Monday, February 8, 2010

When it was more than just a word .....

I was walking behind two young women downtown last week, young working women. One was saying to the other how important her independence was to her. I believe they were talking about their relationships with men. And I couldn't help but think that young woman might indeed be independent (well at least until she got sick or something adverse that would make her realise she had been dependent all along but just never knew it) but she would probably end up alone.

How feminism has betrayed women. At one time, it was about equal rights when it came to job opportunities, education, civil rights, important stuff like that where the sexes should be equal. But instead, it has put a chasm between men and women so that we no longer trust each other and so few are willing to risk commitment.

I know that it is not wise to over-simplify things but in some sense, we have over-complicated life; we have neglected what was really important in our relationships. Now women are obliged to get educated, to establish careers rather than just jobs; to have children means to sacrifice what they spent so much time on. So now the family and children are sacrificed because women somehow got what they thought they wanted and it is just too dear to give it all up to become a "second class citizen", a wife and mother. Feminism has robbed women of their primary role as lovers and care-givers.

And yet, so many are incredibly lonely, both women and men.

I knew love when it still meant forever
When a feeling shared didn’t always have to hurt.
And a promise that was made
Would go unbroken,
I knew love when it was more than just a word.

I knew a time when hope was all you needed
And if you cared, you found a way to make things work.
When life was what two people shared together
Oh I knew love when it was more than just a word.

I knew love when I could still believe
It was the greatest power in the world
I knew love when it was more than just a word.

I knew hearts when they made it all so easy
Sad goodbyes were seldom ever heard
When I wouldn’t have to read this note
That says you’re leaving
I knew love when it was more than just a word.

I knew love when I could still believe
It was the greatest power in the world
I knew love when it was more than just a word.
I knew love when it was more than just a word. - Nanci Griffith


Anonymous said...

You know I have read this piece a few times and I can't help but think and ask myself, "What do you know of these women whom you have overheard speaking?"Aren't you being a little presumptuous? How can you draw any conclusions when all you've heard is some few phrases, totally out of context? What do you know of these two women? - nothing. How can you form any opinions and assume any details of their lives and lifestyles? Why do you generalize so? Do you think that because they're not married and raising children that there is something wrong with them? I ask you, who are you to judge anyways? What has given you the right - you may think such thoughts, but to publicize them as you do here for everyone to see? What gives you the right? Why is it that you seem to have a problem giving respect to others who have made their own decisions, even though they may be contrary to yours? No one has given you the right to play God here - no one. And from what you profess, God is the only one to judge.

Today women need to be educated, to have careers that they enjoy instead of jobs they are bored with. Today women need to be able to take care of themselves because there a lot of men out there who are unsuitable to do so. Women need to be independent today just for survival's sake - I would say that women are being smarter today, being more pro-active and that is a good thing. Why should they wait for "that man" to come along and "take care of them" as our mothers did in days gone past? There were, as you may dislike to admit, a lot of very unhappy women back then, but they felt tied down to lives that were not fulfilling to them. Today women have choices - it seems to me you tend to disagree with that philosophy - what is wrong with women wanting something else they feel is right for them. Marriage and children isn't for everyone. Some women realize this and perhaps that's a good thing, rather than propel themselves into a situation just because society says they should. Now please let me interject here that this in no way undermines the importance of motherhood, etc.

There are a lot of women whom I know who are single today and are very happy with their situation.

There is also the case today that women such as those you were listening to, who are single and it's not entirely a choice of their making. Did you ever think that there a lot of circumstances today that may have influenced these young women to be in the state they find themselves? Women today are more discriminating which is a good thing - they're not willing to settle for second best, for the one their parents think is suitable. Those days are gone and thank goodness for that.

All I ask of you is that you do not be so quick to make judgements about people and their situations you know nothing about and please stop "lumping" everyone into a group that do not "seem" to fit your beliefs. Be a little more Christian and not so prejudicial.

Julie C said...

To anonymous, thank you for sharing your lengthy comment with me. Although I disagree with most of what you say, I am glad that you took the time to write it and have therefore given me an opportunity to discuss this further.

In making comments on the overheard conversation of two strangers on the street, I am not making conclusions about them per se, but using their comments as a springboard to reflect on what I see happening in society at large.

I often hear women say that women in the past, as in the 30's, 40's and 50's, were unhappy and felt tied into marriages and lives that were not fulfilling. So I would ask you how do you know this?

I think a lot of damage (in fact a very deal of damage) was done to the traditional role of a wife and mother by Betty Friedan who wrote The Feminine Mystique. Betty was a woman who seemed to have an unhappy childhood, and pursued a feminist agenda as soon as she could.

I quote from her book:
"The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning [that is, a longing] that women suffered in the middle of the 20th century in the United States. Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries … she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question — 'Is this all?"

I think this has done a tremendous disservice to women because it degrades the work of women in the home. And this statement of Friedan may resonate with younger women, but try asking how older women feel, those who have had careers at the expense of family life. Ask them in their twilight years, whether their careers were satisfying and whether they have any regrets.
I have never heard anyone say on their death bed, that they wished they had spent more time at work. It is always relationships that matter then.

Julie C said...

This is the point of my blog entry, that women have been sold a lie that they can substitute career work for the work of a wife and mother. The family is the building block of society, it always has been, and when men and women forsake the family for other things, they will inevitably end up lonely and unhappy. It is the human condition, we are meant to live in relationships that are familial. And women who bear children realise that this part of their life was something they hold dear above most everything else. Women are, by nature, maternal and a society that puts that quality of women on a par with a career, sell women short.

I don't think you can look at the stats that tell us that every second marriage ends in divorce, that child abuse has risen four fold over the past four decades, and maintain that women are now happier. Divorce is the second most stressful thing that can happen to anyone, the first being the death of a spouse or child. This is known by psychologists, I don't see how you can make the statement that women are now happier and more fulfilled when the facts of psychological research show otherwise.

I am not advocating not educating women, but I am advocating not pushing them to choose careers that make them choose between family and work. Contrary to what people believe, most women cannot be super women and those who seem to juggle career and family life well, are paying for it somewhere. Or their children are.

I am not saying that women can't have careers; I myself had my own business for 20 years and you can ask my husband if I am the retiring housewife type. I think you would get a very firm NO.

One other thing I would like to discuss is the notion that so many people have that Christianity is the religion of love and tolerance. Yes, Jesus told us to love each other and to love the Father, and he gave the ultimate expression of that love in his own death. But that love was never the passive tolerance that so many think it should be. Christian love does not mean accepting everyone exactly where they are at; Christ challenged people constantly, he never healed anyone without exhorting them to "sin no more". That love comes with a cost and that love always judges right from wrong. Jesus judged the sin always, while extending mercy to the sinner; he always exhorted the sinner to change, maintaining the status quo when it came to sin was something Jesus rejected. Acceptance where people are at, when they are in the wrong, was never what Jesus advocated.

That kind of tolerance and loving acceptance of people wherever they are, regardless of their choices, is the Buddhist ideal of love, not the Christian one. But so often they are held up as being the same; they are radically different.

Christian love goes far beyond accepting people; it seeks the good of the other person and that good can only be ultimately found when the person is in a right relationship with God.

As for writing my thoughts on a blog, that is my prerogative and you have that prerogative too. I would ask though, that if you wish to comment, that you would have the courage to sign your name and not just put Anonymous.