I was recently contacted by our national broadcaster, ABC, to speak about the issues raised in my article.
I’ve done the odd interview since publishing the article but the ABC is a bit of a big deal. They also tend to be left-leaning politically so I was a bit anxious about the interview. How to articulate things to this audience?
Admittedly I was interviewed on a show they have called the Religion and Ethics Report, which was definitely more sympathetic to my views, but still – I didn’t want to go full-blown Catholic on them, either.
The interview was released today and the result was… okay.
Look, everyone’s their own worst critic so I’m not going to spend too much time analysing how I did. At the very least, I got my point across while clarifying some of the misconceptions I’ve attracted since the articles both went to print, in the Catholic Weekly and The Australian.
Have a listen:
If you’re having trouble listening to the audio, you can also go directly to the website.
30 thoughts on “My ABC Radio interview”
Don’t you belong to a Latin Mass parish? Are the guys there what you call too intense?
I do. The Latin Mass Parish attracts all sorts, and yes, some of the men who go there do tend to be on the intense side. Not all of them by any means, but certainly some.
I thought it was a reasonable interview and you came across quite well.
How many young men are even in the pews?
According to the NYT, in 2011 only 12 percent of Australian Catholics attended Mass “periodically.”
The interview turned out fine. You clarified your original article, though there was no need to. It was plain to me what you meant. What are you going to do next?
Hi JMJ, thanks for the feedback! I’ve got two or three more podcasts coming up! I’ve recorded one and I’m recording two more in the next week. Watch this space!
You spoke a bit fast but otherwise a pretty good interview.
I’d just offer two more thoughts:
1. The way the whole ‘men are feeling disenfranchised/”crisis of masculinity”/men don’t know how to lead or be strong anymore’ thing tends to be framed really badly, like ‘he just can’t handle a strong independent woman’. There is NEVER any discussion of the fact that we are living in a society where women are actively being pushed into leadership roles (and consequently elbowing men out of the way), and where traditionally masculine qualities are being stamped out in the classroom. Boys are pretty much raised to think of themselves as defective women. Obviously it was a short interview in hostile territory, but would have been good to hear more on that aspect.
2. Most of the men that I know who attend church these days and hold ‘traditional’ views are pretty intense. I’ll include myself in that, although I’m pretty good at acting normal when I have to. Church attendance is a very counter-cultural act in a way, and holding traditional values places one in direct opposition to the Zeitgeist. It’s going to take a certain type of man to maintain focus and discipline.
On the other hand, the easy-going, non-intense, non-traditional men you find yourself attracted to seem to be the ones who are quite happy to go along with the World and all its sins. Sure, they may have been the type which would’ve gone to church 50 years ago, but they would’ve been going with the flow then as well.
“On the other hand, the easy-going, non-intense, non-traditional men you find yourself attracted to seem to be the ones who are quite happy to go along with the World and all its sins”
A lot of the “traditional men” of the past weren’t “intense” Catholics. They took their faith seriously but it was balanced by the other aspects of their lives. I think that there is this false dichotomy at play here which assumes that the only legitimate Catholicism is its intense variant, all others being cop outs. This is a big problem in modern Catholicism which harms the religion far more than it helps it.
Lay life and consecrated life are two different things, and that’s something I feel a lot of the intensely religious miss. Seriously, some of the “intense” Catholics I have met seem to be so Church focused that they effectively become ecclesiastical “groupies”; a bit like vegetarians. The Catholic approach to the laity tends to conceptialise it as subordinate branch of the priesthood instead of seeing it as a branch in its own right.
Walt Kowalski, played by Clint Eastwood in Grand Torino typifies that “old School” type of Catholic male. Catholic laity at its finest: Depth of belief without being an intense religious groupie.
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Now this is a very good point. I think that we are living in confusing times. Many more ordinary Catholics in the past could basically live decent lives without being too intense – without being “groupies.” In this secular day and age, it is more necessary to be what they call “intentional” Catholics, but this can shade into a kind of fanaticism which can create a personality type that is, well, not as attractive to women or men.
I can’t resist noting that you used a fictional character to illustrate your ideal male Catholic.
Anyway, let’s just get this straight: I absolutely agree with you that men should balance their faith with other aspects of their lives. What I’m saying, and what your comment seems to affirm rather than disprove, is that these ‘normal’ men aren’t showing up at church anymore. By default, the ones still hanging on appear to be the more ‘intense’ variety: for example, those who find theology inherently fascinating or those who simply cannot relate to the modern world in its current state and are looking for answers. Or the kind who are so devoted to the Eucharist that they’re willing to sit through saccharine, testosterone-destroyng sermons about tolerance, compassion, and our duty to take in endless numbers of third-world migrants. Would Clint Eastwood put up with this?
Let’s not also forget the question of chastity. Any young man who takes this seriously is, by definition, not going to be normal by the standards of the world. While I don’t condone fornication, most attractive, well-adjusted men are likely enjoying themselves, maybe even with multiple partners. It’s probably the ones who aren’t who go looking for answers and deeper meaning in life. I know a couple of older Catholic men who might fit your ideal template, but they definitely fooled around a lot before marriage. And this was decades ago!
I used Walt Kowalski simply because he was archetypal of the men I grew up around in my childhood: they weren’t fictional. I grew up among Eastern European working class men who had migrated to Australia after WW2. It was a world full of men such as him.
Yes, I agree that men are abandoning the Church but we must be careful not to adopt an attitude of let’s change the Church’s teaching to “bring in a bigger crowd” since the Church’s primary role is to teach God’s truth no matter what the audience. Rather, our approach to the subject should be: Is the absence of men in the Church a sign of something being wrong with the Church’s understanding of its “deposit of faith?” This is beyond a combox discussion of the subject but in my opinion, the phenomenon of modernity has bought to light weaknesses in the Church’s teaching.
One of the really interesting things in the movie Grand Torino is observing the interaction between the Priest and Walt. I think it is a great allegory for the relationship between the clergy and the laity in modern society. Executive summary: the priest gets schooled by Walt.
As for fornication, that has always existed. Though, there was far less of it in the past and the nature of it was different. I did a fair amount of personal research into the rates of pre-martial sex years ago and if memory serves me correctly most fornication was with the future spouse. Girls were much harder to get into bed with some sort of commitment.
Summed up nicely
I’m very conservative regarding personal morality. I find it hard to be intense when it comes to the RC Church, though. More and more scandals keep coming out, and still we get the same old line about the gates of hell and so forth.
You sounded great to me! After hearing you, reading your writing and seeing a picture of you, I can’t understand why you are still single. Either you are an axe murderer or what you say about the difficulty of relationships is true!
But seriously, I had similar problems. Secular women thought I was great, but their nonchalant embrace of all sorts of deviance repulsed me. The good Catholic girls whom I was attracted to did not reciprocate – two of them choosing over me Catholic “boy-men” whom I suspect stirred some sort of maternal instinct (i.e. they thought they could “fix” them.). Admittedly, there were some otherwise decent Catholic girls I wasn’t attracted to romantically who may have been open to me. I will say in my defense that it is easier for a woman to accept a date with a man whom she isn’t attracted to (giving him a try), than it is for a man to convince himself to ask out a woman whom he isn’t attracted to. But that also may have been my own personal immaturity to not be able to see the good in them and be attracted to that.
Ah, youth . . .
Still, I think it all comes down to small pools of available good people. It shouldn’t be this hard normally.
Well, good luck and keep up the good work writing and speaking!
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Thanks. As you may have noticed, this comment is suspiciously similar to the next one written by “Kurt.” I didn’t think this comment got through, so I rewrote it and changed to my real name. Sorry for any confusion.
I thought the interview went very well! Frankly, hearing your very professional interview, reading your writing, and seeing a picture of you, I don’t know why you are still single. Interestingly, I get it about what you mean by a lack of “worldly wise” Catholic men. I understand your meaning. I must say that I had a somewhat similar experience in regard to believing Catholic women in America when I was younger – but with a twist.
I had the experience three times of being turned down by what I thought were solid Catholic women in favor of what I termed “boy-men.” Though they were good Catholics, these men ranged from being somewhat weak, or immature to even, in one stunning case, emotionally “broken.” It really surprised me because I can admit when I am licked by another man – when he is smarter, has a stronger personality, even handsomer. But these men were none of those things.
It was almost as if they wanted a man who wasn’t “worldly-wise,” but one they could feel “safe” with and even “help.” (maternal instinct?). More secular women liked me, but these good Catholic girls seemed to be selling themselves short. Not because they had to choose me. In fact, I readily imagined them being snapped up by some other man, more dynamic and charismatic then me. Instead, they chose safety and secure mediocrity(?) – just so long as he was Catholic?
Have you thought about interviewing somebody like Leon Podles or Janice Fiamengo?
I think it’d fascinating to learn why the intellectual power centers of the western world think as they do. For example, where and when did our current views on gender originate?
So now you have access to the media and you can repeat the premise of your original article: “I meet them constantly at parties and social events – beautiful, smart, single Catholic women who just want to find a good man to love and honour. Yet this pool of women seems to keep getting bigger, while the number of Godly, marriageable men is swiftly dropping.”
I expect to hear you popping up in podcasts across Catholic and secular media. You have the message that they want to propagate. There’s only one problem. Your premise is false. But the media isn’t interested in finding the middle ground here. They will take the lazy approach of beating up men for allegedly being immature, socially awkward, worldly-unwise. Criticizing women and their attitudes just isn’t going to happen in today’s media.
Look, Anna. If there had ever been a growing pool of single Catholic women – women who self-assess as beautiful and smart but let’s ignore that vanity – I would surely be waist-deep in it. But there isn’t any such pool. There just isn’t.
To be fair to her, Miss Hitchings did address the whole #MeToo thing and “toxic masculinity” in her first viral article. However I do lament that this blog still veers towards repeatedly imploring men to ‘man up!’ when we already have Jordan Peterson, Dalrock and Rollo Tomassi to say that, and more effectively. There’s still a very discernible female solipsism coloring everything – as in, “we want men to man up in order to make our lives more convenient, but we want all the institutions to remain gyno-centric and don’t actually want to go back to a more subordinate role in society”. Ultimately, this will only happen when men ‘man up’ and (lovingly) put women back in their place, although I fear that it will take a collapse for this to happen.
I really do question the existence of this pool of beautiful, smart, single Catholic girls. Women are notorious for overestimating the desirability of their friends. There’s also that famous OK Cupid study which showed that women think roughly 80 percent of men are below average physically (statistically impossible). I’ve come across a similar one looking at Tinder where girls who roughly 5-6s will only swipe right on men who are 8 or above.
I met a dating coach once who told me that most men he works with, by contrast, tend to underestimate where they are at on the scale. Eventually, according to him, most men end up in a stable relationship with a girl a bit below them in terms of desirability (a guy who’s an 8 will eventually settle with a girl who is a 7). This seems to be what girls talk about when they describe ‘mutual attraction’ (that is, the man is the one who ‘settles’).
Miss Hitchings is a pretty girl but it would be interesting to know what qualifies as attractive to her. It seems like most women, she wants a man who is attractive enough that he could have his pick of any number of women. But she also wants a man who resists this urge and opts for chastity. Perhaps a successful man who’s 6’2″, with a chiselled jawline and a crucifix resting between his sculpted pecs, who dedicates every set of deadlifts to Jesus and rides his motorbike to church on Sunday?
I wonder if, as she gets more and more media airplay, and her story gets more and more reporting, if any of the men she’s rejected will emerge to defend themselves. That could be very interesting.
I live about two blocks from a Hell’s Angels clubhouse. If Anna wants, I’ll pass her info on to those guys. 🙂
OK, very funny. But to be fair, I think that all of us guys have, in essence, rejected women too. At least in my life, there were women whom I knew were open to me and gave some sort of sign or encouragement, but I just wasn’t interested. There is a kind of fickleness to romantic love that applies to both of the sexes – even if women (usually) don’t verbally ask men out and get verbally rejected.
It is very much a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Or, as a wise older relative once told me, “it is a matter of a woman being open to the sort of man you are at the same time that you are open to the sort of woman she is.” In fact, this is precisely what happened with my sister.
Her future husband was a co-worker whom she wasn’t interested in and turned him down when he asked her out. She thought he was, among other things, “fussy.” Anyway, she was also dating a man at the time whom she was taken with but who treated her very badly. He was a “bad dude” and they had a very messy break up. After that she was able to put in perspective the minor flaws of her future husband and be open to the more profound good things that he had to offer.
Yep. Many women have a bad attitude about men. One of the most common ideas seems to be that men are wretched souls who need saving (by women). I get a mental image of Carrie Nation swinging her hatchet.
When I was a freshman at the University of Illinois, the university made all freshman guys attend a seminar on preventing violence against women. The whole thing was ridiculous, especially its implication that men are always responsible for sexual violence.
Nice interview, Anna!
When you said that you’d like to see men and women relax about first dates, I wondered if speed dating is popular in Australia. Would your friends be willing to go to such an event? I’ve known some guys (secular & Catholic) who met great women through these events. The format lowered the stress of approaching people romantically. It might not be too difficult to set up a diocesan speed dating event if you had enough interest.
Followers of this site might be interested to know that the “The Australian” version of Anna’s original article can be accessed through a Google search such as “good man is hard to find” site:theaustralian.com.au . It’s largely the same as the original article, prefaced with a tone of incredulity that anyone would disagree with her viewpoint. And 274 comments.
I guess at this point, with 2 months of discussion having taken place on this site and on others, if her original viewpoint has changed at all.
oops. I meant to say “I guess at this point, with 2 months of discussion having taken place on this site and on others, I’d be curious to know if her original viewpoint has changed at all.” Anna, feel free to patch my previous comment.
You spoke very well. All common sense. Well done.
My father put me onto this podcast.I can say that you relite the flame of hope in that mans heart,because of your forthrightness ,truthfulness and honesty. I can see the wry smile on his face, when you stood your ground under fire of the suggestion ,of girls asking guys out.