Monday, July 25, 2011

Defining womanhood

We had a lesson in Relief Society yesterday about how incredible women are. (Amen). As I sat a listened to all these single ladies (Mikey is serving in a Bishopric for a Single's Ward) contribute to the lesson by making comments, it was interesting to recognize how they define womanhood at present and note how differently I view womanhood now.

I could relate to everything they were saying, "We've got it so hard! Boys don't have to deal with this, or this or that!" "Women know what true sacrifice is because we have to sacrifice our bodies." "Behind every righteous man is a righteous woman."

I've been there. I remember well the point in my life where my definition of womanhood was a definition in spite of men.

But I have come to define my womanhood because of the role of men (specifically my husband) play in my life. I feel more womanly because I have my husband by my side.

After dinner with a friend and her family on Friday, we sat in the parking lot chatting. We were talking about blogging and celebrating domesticity through blogs. She said something that struck me. She said that she felt that many girls in our generation are trying to figure out how we fit in this post-feminist(?) era. We are almost reacting in a radical way against the notion that to be a real woman, you have to wear a pantsuit and be accepted as a man in the corporate world. Being seen almost genderless made women feel empowered and truly womanly.

I don't think as many are reaching for that sort of "womanhood" anymore. We relish in the fact that we are different from men. Men aren't the obstacle to overcome or the status to reach. Rather, they are our partners, our teammates, our co-equals in an increasingly leveled playing field. And yet, our roles remain distinct and different. In a good way.

I used to think it would be degrading to stay home and fold clothes, make beds and prepare meals day in and day out. But I have been surprised to learn that I find immense satisfaction as a homemaker. I feel like the ultimate woman.

My definition is still growing. While I am still learning what exactly it means to me to be a woman, I feel like the way I define myself is becoming more nuanced and refined as I take on new roles and stretch myself in new ways.


Anonymous said...

The feminist movement was not about defining what a woman should be, it was about expanding what a woman can become. If a woman wants to suceed in corporate america we should strive for a society where that is possible. Feminism is not about fighting for a genderless society, it is about taking down barriers that prevent a woman from achieving her goals whatever they may be. You don't need to tear down feminism in an attempt to validate the mormon world view.

Of course the mormon view is incompatible with the feminist movement. Woman are subject to their husbands. The church has actively fought the feminist movment for half a century and consistently excommunicated members who have been outspoken regarding feminism.

Your recent revelation was not a revelation at all but rather a realization that the only compatible roll of a woman within the mormon church is at home.

Anderson., M.N. said...

Perhaps there was a misunderstanding/miscommunication/misreading. The role of women in the Church of Jesus Christ of LDS is hardly monolithic and I certainly don't think this post was trying to be a Church statement on womanhood but rather the author's current reflections.

Plus, I'm not even sure of what these definitions "at home" v. "at work" even mean any more. They might have made sense in the 1970s when work was at work and home was at home. The internet is tearing down cubicles and the whole idea of working in a physical place. If a man works from home does that make him a stay-at-home dad? What about if a woman works from home?

What does "work" even mean today? I work at a tech company and often people refer to doing computer functions using a mouse and keyboard as "manual". Really "manual"? I don't even use my whole hand to do those things.

So, does work mean making money? Is saving money or reducing costs the same thing as making money? The bottom line is the family is an economic unit and the only thing I take issue with is non-contributers.

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