Thursday, June 13, 2013

Social Commentary Post #1: Women's Liberation: A Lament Over the Fallen State of Motherhood

(the first in a 5-part series. See previous 2 blogs for further information)

I find it ironic that the very thing the women’s liberation movement meant to fight for, ended up making worse. Lest one bristle at my statement, think about it: are we better off that our teenage girls are promiscuous? That the “freedom” to have sex has turned women into slaves to men? That sexual “freedom” has weirdly been put in the same camp as civil liberty, as if having multiple sex partners is on the same level as the right to vote? Are we better off that in order for a woman to gain respect from society she must decide between a career or her children? And that being an at-home mom has become prefaced with the word “just;” I’m just an at-home mom?
A bit of research into the women’s lib movement reveals that one of the things this movement fights against is the expectation that one of the responsibilities of women once they marry is to prioritize the household and raise children if they give birth to them. That’s why husbands and wives have children, isn’t it? To raise them? And where better to do that in their own home!
The women’s lib movement of the 70’s and 80’s was the beginning of a vocal disgruntlement—abhorrence in many cases—with raising children. Young girls and women were being taught (I felt coerced) to resent motherhood, even before they ever had children. This anti-motherhood movement existed to create negative presuppositions towards motherhood in the minds of young girls and women. And for the most part, they succeeded.
I understand that motherhood has not been appreciated by all women at all times in history. Certainly unhappy mothers existed in the past as now, just as unhappy professional working women also exist. My premise is that motherhood is appreciated less so now because of the artificial and stereotypic assessment and complaint of motherhood led by the women’s liberation movement. And if you tell a lie often enough, it starts to ring true to those who have no discernment. So women abandon the motherhood ship and we see the results all around us in the form of increasingly disenfranchised, depressed and addicted youth.
In fact, Bob Deffinbaugh, writing on the Christian work ethic on, shares a tremendous insight on this ditching of familial responsibilities when he writes,

“The Bible condemns the “sluggard.” The Book of Proverbs has a great deal to say about the sluggard, and none of it is good. The sluggard is not one who never works; he is one who works hard to avoid the “work” he dislikes. I believe that many “workaholics” are really sluggards. They immerse themselves with their work, so that they can escape their responsibilities elsewhere, such as in the home and in the church. And because they “work so hard” society (and even the church) commends them for it, without recognizing the evil behind it all.”

And that is where I fault feminism: for starting a societal mud-slinging campaign against home, hearth and motherhood, resulting in a breakdown of the family and leading to a larger breakdown of society. 
John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, on page 1212 of the Bible Knowledge Commentary, writing on Lamentations, have this to say about Jerusalem at the time of her fall: “She reaped what she had sown. When she turned from God to pursue her own idolatrous ways, she did not consider her future.” Ditto for feminism. And feminism’s “future” is now.
Sadly, I grew up as this tragic campaign was blasting off, brainwashed, as I now call it, by the undiscerning female “role models” in my formative years.
Even my liberal childhood church got into the act! The favorite song young girls chose to sing out of our Sunday school songbook on Sunday mornings was I am Woman by Helen Ready. The lyrics go like this:

I am woman, hear me roar
in numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
“Cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again
Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong
I am invincible
I am woman...

            There are more navel-gazing, finger-down-the-throat-verses to this song. What I notice about these lyrics is how self-centered they are. And that is the liberation movement’s downfall: it raised women above others, the very thing it claimed to protest! There’s a rich idea: if we feel disenfranchised, let’s now disenfranchise someone else to lift ourselves up!! And their target was and continues to be, men, daughters, sons and motherhood.
            According to women’s liberation, women are better than men and above raising children full time in the home. Their mantra is self-centeredly “Nobody is ever going to be over me, a woman, to put me down. Women rule!” That doesn’t sound like liberation to me. It sounds like bondage to pride.
            That is where we are today. Caught in a pride of womanhood that denies its very purpose, which—if we choose to give birth to children—is to raise them, alongside and with a man. Oh that women have come so far from this concept of purpose and accountability!
Why is it that women think they can have a child and then go off and do whatever they like? Children have become inconveniences to aspirations and strivings. Let someone else care for or babysit the kids, as they’re just little know-nothings who don’t really count until they turn twenty. And then, suddenly, the parents want to be in their children’s lives! Where was that parental desire to consistently be with their kids in the form of raising them when those children were little?
            Women’s lib wants women to ROAR: about iniquities, disadvantages, the limits placed on us. It’s all about rights and never about responsibilities.
I overheard a woman just last week in a coffee shop lamenting to a co-worker that she did not, in her words, “advocate for myself enough” at work after giving birth to both of her kids. What was she “advocating” for (and recommending her pregnant co-worker also advocate for?): Flexibility at work now that she has kids! However, the men she works with who also have children but who did not physically give birth to those children have to sit back and watch their female co-workers “advocate” for themselves by asking for time off whenever they want it, and the flexibility to work at home or make their own hours. That same man cannot “advocate” for himself that way (nor, I’m sure, do these women’s own working husbands “advocate” for themselves at work this way). But the "liberated" working mother thinks she’s entitled to special treatment.
 Lest one think this is an isolated case, it’s not. I’ve heard this time and time again from working moms and from the men who work with them.
This quote from a working woman interviewed for a CNN Living article titled, “The myth of Balancing Motherhood and a Successful Career,” sums up the anti-male attitude: "All mothers have to make choices and we're judged differently," she said. "The choices for working mothers are more costly than it is for men.”
Why do so many women think this way about their male working counterparts? I know many households where the men are holding down the fort while women work and travel on business. Recently I was in another state assisting my husband with a business project and spent a week with two business women who had both left small children behind at home (in case you are wondering, I was able to leave home for a week as my children no longer live at home). One woman had left a child who was only nine months old! And who was taking care of these little ones while these two moms traveled for an entire week on business? Their husbands, after long days at work themselves (making enough money, I might add, to support the entire family. These women were at work by choice, not need). Their husbands come home and cook dinner and clean and read bedtime stories. But working men get no credit simply because they are men, and women have bought into the lie that nothing is a hardship for a man. So pile on the man at home while the woman is away at work, and make the man pick up the slack at the office while the moms expect flexible and accommodating schedules for themselves. This is the picture of women’s liberation.
I recently had dinner with a corporate businessman who lamented the fact that he had to go to the office every day while his wife stayed home with the children. He was happy she could be home with them, but he felt he missed out while at work every day. So let’s please have compassion for workingmen and the fatherly duties they so loyally and steadfastly carry out whilst their working wives work and their working mom co-workers feel entitled to special time off.
As the early women’s liberation campaign dissed motherhood, it’s now morphing into “embracing motherhood and career,” telling themselves and other women that they can “do it all.” But can married mothers who work outside the home have a balanced life? Many working moms, out of self-justification, claim they can (but my mentoring to married couples tells me they can’t. Just as men can’t “do it all” either.). The jury is out, yet rarely does anyone offer a resounding “No” to this question. But thankfully, Drew Barrymore has taken the first step in making it safe to do so. In an April 5, 2013, Us Weekly article, she said,

            "You know that you're going to miss out on your child's upbringing or you see that your relationship is going to suffer if you work night and day and weekends.
"Unfortunately, I was raised in this like generation of like, 'Women can have it all,' and I don't think you can. I think some things fall off the table. The good news is, what does stay on the table becomes much more important. You've got to choose your battles, definitely."
Barrymore decided against directing and acting so that she could be a mother to her daughter. These decisions are not always easy, as Barrymore points out. But they are necessary:
She said: "I would miss out on my daughter. I can't do it...It was heartbreaking to let go (of the working), but it was a clear choice. As my daughter gets older, I'll slowly get back into it. I'm never not going to be who I am. I'll never abandon ship completely.”

I love what Barrymore says here because she makes three important points: mothers will make sacrifices, good or ill; her daughter comes first and one can never get the time lost with children back; being a mom doesn’t negate who we are as individuals (in fact, I think it greatly enhances it).
The damage women’s liberation has done is irrevocable for some. It’s too late to redeem the years lost with children, or to change past or current societal presuppositions that a woman’s only value is in having a career. But it’s not too late for our daughters, nieces and other young ladies in our midst for whom we can bust open the false teachings of the women’s liberation movement and begin to be faithful proclaimers of true liberation: being the women God made us to be according to His purpose and call: which, for many women, includes marriage and motherhood.

Lament of Liberation Lost

How deserted lies the house
now empty at peak of day.
No little ones underfoot
their soft heaving sighs absent from
the noon-day crib

The late afternoon sun
angles in the nursery
then darkens—
time goes by.

The front door opens
Oh momentary joy! The family returns!
Hustle and bustle,
Time together over a meal
and then the beginnings of ending;
Oh sorrow.
Dishes, paying bills, 
bath time for little ones.
Bedtime stories?
Alas, goodnight.

And then tomorrow,
all over again,
moving in and out of one another’s lives.
                                                Barb Harwood

 "We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." 
1 Corinthians 2:12-14

"He who has ears, let him hear." Matthew 11:15

"Then Jesus said, 'He who has ears to hear, let him hear.'" Mark 4:9

1 comment:

Cooper Flatoff said...

I definitely agree - it is ironic that the actual definition of feminism is to create equality and freedom from pejorative gender constructs that restrict or create abusive situations, etc., for both women AND men. When feminism turns into a movement for matriarchal superiority, the entire point of what feminism should actually be is completely lost. True feminism should be about creating a community of respect and mutual agreement, so especially in the context of marriage and responsibilities therein, as you mention, the women's lib movement that you are describing is destroying this desired mutual cooperation and community restoration. It instead proliferates the modern myth that individualism is the ultimate, best, and only logical goal. Alternatively, when we approach gender ideologies from Jesus' perspective, or approach any group of individuals who do receive cultural, social, and political 'oppression' (however you wish to define that word) we see acceptance, restoration of dignity, and the restoration to a healthy, mutually abiding community interaction. The women's lib movement definitely destroys this image. Great insight! :D