“Non licet esse vos” – a modern politician’s wife writes…

Sometimes you see something so outrageously false in the press that it becomes amusing, and so it was today.

Sarah Vine, better known as the wife of British Conservative politician Michael Gove, wrote an article in the Daily Mail today: Why Islam is a feminist issue: Most Muslims lead decent lives. But, ignored by the PC brigade, mass migration and multi-culturalism have encouraged, among some, a deeply worrying contempt for women.  Much of this was a brave attempt to state some obvious facts unpalatable to those who control the state.

Unfortunately in such papers any criticism of Islam must be “balanced” by some “all religions are the same” jeer at Christianity.  So she felt obliged to add the following:

Of course Islam is not the only religion built on misogyny. Christianity, and in particular Catholicism, has historically had a warped attitude to women at its heart.

We venerate the Virgin as the only truly good woman who ever lived, a woman who conceived a male saviour in chastity to deliver us from the actions of Eve, that wicked, weak-willed temptress whose lust and betrayal brought misery upon the world.

When you think about it, that’s pretty anti-women.

But the key difference between the misogyny in the Bible and that in the Koran is that no one in their right mind would interpret the former word for word.

Those who do — Christian fundamentalists — are rightly seen as bonkers by the rest of the Christian community, a remnant of a bygone age.

It took hundreds of years for feminists — male and female — to extricate society from the clutches of the medieval Church.

The efforts of the Suffragettes and the work of 20th-century feminism was the culmination of that lengthy process, bringing about a permanent change in cultural, legal and social attitudes, and a shift in the balance between the sexes from one based on the innate superiority of men to the present uneasy state of equality.

Of course there are huge numbers of other errors in these words, and not merely the horrible old fallacy of the false equivalence.

For instance, we bible-believing literalist Christians are not exactly a tiny number.  I do quite believe that we are not found in whatever tiny circle of London socialites the author belongs; but perhaps she should get out more.

Likewise the statement of Catholic theology is horribly wrong; so why is it prefixed with “we”?

But none of this struck me so forcibly as the blindness of the author to what all men know, and what she herself believes.

Because we do have a word for the medieval attitude to women.  It’s called chivalry.

And this is the weekend of a medieval literalistic bible-believing Christian festival.  It’s called “Saint Valentine’s Day”.

We poor, benighted, fundamentalists created the treatment of women that Sarah Vine would be outraged to be denied.

Who can doubt that, if Mr Gove doesn’t take his wife out to dinner for that particular medieval ritual of Valentine’s Day tomorrow, and show plenty of that medieval attitude of chivalry, then he will find himself in very hot water!

Let us wish Miss Vine / Mrs Gove a happy Valentine’s Day, and a little more self-awareness.

UPDATE: Wrong husband’s name – fixed.


7 thoughts on ““Non licet esse vos” – a modern politician’s wife writes…

  1. …glorious rebuttal, but I wish you’d simply give your response as the html Daily Mail address that printed that rebuttal, to assure it had at least the same audience afforded to Ms. Vine. It’s not too late.
    Happy Valentine’s Day, from across the pond!

  2. Roger
    Actually you are right about Sarah Vine being married to a British Conservative politician, but you have got her husband wrong.

    She is married to Michael Gove, not George Osborne.
    Michael Gove is the Secretary of State for Justice.


  3. Roger

    You are right that Sarah Vine is married to a British Conservative politician but you have named the wrong one.
    She is married to Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Justice.

  4. Interesting to contrast the tenderness in St. Anselm’s way of putting it, 1020 years ago, in Cur Deus Homo (Book II, chapter 8, the 2000 Hopkins & Richardson translation): “in order that women not despair of belonging to the company of the blessed (since it was from a woman that so great an evil proceeded), it is fitting that so great a good proceed from a woman, in order to re-establish women’s hope. And paint the following: If a virgin was the cause of all the evil to the human race, then it is much more fitting that
    a virgin would be the cause of all the good for the human race.”

  5. Excellent rebuttal.

    I love how apparently she has no problem with Jesus being “the only truly good” man Who ever lived, because garsh, male humans being sinners isn’t insulting; it’s factual. But women — oh, we women are actually perfect, so how dare you point out that concupiscence applies to us? Snif!

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