Bishop Williamson’s Letters
This letter which has been in the public domain for a considerable time, is here published because of its public interest. The letter is also available in book form here: Volume II: The Winona Letters, Part I From The Episcopal Consecrations of 1988 to The Second General Chapter of the SSPX August 1988 – August 1994 Rt. Rev. Richard Williamson With an introduction by Dr. David Allen White Order Now! Price: $29.99
September 1, 1991
Dear Friends and Benefactors:
Summer’s end may not seem to be the cleverest moment to choose to write about women’s dress. Surely the arrival rather than the departure of the warm weather would be the time to inveigh against immodest clothing. However, several ladies happen to have raised with me this summer the question of women wearing trousers or shorts (pants), and the problem is broader and deeper than just immodesty, grave though immodesty is.
For instance Bishop de Castro Mayer used to say that trousers on a woman are worse than a mini-skirt, because while the mini-skirt is sensual and attacks the senses, the trousers are ideological and attack the mind. For indeed women’s trousers, as worn today, short or long, modest or immodest, tight or loose, open or disguised (like the “culottes”), are an assault upon woman’s womanhood and so they represent a deep-lying revolt against the order willed by God. This may be least true of the long “culottes”, trousers most closely resembling a skirt, and at best mistakable for a skirt, but insofar as “culottes” establish the principle of dividing woman’s outward apparel from the waist down, they merely disguise the grave disorder. What disorder?
(“Excellency, this time really you have flipped your lid!”).
In the beginning, God created man and woman, both human but quite different, firstly man, secondly woman (Genesis I, 27; II, 22); woman to be man’s help-mate like unto himself (Gem. II, 18), woman for man, not man for woman (I Cor. XI, 9), for “the man is not of the woman but the woman is of the man” (I Cor. XI, 8). Thus even before original sin happened, God ordered between man and woman distinction, inequality, and the headship of man over woman for purposes of living in society and in the family upon this earth.
Original sin, whereby Eve made Adam sin and not the other way round (I Tim II 14), entailed Eve’s being punished, amongst other things, by the turning of her natural and painless subordination to Adam into a punishing domination of his over her, for she had shown by seducing him that she needed to be controlled… “thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee” (Genesis III, 16). Thenceforth with the transmission of original sin to all children of Adam passes to all daughters of Adam (except, of course, the Blessed Virgin Mary) this punitive subordination.
As with all problems of sin, the only true solution is the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ. For instance in a Catholic marriage the painful control of man over woman, evident in all non-Christian cultures and re-emerging in our own anti-Christian culture, becomes by supernatural grace more and more that subordination of woman to man which is in accordance with their nature and which is profitable to both, which Eve had before she and Adam fell.
But away with Eden by grace! The modern world will have none of Jesus Christ’s solutions to Adam’s and Eve’s problems. Making idols of liberty and equality, to refuse any inequality or subordination of woman to man, it will deny any distinction between them, it denies of course any order of God in His creation, any need for Redemption, and it will deny if necessary God’s very existence. Today’s feminism is intimately connected to witchcraft and satanism.
These considerations have taken us a long way from the question of women’s trousers, and of course not every woman putting on a pair of shorts is consciously thinking of defying God or of defying her menfolk. She is, however, conscious of something. She is clearly aware that divided shorts are not like an undivided skirt, and the difference is that abandoning the skirt gives her a vague feeling — surely of unease, or emancipation, or both …. What is that feeling based on?
Clothing divided for the legs obviously liberates the mobile lower half of the body for a number of activities for which clothing undivided like a skirt is relatively cumbersome. Adam then having to earn his family’s bread by the sweat of all kinds of activities outside the home, it is entirely normal for the man to wear trousers, and if a girl gets it into her head to join him in these activities, obviously trousers likewise emancipate her to do so. Shorts are the outward and visible sign of her, liberation from the restricted range of homemaking activities.
However, she is uneasy because trousers are not the natural wear of a woman. Howsoever it be with other species, in the human species the female is designed to attract the eye of the male much more than the reverse — compare the number of male and of female beauty magazines on the market. Now original sin wounds human nature with concupiscence (unlawful desire) particularly in the senses of sight, touch and imagination. It follows for questions of clothing that what might rouse concupiscence needs more to be disguised in woman from man’s eye than in man from woman’s eye. Hence as trousers benefit the activity of the man, so skirts disguisingly loose befit the dignity and honour of the woman. Hence while donning his emancipatory trousers, she feels uneasy – at least until her conscience is dulled – as she is moving away from her identity and role and dignity as a woman. In her conscience is resounding the voice of the Lord her God pronouncing in the Mosaic Law: “A woman shall not be clothed with man’s apparel, neither shall a man use woman’s apparel: for he that doeth these things is abominable before God” (Deut. XXII, 5). And trousers are normally man’s apparel, for reasons given above.
Of course if one denies the original sin which inflamed man’s concupiscence (Gen. III, 7) and sharpened woman’s subordination (Gen. III, 16), women’s trousers are not so unreasonable, but see all around you the absurd consequences of denying original sin ! — sweet Polyanna goes to the office dressed fit to inflame a stone, but woe unto the poor male colleague in the office who fails to react like a stone, because with recent laws (in the U.S.A.) she will attack him in court! Insanity! Places of work will soon have to extract in advance from women sworn declarations whether they do, or do not, want to have advances made to them! But what was to be expected when women were pulled out of their home? It all serves the liberal men right for so misleading their women.
Contrast the reflective good sense of an American grandmother who said to me this summer when she was on retreat here in Winona that, looking back on her Californian youth, she could see she had often been induced to wear trousers, and now she regretted it — she could see now that each time her womanliness had been diminished. As G.K. Chesterton said, there is nothing so unfeminine as feminism. Women’s trousers are a vital part, maybe the crucial break-through, of feminism.
As for the true womanliness of woman, its importance cannot be exaggerated. It all turns on women being essentially designed by God for motherhood; for the bringing of children into this world, and for their rearing; for the giving of life, warmth, love, nursing, and nourishment, everything represented by mother’s milk. For this, men are not designed, of it they are intrinsically incapable yet upon it they are wholly dependent if they are to become human, as opposed to inhuman, beings. In a valuable book, “The Flight from Woman”, a cultivated Jewish psychiatrist, Karl Stern, tells how he could discern in countless ills of the big city patients coming through his Toronto practice after World War II a pattern of womanlessness with which he was familiar from the works of famous modern writers such as Goethe, Descartes, Tolstoy, Ibsen — not a lack of women, but a lack of truly womanly women, because modern men and women alike are trampling upon the womanly qualities and virtues. Shakespeare distilled this spirit in Lady Macbeth, proto-feminist and satanist:
“Come you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty…. Come to my woman’s breast
And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers…” (Act I, Sc. V).:p>
Heaven help us! The womanliness of our women is being rooted out and the result is a way of life doomed to self-destruction, doomed to abort
Girls, be mothers, and in order to be mothers, let not wild horses drag you into shorts or trousers. When activities are proposed to you requiring trousers, if it is something your great-grandmother did, then find a way of doing it, like her, in a skirt. And if your great-grandmother did not do it, then forget it! Her generation created your country, your generation is destroying it. Of course not all women who wear trousers abort the fruit of their womb, but all help to create the abortive society. Old-fashioned is good, modern is suicidal. You wish to stop abortion? Do it by example. Never wear trousers or shorts. Bishop de Castro Mayer was right
Enclosed is a flyer of tapes made by Bernard Janzen, a Canadian friend of the Seminary with whom I have made a dozen tapes myself. The Seminary would surely not endorse every statement on each of the tapes. For instance, Malachi Martin’s latest book, “The Keys of this Blood”, showed him to be deeply divided between the conservative and the Traditional analyses of the crisis of the Church, two analyses which one might love to reconcile but which are irreconcilable. This reconciling of irreconcilables makes his tapes very popular, and they might greatly help someone struggling out of the Novus Ordo, but they might equally confuse someone making the last part of the climb up to Tradition. Be careful to whom you might give them. Similarly Michael Davies is conservative rather than Traditional, he is certainly not 100% behind the Society of St. Pius X, but like Malachi Martin he can reach many a listener closed to the Society, at least for now. With that proviso, these tapes can surely be recommended. Please order direct from Canada and not from the Seminary.
A new school-year opens in a few days’ time. Pray for seminarian Michael Rios from Texas who on August 22, returning home from Mass, had a terrible accident which killed his mother and a friend in his car, crushed beneath a truck and which has left him paralyzed at least from the waist down. God’s way are mysterious, but in Michael’s place He does seem to be sending us some more fine young men to try their vocations at the end of this month. On their behalf, thank you always for your support, which please maintain, and for which may Our Lord continue to repay you.
Most sincerely yours in his Sacred Heart,
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