The Evolution of Womanhood

One godly man changed my life forever. My experience with him is summed up nicely with this speech, quoted from the 1955 film A Man Called Peter. The movie was based on the book by Catherine Marshall, wife of the future Chaplain of the U.S. Senate.

“I never thought much about being a girl until two years ago when I learned from a man what a wonderful thing it is to be a woman.

“Until that Sunday morning, I considered myself lucky to be living in the 20th century; the century of progress and emancipation; the century when, supposedly, we women came into our own. But I’d forgotten that the emancipation of women really began with Christianity.

“A very young girl received the greatest honor in history. She was chosen to be the mother of the savior of the world. And when her son grew up and began to teach his way of life, he ushered women into a new place in human relations. He accorded her a dignity she had never known before and crowned her with such glory that down through the ages she was revered, protected and loved. Men wanted to think of her as different from themselves, better, made of finer, more delicate clay. It remained for the 20th century, the century of progress, to pull her down from her throne.

“She wanted equality. For 1900 years, she had not been equal. She had been superior. To stand equally with men, naturally she had to step down. Now, being equal with men, she has won all their rights and privileges; the right to get drunk, the right to swear, the right to smoke, the right to work like a man, to think like a man, to act like a man.

“We’ve won all this, but ought we to feel so triumphant when men no longer feel as romantic about us as they did about our grandmothers; when we’ve lost something sweet and mysterious; something as hard to describe as the haunting, wistful fragrance of violets?

“Of course, these aren’t my original thoughts. They are the thoughts I heard that Sunday morning. But somehow, some thoughts of my own were born and the conclusion reached that somewhere along the line, we women got off the track.

“Poets have become immortal by remembering on paper a girl’s smile. But I’ve never read a poem rhapsodizing over a girl’s giggles at a smutty joke or I’ve never heard a man brag that his sweetheart or his wife could drink just as much as he and become just as intoxicated. I’ve never heard a man say that a girl’s mouth was prettier with a cigarette hanging out of it or that her hair smelled divinely of stale tobacco.

“And that’s all I have to say. I’ve never made a speech before.”

She made this speech before they were married. And – if I recall – she used Peter’s own words about the violets. Sweet, eh?