Wednesday, March 12, 2014


As mentioned in my previous post, one of the facilitators for the rise of feminism and separation of sex and gender has been the predominance of Dualistic understanding of the human person.  Feminism and all the other variants of gender aberration draw their strength from this predominant Western understanding of man and thus any Christian push-back to these movements  must avoid a purely "spiritual" approach to the problem. Calls for more prayer, reflection, virtue on their own, will make matters first by unintentionally re-enforcing the Cartesian duality. The work around to this problem is by balancing the spiritual perfection of man with an insistence on his physical perfection as well. Effectively, what is needed is a muscular Christianity.

Literally Muscular.

If Christians are to be serious with regard to pushing back Cartesian dualism they need to reassert the hylomorphic model. They need to balance the prevailing culture by affirming the goodness of the flesh since according to hylomorphism bodily perfection is but is one measure of spiritual well being.

To illustrate what I mean, consider the following example. A house is an arrangement of building materials according to a plan. It's hylomorphic in the sense that the plan determines the arrangement of the material. Now, assuming that the plan is good, the goodness or the badness of the house is dependent upon how faithfully the material is arranged to the plan. A good house reproduces the plans perfectly, a bad house is one that is deficient in some way, say, in workmanship or quality of materials.

On the other hand, the materials and workmanship may be good but the plan is flawed. For example a house that is designed in such a way so that it is almost guaranteed to leak (see Frank Llyod Wright) is a bad house. It's bad because it doesn't conform with our pre-conceived conceptions of what constitutes a good house. Therefore a house may be defiecient in either workmanship, materials or design.

Keep this thought.

Now biological sex needs to be seen as the physical instantiation of gender, or in other words, the "plan" of the human being.  A man is the biological instantiation of the masculine form whilst a female is the instantiation of the feminine. Masculinity and femininity are therefore not something "tacked on" to the body but rather physical states of human being. It also needs to be understood that masculinity and femininity don't just code for the sex organs but their imprint is felt at the level of biochemical processing, neurological wiring, skeletal structure, muscular placement etc. Gender permeates the entire human being and so the dichotomy between gender and sex is false. Gender and sex are one.

A perfect woman, for instance, is one that perfectly instantiates the feminine ideal. Her body will be perfectly feminine. She will think in a feminine way, walk in a feminine way, talk in a feminine way and so on. Femininity permeates here entire being in both presentation and act.

Now, masculinity and femininity need to be seen to be seen as akin to "house plans" the proper expression of the plan may be frustrated by disease, mutilation or neglect. Shoddy workmanship or material may impinge upon the expression of gender and therefore gender deficiency needs to be seen as a privation of instantiated form. The interesting thing here is that this privation of gender assumes a moral dimension when it is deliberately chosen. In other words, deliberately making yourself less masculine or feminine, either through neglect or by choice, is an evil. Caritas imposes a moral duty to stay true to our gender type.

But how do we determine what constitute perfection in form when it comes to gender? The feminists could quite literally argue that we are simply defining form according our own conceptions of it and therefore there is no such thing as "objective form".

The feminists have a point, in that our conceptions of gender have a certain degree of subjectivity to them. But the accuracy of our subjectivity is one of degree and not of direction. In this famous image, which is a morphed average of the faces rated on "Hot or Not"

 there is a clear variation in facial morphology between the least rated and the most.  Something which would not be present unless there was some type of predetermined human response to facial beauty.* In nearly all higher order civilisations, there appears to be an extraordinary degree of congruity with regard to conceptions of masculine and feminine beauty which leads to the conclusion that there must be some kind of genetic basis to our response to beauty.* There is a certain degree of objectivity to the issue.

What is masculine or feminine, therefore, is not determined by philosophical argument, or social construct, or power relationships, but by our human response to the experience of it.What's masculine is that which is what we feel to be masculine and likewise for femininity. The summed human experience of them are therefore accurate guides to their essential natures.

The reason why we find the fat, weak, deformed or disfigured unattractive is because our biology elicits a noxious response to their presence. Our biology therefore has a strong influence with regard to our determination of  physical beauty and we are hard wired to be drawn to the beautiful. (i.e. that which has a perfect form)

But the other dimension which strongly influences our conceptions of gender polarity is that of the erotic. Now by erotic, I mean the whole series of qualities in a person of the opposite sex which draws us to them. When the average man argues that his ideal woman is combination of a Madonna, a mother and a whore he is crudely outlining his conceptions of an ideal femininity across its many dimensions. Gender polarity, in fact is most marked when considered from an erotic perspective and what's interesting when you look at it from this approach is that evaluations of masculinity and femininity are to a large degree determined by the opposite sex. What the opposite sex finds sexually attractive is what is sexually attractive. Therefore masculinity can be objectively evaluated at this level by observing the response of women to different types of men. Conceptions of masculinity/femininity which ignore this dimension are thus false and it is precisely at this level where traditional carnal-lite approach to Eros has done most harm. The war against Eros has diminished gender polarity and has facilitated the rise of androgyny.

The hylomorphic critique of feminism therefore is on two levels:
  1. Firstly Hylomorphism is opposed to Cartesian (body-spirit) approach in its understanding of the human sexuality. Sex and gender are not distinct entities but rather a intertwined physical instantiation of one.
  2. The hylomophic approach criticises feminism because it is an ideology which embraces the privation of the feminine form. It makes women literally unfeminine. It uglifies them.
The hylomorphic critique has nothing really to say on the legal status of gender except insofar as any law or legal privilege leads to a privation of form.  i.e. legislating women to be combat soldiers.
Here the critique is not that woman cannot perform the duty but rather that duty "defeminises" her and thus makes her less of a woman even though she may be a good combat soldier.

The Christian approach to feminists is thus to call them out as being less womanly than they should be. The problem with feminism and genderism of any kind, is not that it turns them into the opposite sex, it turns them into deficient human beings.

*Roissy's running a female attractiveness survey. The congruity of the ratings are proof of the relative objectivity when it comes to assessments of female beauty.

*Neoreaction needs to embrace bio-aesthetics in order to combat the crappiness of modern art and architecture.


MarcusD said...

Your post reminds me of:

Jack said...

"A house is an arrangement of building materials according to a plan. It's hylomorphic in the sense that the plan determines the arrangement of the material. Now, assuming that the plan is good, the goodness or the badness of the house is dependent upon how faithfully the material is arranged to the plan."

I thought to add: "unless your architect is a loon" only to read on and find your FLR reference.

Interesting structures, impractical designs. I visited 'Falling Water' in PA years ago. The docent remarked several times that the home was 'in tune with nature'. Well, it takes a small army to keep the thing from being engulfed by the forest, three barrels of oil a day (!) to heat it in winter (poured concrete with no insulation) and it has a creek running through the living room. Otherwise its perfect.

Jack's digressive comment for the day.

The Social Pathologist said...


Modern architecture is a particular bugbear of mine. I don't write about it much simply because most people find the subject boring.

Lloyd Wright, at least to me, is an architect who typifies the triumph of the aesthetic over the practical. In many ways his architecture is analogous to the modern young woman. Optimised for visual appreciation and not much of a woman by any other measure.


I think the law of large numbers does tell us something real.

Anonymous said...

@The Social Pathologist

I think you may find the semitic totality concept interesting.

Behind much of the thought in the Bible lies a "peculiarly Semitic" idea of a "unitive notion of human personality." [Dahl, Resurrection of the Body, 59] This notion combined aspects of the human person that we, in modern times, often speak of as separate entities: Nausea is thought of as a condition of the soul and not the stomach (Num. 21:5); companionship is said to be refreshing to the bowels (Philemon 7); and the fear of God is health to the navel (Prov. 3:8).

This line of thinking can be traced through the Old Testament and into the New Testament (in particular, the concept of the "body of Christ") and rabbinic literature.

Applied to the individual, the Semitic Totality Concept means that "a man's thoughts form one totality, with their results in action, so that 'thoughts' that result in no action are 'vain'." [ibid, 60] To put it another way, man does not have a body; man is a body, and what we regard as constituent elements of spirit and body were looked upon by the Hebrews as a fundamental unity. Man was not made from dust, but is dust that has, "by the in-breathing of God, acquired the characteristics of self-conscious being."

Thus, Paul regards being an un-bodied spirit as a form of nakedness (2 Cor. 5). Man is not whole without a body. A man is a totality which embraces "all that a man is and ever shall be."

Applied to the role of works following faith, this means that there can be no decision without corresponding action, for the total person will inevitably reflect a choice that is made. Thought and action are so linked under the Semitic Totality paradigm that Clark warns us [An Approach to the Theology of the Sacraments, 10]:

The Hebraic view of man as an animated body and its refusal to make any clear-cut division into soul and body militates against the making of so radical a distinction between material and spiritual, ceremonial and ethical effects.
Thus, what we would consider separate actions of conversion, confession and obedience in the form of works would be considered by the Hebrews to be an act in totality. "Both the act and the meaning of the act mattered -- the two formed for the first Christians an indivisible unity." [Flemington, New Testament Doctrine of Baptism, 111]

Anonymous said...


Tom said...

Consider that the concept of beauty and attractiveness changes significantly between cultures, as well as heavily over time, I think pretending that God's definition of femininity is pretty much the statistical average preference of white, North American young men between 18-34 in the year 2014 is pretty iffy.

This would also seems to imply that those who do not find favour with the fairer sex are somehow defective in God's eyes, something I suspect much of your readership might not find appealing.

Anonymous said...

@ Tom
Most Pacific Islander rap videos will pretty much have all white women, some African American (esp if appealing to international audiences) and very little actual Pacific Island women.

Sure, Islanders still love each other, but their ideal are white women. From experience, Islander women are some of the most disgusting, mostly because they eat themselves to ugliness and completely unfeminine.
All 'cultures' prefer pale women, even in the deepest depths of Africa pretty women often are called white because they have a pale glow. European women by virtue are the palest of the pale, hence some of the most desired.

MarcusD said...

Dr. Peter Frost has done a lot of research on that topic, actually:

Frost, Peter. "Fair women, dark men: the forgotten roots of colour prejudice." History of European Ideas 12.5 (1990): 669-679.

The Social Pathologist said...


There is a degree of variation between cultures but there is also a remarkable amount of similarity. Pretty much all cultures prefer fairer to darker and healthy looking to sick, younger compared to old.

I'm not arguing for "one standard" of beauty, rather, that beauty has standards and there is a fair amount of variation once that standard has been achieved.

I'm not arguing for a "Nordic" standard of beauty either. There are plenty of African, Asian, Indian, etc women who are beautiful but within their racial type, they still need to possess features such as symmetry, youth, clear skin etc.

The argument, that a fat Asian woman is just as beautiful as an Asian woman with a BMI of 21 is false.

@Marcus D

Enjoy the link.

GK Chesterton said...

You should write more about architecture. This blog isn't for everyone and some good architecture posts would be fun to read. I actually find Wright mostly ugly though I've learned to offer muffle praise in certain company. That doesn't mean he didn't have good ideas, but "Falling Water" has to be one of the most ridiculous houses ever built. The Hotel in Japan, the name of which escapes me, is far more interesting.

Actually let me Google that:,_Tokyo
While I agree with the article as a whole you go come to an odd conclusion. Why can't we legislate female behavior if we can legislate male behavior? You seem to have an odd hang up here going back to earlier comments about the work force. I commented a while back on that, can't seem to find it though and wouldn't be surprised if you deleted it since it was short and done from a phone and therefore pretty bad.

You seem to fear walling women in whereas I'm far more worried about "walling them out" by not expecting from them social norms determined by their sex. We shouldn't bore housewives but we also should expect that they have responsibilities equivalent to the male draft.

Minus that ongoing quibble it is good to see these two posts which are better constructed than your earlier tries at the idea.

The Social Pathologist said...


Nice to have you back. Some regulars here today!

We shouldn't bore housewives but we also should expect that they have responsibilities equivalent to the male draft.

The problem is that men and women are different therefore the same standards do not apply. It's not about me walling women in rather, the one size fits all approach for women is wrong. There is a fair amount of heterogeneity with regard to the maternal instinct, and keeping some women at home literally drives them mad.

You should write more about architecture.

Hope to soon.

Anonymous said...

"Blogger Tom said...
Consider that the concept of beauty and attractiveness changes significantly between cultures"

Please kill yourself.

Tom said...

And a good morning to you, too!