This blog post is not outrageous, not in the least. At least I didn’t think so! I wrote it over a year ago, back when I was a new mom to a three month old baby boy. I had lived in my PJ’s and sweatpants during those first few months in my adjustment to motherhood. It was hard. I was tired. I was constantly covered in spit-up and baby poop. But one day I decided my husband had endured enough of that. No, he never said a word about my disheveled appearance to me, but I know him well enough to know what he likes and doesn’t like. So I decided that for him I would make a special effort to at least look put together by the time he got home. You know, the way I would for work, or to go outside, or to hang out with friends. He deserved that baseline effort – at a minimum! I was short on time with a small baby needing my attention almost constantly, so I worked quickly. “Let’s see if I can get primped up in 15 minutes!” I thought to myself. And I did it. My husband appreciated the effort, and showered me with kisses upon his arrival home, which I was eager to receive and to return. It was great. So little investment for such a welcome return! So I decided to share my little 15 minute tip to my friends through the blog, hoping it might give them inspiration to do the same (or something else thoughtful and loving) for the hard-working men in their lives. Writing it down gave me more encouragement to get out of my new baby funk. Actually doing it made me feel better about myself. But mostly I saw it as one simple and sweet expression of love for my husband! Fast forward a year later.
A couple of nights ago, the Feminist Mormon Housewives facebook group got a hold of a link to my blog. And with my 15 minutes suggestion all hell broke loose! I was called a shallow chattel, a sex-toy, and that my suggestion smacked of shallow consumerism. I was stupid, incapable of critical-thinking, I was single-handedly taking down all the advances made by feminists! Oh and don’t forget - despite my lengthy and generous 15 minutes of effort toward perfection, my husband might still leave me anyways!
Seriously, ladies? What. A. Load. Of. Hogwash.
That blog post really should have been a non-issue. The fact that there was such a frenzied and serious reaction to such a simple suggestion of one way I was caring for my spouse, suggests to me that many-a-feminist’s hyper-sensitivity to gender-related issues, have simultaneously clouded basic common sense and critical thinking in their minds.
Let me make it clear that I also consider myself to be a feminist, of sorts. Where there is true chauvinism, I’m in for the smack down. In countries, or situations where women are actually sex slaves, or beaten or raped by their husbands and family members, in cultures where a woman’s voice is not recognized in the voting booth, at home, or during childbirth – I am in for the fight. I recognize the need for change, most often in other countries around the world, and sometimes here in the United States as well. All men and women should find it a worthy cause to help overcome injustice.
However, too many feminists spend their lives, their energy and time obsessing over a crap load of perceived oppression of women. Dwelling, out loud with social media, in a constant state of focus on petty perceived oppressions – say for example, Sandra Fluck not having her birth control paid for by you – we create victims instead of empowered women. These feminists have missed the greatest goal of feminism of all – to empower women.
Where there has been true oppression, we should recognize it and validate the woman. When needed, counseling can help to alleviate suffering of women who have been horribly or wrongfully treated. But why focus on the ways women have been or are victims, endlessly? It is counterproductive to their empowerment and societal change.
Because of the efforts of so many diligent women (and men!) we now have a society where women have more of a choice and voice than ever before. With the advent of technology, women have access to information and other people like never before. We have the right to vote, the opportunity to work inside or outside the home if we choose, the opportunity to get an education, and on and on and on. It’s embarrassing to me to hear so many highly educated women complain, “We are victims!! Look at what these mean boys said/did/suggested to us!!” It brings me back to 2nd grade, when boys and girls still had cooties.
My personal brand of feminism is this: Women are not victims of patriarchy. Women are not victims of their bodies. Women are only victims of their own poor choices. If a person seeks true empowerment, it can be found in acquiring knowledge of things as they truly are, and virtuous purposeful living. The most effective way to affect change in society at large, is to teach and live truth and virtue in the home.
What does the angry, liberal “We are victims!” Feminist mentality looks like compared to my personal application of my brand of feminism? Here are a few examples:
- Angry Feminist “We are victims” Garbage: The way women are portrayed in the media is making every woman hate her body, become anorexic/bulimic, and brainwashing everyone into thinking girls are just sex toys! The media is out to get us all!!
“I am a woman with a choice and a voice. I am not a victim.”: We choose to not keep a TV in ourhome. This drastically limits our exposure to inappropriate ads and commercials from entering our home. The media we do allow in our home (movies, youtube videos, books, magazines, music, etc.) portray women in ways we find to be respectful and appropriate. We do not let pornography of any kind in to our home – whether through images or words. We do not keep a scale in our home. Weight gain or loss of either spouse is not mentioned or complimented. However, eating nutritious foods and exercising for health are highly encouraged. We do not spend copious amounts of time shopping for clothes in malls or other places that are hotspots for highly sexualized ads. We purposefully avoid shopping and supporting stores that we believe promote inappropriate messages about sexuality (i.e. Abercrombie and Fitch, Hollister, etc.) My husband and I make love regularly to help us connect to each other and to keep him (and me!) satisfied sexually. (Sorry if that freaked anyone out. It’s true though, and I think it totally applies. Real love-making trumps empty passion and pornography every time.) We plan to raise our children to be modest in dress and action, and to save sex for marriage so that it can be enjoyed in the fullest most loving way. We also make sure to provide a home where our children feel safe and loved, so they don't feel the need to starve themselves or binge eat for control of their lives.
- Angry Feminist “We are victims” Garbage: You should only ever do something for your spouse or other people, if YOU feel like doing it. Your value is lessened whenever you choose to give/serve for any other reason than personally wanting to give/serve. Service as it relates to appearance and sexual relations by a woman for a man is of no value. It is only influenced by deceitful commercialism that says that women are objects. Any service should always be reciprocated perfectly evenly.
“I am a woman with a choice and a voice. I am not a victim.”: Short story - I chose wisely, now I treat kindly. Longer story - Before I got married, I was a tight-legged woman, as was Squire a tight-legged man. Sex only came after a legally binding contract was forged, a commitment to cherish each other through thick and thin was made, and we both promised to God that we would strive to follow Him and serve each other. I chose to marry a man, not a boy. In fact, I chose to marry a man who had all the qualities and more that I’d always dreamed I might find in a husband. While I dreamt of marrying a great man, I kept busy by developing qualities in myself that I would also want to see in him. I think that helped me snag him! My cooking skills didn’t hurt either. ;) Because I trust him and love him, I constantly make a purposeful effort to serve him and love him according to his personal love languages with as much energy, spunk and enthusiasm as I have in me! I serve without expecting reciprocal service from him. But, because he is a good man and because his needs are met by me, I find that he serves me endlessly and happily. We serve each other both when it is convenient and inconvenient, when we feel like serving and when we don’t. Neither one of us feels like we are subservient when we choose to serve the other, we simply love each other more. My actions tend to be the most influential on the atmosphere of my home, and on the moods of my husband and son.
- Angry Feminist “We are victims” Garbage: If a woman chooses to pause or forgo her career or schooling to deliver/care for a baby or to support her husband through schooling, she is being oppressed!!
“I am a woman with a choice and a voice. I am not a victim.”: I believe that every woman and man should be as well-educated and informed about all her/his choices as (s)he possibly can. In general, I think it is unwise for anyone to stop schooling without getting their degree – especially if there is debt associated with your schooling. Because then, you have debt that accumulates interest, and you don’t have that piece of paper that says that while your debt is up, so also is your value in the marketplace. However, there are legitimate reasons for pausing or forgoing some schooling or a career. Because a woman chooses that for herself, does not necessarily mean she is being oppressed. It could very well mean that she has protected her ability to conceive children biologically, or her sanity by avoiding doing too much at once, or that she avoided going in to debt, or that if she wants to be a stay-at-home mother that she has more energy to care for her children as she is younger. Husbands and wives need to talk about these decisions together to figure out what is best for their particular situation. I chose to pause my goal of grad school (for the next 20 years or so . . . ) and wrote about that decision here. Huge choices like those should be made very thoughtfully and prayerfully, with humility and the best interest of the whole family at the center of consideration. With God’s help, we can choose wisely – and that can even mean a rough year or two for a family with a new baby, or even a husband taking time off! Everyone must make those choices for themselves. But, regardless of degrees or careers, every person should be striving to educate themselves to the best of their ability in practical skills, in the goings on in the world, in effective household management, in hobbies and interests, in everything! Life should be a constant striving to develop our minds and gifts. Whether a woman (or a man) achieves all of her/his educational/career goals in the timeline he/she originally planned, or at all, is not as important as her/his desire to live a life of passion for learning and growth. All lifelong learners are empowered.
Obviously, these are my personal applications of my brand of feminism. I am in no way suggesting that every person has to live as I choose to live. I only share to illustrate the difference between a victim attitude, and an empowered attitude. While the victim attitude tends to make a lot of people feel dumpy about their situation or just really angry at everybody who doesn’t see the world exactly the way they do, the empowered attitude serves to bless your life and the lives of those around you. Angry feminists would do themselves and everyone else good, to implement positive change within the walls of their own homes, and to save their anger and energy for true oppression and injustice. (Not, for example, this silly little blog post of mine.)
If we want to see changes in the world, in society, and in our own personal lives - we can change that reality by our choices. We can rant, rave and rally to change the things we hate most about society, but unless we are reflecting the change we most want to see within the walls of our own home by our own decisions, our efforts will be futile. THE MOST deep and meaningful changes to society and the world, come from within the walls of our own homes. If we teach our children to be empowered by making choices based on truth and virtue (rather than negative social customs), we will have given them all they need to live a life free from victimization and oppression – all while avoiding one, ourselves.