Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Anything you can do, I can do better.

So, apparently a single, solitary statement from my Not-so-bad Girl post has set off a small firestorm among my more feminist leaning readers.

The statement really had little to do with the post other than to illustrate that, in the eyes of the world, I'm fairly conservative. But clearly there were quite a few out there who couldn't read past that sentence.

I had the audacity to say that I think mothers should stay home with their children when possible.

Here's one of many e-mails I received in response:

I'm so disappointed in you. I come here because you are often a voice of reason among the sheep-like women of the Mormon church, but today you have shown that you're no different than the rest. Any day now I'll be expecting to hear of the opening of your Etsy shop where you'll sell giant hair bows to other subservient women raising subservient daughters.

Women should not be relegated to the drudgery of home while the man gets the privilege of a career. Women are just as smart and capable (if not more so) than any man. Why should she be expected to forgo her dreams of a career outside the home simply because she is female and procreated?

I assume that you are also just fine and dandy with the fact that only men can hold the priesthood. You can't for one second deny that the church would run so much better, so much more efficiently, if women were given the priesthood. You know it.

I feel sad for your daughter. Do you realize how much you will limit her by teaching her to stay home and be a good housewife? I expected more from you.



Oh, where to begin?

I am a firm believer that men and women have differing roles to play in life. Differing. Not superior or inferior--just different.

I guess I take issue with people who feel that staying home and raising children is a waste of a woman's intelligence and talents and is somehow a lesser role than having a career outside the home. If you feel stifled and that your mind is wasted staying home, then you're doing something wrong. I'm constantly stretching my mind--be it through reading or writing or learning some new skill. I never feel that I'm wasting my education. I have three demon children who reap the benefits of having highly educated parents daily.

There are certainly days when I wonder why I do it. Days that I think that daycare is the answer. But then I think back to when I was working. I remember having days (or, umm, years) that I wished I had kids so I'd have a reason to quit working. As with everything, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

There are, of course, benefits to working outside of the home. There's a start and end to the day. At home, it's 24/7. Probably the biggest difference to me is recognition. When you work outside the home there are promotions, raises, a boss to tell you you've done a good job. When you stay at home, there's rarely any of that. Yes, there's the long term reward of having raised happy children, but some short term payoff now and then would be nice. I've tried to explain to Will that this is why I insist on keeping the house looking well. His attitude is that no one is going to care if our house doesn't look nice. He's right--no one is going to care--but I've tried to make him understand that a compliment on the beauty of my home is the equivalent of him getting a good evaluation at work. I'm not sure that he gets it.

On the other hand, Will is envious of things I can do at home that he can't at work. Like napping. Like being able to do most things at my own convenience.

There are pros and cons on both sides here. The bottom line is this: We, as LDS people, have been taught that God wants women to fulfill the role as homemaker and men to fulfill the role as breadwinner whenever possible. There are lots of instances where the man may be better suited to take on the homemaker role and the woman may be better suited to be the breadwinner. I don't believe that doing it that way is going to keep anyone out of the Celestial Kingdom, but I do believe we should at least try to do it the way we've been asked whenever possible.

As for women and the priesthood, I don't want it.

Kellie, I agree with you that things might run more smoothly and efficiently, but I don't view the priesthood as a privilege. I view it as a burden. Burden isn't quite the right word, I guess, but I can't seem to find a better one.

You know the drudgery part of staying home that you mentioned? The toilet cleaning? The doctor and dentist appointments? The poopy diapers and temper tantrums? The science projects? The homework battles? The priesthood is the spiritual version of all that.

I know it all may sound a little sacrilegious, but think about it. Having the priesthood is having the responsibility and obligation to take care of all the necessary (but sometimes tedious or unpleasant) things in the church. And like the "drudgery" of the home, it has it's wonderful, rewarding parts, too.

I've rambled far too much at this point, and I'm not sure that I've been very clear about my view. But I've got a child who needs lunch and laundry that needs to be folded and a stack of books to be read and a writing project I'm working on and I've been thinking about breaking out my watercolors again. You know, all those subserviant and stifling things. So this will have to do.

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