Monday, June 16, 2008

Female Empowerment

Maybe the central disagreement we (meaning Kelly and Ju and I--Kami has been too busy to put in her two cents yet) are having is about the idea of female empowerment since that is how you are interpreting the Black Mary--as another way of taking men out of the equation. Quite personally, I believe that female empowerment was desperately needed in the 60's. Just listen to any cd of Loretta Lynn's.

Femi-nazi's have slaughtered the term "feminism" with the introduction of lesbianism into the mix, but that doesn't mean that pre-1980s feminism was bad or wrong, or that our current understanding of feminism is the same as female empowerment.

For example, you both seem to view August's decision not to marry as anti-man. I can't see that. Just because a woman chooses to live without a man doesn't make her anti-man. It showed that she understood the limitations of a married woman in the 60s, and they were MANY.

How I see it, is if Lily had stayed living with T. Ray, she would have grown increasingly desperate and less sure of herself and the very first guy who came along and told her sweet things, she would have thanked her lucky stars and jumped head-first into whatever that boy offered--whether that was good for her or not. And it would probably have ended badly because needy women usually find predatory males who take advantage.

Instead, Sue Monk Kidd created a situation wherein Lily could become stronger--more sure of herself. She could, in fact, find some absolutely essential female empowerment. She could learn to love herself. She could learn that she could depend on herself for the confidence and love she needed. She learned that she didn't need a man--in this case, T. Ray, to love her for her to be a valuable person.

What are the chances that she will now eventually end up in a negative relationship with a man later on? A lot less. That is female empowerment. Now I recognize that in the eternal plan of happiness we need our mates to reach eternal exaltation and that is well and good, but it is not necessary to be married on earth for our lives to be worthwhile and for us to be worthwhile. Knowing that is female empowerment. If something happened to Timothy, I know that I am educated and can get a job and can take care of my family. That is female empowerment. Teaching our girls that they are daughters of God and their worth comes from inside them and not from anyone or anything else (which is what August taught Lily) is female empowerment.

I think we, as LDS women who understand our place and value better than anyone else on earth, take female empowerment for granted. There was no Heavenly Mother getting praise and recognition at any of the Southern Black churches, and those preachers would have been telling those women to obey their husbands without anything being said about treating your wives nice or being equal partners, and although I agree that Black churches did a better job of creating an environment where each person could have a personal relationship with the Savior--nobody was telling them to read their scriptures to gain their own understanding--it was a male preacher telling you that you should listen to him because he knew the path to salvation and you didn't.

I can certainly see why August didn't go to those churches. Religion has traditionally been male-dominated. Not because of the Savior being male as much as that the clergy have been male. Would independent-minded August have put up with a preacher telling her to find and submit to a man? Give up her independence, her property, her income, her opinions, her ability to accept guests like Lily without getting approval? Marriage was way too one-sided for too long for me to accept that wanting to not get married made someone a man-hater.

I'm not trying, in any way, shape, or form, to say that women don't need men. We do. But not in a needy, desperate, tell me what to do because I'm just a girl and need a big strong man for my own good, sort-of-a-way. Women need to be healthy though, before they can have healthy relationships, and to be healthy you have to really understand your own value.

As to her accepting Lily at first sight--it was stated repeatedly that she looked just like her mom, so August knew who she was from the beginning. It doesn't seem farfetched that a woman would take in the daughter of a woman she helped raise.

As for creating their own religion--people have been creating their own religions since Cain. I don't see much farfetched in that either.

1 comment:

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