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womenThe inanity of many bumper stickers continues to astonish me. Take, for instance, one which proclaims that “well-behaved women don’t make history.” As a sound-bite it is not sound, nor does it give us much to bite into. It does, however, provide food for thought on the topic of fools and thoughtlessness. It assumes that making history is good and that being good isn’t good. This is indeed both foolish and thoughtless.

Adolf Hitler made history. So did Attila the Hun. If making history is good and being good is not important, I presume that we can consider Hitler and Attila to have been successful. The same can be said of Islamist terrorists, serial killers, and mentally-ill airline pilots who crash their planes into mountains. On a purely Machiavellian level, this makes sense, even if it only makes sense if we are insensitive to the plight of the countless victims of such history-making men.

It is evidently true, therefore, that badly-behaved men make history. But what about women? The bumper sticker seems to be saying that history-making women need to behave as badly as history-making men. Women need to fight the Macho-Nazis by becoming Femi-Nazis. They need to fight the chauvinism of Attila the Hun with the shevinism of Attila the Hen!

Faced with such facile fascism we might be tempted to say that making history can go to hell with those who make it! Such a reaction is, however, too hasty because it is too reactionary. The point is that the bumper sticker is wrong in its claim that “well-behaved women do not make history.” On the contrary, well-behaved women are always making history but not in the way that Hitler made history, nor in the way that female tyrants such as Bloody Bess (Elizabeth I) made history. They make history by means of maternity, teaching their children and their husbands how to be well-behaved. They make history in accordance with an aphorism that is much older than any bumper sticker and much wiser than anything dreamt up by feminists. They make history because the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.

The powerful silence in all of history is the silence of the hand rocking the cradle.

The truth is that the healthiest societies are always in one important sense matriarchies. They are societies in which strong and virtuous women raise strong and virtuous children, and in which well-behaved wives rein in the unruly passions of their poorly-behaved husbands. The unhealthiest societies are patriarchies in which the power of men runs riot because the power of well-behaved women to restrain them has been weakened. The most unhealthy society of all is one in which the women want to run riot with the men.

In short, we do not need a society in which women behave as badly as men, which seems to be the logic of the feminazism that inspired the inanity and insanity of the bumper sticker.

We need a society in which the silence of the lambs is more powerful than the violence of the rams. We need the hand that rocks the baby in the cradle, not the hand that throws the baby out with the bathwater or the hand that kills the baby in the womb. We need a society that knows that the hand that rocks the cradle is the very rock on which society stands secure. In other words, we need a society that knows that patriarchy can only exist if it nestles in the bosom of matriarchy.

And let’s take a moment to ponder the connection between patriarchy and matriarchy a little more carefully. According to the ghastly gospel of feminism, the problem is that society is patriarchal and that patriarchy is patronizing towards women. The root of the feminist error is that feminists do not distinguish between men and fatherhood, conflating the two terms so that they are employed synonymously. In reality, however, patriarchy is not possible in a civilized culture if it is patronizing towards women because patriarchy (the rule of the father) is impossible without matriarchy (the rule of the mother). For a man to become a father he needs the consent and cooperation of a woman who wants to become a mother. It is only in uncivilized societies, the sort of societies advocated by feminists, that men become predators, seeking to use and abuse women without the desire or responsibility of fatherhood. In their fanatical advocacy of contraception and infanticide, feminists have indeed declared war on patriarchy (the power of fatherhood) but only at the expense of matriarchy (the power of motherhood). To put the matter bluntly they have declared war on parenthood, despising the parent and killing the child.

It is little wonder that St. John Paul II dubbed our deplorable epoch the culture of death. It is deadly not only because it kills babies and denigrates parenthood but because it kills itself in a senseless and suicidal debauch.

The antithesis of such horrible nonsense and the antidote to its poison is to be found in the person of the Blessed Virgin, the woman who is Motherhood Personified. It is no wonder that she is honoured in the Litany of Loreto as being the seat of wisdom, the mirror of justice, and the cause of our joy. She is the wisest of women who undid the wickedness of Eve. She is not only a well-behaved woman who made history but the best-behaved woman on whom all history turns. Sancte Maria, sedes sapientia, ora pro nobis!

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26 replies to this post
  1. Thanks, Joseph, a great Sunday morning reflection on Mary and motherhood. You seem to have a gift, and a passion for the idiocy of popular bumper stickers. You ought to make it a regular pastime!

    Your piece quickly brought to mind Maia Morgenstern’s portrayal of Mary in ‘The Passion of the Christ.’ Praise her, indeed!

  2. Although Mr. Pearce’s general point about the troubles currently weakening family structure is defensible, his interpretation of the bumper-sticker slogan is literal-minded. The expression “well-behaved” refers to the old-fashioned expectation that women sacrifice everything for hearth and home despite their dreams and talents, which might actually allow such women to make history in a morally upright way. Jane Addams, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Elizabeth Blackwell would never have entered the history books if they had followed the narrow path of the proper woman of nineteenth-century America; Rachel Carson and Christa McAuliffe became twentieth-century icons because of their respective intelligence and courage; and even Anne Hutchinson, that dutiful Puritan mother of 15 children, arguably improved religious life for the early colonists by first challenging the dogma of church leaders. We men often try to console women by crediting them for the hard work of motherhood to raise civilized children, but making history as a mother is to make history in the abstract, something that few men would accept for themselves because their ambition would be left untested.

  3. “Jane Addams, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Elizabeth Blackwell ”

    I would add to that Sarah Palin. There’s a reason the left wing and feminists hate her, along with (unfortunately) some of the Republican establishment.

  4. I should be waiting for someone to suppose Dr. Pierce is advocating for “Kinder, Küche, Kirche”, but then the people who would make such an assumption neither have no knowledge of history nor visit this site with regularity.

    And there are those women we read of in the Bible who did both — matriarchs and trouble-makers. Offhand there were among others, Deborah who bossed Barak around, Jael who nailed Sisera, and Jochebed who defied Pharoah.

    In opposition would be Delilah, Jezebel, and Athaliah, all of whom could qualify as “history makers”.

  5. No insults, Mr. Naas. I visit this site daily and know that it is too intellectual for that sort of thing. I never claimed that Dr. Pearce advocates anything, let alone a barefoot-and-pregnant view of women; I merely said that his interpretation of the slogan is narrow and tried to articulate the position of the people who sport the bumper sticker. I also find Pearce’s leap from the slogan to infanticide too extreme for a short online reflection; it needs the careful development that only a full-length essay would allow.

    To Eric’s point about Sarah Palin, I admire her resilience in the face of continuous and mostly unfounded insults from her opponents both in politics and the media. When John McCain plucked her from Alaska to be his running mate, she rose to the occasion courageously despite her being surprised by it. It also became clear that she had struck a remarkable balance between career and home long before she got the call from McCain’s campaign.

    It was embarrassing, however, to hear her read her send-up of Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham” at last year’s CPAC. Her idea was to underscore that Americans–conservative ones, anyway–refuse to be force-fed costly government programs, particularly the Affordable Care Act. Unfortunately, one cannot refer to the book without acknowledging its resolution: once Daniel tastes the dish, he discovers that it is delicious; his ignorant assumption is proved wrong. With a little more thought, Palin would have avoided her inadvertant support for Obamacare. Still, one mistake does not a person make, but she seems to enjoy attention too much to be trusted with the presidency. She has none of Reagan’s dignity or humility.

    • Alas, dear sir, I was not addressing you. Rather I was contemplating the reaction of militant obscurantists who operate from the Far left of the spectrum.
      Not do I take umbrageous note of your assuming my remarks were intended for you, a simple misunderstanding on your part, I am sure.

    • Lighten up, karenjo12. Your kind of reactionary comment adds nothing to what could be an informative discussion. The author certainly does not mean any of what you suggest.

  6. “but she seems to enjoy attention too much to be trusted with the presidency. She has none of Reagan’s dignity or humility.”

    This part I disagree with. Reagan made his share of mistakes, too, like allowing much of his second term to be distracted by the Iran-Contra affair and leaving the Marine massacre in Beirut to go unavenged, But Reagan won the Cold War, so all is forgiven and righly so.

    As for “Enjoying attention”, name me one politician who doesn’t. Her former running mate is constantly in front of the cameras, and Hillary so loves attention that she has to run around in a black van and eat lunch with “Ordinary folks” just to pretend she doesn’t.

  7. John McCain is “in front of the cameras” because he is a serious senior senator with legitimate points to make; in other words, he is still working very hard as a public servant. I am no fan of Hillary Clinton, and I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of her. I also agree with your point that politicians are by nature attention-seeking people, but it is a question both of degree and demeanor. Unlike McCain, or Reagan, or the Bushes, or even one-time presidential hopefuls such as Bob Dole and his wife Elizabeth (who, if I remember correctly, at least explored the idea of a run), Palin keeps showing up at various events despite the diminishing applause. I respect her right to be heard, especially if she receives an invitation, but given the fading limelight, her goal now seems to be to preserve her fame rather than to shape policy in a meaningful way. It takes humility for one to acknowledge when one’s time has passed and relinquish the podium to people who are in a better position to take up the cause.

  8. “The unhealthiest societies are patriarchies in which the power of men runs riot because the power of well-behaved women to restrain them has been weakened.”

    This isn’t true, except to the extent that women constrained by authoritative fathers then work to perpetuate the constraints placed on them because it’s fashionable.

    “It is only in uncivilized societies, the sort of societies advocated by feminists, that men become predators, seeking to use and abuse women without the desire or responsibility of fatherhood.”

    This is true, but it contradicts your first sentence I quoted. Patriarchy is where the power of men runs riot because well-behaved women can’t restrain them, but societies where men have no responsibilities or fatherhood (e.g. non-patriarchy) is where men run riot and become predators? Apparently men are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

    “It is little wonder that St. John Paul II dubbed our deplorable epoch the culture of death. It is deadly not only because it kills babies and denigrates parenthood but because it kills itself in a senseless and suicidal debauch.”

    John Paul II is a contributor to the culture of death and an enemy of women and marriage, as Pope Pius XI pointed out in Casti Connubii: “The same false teachers who try to dim the luster of conjugal faith and purity do not scruple to do away with the honorable and trusting obedience which the woman owes to the man. Many of them even go further and assert that such a subjection of one party to the other is unworthy of human dignity, that the rights of husband and wife are equal; wherefore, they boldly proclaim the emancipation of women has been or ought to be effected.”
    And: “More than this, this false liberty and unnatural equality with the husband is to the detriment of the woman herself, for if the woman descends from her truly regal throne to which she has been raised within the walls of the home by means of the Gospel, she will soon be reduced to the old state of slavery (if not in appearance, certainly in reality) and become as amongst the pagans the mere instrument of man.”

  9. I guess my point of view is similar to Mr. Cote’s, with regard to the slogan, “well-behaved women don’t make history.” Sts. Perpetua and Felicitas were not well-behaved women; well-behaved women did as they were told.

  10. You know who else made history? Martin Luther King Jr. Florence Nightengale. Isaac Newton, Harriet Tubman, Einstein, Rosalind Franklin, Gandi, Shakespeare, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Steven Hawking, even Christianity’s own St Theresa. There are /so/ many more ways a person can become a historical icon than for military atrocities….so why are you focusing on that aspect of history? And those women we know from history, we know because they acted outside the “norms” expected of them; they went out and did things in the world, instead of being a “well behaved” woman at home. And the world is a better place for their having acted!

  11. I just want to comment that Elizabeth the Great was a godly women (and a virgin so that should make all Catholics happy). She is a model of a great protestant ruler in sharp contrast with her bloodthirsty sister Mary who sought to destroy God’s people and God’s word. So women can make history and be obedient, women don’t have to be mothers in order to glorify God.

  12. Patrick, how on earth was St.John paul a contributor to the culture of death? He didn’t support contraception or contradict any of those points of the
    Pope quoted!

  13. Mr. Cote;

    A lot of conservatives feel about McCain the way you do about Palin, that it’s time for him to retire to the farm or the cactus ranch and let some new folks take over. Plus, for a lot of folks, he represents the supposedly discredited “Neo-Con” wing of the GOP who got us into Iraq over nonexistent WMD’s, and much of the conservative base sees him as a RINO and a squish on immigration. I doubt many of the 2016 GOP hopefuls will be seeking McCain’s endorsement.

    But give Palin her due. As the unnoficial leader of the Tea Party, she helped get a lot of Republicans elected in 2010 and 2014. And the fact that Karl Rove (the king of political hacks and has-beens) resents her is just all the more reason to like her. Indeed, with some solid coaching on her presentation style, so as to give her more gravitas and have her sound less like a perky cheerleader Mom, she could be an excellent candidate in 2020.

    • We’ve made our respective cases, so now let’s shake virtual hands, have a virtual beer, and wish each other well.

      All the best to you.

  14. Andrew, yes he did. He said men and women are equal and that the wife isn’t subordinate to the husband. Pope Francis said the same thing recently, that wives aren’t subordinate to husbands and that we, in essence, need to cultivate equality of the sexes in Church and society. The “old state of slavery” that these ideas lead to is part of what is termed the “culture of death.”

  15. I am a little late to this discussion but if anyone is still following I would appreciate a response. Is Mr. Pierce’s point that the Virgin Mary undid Eve’s wickedness a part of actual Roman Catholic doctrine or just a pithy phrase? St. Paul clearly fingers Adam as responsible for humanity’s plunge into sin and just as clearly points to Christ as the second Adam.

    A criticism: Mr Pierce asserts that well behaved women rein in the base passions of poorly behaved men. This is undoubtably sometimes the case. However I would not say such a thing is to be praised. Men are called to be self controlled not nagged into being goody goodies. I was out with a group of men at a bar watching a hockey game last night and one of the men (who is trying to lose weight) stated that his wife said he could only come if he promised he would not eat any pub food. Yes we laughed at him. Men must set the tone for their households, when they cannot or will not, they earn the nagging of their wives and the scorn of their peers. A beautiful marriage is one in which (amongst other things) the husband is admired and respected by his wife because he is self disciplined and competent. A wife who must set the moral tone for a juvenile husband is a frustrated woman, at least in my experience.

    Best Regards

  16. “Smash”, the failed and cancelled homosexual TV Show, had a recurring ‘theme song’
    entitled: “History Is Made At Night”, which implied progress was only dependent upon
    whom one slept with, rather than their abilities, or work-ethic. It was rejected out-of-hand.

  17. Remembering the power of teachers…who…married or single..are mainly female. Remembering also that mom…aunt…female boss who angrily …or politely…made the males…whether young or old…shape up morally.

  18. I generally agree. We’ve reached a point where many women simply have no interest in being “the hand that rocks the cradle.” Conservatives need to be willing to advocate a path for women who may not have an interest in being traditional housewives but are still willing to support the idea of the traditional family and responsible behavior for people regardless of family situation.

    I would like to have seen more about other “well-behaved” who made history. Abigail Adams is the first that comes to mind. I also think of Narcissa Whitman and Elsa Spaulding. I believe the founder of the Red Cross was Clara Barton, and I’m not aware of her being “poorly behaved.” Susan B. Anthony fought to change our system, but I’m not aware of her trying to destroy the traditional family or advocate for irresponsible behavior.

  19. The foundation of society, just as the foundation of any structure, is the key element of lasting stability.
    Women are the foundation of society. Men would not achieve half of what has been achieved if it wasn’t for that male ego to support and impress females.
    When a woman is convinced that killing the offspring, whether in the womb or anyplace is OK. the foundation cracks, and society eventually collapses.

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