Imprison the Inconvenient Women

In these tumultuous times, I think it is important for women not to forget their history.  It hasn’t been that long since a man could have a female family member committed to an asylum for most anything, including a perceived display of female sexuality.  Being a pregnant single woman would be one of many reasons you could end up at the asylum.

This post, Sex and the Asylum: Imprisoning Inconvenient Women , at dirtysexyhistory is a must read, if you are interested in history, feminism or women’s rights.

Girl, you can’t leave

An old post, Window and Walls, that received some new traffic is the inspiration for this post.  I used to have a blog that mostly talked about religion and gender where I talked about my experiences growing up in a conservative, religious household.  My father’s family practiced what an Old World brand of Catholicism.   Between my mother and father an assortment of rules governed a very narrow path I was allowed to walk.  The rules weren’t always explicitly stated, you had to figure them out for yourself, and the rules could change at any time.

What I say here is more from an insider’s standpoint and a discussion of gender roles.  If you didn’t grow up in a religious conservative household you may not have the context to appreciate the bizarreness of this world.  It applies to men and women in these circles, not to men and women at large.

After high school, I did attend college.  I quit and eventually moved back home.  I found a job that paid well enough for me to live by myself.  I’d always known, being a girl, different rules applied to me.  I’m not sure that it was explicitly said many times, but in the back of my mind, I knew that even though I was an adult, I was not “allowed” to move out.  Of course in forbidding me to leave, they had to marginalize me in every way.  Marginalization is a common tactic to get the womenfolk to follow the rules.  Sometimes, though, it is the mothers who are the most cruel of all.

It sounds truly bizarre, but when I did eventually leave, it was almost like running away from home, like I had planned a jailbreak.

My parents didn’t view me as a fully functioning adult.  Besides dropping out of college, I didn’t quite get their reasoning.  Looking back it seems even stranger.  I hadn’t become pregnant before marriage, no criminal record, no drug use, no tattoos, weird piercing or hair colors.  I’d experimented a bit with alcohol, but hey my dad was an alcoholic.

The view that women aren’t fully functional adults until they marry is a common one is some religious circles.  Having attended Catholic schools for 12 years though, if I had classmates were brought up similarly, I didn’t know them.

One day years ago, I ran into groups online that seemed a lot like my parents.  I found the viewpoints more typical of some Protestant groups, but there are some Catholics that have these strange viewpoints as well.  They might fall under the label of complementarian, fundamentalism or red pill.  Men are alphas or betas.  The red pill women of course are all married to alphas, per their own definition of what an alpha is.

The religious conservatives are very concerned about gender roles.  They have an assortment of influences that guide their lifestyle. John Piper is notorious for spewing nonsense about gender roles.  Their leaders are always men, and just like the Matt Lauers and the Harvey Weinsteins, well boys will be boys.

They tend to be hyperfocused on gender roles, sex and marriage.  Other parts of the bible such as Matthew 25:35-45  seem to mean little to them.  On one blog I came across, a woman was essentially reproducing someone else’s copyrighted materials to sell and she seemed clueless that this was stealing.

These people make up their own rules about what is acceptable for each gender.  Appearance is very important for women.  You must wear dresses or skirts, not gain weight or let yourself go. Curiously though, the same rules don’t apply for the menfolk.  They can roll out of bed, not bother shaving, not bother tucking in their shirt, wear jeans and attend church right along with the women folk who must wear be properly primped and dressed.

I find it funny appearance is so important for the women, but not for the men.  My mom and dad weren’t fashionistas but there was a minimum code of formailty for a given occasion I think that has been lost today.  Modesty is sometimes important, because dontcha know if a man behaves inappropriately towards you, it is probably your fault for dressing the wrong way. If you don’t think our culture dresses right, that is fine.  I’ve been mixing it up with public school parents for years, some of the menfolk could improve their appearance.

A woman’s weight is tremendously important.  She should have gained only a few pounds if any since high school.  Conversely, men perhaps gaining 50 pounds since high school is A-okay.  My high school age son is not quite 6 foot, it is hard to imagine putting 50 pounds on him and calling that normal.  Of course when the men folk are concerned it is only about a woman’s health.  Maybe they should visit a cardiac rehab unit and compare the number of men and women…what you wouldn’t want to be logical?  When they are done comparing the amount of men and women, they can start comparing the ages of the participants.

Many that advocate these ultraconservative ways haven’t practiced what they preached, so why would you listen to them?  They’ve been divorced a time or two, had children by different fathers/mothers etc. etc.  One of the more curious examples is a woman who married a man who had a child out of wedlock and insists that he was some super in demand alpha.  I’m not sure what universe she lives in, but of the people I grew up with, no one was looking to marry someone who’d had a child out of wedlock.  I don’t mean this as cruel statement, just more of a statement of fact amongst the Catholics I grew up with.

Only a red pill man can install a ceiling fan, and only a red pill woman can bake a pie, according to the red pill adherents.  The rest of us are simply too dumb to take our gender roles seriously.  Never mind that my husband has done significant remodeling in the houses we’ve owned.  I guess he doesn’t know the rules, as he would rather eat glass than ruminate and cogitate over such issues.  He is more of a doer.

Summer Snippets…Modesty

On my errands today, I several women overdressed for the summer heat.  I just can’t understand why women are told they must dress in layers of clothes because of their religious beliefs.

To make matters worse, one woman was with a man wearing a short sleeved shirt and shorts.  I thought I would have heatstroke looking at these women with their headcoverings and extra layers.

I went to a Catholic school for grades 1-12.  There was always a dress/uniform code that had modesty in mind.

I can tell you, for all those who advocate modesty, dressing a certain way does not guarantee that people will treat you differently or have a better opinion of you.

I’ll keep wearing shorts.

Take The Wheel

There is a Carrie Underwood song called “Jesus, Take The Wheel”. I’ve always like the song, but never thought it applied to me. There is this belief that I hold that I must always be in control and self-reliant with the world, I must not let others know that I have weak spots. Of course a few people know that the cool calm exterior is just a facade.

I’d mentioned before in my blog my husband is facing some health challenges. We are still waiting to see what the potential magnitude of those challenges will be. As we make our way through the journey of marriage, it has recently really hit me how me how much my husband is both a source of strength for me but also my soft place to fall.

As he undergoes his own challenges, I know that I must be strong. I’ve had this thought though that I wish I had some one to hold my hand and guide me to do what is right through these challenges.

I go up and down on my spiritual journey. Having a source of strength, and a spiritual anchor draws me in. At times like this I often feel a pull to find a Catholic Church to pray in. Of course there is just that little minor fact that I am no longer a practicing Catholic. But it feels more like home than any other church I have attended. And my husband is not and never has been Catholic.

Jesus Take The Wheel

 

IMG_0357

Teaching Your Children

We teach our children many things. Some things we teach directly, like how to tie their shoes or how to ride a bike. Children learn by watching our behaviors, whether they be positive or not. We teach values to our children, perhaps hoping they will travel the same path we do in life.

I was reading a blog post from a dad who expressed the thought that traditional femininity was something his young daughter should be taught, and he would be active in the teaching process. By traditional femininity here I mean notions such as women should have long hair, women should strive to look conventionally attractive and they should cultivate sweet demure personalities. The girl growing up in this household would have little freedom.

I was brought up in a religious household where there was a certain brand of traditional femininity was taught. It was especially focused on females having little freedom, even as adults.

Growing up, I would often bristle at the things I was taught. For the most part I wouldn’t express it though. Having grown up in a household where a certain brand of femininity was taught, I realized certain things. These things wouldn’t have to apply to femininity alone, but anything you might think is important to teach your child. Your child will:
1)Buy into your value system
2)Maybe adopt some of your values but not others
3)Totally reject your value system

If your child doesn’t buy into your value system, eventually they will go their own way, no matter how hard you have tried to make them conform.

Some things my parents taught me I eventually tossed aside. Some other things they taught, though were definitely good life lessons.
Some of these include:
1)The value of reading and the library…My parents were both readers in their own way. My mom especially loved the library and we went there often as children. There was always a bit of excitement hoping you would find a hidden treasure.
2)My parents believed in making do. There was never a big rush to buy a new car, or other expensive purchases, even though they could afford it.
3)They were impeccable with their finances. They were both good investors. They would be horrified to pay a bill late. Of course due to hard work and some luck they tried to live their life together in a way that there wouldn’t be any worry. I realize that despite hard work, many people still have a hard time financially.

Now just because they had these values doesn’t mean their children necessarily grew up with the same values. I would say I am good with reading and making do. I don’t think my husband and I will end up with the same kind of nest egg when we reach retirement, but we do try to do our best. My sister, has probably destroyed her finances entirely in part due to her alcoholism.

Some things you might think are just common sense, things that everyone teaches their kids. Years ago, I went to visit my sister, long before I knew she struggled with alcoholism, and some things shocked me. She had many things stored at room temperature that you would normally keep in the refrigerator(at least at our house). I never asked her about it, but it was definitely a what the heck moment.

My husband and I have values we hold important. We hope we’ve taught our children well enough to be kind out in the world. Some of the smaller stuff though, it won’t be the end of the world if they change their mind.

Sacrificial Love

Some time ago, I attended a wedding.  The priest gave a sermon that partly touched on the aspect of sacrificial love.  While I don’t remember the sermon in its entirety, I remember I was deeply touched, and reminded me of the good parts that I remember when I was still a practicing Catholic.  What happens when our spouse gets sick?  How do we deal when one spouse ages more quickly than the other. I found a post about the movie “The Notebook” that reminded me of the priest’s sermon

I’ve been thinking about the “in sickness and in health” part of marriage.  My husband rarely gets sick but is now facing some health issues.  What the scope and severity of these issues are remains to be seen.  Hopefully my husband recovers quickly and is able to function as he had before, that is of course what he wants and what I pray for.

But I know sometime in the future, our physical bodies will change and we will together face the issues of growing old together, if we are both blessed to live long lives.  What will that mean for our marriage?  Only time will tell.

While these thoughts aren’t new, I often wonder how prepared we are as a society to face the challenges of a sick spouse.  What happens if our sick or aging spouse is no longer able to meet our needs, sexual or otherwise?  That day could come with no warning.  Would we be ready to love our spouses in a sacrificial way?

I sometimes read marriage related books or posts , some of a Christian variety.  Often I end up more aggravated by reading the articles.  There are so many Christian writers and bloggers who seem to have the message of be a love machine that never says no if you want to have a good marriage. Be a lady on the streets but a freak under the sheets. Of course they don’t use the actual language of “freak under the sheets”, but they would be honest in their intentions if they did. But they never seem to address what happens to the marriage when one spouse can’t meet the physical expectations, either temporarily or permanently.  Where is the rest of the foundation of your marriage?

I’d like to think that when the time comes, I would be somewhat prepared.  It would surely be a challenge, but it one I hope I could meet to the best of my ability.  Maybe I’m wrong about my belief that society doesn’t  prepare us for the final years of marriage.

Of course as a nurse, I have seen many elderly couples who do seem content in their marriages, despite their physical losses.  I’d love to hear their stories about how they have navigated through the challenges.

 

SELFISH

Lent starts today.  It is after midnight as I write, so I guess it is technically Ash Wednesday. Even though I am no longer a practicing Catholic, I try to put some thought in to Lent.  Usually I think about something I can do, rather than something I can give up.

I’d thought about writing the post about being selfish before I thought about Lent.

Sometimes as a woman I feel as if there is extra pressure not to appear selfish to others. Right now I am going through a season in life where I am trying to do everything to make family my number one priority.  By that I mean my husband and my kids, but not my in laws or my own family of origin.  I don’t necessarily feel the need to explain myself, but somehow a part of me cares how others might view me.  So, no I don’t want to work an extra shift at my job.  No,  my husband and I would just rather stay home, rather than spend some time with family members we aren’t so crazy about.  You get the idea.

Yesterday at work was a bit crazy.  As I’ve mentioned before I am a nurse.  I was focused on getting the important things done, instead of being a pillow fluffer.  I closed my office door so I could try to get my work done more quickly without distractions.  Of course I look more approachable if my door is open.  I spent part of my work day taking part in an educational function.  I guess since I was one of the organizers I was supposed to buy treats out of my own pocket.  But because I’m selfish, lazy AND cheap, I skipped buying the treats.

Maybe during Lent, I’ll give more though to negotiating the idea of being selfish.  How can one be loving to others while still meeting their own needs.

See Me….rants about this and that

There is a drug commercial for psoriasis I think where different people say “See Me”, where they want to be viewed for their humanity and not their disease process.  I think all of have felt that we would like for other to see us as fellow humans on the journey of life, and not be labeled or mistreated for qualities that might make us different.

This election season is a painful one.  Donald Trump obviously sees women as little more than sex objects, not as fellow humans worthy of being treated with dignity.  I don’t think of the Clintons as friends to women either though.  I find it odd that many have looked the other way at Bill’s exploits, but are shocked by the behavior of Donald.   I have a hard time reconciling Hillary as a pro woman candidate given her husband’s history and her silence on the matter.  I’d read something somewhere about talking to your children about what the candidates represent and how they carry themselves…I’d say to my kids that we have a long way to go in how we treat each other as human beings.

I was raised by parents who were fairly conservative Catholics.  I attended Catholic schools.  I’m no longer a practicing Catholic, but I am not sure what Protestant denomination has what I am looking for.  I attended Catholic schools.  While I may have felt things more acutely than some of my classmates, I felt there was a background message of being less than.  We wore uniforms to school.  While you wouldn’t have seen it in print anywhere, the uniforms existed partly so the girls wouldn’t wear anything immodest that might cause the boys to stumble, or have lustful thoughts toward the girls. This sort of thinking has always bothered me.  Recently I saw a blog post where a man suggested that a woman’s visible bra strap caused him to have unwanted or involuntary sexual thoughts, he thought the woman with the visible bra strap was acting in such a way to be compared to sexual assault.  I found that really disturbing, obviously even though he calls himself Christian he is unable to see this woman as human but again merely a sexual object.  That isn’t the sort of Christian I see myself to be.

As I write this I know that I need to challenge myself to see the humanity in everyone.  I need to make sure I give my children that message as well.  If my children can’t treat others with dignity, especially those who are different than they are, well I have failed as a parent.

Musings on Depression, episode 5892

I’ve been having a hard time with my mood lately.  Feeling stressed about my job, and wondering if I should find a new one have been a catalyst for a real low.

I’ve been having some trouble falling asleep at night, but then during my waking hours at home I just want to take a nap.  My joints feel like they are on fire. Not sure what is going on with my joints but I feel as if it is worsened by my mood. My stomach has been bugging me and I’ve been taking too many Tums.  Not sure if the stomach thing  is stress related or something else.   I’ve been feeling more anxious than usual.

As I write this I am hopeful my mood  will lift in a couple of days.

I wonder how I would be navigating this without my antidepressant medication.  I’m curious when people think medication is an easy solution.  For me the medication is just one of the tools I use.

Some Christians think I could just pray my feelings away.  How do they know?  I grew up being raised Catholic and don’t recall any resistance from that branch of Christianity in regards to taking meds.  One of my classmate’s dad at the Catholic school I attended was a psychiatrist, so I would guess he didn’t see a conflict between his faith and prescribing medication.

This Christian poster claims that she knows a cure for depression and anxiety, and it is free!  All I have to do is open my heart to God!  If that method worked for her, wonderful. It hasn’t worked for everyone though, and perhaps implies that one who hasn’t been cured hasn’t worked hard enough in her relationship with God.  It is a harmful message in my opinion.    In another post she implies that a parent who has a small child loudly  running around the grocery store is a lazy parent who simply doesn’t try hard enough.  Of course she isn’t a parent herself.

Lent

Lent is here and as always it sneaks up on me.  I was raised Catholic.  In my family Lent was a doom and gloom experience with special rules my parents made up that I should have automatically known about the day Ash Wednesday came.

I’m no longer a practicing Catholic.  I consider myself a Christian who is in a rut in the journey of spirituality.  While I won’t go, times like Lent make me think about finding a Catholic Church on Ash Wednesday.  My husband and children aren’t Catholic so going alone would be awkward.

Of course with Lent I always think about what I can do to make myself a better person.  Is it giving up diet soda or some other vice.  Probably not, at least for me.  A couple of years ago cut down my time on the internet quite a bit, that was definitely beneficial.  Maybe a fast from the US presidential race would be in order.  Less irritation from the news coverage of the candidates would make me more at peace.