people further away from grasping the Natural Law. We also have a massive dismantling of social restraints. What I said earlier in the post still applies. Those restraints are essential, no matter the society. There will always be those who disobey or who are likely to stray. Without them, Disorder is only to be expected. Since the restraints on women in particular have been removed the most, we are seeing a lot of Disordered (or “feral”) women in the West these days. I expect that as Disorder continues to grow in the West that men will increasingly follow suit.
And now for an attempt to re-summarize:
- Human beings are conflicted at heart- we are torn between Order and Disorder
- Since Disorder tends to win out for most, human beings need to be conditioned and subject to various social restraints in order to stay “civilized”, that is, to be Orderly
- Women are not reared as well now as they were in the past
- The tools civilizations created in the past to restrain female behavior have been weakened or dismantled
- In recent years this has been taken a step further and new tools have been put in place which encourage Disorderly female tendencies
- As a result, women in the West have become more and more Disordered