Saturday, July 9, 2011

The slippery slope


In 1927 the Pope claimed that cigarettes would lead to "the deterioration and destruction of a Christian society and civilization."1 Today we claim it will lead to the deterioration and destruction of your lungs, but that isn't the point. The point is I think the Pope was right. I mean, I am sure it is a collection of factors which have led to a greater freedom of religion and a acceptance of a secular way of life, but all those things put together, they were right! Those people who said that allowing women the vote would lead them to be less womanly were right. I'm certainly not womanly. That might be because standards have changed: I would probably fit better in a world where womanly did not require quite so much make-up. I certainly would not fit well in a world where educated females were considered odd and out of place. I feel like no one comments on this, and I often wonder about it, because often these peoples slippery slopes seem ridiculous, but are actually correct. It doesn't need to turn out this way but in the end it does. The trouble is we cannot see it like that, because what we have now is a good thing. Maybe talking about it is dangerous. We can say 'oh, don't be silly, gay marriage will not destabilize gender norms.' It might be true that it won't, but the trouble is there are lots of people who support gay marriage because it does exactly that. It makes husband/wife a little less clear, a little less the only way to be and we think that's a good thing. It's strange, because their fears seem so ridiculous but are in the end valid. Maybe in the end what is ridiculous is that people feared those things.

1("The Pope's Appeal to Men to Reform Women's Dress," Literary Digest 72 (January 29, 1927): 27-28, 57-59.)

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