Below is my recent post for the online bookclub, which I have fallen woefully behind in my reading.  Though some of the recent posts inspired me to add my opinions while not completely based on the reading itself.

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Though I’m a bit behind in my reading, the post before this gave me something I wanted to say that was a little too long in comment form. So here’s my two cents about Women, Identity, Work and History.

What I think EFG is overlooking is that while the domestic sphere was historical the woman’s “vocation” that did not mean a good majority of them did not work. Even 100+ years ago women in families in the lower classes (economic wise) worked even if it was as sewers or lace-maker from their homes. Middle class women were often expected to help out in the family business if that business, sometimes even working away from their husbands or fathers if multiple relatives owned businesses and need assistance. Even if a woman wasn’t helping directly, day to day in the stores it was common to find ways to assist the business. As an example even a farmers wife (of which their are many examples from my family) was expected to do a number of chores and before the advent of fast food one of her many “jobs” was to help provide the multiple meals to the men working the fields. Upper classes women often had to run large homes, essentially they were in management – in charge of cooks, butlers, and servants, etc. and that was a job in and of itself (and part of a young woman’s training if she was expected to marry to such a life). Also for those in the above the upper classes a woman was not just expected to stay in the home all day cleaning and cooking, especially as the industrial revolution gave her more gizmo’s and gadgets to make that part easier. She was expected to be active in her community and church and not be idle.

And lets just admit it, it is easier in the day to day tasks to run a household post 1950’s than it was pre-1900’s. It just doesn’t take as long to wash clothes, run errands or even to cook (though please note I’m not trying to say that homemaking is still an easy job by any means, especially when children enter the picture), so if women have the time to help out financially by working, why should we stop them? I think it’s wrong to say that pre-feminist movement (about 1900’s) women did not have the desire to have jobs or even careers, but that the facts of day to day survival did not encourage this and we take this for granted because we can do laundry in a couple of hours rather than having to take an entire day, food can be stored in the freezer rather than stored methodically through canning and preservation, clothing come pre-made, etc. etc.

Essentially what I’m getting at is I question if EFG has truly checked all her sources when she starts to make statement that boil down too – “Before the feminist movement a woman’s sole sphere was the home”, because the history just doesn’t back it up when before the advent of cubicles the home was often an integral part of the families business and livelihood and that simply put “women worked” – if we didn’t work before the feminist movement why was “equal pay for equal work” such a large component of the earlier feminist movements?

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And as a last note about women “Believing they must pursue a non domestic career if they expect to be taken seriously” – she is again seems to be ignoring the dualism for modern men, who are made to believe, by our society, that the only worthy vocations are those that are big, important and come with hefty pay checks. How many times have we seen a man looked down upon because they choose an unglamorous vocation that doesn’t require a four year degree minimum? God forbid a man who works with his hands be an educated, well intentioned boon to society. How many of us have seen a farmer or a factory work looked down upon and stereotyped as uneducated or low-class even in modern times?

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I would like to end with an idea to put an idea out there, why can’t we respect both aspects of the modern woman’s life? I offer myself and a general description of many of the women I’ve met here as an example –

  • I will probably never be a SAHM/W, if I do it will be for a short period of time; in fact I’ve never had a true desire to be one.
  • I also do not see myself having a gaggle of children in which to focus 10-15+ years of my life on before they all would start to become self-sufficient.
  • My husband will never have a big income job; though he is working towards a well paying job that he can be proud of, that job will never pay a lot of money.
  • And I have non-domestic skills and talents (specifically when it comes to teaching and outreach to teenagers), which I like to think that God gave me to be used in a vocation outside of the home.
  • At some point in my life I will also be in charge of running a family farm, (I say I here because my husband really has no desire to be a farmer, and I have no intention on selling my families farms) so while I might not be working at a building, will I probably do some kind of work my entire life for a combination of reasons – but mainly out of a desire to do so, whether that desire is to allow my husband to follow a desire job-path without the stress of being responsible for a single income, or to use my talents in the best way I can, etc.

Many of the women here have expressed either here or through their personal blogs an innate desire to be a SAHM/W, to raise many children and to lead lives those kind of lives. Some of them have husbands with careers that can easily support this (if not now then in the foreseeable future) or if not who are willing to do what is necessary job/career wise to support this family life choice. They might use their educations in non-direct ways, perhaps through their churches or other non-payed volunteer type routes (I always say an education is never truly wasted). And, though I don’t know for certain, it seems like I might alone in the inheritance of land or family owned-business, so they might never have something like that to constantly be in charge of.

So what I’d like to say is why can’t we both be respected? EFG seems very intent on trying to figure out which one is superior to the other, and I say why can’t we be equal? If I can see and respect the many benefits a truly dedicated SAHM/W can bring to the world, why can’t women like me be given the same respect? Not all of us are meant to or have the desire to operate solely in a domestic sphere, but that does not mean we are any less feminine or any less of a woman.

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