Catholic men revere women–as long as you happen to be the right kind of women. If you’re a nun, you’re put on a pedestal. If you’re the BVM, you’re put on a pedestal.
Conversely, if a Protestant has the temerity to satirize this aspect of Catholic piety, devout Catholics react as if you were satirizing their own mother or sister.
That may sound very chivalrous and all, but it also fosters a very bifurcated view of women. For Catholic culture tends to swing back and forth between viewing women as saints and woman as whores–without much in-between.
For example, I don’t find Catholic men rising up in arms when Italian directors depict ordinary women in slutty terms. I don’t see the Vatican or the Conference of Bishops calling on the faithful to boycott Fellini films–to take one example.
If a director did that with a nun, that’s sacrilege–but if it’s the girl-next-door, well, that’s art.
I remember once reading a transcript of a radio talk show host interviewing the late Franco Corelli. I read it to see what Corelli had to say about vocal technique, as well as his professional opinion of other famous tenors.
But as it turned out, in the course of the interviewer, the host also asked him some questions about his life and career. Corelli volunteered that, as a young man, he used to frequent the local brothels. He said this without any tinge of shame or regret.
As I recall, this interview was originally broadcast live on a New York radio station. Yet there was no self-consciousness on his part that perhaps, just perhaps, frequenting with prostitutes isn’t entirely commendable behavior.
And this didn’t hinder him from recording different settings of the Ave Maria.
For him, the convent was one thing, the whorehouse another–and each had its place as long as you didn’t confuse the sign on the door.
For him, there were the “good” women (Mary, nuns), and then there were all the rest. I’m sure he’d make an exception for his own mother or sister–but not for your sister.
Catholic piety fosters a two-story morality: a nunnery or monastery on the second floor, but downstairs is another story–in more ways than one.