Zombie Apocalypse Housewives

Gotcha.
We were watching the series of the zombie show, “Walking Dead” recently, and in one of the episodes the ideal woman character is having a confrontation with the feminist warrior woman about the importance of each other’s tasks.

Our family watched the previous seasons on Netflix, and this scene occurs in season 2

Which matter most, the household tasks and the making of a home, or the buttressing of the militant actions that patrol and protect the group? Making tea and cakes or guarding the perimeters and shooting things?

The Walking Dead “18 Miles Out” Andrea confronts Lori from Days Gone By on Vimeo.

The whole show (at least in the second season) is obsessed with whether a life that is reduced to animal survival and the lowest forms of brute morality is even worth living.

Hmmmm, tea and cakes and cleaning bathrooms suddenly seems to gain a notch or two in prestige and honor.

It turns out that just about everything we do involves cleaning the bathrooms. Creating an environment where care and trust are expressed. -Seth Godin in “Clean Bathrooms

It was never about either or, but about understanding that people need to give due respect to each others roles and vocations, to have the freedom to grow as a society and support one another by occasionally giving precedence and hands on help to something other than our own little tribal preferences.

Finding Old Barbies in the Closet – why it is a mistake to aspire to Superwoman

Three things comprise the inspiration for this post:

  1. Super women– I mean Barbies
  2. Barbie Gets Ordained
  3. An online podcast conversation reference to “Women Who Want To “Have It All”

First Up: What Does Barbie Mean To YOU?

In the first essay, Alicia Cohn asked this question up front:

Why do women want to be represented by a plastic doll?

Since we are covering at least two generations here, I can’t speak for all of them, or for what the entire Barbie phenomenon might represent for our culture… but I can tell you my own story.

Revealing my age… I had one of the first Barbie dolls. When it first came out I wanted it so badly, and I was so happy when I finally got one. She had black hair tied in a sleek ponytail with that froufrou of bangs up front that look not unlike a poodle after a trip to the doggie salon. She had a black and white striped swimsuit covering a maturity evoking shape, with tiny high heels… another reference to the world of grownup women, and demure pearl earring studs. Her eyes were sophisticated almond shapes with catlike eyeliner. She was like your teen idol, your pets, and your future all rolled up into one little package that you could role play if you just had enough money for all the clothes and accessories. I didn’t, but I liked having Barbie around. I liked that she wasn’t at all like me… not remotely like me.

And perhaps that is telling both of me, and my generation. She was the dream girl; and that is where her role making starts. In packaged, plastic wrapped dreams.

Next: What Does Barbie Mean To US, Collectively?

But like all little girls I eventually grew up. and those old Barbies? They were played with, put in the toy box, and then found their way to my mother’s backyard garage sales. In time they became icons of a plastic and disdained world that women of my generation wanted desperately to throw away. We hippie mamas. Or did we?

Turns out that hippie mamas became infused with Yuppie enthusiams. Even the diehard ones… and as Superwomen and Super moms icons, roles, and images were given birth, along with our own kids… Barbie made more transformations than that icon of icons, Madonna. It was a whole new Age of Barbie for our daughters: Career Barbies and Celebrity Barbies. Barbies without Ken, ever younger Barbies, diversity Barbies… Barbie for the masses.

But still Barbie, and still plastic. Secretly, sometimes ashamedly, sometimes boldly, collected and displayed with renewed adulation.

Barbie and the Big Lie?

When doing some reflecting back in my thirties (I am fifty-something now), I drew a conclusion that each generation of women is given a form of “the Lie”. We see the past generations lie in a vague sort of way, and rebel against it. But that doesn’t inoculate us from our own generation’s “Lie”, and whenever we are given something of a mock up of the “Ideal Woman” as presented by our culture -and not from a historical view where it can be better considered- we might want to investigate how much of a lie is involved there. Hint… whenever a role model has little to do with ones humanity and lots to do with someone’s manufactured representation… you can bet there is some lying going on.

I liked what Alice Cohn had to say, and I laughed at the pictures of Rev. Barbie- the costume was extremely well done even if the theology is not concordant with mine.

Lies I Was Told

So finally we get to the MAIN POINT

The main point is to address the conversation about the marketing possibilities of gearing web content towards “women who want it all”.

It comes down to what you want to feed people. Real food that makes for healthier human beings? Or sugar laden pap that lards their insides and makes them feel all nice and full and “sugared up” while starving their souls and leaving them as prime candidates for debilitating disease later. Oh yeah, pass that mile high pie… and if you are religious you can just pray away the calories.

Like that will work.

Did women learn nothing during my generation? Probably not, because we are human and it is hard to choose the truth when it isn’t all lathered up with that whip cream topping over the plastic food-stylist presentation which is not real food. Much like Barbie never was, and never meant to be a real woman.

Who started the rumor that she was?

I don’t know, but it might be the sames ones who like the Super Mom-Super Women so well, and are cheerleading her comeback.

I can hear the retorts now… well just because you are a loser with sour grapes attitude doesn’t mean it isn’t possible and laudable to encourage women to be all that they can be.

But you know… I’m not saying women should not be all that they can be. They should aspire to that. In fact I applaud, and cheer, and desire to support, a realistic and healthy vision of what that might be. It is the plastic Barbie version that keeps giving me nightmares at night.

So… the main point of all this might be the last question that Ms. Cohn put forward:

so I wonder: How do intangible qualities such as faithfulness and wisdom connect with girlhood dreams of being a grown-up woman?

The Mommy Wars

Reposting this from Nov. 3, 2004 in the interest of defining some things about SAHM’s and some of the cultural myths that are *still* with us.

Prologue:
While keeping track of the election results and discovering new blogs I came across a set of things that caught my interest and have the common thread of comments on parenting, and being a mommy in particular.

The first was a book,Home Alone America, which the webpage headlined as reopening “The Mommy Wars”. I suppose that is related to the “Cultural Wars”, or a subset of sorts. I read the interview with the author, Mary Eberstadt , and she basically uses research to point up the problem of parental absenteeism, which includes the role of Mom, though it doesn’t restrict the problem to that. ( According to reviews).

The second thing was an article from the Wall Street Journal, which you can access in pdf form, here or look up on the Wall Street Journal site, it is called, “The Carriage Trade: Stay At Home Moms Get Entrepreneurial”.

The third, also a book review article, is

The all-too-female cluelessness of “I Don’t Know How She Does It”
from Salon.com.

Those were the inspiration, here are my thoughts-

…. but first, know that I am not wading into the mommy wars. If you are going to read my thoughts, get ready for a realistic look at what it is to be a SAHM in our culture, and not a blow by blow dissection of working women’s choices.
Continue reading The Mommy Wars

On My Bookshelf

Awhile ago I had started a post on this article:
Arianna Huffington, the accidental feminist. By Meghan O’Rourke – Slate Magazine

Her motivation, she explained, was to start a “fearlessness epidemic” that would transform the lives of women. Tellingly, what moved Huffington to action wasn’t merely perceived inequality but also the immediate lack of female readership at her own site. She had been surprised to find that the readership of the Huffington Post—more than 2 million visitors a month—was predominantly male. Huffington conceived of a section of the site that would deal with what seemed to her to be the primary thing holding women back: their own fears. The resulting book may be frequently banal, then, but it is banal by choice, indicative of her habit of combining the personal and the professional, the selfless and the self-interested.

Whether unfortunately or fortunately, it got lost in one of those computer snafus that seem to have happened to me with regularity this past summer. Since then I have a new “laptop cooler” to keep that from snapping off, but I still suffer from resets from either the ISP or the host server which seem to be to blame for losing posts from my desktop. And probably bad habits to boot.

But today, I was remembering this article and some of the post I had written on it. It had to do with Huffington complaining :

In On Becoming Fearless, Huffington scolds women for being careless and clueless about money (“Even in the liberated workplace of today, a surprising number of us still think that it’s the man’s job to make and understand money”).

Continue reading On My Bookshelf

Are Stay-At-Home Moms Economically Productive?

The question seemed to be raised whether a woman who oversees a home is as economically productive, or even if she is -at all, as the woman with a career. This discussion arose in the comments at previously cited, the evangelical
outpost’s “Don’t Marry a Proverbs 31 Woman”
. Although this was not the main point of the post, which I happen to agree with: that we should have a Biblical model for the “Virtuous Woman” standard and not a reworked 1950 Sitcom throwback.

But along the way, we found this detour:

It probably started here, in Joe’s post

“This is not to say that marital bliss requires women to become June Cleaver-style stay-at-home moms. In fact, the biblical ideal for a wife, which is clearly presented in Proverbs 31:10-31, shares much in common with what we would nowadays consider a “career woman.” The primary difference is that becoming a “professional woman” entails acquiring qualities to build an impressive resume, while becoming a “Proverbs 31 woman” requires obtaining qualities to build an impressive character. But just as Noer warns against marrying a career woman, many Christians would advise (in reality if not in theory) that you avoid marrying a “Proverbs 31 woman.””

but it was in the disucssion that some of the thought was fleshed out

from commenter ‘Boonton’,
“I think for a small minority homeschooling is a perfect fit. I think, though, that for many many others homeschooling would quickly devolve into “just watch TV while I do these chores”.”

and
“I think getting the job done is the most virtous. That means it’s more virtous to have the humility to admit that you probably can’t homeschool your children very well and therefore let the school do it than it is to neglect your child’s education”

…it started to develop more here

“1. The assumption that God desires a Christian wife to devote herself to maintaining her home, rather than doing economically productive work.”
with a three point clarification from ‘TeresaHT’

as the contrapuntal view of stay at home woman now means one who does not do “economically productive work”

TeresaHT goes on to further elaborate:

“Some housework is economically productive, yes. But most of it, arguably, is not. Rather, it is work spent consuming and maintaining what someone else has already earned. It is not the same kind of work as raising chickens, spinning wool, maintaining a garden, or weaving cloth. All of these latter actions produced raw materials or converted raw materials into goods which could be used, bartered or sold. That’s what I’m calling “economically productive” work. Some housewives do this kind of work, but for many women, if they do it at all, it is only a small part of their work. Going grocery shopping is consumption, not production. Vacuuming the floor is maintance, not production. Do you really not see the difference? I’m not saying such consumming-and-maintaining work is unnecessary or unhelpful. Buying groceries, preparing meals, and clipping coupons is real work, no doubt about that! I’m just saying that I don’t believe God intends for such maintenance-and-consumption work to be the primary work most women do. The “men are producers, women are consumers and maintainers” model is not a Biblical model for division of labor: it is, rather, a result of the Industrial Revolution.”

Then a commenter, ‘giggling’ ( don’t be fooled by the inconequential name, this is one cogent and hard-hitting commenter) answers,

“What’s interesting here is that you seem to be stuck in the Industrial Revolution mindset as well, with your IR distinctions of producers of goods, consumers, and maintainers.

But in today’s society, it seems that the “goods” that people produce are not necessarily physical commodities that you seem to elevate in importance above “services” that people produce.

Services, after all, are what you are describing as somehow lower in importance than the production of physical commodities. Yet what is your justification for such a distinction?

Isn’t it true that companies exist today whose sole purpose, for example, is to go grocery shopping for you and deliver them to your door? They are called service industries and there is simply no reason to say that what they sell are less products than shoes are to Nike.

I seriously believe in light of examples such as this that your own Industrial Revolution perspective limits what you view as production, and therefore taints your view of the legitimate production that wives do (not to mention those employed in service industries).”

I couldn’t have said thngs better myself, not even with time and editing.

There is much more in the comments ( 77 and counting last time I looked), but this is enough quoting to give you the direction that some of the opinion was taking.

======

IMO

There is much made of falsely quantifying criteria for the purpose of rendering soundbytes. That isn’t the fault of a singular blogger, it is the way we deal with information in our society. If you are issuing government statistics or computing taxes, it makes sense to reduce “economic productivity” to the restricted terms used here, but in real life, and in actual computation of what makes the financial cut, there is a whole passive economy that simply isn’t factored in. And the SAHM’s are smack in the middle of that “passive” economy. I thought we had come to a place in our society where we understood that a throw-away consumerism will cost everyone more in the long run. I guess I was wrong, because when you give added weight to those “produce” through creating goods, and marketing only, the ‘career women’…. you have returned to that mode of assessing value.

So instead of outright preaching, I throw it to the common sense and sensibilities of the readers: do those who maintain the wealth, who provide volunteer services, do untold tasks for healthy families which then require less “help” form government and non-profits ,who keep the warp and weft of society strung together count for something economically?

(yes, I kinda preached anyway)

A step behind the beat…or a different drummer?

Some of this discussion on gender, at times, seems so yesterday. I bet lots of feminists thought that when they got stung into surprised wakefulness by the resurgence of traditional women’s choices. And not all made by traditional women! Modern, educated, career savvy women choosing to return home, be SAHM, and turning their displeasure upon the the myths of modern feminism. I bet that was just plain painful.

I think this is one of those matters that bounces back and forth on the see-saw, because right now some of the weight is coming down on demanding some definition for what we call “tradition”. There are lots of things that we don’t really want to go back to…. in many ways the past was neither simpler nor was it better. Just one more adjustment in the pathway home, I guess, as we try to move our lives and thus our society towards what is healthy and life-giving and tenable. Fantasies don’t do the job, although they suffice temporarily. We want to dream up a society and plant ourselves in the middle. Really, that nails it for most of the debates on lifestyle. We get ideas, we hold certain prejudices and then…the light bulb goes on! Everyone should do this; we could change our world…if…if only we could mold them in our image. .ssshhhh..we could be god

heh.

heh.heh.heh.

Well, I am finding the discussion has renewed importance in my thinking. Not to change things… I’m in my fifties and my lust for change is diminishing. Or maybe it’s focusing. I want to be able to pass on something closer to the truth to the coming generations. I want something more integral and valid for myself than the piecemeal some-lie-some-truth system of thinking about women that is passed around in this society. Pick your flavor: liberal or traditional.

One of the powerful things of the gospel is that it holds truth. And the truth sets you free…. and that concept is something both sides can pay attention to. At least, we Christians have a duty to find and present it.

When you have a sector of life that combines so much of what is of bedrock importance to life and society as women’s choices are, or women’s status, or just plain women …. it is likely to take more than a lick and a polish to get things right. I’m game for the challenge.

Unleashing the Wrath of Stay-at-Home Moms

Apparently the Mommy Wars are still smoldering and ready to rage. I wrote a bit on this in The Mommy Wars.

Unleashing the Wrath of Stay-at-Home Moms
By Linda R. Hirshman
Sunday, June 18, 2006:

When I set out to write a book about how the first generation of women to grow up with feminism managed their marriages, I never dreamed I’d wind up the subject of a Web article called “Everybody Hates Linda.”

Quite a wake-up call, eh, Linda?

This article was discovered via Spunky’s excellent blog-post

Bringing It Home 3

Balancing the Scale

What the Bible portrays is often in opposition to our prevailing culture. Yet, because the culture, the worldly system, has so infiltrated our churches, a battle ensues any time there is a concerted move ( whether individual or group) to align with the Bible’s pattern.

A common tension is the one, often garbled, on money. The love of money being the root of all evil and the garbled version which leaves out the definitive “love”, or idolatrous place of money. Often the family size-birth control controversy has components of “money/can we afford it/fewer means better provision”. It makes sense that this is foremost in a materialistic society. People will rant til the cows come home on faith teachings and the prosperity messages, but see no problems making all sorts of moral decisions based on their perceived “lack”. How backwards is that? I have often thought of the Faith/Prosperity teachings in conjunction with some of this QF belief, both have those who take things out of their context and go to extremes not within the teachings themselves. It is often true that truth within teaching is taken out of the proper context. That does not deny the truth within it, but it gives cause for the whole precept to be dismissed.

The money factor is often rooted in very “gentile” or unbelieving mindsets. The basic teaching of Jesus on this is that we are not to worry about money or provision, that we are to cast our care for these things on God. That doesn’t displace our need for wisdom and restraint, but it places those matters bound by money fears on a different plane. The perception of what we can afford is so subjective that it can be stretched to mean almost anything without further clarifying in our thoughts and circumstances of realities. In fact, this whole distorted view is at the base of many such concepts as over-population. Which more likely is simply a greed and distribution problem rather than a number problem. We can apply the same thoughts to our ideas of family.

That does not create a moral mandate to distribute money in certain ways, it does keep one from using provision, or lack, as an easy excuse. Perhaps this is why I have often said the economics of a large family is different to the query, “How do you manage?”.

In the culture we have an equation of monetary wealth, or just its accoutrements, with our entire worth as a person. This was illustrated in the Mommy Wars quote,

“History suggests that financial success is the only way women will finally achieve not just legal equality with men but also power and respect. – Ann Marlowe”

And we all know how the world hinges upon power and respect.

Something within man rejects an equation of ones worth with things, so it isn’t only in Christian doctrine that there is a revolt against such views. But it is within Christianity that we have the theological support to sustain the revolt, and institute the restoration of balance. That is what I think is happening within some of these Christian, largely women-oriented, teachings. Women, not going backwards, but forward in a new way.

This is good for Christianity if they are going forward in a Christian inflected manner, which would eschew propaganda, manipulation, and pushiness. They are renewing and reforming the form and role of the family.

So what about this idea that “Parenting is the highest calling given to mankind”?
Continue reading Bringing It Home 3

Bringing It Home 2

The myth of control by James Bowman:

I think it is because the most cherished of all the myths of the Left is the myth of control. For those whose political starting point is the need to change the world, obviously the first article of faith must be that the world can be changed by the leaders they elect and the decisions those leaders take and the laws they pass.

Although spoken within a different context, this has been the same motivation behind changing Church doctrine to further implement policy within the Left agenda. I would further say that this desire to control is not the Left’s alone. There is alot of political activism in the Church, but within the traditional and fundamental Protestants there is one pivotal factor: What does the Bible say?

Looking At The Theology

Martin Luther comments on this verse, “Genesis 9:1 leads us to believe that children are a gift of God and come solely through the blessing of God, just as Psalm 127:3 shows. The heathen, who have not been instructed by the Word of God, believe that the propagation of the human race happens partly by nature, partly by accident, especially since those who are regarded as most suited for procreation often fail to have children. Therefore the heathen do not thank God for this gift, nor do they receive their children as the gift of God.”-Above Rubies

There are different uses for doctrine and the right use is for better understanding God and how to obey Him. The other is less straightforward. The other is to persuade someone to a different point of view and that can be more politics than theology. In the way Christians sometimes approach this, it has got the qualities of both. I think this is where there is some difficulty with the QF stance as some people express it.

In Quiver Full, as its adherents express it, there are two platforms promoted. One is the basic idea that God commanded fruitfulness in the Genesis account, that this remains in force, and that the reproduction of children within a marriage is one avenue of it. The other is that parenting is the highest form of serving God, or maybe they would word it more as the ministry of parenting children is above other ministries in the persons life.

I am not going to approach this from what is wrong with a specific view, so much as from my understanding on the topic.
Continue reading Bringing It Home 2

Bringing It Home 1

Quiver Full is one form of the birth control debate, it has other components, but at its core the issue is birth control. Its context is reactionary to the prevailing culture. Reactionary is not always bad, but I think we will see how much it handicaps people as we go further into the controversies.

The cultural points that are protested are the ideas of over population as the family planning organizations such as Planned Parenthood promote them. The birth control and family size propaganda and politics and the attendant attitudes towards various decisions to have a traditional family are factors.

women tend to gravitate towards wanting things to work. Thus a return to some of the more natural methods of dealing with our reproduction. And no wonder, when you look at the way we have been guinea pigs and had to deal with an often arrogant and disinterested monolith of institutionalized health care

Within this large view is an overlap of Feminist philosophy, and a residual problem in the denial of facts, or their obscuring, that took place in the large societal debates over abortion, population, and birth control of past decades.

Layered upon all this is the conflict and controversies that arise from liberal versus traditional, or fundamental Christian doctrine.

And further complicated by that universal complicating factor: our humanity. As women we have a huge interest in how we deal with our reproductive part of our lives. It affects almost everything for us. The fathers in families also have a greater than traditional pressure in the outcome of this subject as we apply our philosophies and follow our convictions. That makes for strong needs to rationalize our view, and to borrow authority to push it. Although in the case of authority, borrow actually means to usurp.

Quiver Full is basically, also, a Christian debate. It bases all its arguments on the interpretations of the Bible, but it has much of the philosophical overtones of “getting back to nature”. An equation of God and His Will and Nature’s Evidence, or perhaps an interpretive look at God’s Will through the perspective of nature.

We have been told that God has gifted us with brains, modern medicine, and freedom of choice and that we should use them. We agree wholeheartedly, however, we disagree with the application and context in which this is said. -Pete and Corinne Kligmann, “Quiverfull Response Letter”

This has an echo in popular culture, as many lose faith in technologies and the ideal of an unsullied and objective science. In the reproduction area, we see science hijacked for political agenda and for economic gain of vested interests. Women have had to fight for basic rights in their birthing choices, and they’ve been at war over abortion. They’ve struggled with their desires for motherhood and their desires for respect, and much of all this struggle ends up in questions of their reproductive choices.

The Church has not been immune from this struggle at the foundations of peoples lives, it has…. because God has…. been in the midst of where people live in the decisions of how to structure ones family and ones life.
Continue reading Bringing It Home 1