I want to be valiant.
I want to be radiating strength and power and "You go, girl" moxie.
I want to display a feminine prowess in my work that puts men to shame if they even think they can begin to accomplish what I can.
Oh, and did I mention that I, as an anti-feminism complementarian stay-at-home-mom, believe these desires are God-given and biblically mandated?
I admittedly don't know much about feminism. Some of you reading this have probably taken entire college courses on feminism or read mountains of books on the topic, and you're thinking I have no place to say anything about women's rights or gender equality. Admittedly I wish I was more knowledgeable about the topic, but I beg that you hear me out anyway.
This morning I read a list of some of the biggest moments for feminism in 2013, and though I applauded a few of the milestones of progress for women, I was deeply grieved by how weak these "victories" made women really look. I have yet to understand why "gender equality" is what feminists are fighting for when the genders are so clearly not equal.
Men and women are equal in worth, most certainly (oh most certainly!), but they are clearly not equal in abilities, and there is no natural way that is going to change anytime soon. Far fewer women would have gold medals if there were not separate Olympic competitions for men and women, for example. That's just how it is.
My question is: what's so wrong with gender inequality? When women try so hard to be able to do the same things men can do (like in athletic, political, or corporate achievement), they're just admitting to the world, "what men do is better than what women do, so I'm going to try to be like a man." In efforts to be the same as men, women miss opportunities to do things they can do better than men.
Fiery feminists reading this will probably think, "So what are you proposing women can do better than men? Make a better sandwich?" That's exactly what I'm proposing. I'd argue that the grandest stage for a woman to strut her stuff is in the home.
I want to be sensitive to widowers and men who are stay-at-home-dads out of necessity. I also want to be sensitive to single moms and women who truly need to work outside the home. But I don't want to downplay the glory of domesticity. Domesticity is not the antithesis but the epitome of empowerment for women. The home is where the woman can shine for doing what only women can do. And it's significant.
Biologically the difference between man and woman is made most obvious in the context of the home. Men don't have uteruses with which they can fill the home with children. Men don't have breasts with which they can nourish and comfort the young ones in the home. Not to discount adoption or parents who choose to formula-feed, but I'd like to point out that women who really care about representing our gender well should by no means deny the very obvious physical differences between man and woman.
If women think that woman-parts are only good for sexiness, they have ignored two of the best weapons for triumphing the power of women. Feminist Ina May Gaskin was really onto something when she said, "There is no other organ quite like the uterus. If men had such an organ they would brag about it. So should we." (Insert plug for natural childbirth here.)
Men also generally fail to possess the natural multi-tasking abilities required of excellent homemakers. Feminists who think domesticity = weakness would do well to read books like Large Family Logistics by homeschooling moms of 9 like Kim Brenneman. If only they realized the intellectually stimulating but physically exhausting amount of skill and creativity it takes to manage a home well, they would begin praising and not pitying women who spend their energies on this purpose.
When I chose to quit school and be a stay-at-home mom at 19, many people patted my shoulder and said "You had so much potential." I believed them and began to feel sorry for myself that I threw away my youth for such a lowly, insignificant position. I remember complaining to my husband very many times that I did not feel intellectually stimulated when I was doing the dishes and cleaning up the high chair. I guess my pride thought that the necessary work of cooking, cleaning, and diaper-changing was for people with lower IQ's.
But then I started watching hard-working homemakers. I began to see valiance in their work and the potential for valiance in mine. It is not a small thing to keep a tidy, beautiful home while feeding delicious, nutricious meals to your family three times a day while educating and loving your children---or, in the case of empty-nesters or women who do not have children--- the younger people in your life. It is especially impressive if all this can be done economically. It takes an unbelievable amount of brainstorming, strategizing, analyzing, communicating, and implementing to manage a home well. And, as I won't belabor here because I have written it all over my blog and elsewhere, there is incomparable significance to being a homemaker and raising world-changing children. (Click here for The Significance of Motherhood, The Significance of Being a Homemaker, and Youth Ministry's Potential Blind Spot.
I love what G.K. Chesterton said about it: "To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labours, and holidays; to be Whitely within a certain area, providing toys, boots, cakes and books; to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can imagine how this can exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone and narrow to be everything to someone? No, a woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute."
If you think that the God of the Bible is against the empowerment of women, you haven't really read the Bible. The Bible is even intentional about reminding us of how useful and perceptive women are. Luke pauses in his gospel to let readers know of the women accompanying Jesus and how helpful they were (Luke 8:1-3.) When Paul writes letters to the churches, he repeatedly mentions women by name and praises their use to his ministry. The blog Theology for Girls did an incredible series on women of the Bible that I commend to anyone who thinks women are marginalized or portrayed weakly in the Bible. My favorite Bible ladies are Lois and Eustace, the theologians credited with teaching the influential Timothy about Christ. It is through a woman that the Savior entered the world and it was women who first witnessed His resurrection. I could go on and on with examples but I recommend you read the Bible for yourself.
I'm finding Proverbs to be one of the most profound places to see how God values women. Women have great persuasive power they can use for evil (like the adulteress in Proverbs 7) and they have the potential to---simply with their argumentativeness---sour the whole atmosphere of the household (see Proverbs 21:9 and 27:15, for example.) On the flipside, "an excellent wife is the crown of her husband" (12:4) and "she is far more precious than jewels" (31:10). Proverbs 18:22 says "He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord." As Proverbs 31:30 says, "A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." God wants women to be prized. I now see His grace, not His disdain, in equipping women with the special abilities required to manage a home well.
Additionally, the very humility of the job of homemaker is as a result of the kindness of God. In His economy there is a glory to being unglorious, Jesus being the prime example. When I read Philippians 2, which speaks of the humility of Christ, I now can praise God for making it easy for homemakers to be Christlike in this way as our work is often unnoticed and the best kind of lowly. We as women have a shining opportunity to do the kind of work and be the kind of people that God exalts. We see this kind of humility praised multiple times in the gospels; Matthew 23:12, for example: "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."
So women, let us disregard the feminist lies of our day that the best thing we can do is to blur the lines between genders. Trying to show our audacity by being like men is counterproductive when there are more natural and effective ways to do so, like in the home. I do not plan on dressing my daughters like princesses and I most certainly plan on buying them Goldie Blox. But I want to teach my daughters to be excellent cooks and cleaners and decorators and teachers and time managers and theologians and snugglers as well. I would also be ecstatic for my daughters if they were gifted with the ability to be content as single women. Whatever their careers, I want to teach them that their identity and worth is rooted in so much more than the 9 to 5. Feminism largely fails to do that.
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My name is Hope.
I'm 25, married to a rad guy, and raising three little people ages 1,3, and 5...and I'm now expecting my fourth. I like chartreuse, calligraphy, Coke Icees, childbirth, crocs, Studio C, and...alliteration.
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Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today