Wednesday, September 1, 2010

damned either way

While Shea was busy making us rich in St. Louis, I watched "Brief Interviews with Hideous Men" based on the book by David Foster Wallace. And this quote stuck out about understanding women:
"My position is that actually most of the time you can figure out what they want, I mean, logically deduce it, if you're willing to make the effort to understand them and to understand the impossible situation they're in. 
Schizophrenic media discourse, exemplified by, like, for example, Cosmo. On one hand, get liberated. On the other hand, make sure you find a husband. Who wouldn't be nuts with that mess laid on them all the time in today's media culture? 
The most important thing is to understand her, understand the paradox.  Damned either way."
It is a messy paradox that extends far beyond Cosmo magazine. When we were in high school, it was the girls who were putting the names of football players on the back of their "Senior Women" sweatshirts so that they, as "little sisters," could bake them cookies before every game. (note: I had no part in this nonsense.) At the same time their teachers were telling them they could shatter the glass ceilings they would no doubt encounter.

Now, there's the urge to be career-driven and competitive and not subject to some man for purpose or direction - especially when there's talk of that icky submission word. On the opposite end, there's the inherent desire to have children, be vulnerable and let the man lead in a relationship.

I do believe in letting a man lead and submitting - I think it's the way God made us. (Go ahead and throw your feminist spitwads at me.) But there's a huge part of me that feels resentful that most likely there will come a day when I have to choose between my career and my kids knowing that that day will never come for Shea. Though, he has the burden of being the financial provider, an instinct most women lack. Sometimes I put on makeup not because I want to or think I need it but because society tells me everyone will feel bad for my husband who has a wife that doesn't care about her appearance anymore. I give in.

However, I wonder if in today's world, the pressure to choose a female role actually comes from fellow females rather than males. I recoil when I have to explain why I think women and men actually are made differently. Why I don't push back when told women should be godly, faithful, gentle, self-controlled and loving rather than pushy, dominant, self-seeking and loud.

It's actually other women's judgments that scare me the most.

We judge the women who stay home from their jobs, cook dinner every night and just play mom. "Aren't they bored? Don't they lack purpose? Clearly, they had no motivation. She obviously can't stand up to her husband." 

We judge the women who are career driven and less family orientated. "She probably doesn't even know her kids. How selfish and arrogant."

Damned either way, indeed.


  1. Though I'm all for woman's rights and having your own career, I'm the antithesis of a feminist.

    I don't understand why it has to be one way or the other.

    Why can't a woman be smart, intellectual and career driven and at the same time be beautiful and have a family.

    Why is it that the prettier you are the dumber you're perceived to be?

    Oh I'm not directing these questions to you. I'm just talking out loud to myself now cause you got me thinking :-).

    Makeup shouldn't be worn because society tells you to. Yes to a certain degree society guides everyones lives but there's nothing wrong with embracing your femininity. Wear it proudly.

    I think the problem with feminists is that they want to be so equatable with men that they forget that they're female. We're different sexes and there's nothing wrong with embracing that :-).

  2. Well said! I don't really mind leaving the "breadwinner" status to Matt. I work hard at my career now, but secretly wonder what will happen when we have kids. Mostly its, "do I want to fork over my whole salary so that someone else can raise my kids?" But I really enjoy my job and Matt does not expect me to give that up. I love that we have the freedom to make up our own minds.
    P.S. I didn't do the whole "Senior Women" sweatshirt thing either. I have one, but I didn't put anyone's name on the back.

  3. Great post. Very insightful and I hope that I don’t upset you (or offend) with my response. I also hope Shea is enjoying St. rained some today-hope he brought an umbrella!

    While I understand what your saying about God’s intentions for men to lead women and for us to be submissive (I was brought up the same way), I don’t feel that God wants us to be “lead and submissive” to the point that we lose our voices. I’m not trying to sound like a feminist (because I don’t feel I am) but marriage, as well as raising a family, is a partnership (IMO). This partnership requires both spouses to be present emotionally, intellectually, and physically…giving, taking, compromising etc etc. One may be more dominating than the other (in God’s eyes this is the man) but with out input from the other how strong is the family unit? And with out one, the other suffers. (FYI-I’m not “dissing” single parents. I do acknowledge that raising a family is harder for single parents because they must be both parents but that’s another story). The decision of whose doing what, when and where should (again just my opinion) be agreed upon by both spouses not done because that’s how it’s been done in the past. But I understand that many are so quick to judge. And a bit harshly if someone were to ask me. With some of the worst offenders us women.

    If memory serves correctly there is the statement “Judge not lest you be judged”. It appears to be something that has been swept under the rug by society; me included a few times. We are told and shown by various means on how to get and keep a man/job/whatever. If we don’t follow those guidelines we’re considered rebels, domineering, aloof. And the judgments that come from deciding on a career or a family. Why is parenthood (don’t want to offend the stay at home dads) not a career? If the parent doesn’t raise the child then who does? I’m kind of thankful I didn’t have to make the decision (not really but I feel like I’m suppose to say that). But can you imagine the grief I get because I am childless at 40 (“Gasp-All she does is work and play!”). People assume (judge) that since I have no children that I don’t want them for whatever reason, never considering the fact that having children may not have been God’s intention for me.

    Yes, we are all damned either way. .

  4. Tori,

    Good points. And to clarify, I don't think we're supposed to lose our voices as women in marriage. For better or worse, I probably have a loud voice most days! I think it's a mutual submission, but I think we're both just naturally better at different roles - equally important roles. Shea and I definitely have a partnership and he'd probably tell you I'm in charge ;)She who controls the Google calendar, wins.

    That being said, I know that both deep inside and outloud he wants to lead and "be the man." Just like he knows sometimes I want to be rescued from the handsome prince at the end of a bad day. It's our natural instincts - no reason to always fight that.

    I think we can both be equally strong and contributing, just in our own male and female ways!

  5. I didn't think that you were of the belief that women were to be quiet and do as they're told alwasy and forever. I sometimes get the feeling (from society-especially the older generation not from you) that in order to live "In God's way" (aka walk the walk) that the Man must be the ruler, must make the decision for his family, etc because he is more like God. Without the mans guidence a woman will be lost. But I MAY have misinterpreted this-life can just be too complicated at times.

    So true that we (men and women) are naturally better at different roles. It's nice when it's realized and worked with. Things/Work gets done a lot quicker! :O)

    Many men are like Shea and "want to lead and be tha man"; at least I know Tim (my hubby) does. This sometimes poses a different challenge when the woman (me) has been on her own for so long and so used to doing things their own way. Thankfully there's a learning curve! I have a very patient hubby and we balance each other out nicely!

  6. As a working mom, I do take issue with the notion that someone else is "raising my children". Every decision we have made is about what is best for our family and what will make me a better mother (having some adult time and pursuing my passion and purpose). Working part time was my solution and most of the time I feel like I DO have it all. Some would say I am kidding myself but our family life feels really balanced and I have no doubt that WE are raising our children, not their daycare provider.

    Too much judgment flies around from both sides and I think it gets really old. Espeically those generalizations you hit on, it is all to easy to spit out statements like those without really considering what we might be accusing that other mother of. What one hears is "you must not love your children as much as I do" or "you are less important than I am."

    We are all unique and God has different plans for all of us.

    (And I didn't have a senior woman sweatshirt either)