During our Christmas vacation, we attended a Catholic church where a notable number of women wore chapel veils. The reasons for this practice are, I think, wrong.
While browsing the literature on this subject, I found several tusks of women wearing a veil or a mantilla. They claim it is not a misogynistic practice, and pious apologies are given, but the arguments are full of holes.
Modesty, humility and modeling of Mary
Lawyers say that the wearing of the veil is a symbol of a woman’s modesty and humility; it is a sign of reverence and piety in the presence of God. Nowhere has anyone explained why the veil represents these virtues or why only women should pursue them.
Don’t men also want to be modest, humble, respectful and pious? To complement this reasoning, Catholic men should wear veils, turbans, or kippahs to show that they are also striving to be good.
It is said that wearing the veil is a way of imitating Mary. Couldn’t we just wear a miraculous medal, not first century clothes? What about the rest of Mary’s clothes? Maybe we should wear burqas like Muslim women. Is anyone in favor of this?
It is true that women have worn some sort of head covering in church throughout Christian history. However, for a long time this headgear (adornment) was a hat, and there was seldom anything humble about these hat making!
Our crowning glory against the glory of God
The reason I hear about this topic most often is that women should wear head covering in church because their hair is their crowning glory and only the glory of God should be evident in church. . Oh good? Our Hair is our crowning achievement?
That doesn’t say much about the rest of our contributions, does it? Such a concept is obviously masculine because, as studies have shown, the masculine point of view considers almost exclusively the physical attributes of women. Our language reveals that women are described by their body parts, not by their intellect, not by their spirituality.
The result is that male decision-makers, who were / are easily distracted by anything feminine, believed that women should cover their hair, not to humble themselves before God, but to decrease opportunities for lust among men. .
This practice is not just an ancient tradition that has lingered beyond its time. A recent article in a major Catholic publication again proclaimed that a woman should veil her beauty in church so that the beauty of God would be glorified instead.
Honestly, does anyone think that a woman’s hair, or anything else on earth, can compete with the glory of God? I doubt God cares, but apparently mainstream male society does.
Princesses of life
One story I hadn’t heard before doing research for this blog is that a woman should be veiled like the tabernacle or the chalice because all are life-carrying vessels, all are holy and sacred.
Oh, if this attitude were shown in reality! A Mexican once told me that he had been taught to respect women because they give us life (this does not explain the machismo, however). Much of the world’s problems would be solved if women were treated with respect and their vital capacities honored.
However, after Communion, women and men wear the body of Christ, so should men quickly put on a veil to show that they too contain Our Lord?
Another notion is that women are the daughters of a king, so we should wear a veil in the form of a crown because somehow it would please God. This idea probably appeals to all those who dream of being a Disney princess, but what about men sons of kings? Where is their crown?
Yet another explanation concerns the relationship of God with his Church, which is compared to the covenant of a bridegroom with his bride. Since women are wives, wearing a (wedding) veil is believed to symbolize the Church’s submission to the rule of Christ.
Oh, we got it. It’s all about submission after all. Hide quietly under this veil, pretty girl, and let men interpret the scriptures and create “traditions” that correspond to their world view. Unfortunately, some women hear “beauty” and “married” and think of it as an uplifting compliment instead of manipulative flattery.
Each of these reasons why women wear a veil is a projection of paternalistic assumptions on women, but does a veil, in reality, represent something real and true about women? Maybe women should design their own symbolic practices.