Tuesday, March 22, 2011

on beING a woman

Sometimes I feel like I live in these two contradicting, at-odds, worlds.

On the one side I have a typically somewhat conservative "church" world. It's almost hard to write about this because I'm not trying to criticize. I love it.

On the other side I have this typically more liberal, "school" world. Again, I'm not trying to criticize.

These two sides seem to hate eachother, and I can't understand why.

Both of these worlds have their views on women. They vary from mild views, to extreme. Mostly I'm writing about the extremes. They have been popping up everywhere lately.

Let me start with school. Here, sometimes I feel like I'm almost supposed to be mad about being woman. Like its some kind of curse, brought on by men, or religion, or ignorant women or some mix of all three. Once during a discussion on Virginia Woolf I suggested that although her writings were probably appropriate for the historical context, perhaps they don't apply to us as modern women who can

work (if we want),

go to college (if we want),

get married (if we want),

get divorced (if we want),

have a baby (if we want)

or not have a baby (if we want)

I don't support abortion, but for the purpose of discussing women's rights...there it is. The point is, I don't really feel all that oppressed or angry for that matter. I feel like a free-thinking, choice-making woman. This isn't to say that in some cultures there is still not oppression, but I found it ironic that a bunch of women sitting in a college classroom, many of them working on their doctorates, wanted to apply A Room of One's Own to themselves.

From the reaction I got, one would have thought I had suggested that I think women ought to still be oppressed, and it would be best if we were kept underground as breeding stock and baby-raisers. One lady looked on me with pity, "Poor oppressed soul", another with indignation "How dare she!", another with a blank look of shock that I'm not sure what it meant. To me it seemed....odd? It was just a suggestion, not a statement against women everywhere.

On the other side, I have my church experience. Much of this thinking isn't explicitly stated, but subtle, and much of it isn't around so much anymore, but in some circles, it is.

Church is a funny place sometimes.

I know people whose marriages are nothing I could ever want. Husbands who talk to their wives like she couldn't possibly solve a problem on her own. Wives who think I'm crazy for considering working and having kids. I haven't decided yet, and I don't think I need to.
Men who feel "usurped" in everyday conversation because a women (very politely) suggests a way of thinking different than his own.
There is the thinking that its more spiritual to married, and the thinking that it is more spiritual to be single. Ugh! What a mess!

It's almost suffocating to sit in between these two opinions and hear them yell back forth (figuratively and literally at times). You want to yell for everyone to just "BE QUIET!" just for one minute so you can think and process all of this.

Where is the line between giving your life to your family and being so consumed by your kids you really have neglected your own identity to unhealthy level? Is it possible to work and to give your kids what they need? What does the Bible really say about women's roles in life and what does that look like played out? (Both "sides" of the tension I'm speaking of have horrifying views in my opinion as to what the Bible says about women). What about being a woman without kids and without a husband? Is that less valuable if you are a Christian and more if you are sitting in a classroom in a public University?

My. Head. Is. Spinning.

Mostly, I would just like to feel free to just be a woman. Not someone lost in the battle, or overtaken by any particular side. Not a slave to anger or to ignorance. Just...a woman.

More on this later.

1 comment:

  1. "Where is the line between giving your life to your family and being so consumed by your kids you really have neglected your own identity to unhealthy level?" Love this. As a stay at home mom this is so easy to do. People make you feel selfish for "me time", working, getting a baby sitter to do just nothing. I often wonder about the line between working full time and staying home full time- how much 'being at home all the time with just mom and never getting out' is good for a kid? I feel like I'm constantly seeking balance- so far I'm liking both sides. Home during the day, work a few evenings, value puzzle and book time, value kids in bed/mom on couch or at sewing machine or in flower beds....whatever. Sorry- I'm rambling. Just so you know- I agree, both sides are frightening. I say you flirt with both sides by sitting in the middle :) Some days its worth the suffocation to avoid both sides. Just my opinion.