Girls at University
Emancipation’s Mess of Pottage (Gen. XXV, 29-34)
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
Winona, September 1, 2001
Dear Friends and Benefactors:
Canadians strike me as a gentle people; but “strike” is the word! Ten years ago I was innocently asked in Canada whether women should wear trousers. Some ten weeks ago, also in Canada, I was asked whether a girl should go to a conservative Novus Ordo university. The answer now to the second question may be as stormy as the answer to the first:- because of all kinds of natural reasons, almost no girl should go to any university!
The deep-down reason is the same as for the wrongness of women’s trousers: the unwomaning of woman. The deep-down cause in both cases is that Revolutionary man has betrayed modem woman; since she is not respected and loved for being a woman, she tries to make herself a man. Since modem man does not want her to do what God meant her to do, namely to have children, she takes her revenge by invading all kinds of things that man is meant to do. What else was to be expected? Modern man has only himself to blame.
In fact, only in modern times have women dreamt of going to university, but the idea has now become so normal that even Catholics, whose Faith guards Nature, may have difficulty in seeing the problem. However, here is a pointer in the direction of normalcy: any Catholic with the least respect for Tradition recognizes that women should not be priests – can he deny that if few women went to university, almost none would wish to be priests? Alas, women going to university is part of the whole massive onslaught on God’s Nature which characterizes our times. That girls should not be in universities flows from the nature of universities and from the nature of girls: true universities are for ideas, ideas are not for true girls, so true universities are not for true girls.
NATURE OF UNIVERSITIES
Let us begin with the true university. As defined by Cardinal Newman in his famous “Idea of a University”, it is “a place of teaching universal knowledge”. Universities in this sense were a creation of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, and, as the Cardinal splendidly recalls, theology held pride of place there because, as science of the Supreme Being, it is the supreme science which alone can appoint to all other sciences their proper place. So a true university is a place for all-round learning of reality beneath the queenship of Catholic theology. The value of sciences and this need of theirs for theology is why the Catholic Church is always tending to create universities, and why she alone can create true universities, directing all study ultimately to the glory of God and the salvation of souls.
From which, one must question what kind of queenship can be exercised by Novus Ordo theologians, even conservative. Normally, “conservative” Catholics who have left Tradition are in bad faith, so will be bad teachers, while those who have never known Tradition will be ignorant, and so bad teachers. Both will make a point of “rescuing” a damsel in”schismatic” or “excommunicated” distress. Therefore a Traditional girl putting herself under “conservative” teachers will, to keep her Faith, require a special effort to resist the menfolk whom God designed (and her parents paid) her to follow. She will then be voluntarily so setting her true Catholic Faith against her true feminine nature that one or the other is almost bound to suffer.
It also follows from the queenship of Theology that a democratic age like ours, rejecting God and dethroning Theology, will make a nonsense of universities. Sure enough. All around us we see “universities” which are much worse than brothels, because not only does democratic “equality” indiscriminately herd there together all kinds of boys and girls with little or no interest in ideas so that they should not be studying in the first place, but also, by silencing Theology and rendering Philosophy ridiculous, these “universities” corrupt the highest part of the youngsters’ nature, their minds, leaving their lower nature with little or no means of resisting the aided and abetted promiscuity of the two young sexes. Survey the waste on any “university” campus today – feckless unmen and trashy unwomen whose noblest activity is throwing frisbees at one another!
Such “universities” dedicated to the defiance of God and Nature, make mincemeat of the youngsters’ Faith (if they had any), of their morals and of their common sense. Poor parents. But they have mocked God, and God is not mocked. Obviously no boy, let alone any girl, should be sent to such a “university”. What needs to be proved is that even to a decent university, if such could be found, few or no girls should be sent. This is because of the God-given nature of girls. Which, despite today’s massive propaganda to the contrary, is quite different from the God-given nature of boys!
NATURE OF GIRLS
For a sane grasp of woman’s nature, let me appeal to the Church’s Common Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas, distant now by three-quarters of a millennium from our own disturbed times. The three reasons he gives in his Summa Theologiae (2a, 2ae, 177,2) why woman should not teach in Church in public can all be applied to why she should not teach or learn in a public university. Firstly, he says, teaching is for superiors, and women are- not to be superior, but subject, to their men (Gen III,16).
Secondly, women stepping up to teach in public can easily inflame men’s lust (Ecclus IX,11). Thirdly, “Women are not usually (“communiter”) perfect in wisdom”.
To grasp these three reasons, let us back up another five millennia, to Adam and Eve. Since the word “nature” comes from the Latin word for “being born”, then to study a thing’s nature one goes back to its birth. Eve was created by God to be a “help” to Adam (Gen. 11,18). She was to help him, says St Thomas Aquinas elsewhere (1a,92,1), not for any other work than that of generation (or reproduction), because for any other work man could be more suitably helped by another man. It follows that woman’s nature is intrinsically geared to motherhood, so that in all things pertaining to motherhood she is man’s superior, in all else she is his inferior, and in none of all the things in which the two sexes are complementary are they equal
Now to attract a man so as to marry and become a mother, to nurture and rear children and to retain their father, she needs superior gifts of feeling and instinct, e.g. sensitivity, delicacy, tact, perspicacity, tenderness, etc. by which her mind will correspondingly be swayed, which is why no husband can understand how the mind of his wife works! For to do the work of generation, i.e. to ensure nothing less than the survival and continuation of mankind, God designed her mind to run on a complementary and different basis from her man’s. His mind is designed not to be swayed by feelings but on the contrary to control them, so that while his feelings may be inferior to hers, his reason is superior. And reason being meant to rule in rational beings, then he is natured to rule over her (Gen. III, 16), as can be seen for example whenever she needs to resort to him for her feelings not to get out of control.
Correspondingly, while she senses family (and loves to talk about it), he responds to the world around and wants to master it (Gen II,15,19,20). While she is people-oriented, he is reality-oriented. (How often will a woman pull an idea or a question of reality back to family! – “You’re against drink? You’re attacking my husband!” This is in woman’s nature. One does not mock her for it.) So while she is queen of feeling within the home, he must be king of reason over the home. So while he must love her and listen to her, at the end of the day she must obey him, because he is natured to take the broader view and to be the more reasonable (Eph V 22,25: Col III, 18,19).
Now what does a university call for? Whereas in modem “universities” the males all believe in “if it feels good, do it,” which is why they are, as they wish, overrun by feeling females, on the contrary in a true university one thinks about universal reality, which is the prerogative of men. A woman can think in this way, or do a good imitation of handling ideas, but then she will not be properly thinking as woman. The dilemma is inescapable: she cannot do what is properly men’s thinking or work without cutting across her deepest nature. Did this lawyeress check her hair-do just before coming into court? If she did, she is one distracted lawyer. If she did not, she is one distorted woman.
Moreover, true university thinking tends to produce leaders because true students have pondered on more or less universal reality. Cardinal Newman may argue that the cultivated mind is an end in itself, but if Mother Church has always raised universities, is it not because an elite of all-round minds will in any society powerfully help many souls to get to Heaven, if those minds’ studying has been governed over all by the true Faith? But women are neither meant, nor normally gifted, to be leaders! Therefore girls should not be at university. As for a Queen Isabella the Catholic, Spain was her family and she never went to university! Nor did Theresa of Avila, Catherine of Sienna or Joan of Arc.
Concretely, if a girl devotes several years of her youth and much money of her parents to acquiring a university education, especially a decent one, how easily will she submit to her husband, especially if he has not had that education? And how may she not argue with him if he has had it? And if she has a “degree”, how will she not think herself above the multiple humiliations of being “barefoot and pregnant”? And if she is a “graduate”, how will she not hold-herself superior to being-a “vegetable at the-kitchen-sink”? And if making a family makes her forget in the right kind of way all about “graduating”, “degrees” and “university”, why go there in the first place? The dilemma is inescapable: in doing manly things like going to a university, either she is merely going through the motions or she is damaging her potential for motherhood – conclusion: she should not go there.
We come to St Thomas’ second reason: the inflaming of lust. Enough said about today’s unibrothels. What will happen if heaps of boys and girls are thrown together with mention of God even forbidden is massive common sense, but that is not the whole story!
Just suppose that a decent girl can find a decent university which is cultivating on a broad front minds of an elite of boys who will provide tomorrows world with its leaders. If she is smart enough to study, will she not be smart enough to know that even if she does not wish to distract the boys, she will still be a distraction? To this reason there is no exception. So if she is that decent, will she not prefer to hang back from distracting the future leaders that she and all her society tomorrow will need?
Then the more decent the university, will she not the more keep away? What woman can be imagined taking part in Plato’s Dialogues? Not even the Blessed Virgin Mary took part in the Last Supper. Girls at university are a double source of confusion, both doing what girls were not created to do, and distracting the boys from doing what the boys were created to do.
At any true university, the worthwhile students do not want to be distracted by girls. Those are exactly the potential husbands that the really intelligent girls will go after. That is why even really intelligent girls should not be at university.
For indeed – St. Thomas’s third reason – “women are not usually perfect in wisdom”. This is because woman’s family-wisdom is priceless, it comes straight from God, but it isas wisdom, because it orders only a part of reality.
Woman’s thinking is subjective, inward, intuitive, concrete, small-scale, with a gift for loving details. University thinking needs to be objective, outward, rational, abstract, large-scale, with a drive towards the grand principles. Her thinking follows her heart. University thinking can only follow the head. While a university professor is teaching, the boy will be listening to and learning from the words but the girl will naturally be listening to the man and learning by osmosis. Only by an effort will she listen to the words, because her heart is elsewhere – usually on the boys. Naturally docile and possibly possessed of more than sufficient brains, she can always do a good imitation of a good student, especially if she wishes to please a particular male professor. Nor, again, should she be mocked for that, insofar as God designed her to please and to attract – a husband. Rarely, however, will the impressive studentess be a really good student, because the Lord God simply designed her heart and mind for a quite other task. Girls, do you really want to spend so much of your time and of your parents’ money on doing something God almost for sure did not mean you to be doing?
But Pius XII encouraged you to make the best of being forced out into the world? – Maybe he was making the best of an already bad situation in the 1940’s and 1950’s, when he hoped women would bring to bear their femininity on the public domain. However, by the definitions of “feminine” and “public”, that is a contradiction in terms. Fifty years later, who can deny that the public domain has de-feminized, woman? As a friend said, “Women used to have careers open to them only in nursing and teaching, which they did well. Now they no longer know how to do either!”
It is high time for Catholics to buck the current and to buck the world! Europe, center of Christendom, is collapsing, because European girls are all being taught to go to “university” and to “put off’ having babies! Woman and family are in desperate crisis – do we want to follow the swine over the cliff?
But men today are unfit to lead, so you have to go to university to take their place? – You cannot take their place!!!! (The exception proves the rule). Today you are merely following them into “universities”, tomorrow you will be following them out. By hook or by crook, do something motherly, play your part as God meant you to do, and God can give you back from above the manly leaders and the husband that you pray for and need, but that you cannot by the nature of things wrest to yourselves from below. You cannot restore God’s order by breaking it. Get behind your men! Behind, you have an enormous power to inspire and guide. In front, you will merely make them more irresponsible than ever…
But what about the Dominicans’ school for girls in Idaho? – As much as St Thomas Aquinas disapproves women teaching in public, he approves their teaching in private, in other words at home, “or in a home-like setting”. A university cannot resemble a home, but wise Mothers can keep a girls’ secondary school like a home. See the enclosed flyer for an encouragement to support the same Dominican Mothers’ primary and secondary schooling in France.
But where will girls’ secondary schools find women teachers if no girls go to university? -One needs no university to learn most of what secondary schoolgirls need to be taught, for instance “domestic economy, setting up home, running a house, the care and education of children, the spiritual and social preparation for marriage” – Pius XII’s timeless list, to the Union of Catholic Women, June 24, 1949. Of course if the law of the land, as now in France, demands “university” “diplomas” for women to teach or to open girls’ schools, then some women’s “university” attendance becomes, for the duration of that law, an exceptional necessity. However, exceptions make bad rules!
But what about the co-educational college of the Society of St Pius X at St. Mary’s in Kansas? – It is still a family-scale operation, typical of the true Church’s drive to teach the true Faith in as much depth as possible amidst difficult circumstances, but according as it may expand and rise in the future to a truly university level of teaching, I for one piously hope that the boys will by then be giving such a lead and example, creating such a new world, that the girls will no longer feel any need to attend.
But what are girls in the meantime to do, who have a brain and are not ready to get married?- Let them use their brain: firstly, to grasp how God designed them, and for what role; secondly, to pray God He grant us all some men; thirdly, to read at home on their own (for instance Jane Austen, a classic example of how much domestic woman can do); fourthly, to devise with their parents a feminine place and function where they can mature towards marriage. Or – for Heaven’s sakes – let them think of a vocation! Old saying: “A woman is once a woman, a nun is twice a woman”!
For all these reasons, domestic girls are not by nature for public universities. Where did modern man go wrong?
As man puts himself in the place of God, so this life on earth blocks out of view any after-life in God’s Heaven or Hell. Man’s pride unchains his inclination to pleasure here below. Self comes first But children- however unconsciously -demand and reward selflessness in their parents. Therefore the children, and the demand, and the reward, most go. But woman’s life is natured to center around children. Therefore woman’s life in particular becomes empty, as does her home, especially if working conditions take her husband also away. She will inevitably follow him into his domains, eg. university, where she is liable to impose female patterns that do not belong, but that are frustrated at home. She will not let her being remain meaningless!
As this letter has often argued, such a breaking of family, home and woman is too deep a violation of Nature for the modern way of life to be able to survive. With men in the lead, Catholics, whose Faith should give them a handle on Nature, will be wise, according to circumstances, to take remedial action now. The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.
Men, think! Give substance to the home! Girls, I bless you, your parents and all dear readers.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
This website is maintained by the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research.
The Institute is known for issuing academic reports and statements on relevant issues in the Church. These have included scholars’ declarations on the need of collegiality in the exercise of church authority, on the ethics of using contraceptives in marriage and the urgency of re-instating the sacramental diaconate of women.
You are welcome to use our material. However: maintaining this site costs money. We are a Charity and work mainly with volunteers, but we find it difficult to pay our overheads.
Visitors to our website since January 2014.
Pop-up names are online now.
The number is indicative, but incomplete. For full details click on cross icon at bottom right.