Say what?!

You know, I tend to leave things alone when it comes to views of life. I’m a liberal, but if someone’s a conservative, whatever – their view, not mine, no matter how vehemently I will disagree. I’m an atheist, and I respect others’ religions. But if there is one thing that I am very fierce about, it’s my feminism – well, equalism, rather. On that, I will not compromise, and on that, I will not take any halfway meeting points.

To explain a bit where my views come from, let’s begin by pointing out the obvious: the cultural perpetrations of gender inequality are subtle, and very often overlooked. I’m not talking about catcalls – those piss me off regardless, because they’re damn annoying and cut into my music-listening – but rather the very subtle shoehorning of women into stereotypes. A girl tests into advanced placement economics, science, or math, and the guidance counselor asks her multiple times if she’s sure that she’d like to, because “the courseload will be tough.” The pay rate disparity, with the woman getting 77c to a man’s dollar per paycheck. Subtle, minor, but it makes a female fight twice as hard to be taken seriously. The double-standard of behavior – if a man is angry and makes it known, he’s a go-getter, while if a woman does the same, she’s automatically written off as hysterical or on the rag.

Men aren’t immune from stereotyping either, but theirs is a much lesser degree. If a man is a good dancer, how many homophobic slurs would he take? Would he still be considered a “real man” if he never got into a fistfight in his life? How many people would denigrate his skills at housecleaning and cooking, if he’s not single and very good at those things?

Subtle, but still there, and both variants piss me off.

I’m an equalist in that regard, because my standpoint is that we’re all human, and if a man doesn’t have to tolerate certain things, why should women?

The one thing I’m very strong on, as a general note, is that a person – not man, not woman, but person – should be able to function independently, and make informed decisions on their own to further their survival. Two-thirds of marriages end in divorce, which does not bode well if someone’s work skills were kept out of date. With inflation being what it is and salaries not keeping pace with it, you would imagine that anyone – man, woman, doesn’t matter – would keep their work skills updated.

Enter this movement. The Stay-at-home Daughters.

What I thought upon reading this was basically, “Way to undo about a hundred or so years of fighting for being perceived as more than baby-making machinery.”

What this boils down to is that a series of girls in their teens are forsaking education and focusing on the home, and devoting themselves to their fathers, and presumably later on, the husbands.

Why yes, this is part of the Christian Patriarchy Movement, brainchild of Doug Phillips.

I’ll leave the Christian part of this completely to the side, and simply say that there is so much social wrong in this that I don’t even know where to begin. To ‘devote yourself to the father’? Okay, so let me now reiterate the National Institute of Justice stat that 94% of molestation cases are within the immediate family. This creates for an extremely troubling scenario, and since all “devotion” principles are ingrained in early childhood, then in this case, the victim has no one what-the-fuck-soever to report any abuse to, should it crop up. And in cases like this, it’s highly, highly probable. If one person has power over another to do as he/she sees fit, there’s no force in the world to stop them from making full use of that. There is a slew of abuse within small sects of Christianity because they’re so small, and within them, the abusers are nearly always people in authority. Why do they do it? Because they can and there’s no one or nothing that would say to contrary.

While I have nothing against people learning skills like cooking, sewing, knitting, etc., this is so not the principle under which those skills should be learned.

The language of the article in the second link is outright disturbing. To quote: “A father is considered his daughter’s authority until he transfers control to her husband.” What. the. HELL. Okay, maybe it’s just me being a modern pinko left-wing commie rebellious bitch (/end sarcasm), but I’m of this extremely radical mentality that a girl needs to – needs to! – have a chance to think and decide for herself what she wants to do with her life. If she makes a decision to be a homemaker and a stay-at-home mother, fine – but let her make this decision in her own right. To have her father overrule a want for education, or a life outside of the home, and instead “transfer control to her husband” – I’ll bet you twenty bucks that the husband will be handpicked to be a replica of the father’s mentality. C’mon. I dare ya. – tell me, please, how’s that different from slavery? Seriously, I thought women have won the right to vote, and after Amelia Earhart got into a plane, they also won the perception of being capable individuals, rather than basically uteri with a built-in servant attached. Apparently, the Christian Patriarchy Movement, much like the entire Quiverfull thing, doesn’t keep the woman = human being thing in mind.

And let’s not forget Warren Jeffs and the FLDS sect of Mormons, which is basically legalized sexual abuse. Their treatment of women doesn’t differ all that much from this.

While I will never deny a woman her choice of becoming a housewife if she so pleases, I am by no means a fan of the idea, and feel that if a woman chooses that life, then she should do so knowing the risks. The best book I can reference to explain the reason why is Leslie Bennetts’s The Feminine Mistake, which is basically pointing out an extremely unpalatable truth: a woman who gives up work and becomes financially dependent upon her husband, she is putting herself at a considerable risk of personal and financial ruin later in life. Why? Simple: the husband may not always be there. He can leave, lose his job, or die unexpectedly, and then what happens to the woman and the children, if any exist? Because being a homemaker means sacrificing workplace skills, which require constant upkeep, which in turn all but cripples the ability to get a job. And with the economy being what it is, a loss of up-to-date life skills is synonymous with homelessness.

The question that Bennetts posed to the women she interviewed for her book was, “What would you do if you suddenly lost your husband?” and I pose the same question to the people behind this “Stay-at-home Daughters” movement. What would happen to them if their husbands were to leave them? Just because it’s a Christian sect does not preclude the people from doing whatever they want. A husband can have a mistress, and then what’ll happen to the woman? He can leave. He can die suddenly. What happens to them then? They have no skills for a job. And if their fathers won’t take them back into the family home, then what?

Sexism doesn’t exactly leave much room for giving a fuck about women, you see.

The girls that decry college education and the like have never attended college. How would they know what it’s like? Or has their exposure to the outside world been that severely limited.

I can only wonder what the fathers are thinking, and even wondering makes my skin crawl. I can only wonder what law enforcement would find if they thoroughly investigated these sects. This doesn’t just make my skin crawl, it makes me utterly sick.

I’m young and female. Believe me, I have absolutely no illusions about having to dogfight to be taken seriously, whether because of the first or the second. I’ve been doing that all my life, and expect to be doing that for another twenty-five years at least. And while I can defend many, many lifestyles, regardless of whether or not I agree with them, gender slavery like this I cannot justify in any degree.

This makes me very happy that if there was anything I grew up knowing, it’s that I should always rely on myself for my own survival. I learned to cook, clean, sew, knit, crochet with the survival principle in mind, and am very glad for those skills, but few things make me happier than the fact that learning those skills came with minimal religion-based pressure to be nothing more than someone’s wife and mother. I’m very, very happy for the choice, and I made mine to be neither.

K.G.

PS: Again, the article is at http://bitchmagazine.org/article/house-proud

I STRONGLY recommend reading it. Apologies in advance if that will be disturbing, but you need to see. It’s one of those things that you just have to know and be aware of.

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