This place matters

This place matters

Sunday, December 9, 2012

This horse dead yet?

So I know I promised to tell you about some more kick-ass women who didn't embody what some Fox News op-ed said a Woman should be. Then I kind of realized the pointlessness of preaching to the choir about a debate that was settled in the minds of most sane people decades ago. And that furthermore, said article is totally irrelevant to the vast majority of Americans who can't really afford to turn up their noses at an entire additional income. 
I think it's great, happy, noble, and Womanly to stay home and concentrate on being a good wife and mom. I respect the hell out of anyone who manages. But it can also be womanly to work hard to provide for your family while in so doing answering your own calling.
I do, however, want to address this idea that I've heard a lot of people arguing: that feminism has made it okay for women to browbeat men. Y'all, the whole "henpecked man" trope is a stereotype since before written history exists and is most certainly not the product of feminism. Greek and Roman mythology is full of some browbeating, murderous, and revengeful women - I mean, look at all the evil Hera rained down upon poor innocent Hercules just to punish Zeus for shoving his junk into anything that moved. Go back to Greek theater and you've got Lysistrata, in which women use sex in a calculated effort to control their men. Katrina in Taming of the Shrew; just about every woman Oscar Wilde wrote about; Alice Kramden in The Honeymooners, that show reviled by feminists everywhere, is a sharp-beaked twit to her husband. Also, I so don't have a problem with The Honeymooners
Also, the term henpecked has been around since the 1670s, which kind of tells you something. 
All that said, I do want to give one more example of a woman whom that editorial would deny being a Woman, my mom. Yes, the woman who leaves soup on the doorstep of sick people and runs away. The woman who brings communion to shut-ins and cooks like an angel, the woman who makes up half of the most happily married couple I know.
But mom worked. She worked hard. She worked for a lot of reasons, but I'm glad she did. If not, my family would have cheated hundreds of already severely disadvantaged children out of maybe the best teacher they ever had. 
In my house, if you had a gift, you learned how to find a way to share it with the world.
There weren't boys' toys or girls' toys in my house, there were only toys. I had dolls and I loved them, but not nearly as much as I loved the awesome little set of real tools she got me when I was 7 (with which I promptly built a lovely gash in my thumb). She sometimes regrets how strict she was by not letting us play with Barbie dolls, but I completely get the logic now. Barbie's defining characteristics were her appearance and her clothes. That's not really something my mom wanted us to aspire to. Instead, I played with Strawberry Shortcake, whose defining characteristic was smelling like fruit, and what mom doesn't want her girl to aspire to live inside a strawberry, talk like she's been sucking on helium, and smell like fruit? I don't know if the Barbie ban made any difference one way or another, but I really appreciate the sentiment behind that.
I love my mom. She taught me how to be a Woman. I mean, it didn't take, but she tried.

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