Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Kelly's question

Kelly asked why she thought female empowerment stories are so popular today with writers and readers (okay, that wasn't a direct quote, but you know which question I am talking about). I've been thinking about that for the past day because my perspective as a very self-confident LDS woman is so DRASTICALLY different from mainstream life for American women.

I come to this question from a slightly different perspective as an ex-teacher. I totally see where Kami's answer is spot-on as ONE of the reasons. Another of the many reasons (I'm sure there are many because each area and each cultural region of the States is so distinct, as is ethnicity/religion/family life of women), is that women still mainly judge themselves by what other people think of them instead of gaining their own sense of self. At the high school teenage level it is painfully obvious. Buying the right clothes, dating the right boys, and on a darker level the rise in anorexia, bulimia, self-mutilation, teenage pregnancies (many of which tie into trying to please a boy to get reflected love, but also because many girls want someone to love them).

On an adult level, you still have the huge number of bad relationships, buying the right clothes, the skyrocketing numbers of elective cosmetic surgery. Enhancing ourselves to look right to other people. The women in this country are drowning in their own insecurities. Mormon women do it to, but I admit to having less patience with them because we know better. Women empowerment books (the few I've read, and since I usually avoid adult literature I'm speaking from a VERY limited experience here) usually focus on a woman's journey to accepting herself and valuing herself distinct from other people's view of her. If that means distinct from a man--I have no problem with that. Get yourself healthy girl, is pretty much my attitude.

I think we need that desperately now. I don't think the female empowerment books as a whole are helping for the reasons Julia stated--women don't have the knowledge we have of what will really make them happy and they don't know that they are daughters of God. Without that knowledge they will continue to drown in their own insecurities and continue to be unhappy with their choices.

However, Julia mentioned that she thought that more books should show women happy in the home. That's great and all for people who are in good marriages and understand why they would do it (because it is HARD!), but I agree with Kami--too many women, because of the insecurities mentioned earlier look to men for feelings of self-worth and that is generally very bad. These women need to be okay enough with themselves to end the cycles of bad relationships and learn to be okay on their own. Telling women to submit more to their husbands is NOT helpful.

Besides, I don't care how much you tell me the doctrine of our church is that the husband is the head of the home--when it all boils down if the wife and husband aren't equal partners than that marriage is not a good one. We have too many stories in our church of husband's exploiting their wives and mistreating their children all in the name of Priesthood leadership for me to think for ONE MINUTE that we should be teaching our daughters to be more submissive and obedient.

Sorry--my soapbox. I had a roommate who had to fly home to testify in a child abuse case. The accused--a stake president--had built a soundproof room in his house where he routinely beat his children. It was only after a hospital employee grew suspicious about the number of broken bones did anyone investigate anything. And what did the mother/wife say to justify not saying anything about the abuse? He is the priesthood leader of my home. Makes me sick, really.

Ju, you know I love being a wife and mother, and you know that I understand where you are coming from in the whole "head of the house" thing, but the history of abuse against women that has happened because men felt some inborn right to dominate and women submitted because they were taught to, makes me think that my understanding of the doctrine can't possibly be the same thing as what those women and men's understanding was. So again, telling women to be more subservient/obedient/whatever term you want to use makes me cringe.

1 comment:

Adamgv said...

Women need to be empowered more in general. They need to use their looks for good rather than use them for personal selfish persuits. When you get a moment check out:

www.prettygirlssavetheworld.com .