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.

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.

If I had marched…

Why would I have marched…..

To see the development of a real health care plan that could lend a hand to my sister with both issues of addiction and mental health.  The ACA provided her with a very high deductible health care plan.  It is hard to get help if the first several thousand dollars come out of your pocket…several thousand she doesn’t have.  I don’t understand how people think the ACA benefits someone like her, or a man in her same situation.

To call out the so called Christians who have an opinion about how each gender behaves and should function.  To the greasy unkempt guy who thinks himself a marriage expert and likes to perpetuate harmful stereotypes that he believes are divinely inspired.  Oh, and stop being the modesty police, and breathlessly talking about how the women folk are causing the brothers to stumble if they show a hint of cleavage. The little women who stand behind these preacher men, you don’t do women any favors. Oh, Emerson Eggerichs and Shaunti Feldhahn, you can stop with your gender stereotypes as well.  I can’t imagine my work being centered on this kind of nonsense.

To eliminate subtle but harmful gender expectations in the workplace.  Outright misogyny or misandry should not be tolerated.

For the parents out there that let their kids listen to music where every other word is ho or bitch, well I don’t know what to say.  You probably don’t give a fuck what I have to say.  I met one of your little teenaged darlings recently….to his mom who doesn’t care she is raising a little misogynist…stay klassy lady.

To make sure that we are doing right by kids from disadvantaged backgrounds when it comes to education.  I see everyone is an uproar about Betsy DeVos.  But can anyone tell me what Arne  Duncan has done the last 8 years to improve education, at the classroom level?

For the people in my life who just stood there and did nothing to call out injustice to women or perpetuated harmful stereotypes…screw you.  Yes that includes people close to me.

Before we all go making an idol of Planned Parenthood, ensure they are providing quality care….in the case of my sister, they did not.

To make sure the condition of women doesn’t slide backwards to some sort of old world antiquated notion where women were barely human.

To nurture a system where the average Josephine has a voice,  and to have journalists who will give her a voice.  I could really care less about what any celebrity has to say.

To nurture a system where there is an abundance of highly qualified candidates for public office.

Thoughts on Veterans Day…let us think about our sons on this day

I see a gallery of pictures of elderly veterans, some women but mostly men.  Next to their most recent pictures our pictures of them in uniform, mostly from the World War 2 era. There are earnest faces, dashing faces, pictures of women looking elegant in their uniforms.  The one that grabs my attention the most is one of a baby faced young man.  I look at the picture and I wonder how he have possibly been 18 in that picture.  How could his parents send him off to war without an aching heart.  Did this young man insist on enlisting, no matter what his parents might have said? Or was he drafted?  In the gallery of pictures this information isn’t given.  I can surmise though that the women in the gallery had the choice of enlisting.

In a few years my son will by law be required as an American male citizen to require with the Selective Service System.  If he wants to pursue federal employment or getting a student loan, they will check to make sure he is registered. I wonder, do other parents say a silent prayer that the draft never returns.  I admit I hadn’t given this much thought until recently.  I had no brothers to give their thoughts about the system. Very few of my male peers talked about it.

My dad was a veteran who knew he had a good chance of getting drafted and enlisted in the hopes of pursuing the best opportunity.  And he got the GI Bill out of the deal.   Of course history tells us that some never made it home from their military experience. Some came home with physical and/or psychological scars that would never heal.  It is said that my dad’s father who served in World War 1 suffered from “shell shock”.  I believe my grandfather’s psychological scars made it difficult to fully parent my father, I’ve never really had a sense of my dad as having much of a childhood.  My dad started paid work at age 13, I believe in part because his parents could not or would not fully provide for his needs.  So in some respects the military offered a path for my dad to get somewhere in life.

For all the men and women who are veterans, surely we can do better as a nation to provide for them, especially the ones who come home with physical and psychological wounds.  For those who are on active duty, surely we can do better in providing for their families.

This week there has been a lot of talk about male privilege.  There has been talk about what sort of legacy the events of this week leaves for our daughters.  I can tell you my daughter’s 18th birthday came and went without a thought of military service.  No matter who we may have elected President this week you can bet the requirement to register for the Selective Service System won’t go away.  As the Selective Service System website says “It’s what a man’s got to do.”

I am cynical about politics.  I am tired of hearing about male privilege this week.  In a few years I will be thinking about my son’s friends, rich and poor or black and white registering for the Selective Service System.  I’ll say a prayer for peace , a prayer for the young men, and a prayer for their families.  I’ll say that prayer for peace today that the draft never returns.

For all the men and women today who voluntarily enlist in the military we Americans owe you so much.  Let us be called to action so that we can find a better way to repay you for your sacrifice.

 

Miniature

In response to the prompt Miniature, I have written this post.  Miniature, the word rolls pleasantly off the tongue.  What might one think of first…a dollhouse full of miniatures?  A miniature breed of dog?

Does the word convey smallness or tininess in a way that one should admire?

Miniature I am not.  I’m tall.  In childhood I was always ahead of my peers as far of height goes.  As an adult the burden/gift or whatever you might call isn’t something I think of quite so much, at least not in a physical way.

Miniature….what size would that be..I’ll never be a size 2 or 4 or 6.  My height plus my broad shoulders simply won’t allow it.  It is funny though how women are admired for being a certain size. A size zero….what age would I have been when I passed out of the size zero range…9 or 10?

Miniature..the words of family members praising the petite women of our families.

Miniature…growing up I often felt small.  I wanted my physical size to conform to the way I felt, so others wouldn’t notice me, and my flaws.  Being the tallest thirteen year old in the class, I’d sometimes slouch as if this would stop others from noticing my adolescent awkwardness.