Society Becomes Corrupted When Women Wear Masculine Clothes
TIA has always defended that woman should not wear pants and masculine apparel. This position has constantly raised opposition, even among conservative and traditionalist Catholics. Today, we offer the traditional teaching of the Church through the pen of Cardinal Giuseppe Siri. This document, posted recently on the Spanish website El Cruzado, gives Catholics more material for thought and discussion. We hope it will be of assistance to our readers who truly want to follow Catholic Morals.
To the Reverend Clergy, all the teaching Sisters, my beloved sons of Catholic Action, and educators who truly want to follow Catholic Doctrine,
I. The first signs of our late arriving Spring indicate a certain increase this year in the use of men’s clothing by women and girls, even mothers of families.
Up until 1959, in Genoa such dress usually meant that the person was a tourist, but now there seems to be a significant number of girls and women from Genoa itself who are choosing, at least on pleasure trips, to wear men’s clothing (trousers).
The spreading of this behavior obliges us to seriously address this subject and we ask those to whom this Notification is directed to give this problem all the attention it deserves, as is proper for persons who are conscious that they must stand responsible before God.
We seek above all to give a balanced moral judgment on the matter of women who wear men’s dress. In fact, our considerations here bear only on the moral aspect.
First, with regard to covering the female body, the wearing of men’s trousers cannot be said to constitute in itself a grave offense against modesty, because trousers certainly cover more of a woman’s body than do modern skirts.
Second, for clothing to be modest, however, it must not only cover the body but also should not cling too tightly to the body. It is certain that some women’s clothing today fits more closely to the body than trousers, but the latter can also be tight fitting – and in fact generally are so. Therefore, wearing such tight fitting clothing causes us no less concern than exposing the body. Thus it is that the immodesty of men’s trousers on women is one aspect of the problem that must not be left out of a general judgment on the topic, even if it should also not be artificially exaggerated.
II. There is, however, another aspect of women wearing trousers that seems much graver to us
The wearing of men’s dress by women primarily affects the woman herself, first by changing the feminine psychology proper to women. Second, it affects the woman as the wife of her husband by tending to corrupt the relations between the sexes. Third, the woman as the mother of her children loses dignity in the children’s eyes. Each of these points should be carefully considered.
1. Masculine clothing changes the psychology of women
In truth, the motive that impels women to wear the clothing of men is not always to imitate him, but rather to compete with the man who is considered stronger, less encumbered and more independent. This motivation shows clearly that masculine dress is a visible support to bring about a mental attitude of being ‘like a man.’ Further, since the existence of man, the clothing a person wears conditions, determines and modifies the gestures, attitudes and conduct of a person. Thus, just by its wearing, the clothing comes to impose a particular state of spirit in the person.
Permit us to add that a woman who always wears the clothing of men more or less indicates that she is reacting to her femininity as if it were inferior, when in fact it is only different. The perversion of her psychology is clearly evident.
These reasons, added to many others, are sufficient to warn us of how mistaken is the thinking of women who wear men’s dress.
2. Women wearing men’s clothing tends to corrupt the relations between the two sexes
In fact, as relations between the two sexes unfold with time’s passing, an instinct of mutual attraction becomes predominant. The essential base of this attraction is a difference between the two sexes that is made possible only by the fact that one complements the other. If, then, this difference becomes less marked because one of its major external signs is eliminated, and because the normal psychological structure is weakened, then a fundamental factor in the relation changes.
The problem goes even further. Chronologically, the mutual attraction between the sexes is naturally preceded by that sense of shame that restrains the rising of the primary instincts, imposes respect for one another, and tends to elevate the mutual esteem and a salutary fear to a higher level regarding those instincts, which otherwise would push forward to uncontrolled acts. To change the clothing – which by its difference reveals and maintains the limits of nature and its natural defenses – levels such distinctions and helps to diminish the vital defenses of the sense of shame.
At the very least it obstructs that sense. And when this sense of shame is absent because of some obstacle or impediment, then the relations between men and women degrade into pure sensuality, devoid of all mutual respect or esteem.
Experience teaches us that when the woman is de-feminized, then defenses are undermined and weakness increases.
3. Masculine clothing harms the dignity of the mother in the eyes of her children
A child has an instinct for the sense of dignity and decorum of his mother. Studies on the first internal crisis of children when they awake to the life around them, even before they reach adolescence, show how important their mothers are to them. Children are very sensitive at this age. Adults normally leave all this behind them and no longer think about it. But we should remember the strict demands that children instinctively make on their mothers, and the profound and even terrible reactions roused in them by observing bad behavior on the part of their mothers. At this age and by these first dramas of infancy and youth many of the later roads they will take in life are marked, not always for the good.
The child may not know the definition of immodesty, frivolity and infidelity, but he possesses an instinctive sense to recognize them when they occur. Further, he suffers from them and is bitterly wounded of soul because of them.
III. We should think seriously about the importance of everything said so far, even if the appearance of the woman wearing masculine clothing does not immediately produce the same harm as that caused by a grave immodesty
The change in the feminine psychology causes a fundamental and – in the long run – irreparable damage to the family, to conjugal fidelity, to human affections and to human society. True, the effects of wearing unsuitable clothing are not seen in the short term. But one must think of what is being slowly and insidiously lowered and perverted.
If the feminine psychology is changed, is there some change in the reciprocity between husband and wife? Or is a true education of the children imaginable, which is so delicate in its procedure, so interwoven with imponderable factors in which the mother’s intuition and instinct play the decisive part in those first years? What can these women give their children when they have worn trousers for so long that their self-esteem is determined more by their competition with men than by their function as women?
We ask ourselves why it is that since the beginning of man’s existence – or rather, since he became civilized – has mankind in all epochs and places been irresistibly led to differentiate and divide the functions of the sexes? Do we not have here a strict testimony to the recognition by all mankind of a truth and a law higher than man?
In summary, wherever women wear men’s clothing, this should be considered a long-term factor of a disintegration of the human order.
IV. The logical consequence of everything presented so far is that each person in a position of responsibility should feel a sense of danger – in the true and proper meaning of the word – a strong and decisive danger.
We direct a grave warning to parish priests, to priests in general and to confessors in particular, to members of every kind of associations, to religious brothers, to nuns, and especially to teaching sisters.
We ask that they become clearly conscious of the problem so that an action will follow. This consciousness is what is important. It will suggest the action appropriate for each time. But it should not counsel us to give in to an inevitable change, as if we were confronting a natural evolution of mankind.
Man comes and goes, and God has left much room for the coming and going of the free will. But the substantial lines of nature and the no less substantial lines of Eternal Law have certainly never changed, are not changing now, and will not change in the future. There are boundaries that one can transgress if he so desires, but doing so ends in death. An empty philosophy [Freudian psychoanalysis] can allow one to ridicule and trivialize those boundaries, but they constitute an alliance of objective facts and the natural order that chastises anyone who steps beyond them. History has clearly taught – with impressive proofs of the life and death of nations – that the response to all these violators of this ‘structure of man’ always ends – sooner or later – in a catastrophe.
Since the dialectic of Hegel, we have been taught what amounts to nothing more than fables, and from hearing them so often, many persons end up by conforming to them, even if only passively. But the truth of the matter is that Nature and Truth, and the Law bound up in both, continued on their imperturbable way, cutting to pieces those simpletons who, without any grounds, believed in radical and far-reaching changes in the very structure of man.
The consequences of such violations are not a new ‘structure of man,’ but disorders, a harmful instability of every kind, the frightening dryness of human souls, a devastating increase in the number of human beings abandoned by society, left to live their declining years in boredom, sadness and rejection. In this shipwreck of eternal moral norms one finds destroyed families, cold homes, lives cut short before their time, the old persons cast aside, our youth choosing to be degenerate and – at the end of the line – souls in despair and even taking their own lives. All this human wreckage is testimony to the fact that the ‘line of God’ does not cede way nor admit of any adaptation to the delirious dreams of the so-called philosophers!
V. We have said that those to whom this Notification is addressed are asked to become seriously alarmed at the problem before them.
They know what they should say, starting with the little girls on their mother’s lap. They know that without exaggerating the matter or becoming fanatical, they will need to place strict limits on how far they can tolerate women dressing like men as a general rule.
They know that they must not be so weak as to reach the point of turning a blind eye to a custom that is slipping downhill and undermining morality in all the institutions.
Priests know that they should take a strong and decisive line in the confessional, while not affirming that a woman dressing like a man is automatically a grave fault.
Everyone should be thinking of the need to have a united line of action, reinforced on all sides by the cooperation of all men of good will and all enlightened minds, in order to create a true dam that will hold back the flood.
Those of you who are responsible for souls in any capacity should realize how useful it is to have men of letters and in the media as allies in this campaign. The position taken by the fashion design houses and the clothing industry is crucially important in this matter. Artistic sense, refinement and good taste can unite to find adequate and at the same time dignified solutions to the question of the clothing for women if she must ride a motorcycle or engage in this or that exercise or work. What is important is to preserve modesty while maintaining the perennial sense of femininity, that femininity which, more than anything else, all children will always continue to associate with what their mothers mean to them.
We do not deny that modern life confronts us with problems and demands unknown to our grandparents. But we affirm that there are values with more need of being protected than fleeting experiences, and that every intelligent person will always have enough good sense and good taste to find acceptable and dignified solutions to the problems that rise.
Moved by charity, we are fighting against the degradation of man, against the attack on those differences upon which the complementarities between man and woman rely.
When we see a woman wearing trousers, we should think not so much of her as of all mankind, of how it will be when all women have become masculinized. No one will gain by helping to bring about a future age of indistinctness, ambiguity, imperfection and, if we may say so, monstrosities.
This letter of ours is not addressed to the public, but to those responsible for souls, for educators, for Catholic associations. Let them do their duty, and not be sentinels caught sleeping at their posts while evil entered the gates.
Genoa, June 12, 1960, Giuseppe Cardinal Siri
Translated from El Cruzado
Translated from El Cruzado