So I've been researching a bit for a writing project due next week and I've been going through some literature prominent in the women's lib movement like Betty Friedan's landmark book The Feminine Mystique. You're probably wondering why. Well, without giving too much away, I'm writing an article on mentoring and why it's REALLY important for older Christian women, who have raised their children, to build into the next generation of women because in a lot of ways, as a result of the radical changes in our society fifty years ago, we don't necessarily know what it means to be women. For example, we've got women working their hardest to be men and men falling into the roles of being women. Gloria Steinem, one of the major voices of the movement in the 70s, said it most accurately when she stated: Some of us are becoming the men we wanted to marry. Interesting. In my mind, there's fall-out all over the place with the family being the first and most significant casualty. Can't we just be women...strong, capable, respectful, feminine women?
I'm not saying the women's liberation movement didn't do any good. For sure it did. There were inequalities that needed to be dealt with like equal pay, legal rights like owning property and such. Fifty years earlier, the women's suffrage movement granted women the right to vote. These things were good to fight for. There were inequalities and things that needed to be settled. God didn't create women to be less, just different. In 1 Peter 3:7 it says, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel (meaning physically), since they are heirs with you of the grace of life…” Husbands were implored to show honor and to live with their wives according to understanding because they were different from them and deserved their husband’s love. The New Testament spoke out very clearly against the harsh treatment of women in the early church. But we live in a fallen world and this advice was not always readily received. Richard Ganz, a theologian stated, "If men had sought ways to see the gifts and talents of their wives developed and utilized rather than taking a beautiful person and making her into little more than a personal slave, if men had not twisted this doctrine of headship, we would not have the current problems in our society." Pg. 27 Radical Womanhood, Carolyn McCulley. Not every man treated his wife that way, but I'm sure there were many who did. So there were problems.
But, instead of just trying to fix the problems, women turned on themselves. One of the things that I noticed explicitly is that instead of embracing women from all different backgrounds (you know, "tolerance" that is so pushed in our society) which would include women who work and those who don't, there was an absolute denigration of the stay-at-home mom. In fact, these women went after the stay-at-home mom because she, just being herself, totally undermined their entire cause. They wanted women in the workforce, not in the home. Because if they were in the home, they weren’t competing with men.
Vacuuming the living room floor -- with or without makeup -- is not work that takes enough thought or energy to challenge any woman's full capacity.” Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
Linda Hirschman, a contemporary feminist, echoes this idea as she feels that the housewife has let down the team. Albert Mohler details Hirschman’s views that were on national display via ABC’s Good Morning America show when he recounts this dialogue. “Hirshman says working is also a matter of feeling fulfilled. She doesn’t buy into the arguments of many homemakers who say taking care of the family is the most fulfilling thing they could imagine. Hirshman’s response is a demonstration of breathtaking arrogance. ‘I would like to see a description of their daily lives that substantiates that position,’ she said. ‘One of the things I’ve done working on my book is to read a lot of the diaries online, and their description of their lives does not sound particularly interesting or fulfilling for a complicated person, for a complicated, educated person.’ Albert Mohler, Are Stay at Home Moms Letting Down the Team?
It is important to be educated, whether one wants to be in the workforce or not. I went to college. I LOVED it. And I don’t see my life now as a waste of my education. Rather I see it as preparation for my life as a wife and mom, and possible work when my children are grown. And Elisabeth Elliot, one of my Christian heroes, agrees with me. “Surely it [education] is to draw out (the root meaning of educate) the gifts God has given whatever they may be. Surely I did not send you to college on the assumption that you would marry [she was writing to her daughter]. A Christian liberal education will make you a better wife and mother, I’m convinced…” pg. 58 Elisabeth Elliot, Let Me Be a Woman
Betty Friedan also made outlandish statements about children who grew up in homes where their mothers were around either by staying home or by only working part-time.
“Strange new problems are being reported in the growing generations of children whose mothers were always there, driving them around, helping them with their homework — an inability to endure pain or discipline or pursue any self- sustained goal of any sort, a devastating boredom with life” Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
All I can say to that is, WOW! Children are worse off having a parent around to love them because they don’t learn how to endure pain on their own?
So I know that I’m biased because being home with my kids is my job and I pretty much love it. It’s true. But I do have friends who work that stretch me and get me out of my box…and I’ve really tried over the years to have a better understanding of those around me who choose to work. I’ve also learned to be quiet about it and just do my own life.
But I guess I just couldn’t help it this time. All of this reading just got me too fired up. And even though I have tried vehemently on this blog NOT to be overly controversial, because really, when do I have time to care about or read hate mail? But I guess sometimes in life, you’ve got to just say what you think.
So with that being said, you can send all hate mail to Nikki Dauphin. But I can’t promise you I’ll read it because I’ll probably be busy working and learning more how to be a mom. As my alma mater’s motto for education was “Learn by Doing” (all you Cal Poly Mustangs will understand), I’ll be making cookies, building lego towers, folding laundry, wiping bottoms and putting dinner together (not necessarily in that order and yes, I do wash my hands…often). Because that’s what I do and it’s great. Some days it’s really hard. Some days I want to call in sick. But, when I look to the future, I know my work will reap a harvest if I don’t give up. (Galatians 6:9)
She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. Proverbs 31:17