The Spoils of Feminism

Much like the civil rights movement, the feminism movement has changed things a lot but has done very little to heal anyone — at least, not at the root of the issue (in my opinion).

I’m not a studied expert, but I’ve lived 30 years in a society bent on teaching me about my rights as a woman… that gives me a certain authority on how I view what feminism has done for me, and done against me.  Since I’ve been married, I’ve also seen what it’s done against my husband (twice divorced).

That’s right, feminism, I have a beef with you.

To all the women who have fought to grasp equality and rights and fairness in the workplace and at home, I appreciate the struggle you have faced.  You have done far more than I could probably ever conceive doing if I were in your place.  This is not a rant of superiority against you.

However…. what can we say to the hurts bestowed upon us generations of women taught a “new” set of rules — rules which declare “We can play with trucks too,” we should seek a college education, get a good job with a good salary, then find a husband to settle down with (one who will share the chores), then have children, and enjoy the fruits?  What a pretty “picture.”  We spend our whole lives chasing after it, and get angry or feel cheated or disappointed with any little piece that didn’t turn out right.

What can we say to the hurts known by the generations of men who have also been taught a “new” set of rules — rules which declare “Be a Good Boy,” sit still in class?  These men are told so little about being a man so that they no longer know how to pursue a woman.  Some get the honor of being dragged to the altar.   They have had their passion for a good fight squelched so deep that they have to watch movies or sports to get their fix.  (Making us a nation of spectators, has anyone noticed?)

What about the boy who wanted his mother, but that woman was told it’s better not to nurse — to put that child in daycare — to let someone else raise him?  What about the girl who has been told she’s the same, but is embarrassed that she can’t wrestle the same with her Daddy as her brother does — because she cries when she gets hurt?

Are we a society which has traded a belief in family for a belief in upward mobility — or is ladder climbing just the only thing we can still cling to?  Who really sits at home and enjoys their kids anymore?  What about those kids themselves?  I can’t tell you how many times I have been told “I miss them being that little” and then five minutes later, the same woman says “Oh, I couldn’t wait to get back to work.”

One woman is told how wonderful married life is (if you can find the right man) and then suddenly realizes she doesn’t know who she is, that this is not what she signed up for, and desperately seeks to go after school or a job where she knows she likes what she does.  The family is thrown into chaos.  The husband and children resent her.  But they don’t realize she was already resenting them, feeling trapped.

A husband, sick of the hen-pecking he’s gotten his entire life from women who have been told they can treat a man that way (not realizing they should be working to protect this man), leaves his wife’s “picture.”  The wife, genuinely blindsided, chokes down a bitter cup of abandonment and goes just a little more crazy each day.  Before too long, she has sunk into that dismal rut where men are hated and rejected, yet deeply longed for…

Men are not supposed to be these soft, sweet things that do the dishes and rub our feet “just because.”

Women are not supposed to have to fight for themselves.

Men are not meant to take whatever a woman throws at them and stay peaceful.

Women are not intended to fill a role and that be it.

Men are not all stupid pigs.

Women are not all catty bitches.

What is the answer?  Where do we get our healing?  How do we feed the masses?  I believe healing is possible… this is all just one more thing Christ died for.  There are safe places to learn Truth instead of Rules, like Living Waters, or just prayer with a friend!

But my biggest question: are these the spoils of feminism, or would it just be something else to rob us of our identity and purpose and freedom?

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8 thoughts on “The Spoils of Feminism

  1. I think you raise some valid points, but I don’t see why feminism is to blame. What feminists think men are stupid pigs or women are catty bitches? Or what feminists think men should just take whatever a woman throws at him and stay peaceful? We certainly get a lot of messed up and contradictory messages from society, but feminism is not to blame for all of these things.

    • A.Y. Siu, first of all, thank you for having the boldness to give me your genuine feedback! I appreciate that!

      I completely understand what you are saying, I think, in that feminism is not to blame for a lot of these things. In your experience you may know more than I do about the history of or the true nature of feminism. I agree that society sends a lot of mixed messages. And certainly women who stem from feminism, and are feminists by choice, do not stand out and holler these ugly things from streetcorners.

      My beef with feminism is the layman’s feminism… the one that has eeked itself into my family and my family’s history… leading to all of these hurtful lies being believed or acted out of by members of my family or my friends. Hmmm… as I write, I think, perhaps a pure feminism is potentially more well-meaning. This is not something that I think is a common understanding in those around me. That reminds me of a paper I wrote in college, where I took the stand that Marx’s communism was idealist in nature… and depending on a broken, selfish individual of humankind to always act out of the healthiest form of communism is where the breakdown would occur.

      Your thoughts?

  2. I have a big problem here too. While in college I had an advisor (an older woman) ask me what I wanted to do with my life post college. I told her I wanted to work long enough to get married then I wanted to stay home and raise my babies. She gave me an hour long rant on how her generation had sacrificed its self so that I had the right to go out and actually make something of myself and that I owed it to them to lead a productive life not sit on my ass. I was shocked and offended. I am very grateful for the women’s rights movement. But that means I have the right to CHOOSE. Not the right to be held captive in a career I don’t really want while someone else raises my kids.

  3. wow! very nicely said! i really enjoyed reading this post and i fully agree with everything you wrote.
    and erin, i would also be very upset at that woman. women used to feel trapped at home. so, many fought to get out and get equality in the workplace. they wanted to have a choice and i think many of them learned WHY a woman should stay home and raise the children. but apparently, many didn’t get the memo. i do not judge a woman for working and sending kids to daycare and some people have little choice. but i know that God has made it clear that women were designed to bear children and nurse them. and no one is better at it than the mother herself.

    • Mindy, this has been conversation fodder for Scott and I for months and months now…. we really hope to shape our home with a fair balance of the Biblical and the healthy values that we carry from modern or classic traditions… I don’t know if that makes sense, we’re still figuring it out, and it’s not easy…! But God is my Counselor, and thankfully he has also placed several smart people, spirit-led people, in our lives to help us figure it out.

  4. I read this post a while ago and I walked away from it all hot and angry. “It’s not my job to bear kids and sit at home and raise them! We are all responsible for how we treat each other. Not all men are dogs, but some are! Blehhh!!” 🙂 Then I started talking with a friend who is a devout follower of Jesus, a feminist and strongly burdened for gender reconciliation, and she began to turn me off. “Not all requests from men are to make you subservient, yes, submission is in the Bible (all over it in fact) and why do you have such an issue with the idea of a man being the spiritual leader?” I thought. 🙂

    I realized that my beef wasn’t with either opinion or person, but that I’m just confused as a women living in a world of both genders.

    All that to say, thank you for this post. It’s given me things to chew on as I continue to struggle with gender roles and responsibility and where God and Biblical views play on it. I’m glad I know people who are as intelligent as you, who can articulate themselves with confidence and authority and gives me things to struggle with and through.

    • These are all great points. Certainly not every woman is going to stay home. It’s not my job to determine what roles each of us play. What gets me is how many times I have heard women say something like “Oh, how I miss my son being a baby! I can’t wait to have another one!” but then they follow it up with how they couldn’t stand being at home and put their baby into daycare at less than a year old, quit nursing, and everything. Things like that… to me… make no sense at all. I’m not saying it’s easy to be at home, I couldn’t do it at times without the Lord. But that’s my whole point. I think they get their guidance from feminist (or other) values rather than depending on the Lord and leaning on healthy community. Or, perhaps I am totally out of line and they are listening to the Lord. I’m not trying to judge, but more and more, I can’t help but see a disparity.

      Some men definitely act like pigs. I’ve had to avoid several over time. It’s not my place to fix them. But I often hear things like “All men are like that” or “All women are like this” — general criticisms that are unfair rather than specific complaints that are totally fair. We get thrust into defending ourselves or being misunderstood before we even finish a sentence at times. That’s my experience.

      My beef is how much my eyes have been opened specifically to feminism, and the hurtful attitudes and counter-attitudes (no matter what good has been done) which have permeated my life experience — all without any sort of solution, up till now. It slimes so much around me. There are a number of feminists, educated or not, that I can’t stand being around. There are a number of conservative this-is-the-role-we-should-all-play non-feminists I can’t stand being around either.

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