May 30, 2013 by lucieromarin
It’s unfair of me to complain about the failings of others – in this case, the failings of my legitimate superiors vis a vis extreme chaperoning behavior – without situating said others in their proper context. So, here’s a postscript to the previous thoughts about chaperoning:
There’s only one man in the world who can say to women, “Get in the car, and shut up,” without being the villain, and that is Batman, and he doesn’t exist. Batman can threaten people. Batman can beat them. Batman can yell at them, sue them, and make them cry. Priests don’t have those options, because, above and beyond the demands of Christian charity – such as not hitting people and not making them cry – they’re also hampered by the perceived demands of holiness, which include biting your tongue when people annoy you, and keeping silent when they make you suffer.
I know that priests aren’t the only ones banned from hitting people, and none of us are supposed to threaten or yell. But most of us don’t know ourselves to be the potential targets of jealousy, and we don’t risk public humiliation if that jealousy gets out of hand. Even a manifestly insane accusation has to be taken seriously by a priest’s superiors; in those cases, no one is on his side.
I can see how, in this context, a man might come to trust his community as little as he thinks they trust him, especially if someone he knows has been hurt in the past. The reason why priests, who are thought to be the bosses of everything, will follow rules they know to be ridiculous and impose them upon persons they know to be blameless, is because they’re powerless against rumour. They’re powerless against a publicly respected woman with a secretly jealous heart. In fact, they feel so powerless against her that they’ll act according to her standards even if she isn’t there.
I can see two ways to change this. One is an entire overhaul of our culture. The other is the founding of an Order of Female Assassins. Not to people-assassins, I mean; rumour-assassins. It could work like this:
Father Burdened sits at his kitchen table, head in his hands. The window behind him opens silently; two noiseless figures slide into the room and seat themselves opposite him. He raises his head.
Father: Are you…
Woman 1: My name is Final Sunset.
Woman 2: My name is Bitter Lotus.
Both: We are the Sisters of the Chrysanthemum Blade. What do you need?
Father: Well…it’s just that…there’s this woman. She keeps looking at me…like, whenever I’m talking to another woman. There she is, in the background, just watching…
Sister 1: With your sandwiches.
Father: Yes! How did you know?
Sister 2: She talks behind your back about the time you give to other women in spiritual direction.
Father: What? How did you know this?
Sister 1: We can deal with her.
Father: Er…that sounds a bit scary.
Both: Do not fear. The Code of the Chysanthemum Blade is honourable.
Father: You’re called Final Sunset.
FS: And today the sun sets upon her kitchen privileges.
Father: Kitchen privileges?
Assassins roll their eyes.
Some days later, Father Burdened notices that the troublemaker is neither in her customary pew during Mass nor by the urn after it. He finds a handwritten note on his kitchen table, and opens it, to read: “She finds it expedient to live in the Alps, where she teaches school and sells fine chocolates. She will never speak of you again.”
Well, I can dream!