An Ode to Humanism

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ode to Housewives -

Disclaimer - First- I am a spiritual agnostic, but I have no problems with organized religion. Like any organization it has its positives and its negatives and I write this note from that view. Two - In my opinion a woman's sexual expression is up to her as long as she takes the necessary measures to protect herself and her partner. Three - I do not personally know Joseph Sabia and while this note represents a response to the issues he addresses in the article referenced above, this is by no means a personal attack as his opinions are his own and he has a right to them.

While there are quite a few inflammatory and insulting points brought up in the first of Sabia's articles, I would like to begin with disputing one of his first - "Feminists told women to throw off the shackles of their oppressors by sleeping around, shacking up, refusing to be stay-at-home moms, aborting "unwanted" children, and listening to Joni Mitchell. The feminist movement instructed women to abandon the essence of womanhood -- being a wife and mother." I would never consider the essence of my womanhood to be defined by what I could be to other people. If a man is not defined by being a husband and father, why should I be taught to assume anything different? Feminism taught women the value of choice and provided the tools so that each girl or woman could examine their own lives and hopefully learn to lead it in a way that is best for them - separate from cultural and societal pressures or confinement. The inherent value of choice is that if a woman feel strongly that her personally happiness as an individual is best served by being a wife and stay at home mom she can do that - but she doesn't have to. Instead if she feels like going out into the world to working to become the best doctor or lawyer she can, that doing that better serves herself and the community, that is also her choice. And both choices can be made freely without outside preventative measures or societal condemnation. Yes there are extremes for every life style, but I believe that every man and woman's life should be about balance, which with the right help and work can and should lead to a healthy balance of work and play - with no restriction on what type of 'work' it is. I'm not going to let some person other than me decide what the only thing I can do with my life is.

"[W]omen will only find true happiness when their time and attention is focused on their husbands and families. That is what the traditional breadwinner/homemaker family is all about." This particular quote is one where I'm going to lose my attempt to dispute these claims intelligently and just cry BULLSHIT. I can be a happy and completely satisfied person without being a wife and mother. What happens to women who can't have children - for any of the variety of reasons that can happen? Should they just off themselves now because obviously, there's no way their life can amount to anything and they are facing an existence burdened with a loss and incompleteness?! Come on now Sabia, I think this point is completely baseless and has nothing to say in regards to the thousands, the millions, of women who don't have children and 'somehow' manage to be happy and whole. Instead it is the woman who is lucky enough to find that which makes her feel fulfilled, inspired, and exited by that will be happy. It can be her husband, it can be her children, but it can also be art or music or photography or anything else!

Finally, though there are more parts of this article I take offense to, there is this particular quote: "But the traditional family is not discriminatory; rather it encourages an appropriate division of labor consistent with biological and Biblical truths. Women are the nurturers and men are the providers. Such an arrangement should not place women in an inferior position, but instead should elevate their status." I can't accept or respect any argument that assumes that saying 'Biblical truths' will make the point for them. There are too many religions around the world, each with their own definition of the 'appropriate division of labor', that this argument is just baseless to me. And this line doesn't just pigeon hole women - what about men? Who is to say that they can't be a nurturing influence? I believe that who a person is can be traced back to a combination of genetics and environment - in addition to just luck (good or bad), thus a man should be entitled to the right to be the nurturer or provider just like a woman. There is a Bible or other religious text in the world that is going to make me believe that divisions that worked a thousand years ago, for not everyone - just some, are going to appropriate to enforce on the people of today.

In essence, what I'm trying to say, is that I don't think it's really all about encouraging strict feminism, instead I believe in supporting HUMANISM. Men and Women deserve equal opportunities to decide their lives for themselves. PERIOD. It might actually be possible if that we stop condemning everything, that each couple could come to their own decision about what is right for them without guilt or extraneous stress. Who knows? Stranger things have happened.

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