Monday, November 3, 2008

Strong Femininity

Today I was privileged to read a portion of one of my favorite blogs that really got me thinking. It's American Scholar, authored by my very awesome cousin Heidi. In fact she actually helped me make a pretty big decision today. Here is my reply to the topic she brought up and a little background just to make it interesting;

It all started my senior year of high school. I was just finishing a sucessful run as the head debater on the Lincoln Douglas team. I had aspirations of being a lawyer. I had been voted "most likely to suceed" in the school newspaper. I was on top of the world when an identity crisis hit. WHAT exactly was I going to succeed AT?

Looking back I think the first catlyst was a statement my debate coach made while discussing my plans to attend BYU. "I just feel bad you're a mormon... such a waste" he mumbled. When I pressed him for more he explained that, because of my religion I was fully expected to spend my life, "barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen." I was disgusted! I was a strong, independent woman. I determined that I would prove him wrong.

So, I started college and right off the bat I met a guy. I was still determined that I would NOT become one of THOSE girls who got married right away and started popping out kids. I tried to push him away. (Looooong story for another day) Still, before long we were discussing our future and, of course, that dredged up the prophecy from my coach.

Here I was, young, strongwilled, independent, with big plans and dreams but something just didn't feel right. Something else was pulling at my heartstrings. I decided law school wasn't for me and as time went on I realized my true calling. I wanted to be a mother, and while many women can balance both- I knew I would end up sacrificing too much if I tried. I chose motherhood.

I fought it. I really did- but not because of anything anyone said to me at the time. Those words from my teacher just kept comming back to me, haunting me, making me feel like I had somehow settled. I had failed. But my heart kept telling me otherwise. I finally came to a conclusion- I could be 1 successful person. OR I could raise 4 successful children who would raise thier own sucessful children. I can actually make MORE impact as a mother.

NOW... the tie in to my cousin's blog. She spoke about the lack of equality among men and women. Specifically within the church. It makes me sad because I've heard the same sentiment from other friends of mine. Why do men hold all of the leadership positions? Why do men hold the priesthood? Why do men control everything?

But they don't! That's the thing. There may be men who think they do, or want us to think they do but it's simply not true. I see it as mostly a method of delegation. Our Father had certain tasks and roles that he needed filled here on earth. To men were given some and to women others. So, I may not sit on the stand as a member of the bishopric. That doesn't mean that they are superior to me in any way. They just have a different role to fill.

I can see where the concern for equality comes from. There are many men who to take a position of unrighteous dominion over the women in thier lives. They claim to "wear the pants" or "lay down the law" but that's not how a marriage should be and doesn't reflect the true plan that God made for us. There is a lot of growth that needs to happen to help create equality among men and women. I think my concern is that in fighting for equality, we as women will lose sight of what makes us truly special.

It seems to me that we have begun to flip to the oposite end of the issue. In the past women were looked down upon for wanting to pursue careers. Even now, there are many fields that try to discourage women from entering them. However, I've seen an alarming trend as of late that now the woman who chooses to stay home with her children is now the "poor soul", "Such a waste". I stand on the edge of becoming just that and for some reason I feel guilty? Like I'm somehow lowering myself to become JUST a houswife. This is equally disturbing if not more so than the segregation of years past.

I am a mother, and yet I am strong. I chose home over career, and yet I am not submissive. I sew halloween costumes, I puree carrots, I read bedtime stories and yet I do not see myself as on my knees or silent. I AM "the most likely to succeed" after all. :) My husband and I ARE equals. In fact, he may even try to put me on a pedastal at times but truly we walk hand in hand.

We have different roles, it's true, but things would probably break down into chaos if we started overlapping. One washes, One dries the dishes. How effective would we be if both of us washed and niether dried or vice versa. Or, as Ben Franklin said. It's like having two of the same side of scissors. You need the opposing pieces to create function.

I am proud to be a woman. I am proud of my femininity. I am proud of the choices I've made. I know I have a Heavenly Father AND a Heavenly Mother. I know our differences are what make us strong and I just hope that one day our society can find a balance where men and women can be equal yet different and be OK with it.

Thank you... and Good Night. :)

4 comments:

Gretchen N' Some times Jeremy said...

that is an amazing view on femininity!

Thank you, for the wording of your post. I have been having some of those feelings of inadequacy for staying home instead of getting a career also. but deep down I know it is what i am suppose to do. with out me these children would be alone or having some other influence that I may not be a part of and that makes me feel worse then knowing I will raise them and love them and teach them all that I know. ( which means I need to start figuring out what I know! )

I am so thankful for your Testimony! it is one of the things that kept me going in high school and keeps me positive now. you are an amazing person!

JD Labor said...

I pulled this up today to read what you had thought about the election. One of my best memories of you was while we had the debate team over to my house and we were preparing for the Dobson Tournament and we were watching the election between George Bush and Al Gore. That thought popped into my head as I was watching last night and made me smile. Then I come here and read this.... I can totally picture Scott saying that and no he has not stopped saying things along those lines. I think his foot is surgically implanted in his mouth.
You have just succeed him. And I know that that was not your goal or maybe you thought you had a long time ago. But I truly think with this revelation that the page has been turned on that chapter of your life. Because you are 100% correct.

Jules said...

Teryn,
I too have friends that can't understand how my lifestyle makes me feel successful or even of value. I pity them. There is no place that I'd rather be than under my roof with my beautiful children. My only regret is that there aren't more of them running around. I love my job and I work harder than 90% of the people that I know. "Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. … We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith” (Ensign, Oct 2008 - Margaret D. Nadauld) You are right where you should be and nothing else can bring you more success in the eternal realms than motherhood. A great book -- "I am a Mother" by Jane Clayson Johnson. Thanks for your insights Teryn -- I'm on the same page.
Julie

Pinto said...

http://heidiharris.blogspot.com/2008/11/equal-representation-of-feminine-and.html

Here are your requested comments, oh lauded (and apparently GORE-jus) cousin of mine.