A priest is facing quite a bit of backlash after staunchly defending a fellow clergyman who had humiliated a woman at Mass for showing her shoulders—and used the tale as a warning to church-going women everywhere.
“Ladies, a priest I know was forced on Sunday to ask a woman at Mass to cover her shoulders,” wrote Father Kevin M. Cusick, LCDR. “Please help the priest to protect the purity of the men at holy Mass by choosing to dress modestly. The alternative is awkward for all involved. Thank you.”
Ladies, a priest I know was forced on Sunday to ask a woman at Mass to cover her shoulders. Please help the priest to protect the purity of the men at holy Mass by choosing to dress modestly. The alternative is awkward for all involved. Thank you.— Fr. Kevin M. Cusick, LCDR (Ret.) ✝️ (@MCITLFrAphorism) June 3, 2019
An onslaught of infuriated comments prompted Father Cusick to double down on his no-female-shoulders-at-church stance.
“By the way: I’m not backing down from this,” he wrote in a followup tweet. “I’ve thought about it, I’ve prayed about it and i’m not to going to engage in the endless Vatican II style debate that goes back-and-forth constantly and ends up nowhere.”
By the way: I’m not backing down from this. I’ve thought about it, I’ve prayed about it and i’m not to going to engage in the endless Vatican II style debate that goes back-and-forth constantly and ends up nowhere.— Fr. Kevin M. Cusick, LCDR (Ret.) ✝️ (@MCITLFrAphorism) June 3, 2019
There’s so much manipulative, misogynistic, and contradictory sentiment in Father Cusick’s language, it’s difficult to parse through it all (though we’ll try.)
For one, nobody “forced” the priest in question to ask the woman to cover her shoulders. It was his (wildly inappropriate) decision to make, and make it he did.
But on a more insidious level, it is never—literally never—a woman’s responsibility or concern to “protect the purity of men.” And what sort of barn-raised creatures are these men, who would lose their mind and self-control because they saw a pair of women’s shoulders?
The misogyny and abdication of responsibility for sexual desire to women is baked into his belief system. cf. “Adam and Eve and the Apple.”
— (((David Avallone))) (@DAvallone) June 4, 2019
In fact, some argued, maybe men should be the ones we need to focus on, considering the fact that women’s shoulders are in no way sexual—and if men deem them to be, that’s kind of…weird? And gross? And ultimately their own problem?
Maybe we should be more concerned about dudes who pop boners over shoulders than women who show them.
— Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) June 4, 2019
And this is why I despise organised religion. A woman’s shoulders are not provocative. Women’s bodies are not grenades, liable to explode at any moment. Men’s sexual/emotional/paranoid reactions to other people are entirely their own responsibility.
— Jane Caro (@JaneCaro) June 4, 2019
Honey, if the men can’t handle shoulders in the year of our lord 2019, I think the priest is focusing on entirely the wrong member of the congregation.
— The Wombat Resists (@UrsulaV) June 4, 2019
Why? Is the alternative that men will think about sex? Why blame the women for what men think? “Purity of men”? What a crock. Why don’t you preach that men should be respectful of women and not treat them as sex objects? Go pray on that.
— Kimberley Johnson (@AuthorKimberley) June 3, 2019
Men who are not able to control themselves around women’s bare shoulders/arms/legs/abdomens — and the men who defend them — should not be permitted to be in public spaces with women.
— Kimberley Johnson (@AuthorKimberley) June 4, 2019
Well, Father Cusick, have you considered that you should ask the men attending Holy Mass to not objectify and sexualize women in attendance? https://t.co/evLWlqOvsB
— Charlotte Clymer????️???? (@cmclymer) June 3, 2019
Folks quickly dragged the idea that a woman’s shoulders are capable of evoking such a strong, visceral male response.
Sorry can you repeat that I just saw some lady shoulders and lost my focus.
— Joe Hullait MP (@joehullait) June 4, 2019
in honor of this tweet, i will now be taking up the hobby of attending church in only tube tops. i will show my shoulders to every man in the establishment, i won’t stop until my collarbone has caused countless erections, and it will all be your fault.
— jen merritt!!! (@jennifermerr) June 4, 2019
Father, I understand your organization is most comfortable covering things up.
— A.R. Moxon (Julius Goat) (@JuliusGoat) June 4, 2019
Sounds like they were quick with a cover-up.
— NastyHat (@Popehat) June 3, 2019
In fact, many pointed out, doesn’t the Catholic church have bigger issues to tackle than a couple of bare lady arms?
You’ve spoken louder about women’s shoulders than about SEXUAL ABUSE OF CHILDREN in the Church. Disgusting.
— Kelly Ellis (@justkelly_ok) June 3, 2019
Something is really wrong in any religion that is more concerned with women wearing their shoulders out than priests sexually assaulting children. Make it make sense.
— Evette Dionne ???? (@freeblackgirl) June 3, 2019
Even other clergymen called Father Cusick’s defense of his buddy as creepy and ultimately inappropriate.
Jesus *didn’t* say
“If your eye causes you to stumble, it’s the woman’s fault.”
Jesus *actually* said
“If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out.”
I’m sorry that this rubbish still exists. Some of us in organised religion are trying to pluck it out… with a blunt spoon.
— AC ????✝️⛪️????????✈️????☧ ????????????????????♂️???????? (@TheCouchman) June 4, 2019
He was not forced. It was creepy & inappropriate to say anything. And rather obviously, shoulders are not immodest. The msg sent here is that women cannot attend Mass w/o being sexualized, which is gravely wrong. Men need to get it together.
— Fr. Stuart Wilson-Smith, CSP (@swilsonsmith) June 3, 2019
Pretty sure this is a parody account Fred. There’s no way anyone would tweet something do ridiculously laughable about the virtues of men bring sorely tested by the glimpse of a shoulder. What next, the illicit flash of an ankle like in the 16th century? Scarlet letters? ????
— David Mac Dougall (@davidmacdougall) June 3, 2019
Furthemore, THE BIBLE ITSELF disagrees with Father Cusick’s nasty take.
hey so matthew 18:9
the bible is very clear on stumbling blocks. we should all do our best not to be one, but ultimately it is the responsibility of the tempted to remove him/herself from temptation.
also i can’t be sure of this, but she probably didn’t decide to wear what she https://t.co/K1XbqEw5AB
— emily, ruiner of fun (@real_emgusta) June 4, 2019
Some Twitter users were a bit more…blunt with their replies.
Pretty sure Jesus addressed this, and told you to gouge out your eyes https://t.co/3JCt3vrUIC
— Elizabeth May (@_ElizabethMay) June 4, 2019
Shoulders mate, really? Your religion can’t die fast enough.
— Katelyn Burns (@transscribe) June 3, 2019
And that right there is what’s wrong with Christianity, in one big, rotten nutshell. Too concerned with perpetuating bigotry to actually do what Jesus said.
— N. K. Jemisin (@nkjemisin) June 4, 2019
It isn’t as though this is the first instance we’ve seen where men who are unable to control their own bodies decide the solution is to control women’s bodies instead, and it certainly won’t be the last! But at least now we’ve got Twitter, where even men of God can get ratioed.