How about Freedom for Women?

How about Freedom for Women? March 30, 2017


So I guess Mike Pence is in a super weird relationship with his wife where he won’t have dinner out with other women without her, and won’t drink alcohol out without her, and also it looks like asked her to marry him in a super cheesy way. I think the shocking thing, for me, is that there’s a website called Is that for real? Is AOL still out there? That is truly amazing.

I think, coupled with this fantastic idea that it should be against the law for mothers of school aged children to stay at home but should instead, by law, be forced out into the paid work a day world (and I’m linking Calah here because she is On Fiah) that there’s so much winning going on, it’s hard to know where to begin.

Maybe a good place would be Thanks Crazy Ladies for making femaleness irrational again. I was trying to imagine what it would be like to be a woman in, say, 1900, and the first thing I did think is that a corset would absolutely make me hysterical and constantly needing a lie down. When I consider what it would have been like living within the social and even material (as in clothes) strictures imposed on women of the day, I could see myself being unable, mentally and emotionally, to cope. The women way back then must have been super strong. And, you know, I couldn’t put a measure on how grateful I am for not only the right the vote, but for the right to speak and make choices about my own life. The women of the suffrage movement, as far as I can make out, would most definitely weep in despair over the existential, emotional, and intellectual weakness of the modern woman, me included.

The very idea that I, as an individual with agency, can do whatever I want is pretty amazing*. Besides being the recipient of an awfully good education (though, also, sorely lacking in some points, like, western civ, I kid you not, I spent way too much time wandering around gender studies and when I graduated all I was equipped to do was go back to school) there was not a living soul who would have presumed to tell me what to do. Not even my parents, though I often begged them to make up my mind for me.

In this brave new world my husband–whom I met in the course of getting a Master’s degree, so, as you can see, a time of serious oppression for me as a female–and I basically call ourselves complementarians. It’s not a very good word. Well, that’s too kind. It’s actually one of those hideous words that seems to have been invented only as a response to that other hideous word, egalitarianism. As if, somehow, women aren’t really equal, which is just absurd on its face. I mean, literally nothing about my life breathes a whiff of inequality. Matt and I don’t make a single decision that doesn’t involve the other. And there’s that constant irritating refrain that we both mouth, ‘I dunno, what do you wanna do?’

As a “complementarian” (dear sweet baby Jesus, let’s find some other set of words) basically I’m saying that I think my husband should be allowed to be a man and that I’m not going to tell him what to do and that I think I shouldn’t, as the woman, have to do All the work. I mean, I make the coffee, sweep the floor, teach the Sunday school, visit the sick, read the Bible. Can the men do some things? I used to say, exasperated, to the cosmos, ‘what, do I also have to stand up and preach the sermon?’ Is there no man around who can do anything?

But you know what’s super not fun? The total absence of choice. We’ve established that women can be anything they want to be, that they should be educated super women who have it all. But what if they thing they want is to stay home and make the home function? What if they want to cook and beat back the overwhelming darkness of dirt and disorder? What if they want to sit around nursing their babies without guilt? Do you know, for each of my six babies, every time I sat down to nurse I felt guilty? Every time. Like I was making the wrong choice. When actually, sitting down to Feed The Baby was the right choice. But I didn’t really feel free because I was probably ‘wasting my education.’

That’s why I hate abortion so much. It’s not freedom. It’s not choice. It’s not a woman being free to make the choice that she wants and that will make her happy. It’s a big ugly lie that cuts, like a corset, against her very flesh.

And what of Mr. and Mrs. Pence, insisting on having dinner together? Couldn’t it be, maybe, that they like each other? That they don’t want to be accused of wrong doing? That it’s not that fun to go out with strangers and it’s nice to have an ally at the dinner table, an eye to catch across a room of strangers? Is that really such an oppressive idea?

I hate going anywhere without my husband, because I’m oppressed obviously. I get mad at him when he goes to work. I think he should stay here and talk to me and admire the swept floor. Likewise, when I have to go over there, to The Place of Work, otherwise known as the church, I am irritated by the time it takes, and by all the things I won’t be doing here. You know what would make me hate it more? Making it the law.
*Its an idea, of course. I don’t really believe that we all can do Whatever we want. Age, wealth, ethnicity, background, ability, surely make the Be Anything You Want an ideal and not a reality.

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