Becca / Reflections

On Feminine Time and PSL’s

Happy All Saints Day peanut butter lovers! Becca here—

Autumn seems to be slipping away on me, so I’m pinning myself to my chair until I’ve got these thoughts posted!

Back in August I read a blog post over on Bad Catholic by Marc Barnes. He was tackling the topic of gender (territory in which this blogger has long feared to tread). The ripples making their way through mainstream media these days over the Germaine Greer incident  reminded me of his post and some ideas I’ve been meaning to write down.

In said article, Marc makes the assertion that femininity by its very nature is more cyclical, whereas masculinity is more linear. This is generally reflected in the body and its fertility, among other things. This can also be extended to the general way we relate to time: through progression and seasons.

Pardon my de-intellectualizing this, but my initial thought was: “But of course, that explains Pumpkin Spice Lattes!”

A gross over-simplification, to be sure, but I think it applies regardless. How many guys do you see instagramming their PSLs and sharing these ubiquitous images each year on social media?:

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Women tend to be drawn to seasonal changes in a more intense way than men. This is not to say that cyclical or seasonal time and a more linear progression don’t co-exist—they do in each of us—but in a unique way the woman and her bodily expression of cyclical time can educate us all in a different way than the man’s. But what happens when this is out of balance? What do we make of all this in a society driven by progress{ion}?

Marc writes:

It is no accident that an age that treats time as a line treats the female body with similar violence. It is no accident that an age which has steamrolled the delicate ecological cycles sustaining our environment in favor of linear profit and progress also demands a masculinization of the female body via menstrual suppression, the impossible androgyny of female fashion, the lack of decent maternity leave, and our generally abysmal devaluation of pregnancy, motherhood and breastfeeding. The basic message a woman hears is: “Destroy the seasonal. Take up the linear.” But if femininity is suppressed, it is not just at the expense of women, but at the expense of men, who have no education in a seasonal life, no natural, beautiful, and therefore desirable check on the temptation to plow forward, to endlessly assert, to pretend that constantly making a living will ever amount to a life.

His statement about men suffering thanks to the suppression of cyclical time really resonates with me, mostly because this very truth is becoming more apparent in my personal life.

Being engaged means I’m starting to harmonize my life in a unique way with my fiancé’s. As we move through the year together and grow deeper in our knowledge of one another, we are learning about each other’s strengths and challenges. He has expressed how this budding synchronicity is shaping him and teaching him about the world around us and I too can attest to the fact that I have learned from and relaxed into his constancy.

Both of these modes of engaging with time are important. In this, the Information Age, we are obsessed with productivity, success, accumulation and efficiency and this mode is obviously necessary. But I, for one, never questioned this way of thinking, or pondered the importance of a balancing force. This relentless impulse towards production needs the cyclical, the seasonal, to temper it.

This is one thing the Church offers us through the gift of her liturgical year. Here the seasonal helps us to contemplate and make sense of God’s consistent gift of self to humanity. As we move though the year, the cycle of feast days, periods of waiting in anticipation, and holidays are a real gift to us and allows us continual opportunities to go deeper in our relationship with the Lord. This is imaged to us through Christ and his bride, the Church, and also through our very bodily expression in the world as male and female.

The need for each mode of being in the world is so apparent the more Z and I grow together, and this dizzying mystery has been really cool to explore! As Marc writes:

If women hold femininity as their very form, and men masculinity, they hold it as a gift for the other, as a responsibility to educate the other to rise to the fullness of their humanity. Women give by way of communion the femininity men lack by way of nature, and vice versa. To be gendered is to be-for-the-other.

So here’s to indulging guilt-free in your PSL or any other seasonal delights that strike your fancy (I’m more of a spiked egg nog and Christmas carol person myself) while contemplating the ways we can image the seasonal nature of human life to the world and restore more balance.

Cheers!

———–

Other links from around the web:

Hallowmas with Harry on Carrots for Michaelmas

An article on China’s one child policy via Verily

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