how a woman can win

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“New research shows that The Pill reduces lubrication, arousal, and a woman”s ability to orgasm, thus lending credence to my theory that a lot of hormonal birth control “controls” whether or not you give “birth” by making you never want to have sex. We just can”t win with our ladyparts, can we?”

We women can’t win because we’re playing the wrong game. The Jezebel article sounds like a team of short people complaining that they just can’t win against the team of tall people in basketball. If you want to win, don’t play a game where the deck is stacked against you.

It’s so easy, comparatively, for men to enjoy sexual encounters without consequences. They can’t get pregnant and can easily walk away from the responsibilities of parenting, remembering to take the Pill, dealing with the side effects of the Pill, deciding whether to abort, and balancing all of this with the rest of life – careers, college, work. Oh, and men are less susceptible to STDs.

The deck is stacked against women in the game of increasing sexual pleasure while decreasing consequences. We aren’t going to win. As if it weren’t already obvious that we’re submitting to men and agreeing to their rules, My Daily Moment published a list of pros and cons of one-night stands which encourages women to enjoy sex like a man.

But why? Why should women do that? What’s wrong with enjoying sex like a woman? What’s wrong with being a woman?

Many women enjoy hooking up without commitments and obligations; I won’t pretend otherwise. But hookups are not risk-free, especially for women, and we bear the brunt of the consequences. It isn’t fair.

So let’s play a game that is fair – a game where women aren’t shortchanged, where we’re free to enjoy sex like women. Where we’re free to be women, and where it’s okay to have bodies like ours – bodies that, naturally, get pregnant from sex. Where pregnancy doesn’t ruin our plans, reputations, friendships, or financial stability. Where our sexual partners don’t get angry over our pregnancies but love us all the more – and stick around and help with all the challenges that come along.

The true liberator of women, I think, is Catholic marriage and motherhood.

Objection 1: Catholic marriage is designed to keep women barefoot, pregnant, and overwhelmed with screaming children and poopy diapers. It is also designed to keep them in the house not doing anything worthwhile while men are out doing Important Things.

I reply that: we’re playing the wrong game again. The short guys would have an advantage if they figured out what they were good at (debate? rock climbing? dance?) and challenged the tall guys to a game of that. Basketball isn’t the be-all and end-all of life. Neither are hookups. Neither are careers.

So what are women good at?

Motherhood. It’s something men cannot do. The Catholic Church says motherhood is awesome. And Catholics who are faithful to the Church (the ones who are against contraception) really believe that.

Exhibit A, a quote from a Catholic priest (Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty):

The most important person on earth is a mother. She cannot claim the honor of having built Notre Dame Cathedral. She need not. She has built something more magnificent than any cathedral: a dwelling for an immortal soul, the tiny perfection of her baby’s body. The angels have not been blessed with such a grace. They cannot share in God’s creative miracle to bring new saints to heaven. Only a human mother can. Mothers are closer to God the Creator than any other creature. God joins forces with mothers in performing this act of creation. What on God’s good earth is more glorious than this: to be a mother?

Motherhood is difficult, yes. But joining forces with God and bringing new life into the world? Lovingly caring for the tiniest, weakest, most vulnerable people? Forming and shaping the next generation, raising them to be responsible adults capable of making the world a better place?

Find me something more noble and more important than that.

Of course, Dad has an indispensable role to play, too, and if he is a good dad, he sticks around and contributes toward it. Motherhood is particularly glorious in that Mom gets to be the vessel in which God creates a new life.

So, let’s look at men’s role in all this – the second objection to my premise.

Objection 2: Catholics don’t believe in divorce. Women are expected to be chained to husbands who are probably abusive, or are otherwise worthless slobs.

I reply that: The Catholic Church expects more out of men than the modern feminist does. And men can live up to that.

The Catholic Church expects fidelity out of men, and men can be faithful. The Catholic Church expects maturity out of men, and men can be mature. The Catholic Church expects self-sacrificing, spouse-serving love out of men, and men can do this, too.

St. John Chrysostom recommends that husbands say this to their wives (and mean it):

“I have taken you in my arms, and I love you, and I prefer you to my life itself. For the present life is nothing, and my most ardent dream is to spend it with you in such a way that we may be assured of not being separated in the life reserved for us … I place your love above all things, and nothing would be more bitter or painful to me than to be of a different mind than you.”

The Catholic Church teaches that any kind of abuse is sinful, and as husbands have a particular duty to their wives and children, abuse of wives and children is even more sinful. The Church also teaches that it’s sinful to seek sexual pleasure from anyone or anything except your spouse – which means no affairs, no masturbation, no porn (which, incidentally, makes it harder for men to appreciate real women). Women who marry Good Catholic Men are pretty well-off – loved and appreciated for who they are, not for how well they do in bed. Those men are not leaving you to change diapers and manage your crazy hormones all alone.

Incidentally, Catholic wedding vows bind husbands just as much as they bind wives. While it is not possible to break the bonds of marriage except by death, the Church permits separation in the case of abuse, for the protection of the children and the abused spouse.

So what?

So we can relax. The Catholic Church provides a safe haven for women; we aren’t under attack here. Motherhood is seen as an incredible gift, and men rise to a higher standard of maturity and love their wives. Getting a lifetime commitment from someone who thinks you’re awesome and will give his life for you, and to play a game we’re naturals at – what could more liberating than that?

And that’s how we win.

Mary C. Tillotson

Mary C. Tillotson

Mary C. Tillotson is reporter for, covering education reform issues across the country. She is co-founder and blogger at The Mirror Magazine and founder of Vocation Story. She tries to blog at The Earth and the Ether. A Michigan native, she lives in Virginia with her husband, Luke.

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15 Responses

  1. Excellent article and regarding the secondary theme of the article – a true and valid view of the role (the duties) of a husband in relation to his wife. My wife drives me crazy sometimes and I’m more than sure that I do the same to her just as often, but I owe her a duty of love, care and fidelity and whenever I look at a passing women or linger too long over an advert containing a pretty model the failure is mine and no-one’s but. I am bound to my wife as she is to me and I respect her more than the majority of liberal males do the women in their lives …….. just don’t tell my wife! 🙂

    1. Ritch,
      THANK YOU for being good to your wife, even when she drives you crazy! The world needs more men like you (and like my husband!).

      It seems the feminist ideology begins with “men are no good,” and tries to forge a femininity that’s irrelevant to men. That doesn’t work; it’s not authentic femininity and it hurts to be shoved in a box or category we don’t fit in. Men and women need each other and we can’t be irrelevant to each other. To be authentic we must love.

      But it’s frustrating when so many men give feminists reason to believe their first premise that “men are no good” – by being abusive, promiscuous, sexually aggressive, immature, underachieving, etc. It’s simply not true that all men are like that, or that men can’t do better than that. I married a really wonderful man, and it sounds like your wife did, too!

  2. Excellent point that Catholic wedding vows bind men as much as women.

    When you look at what women want and what men want out of an intimate relationship, a true understanding of Catholic teaching on marriage is pretty close to what most women want.

    While Catholic marriage does involve sacrifice for women, it involves a much more radical re-thinking and re-learning for men. He must learn to curb his own desires and respect her personal dignity and respect her body.

    Put another way, secular feminism teaches that women should enjoy sex like a man. The Catholic Church teaches instead men should respect their wives and love them the way they want to be loved. “He who loves his wife loves himself”. And psychology shows us that this is more satisfying for both men and women.

    1. When you look at what women want and what men want out of an intimate relationship, a true understanding of Catholic teaching on marriage is pretty close to what most women want.

      It’s not very clear what you mean by this. For instance, it’s difficult to reconcile your idea with the fact that so many women are both initiating divorces and also “remarrying.” How does this square up with Catholic teaching on marriage?

      Also not clear is how what men want out of an intimate relationship is lacking in the way you imply when compared to women. Of course you’re not required to support with evidence here, but your idea seems like a mere baseless assertion without it.

      1. Perhaps my previous comment was not well phrased.

        The article speaks of “enjoying sex like a man”, i.e. no strings attached, casual encounters. The article also states that this doesn’t work out very well for women. The implication is that this isn’t what women want.

        The Catholic ideal of mutual love and total self-giving is closer to what women think they want than what men think they want. But the Catholic ideal is more satisfying for both men and women. The Psychology Today article reinforces this point from a strictly secular perspective.

        As for initiating divorces and remarrying, generally, it takes two to wreck a marriage. Just because the woman initiates the divorce doesn’t mean the man had no role in the cause of it.

  3. Good article.
    We live in a world where food is redesigned to suit compulsive eaters, entertainment is redesigned to suit people with no attention spans and relationships are redesigned to suit the promiscuous. That doesn’t benefit anyone. It hurts everyone. But it hurts children most, women second most.

    1. Thanks, Serena. I agree – the most vulnerable are always the hardest hit. As my husband often reminds me, it hurts men, too – many men truly want to be pure and love their wives (and mothers and sisters and women friends), and this culture of promiscuity makes it harder for them to do that. Of course, when it’s harder for them to love their wives purely, their wives don’t get loved as purely, and relationships suffer – like you said, it hurts everyone. Thanks for sharing your insight.

  4. waywardson and buckyinky,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Of course, “what do women want?” is a perennially unanswered question. But I think it’s important to remember that women (and men, too) aren’t always consistent about it – it’s easy to simultaneously want to be healthy and want to eat a greasy hamburger. The same is true in relationships, but I think women tend to carry the heaviest consequences when relationships aren’t stable and loving.

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