Monday, March 21, 2011

Women in Newsweek

Bridget is an informed kind of gal and reads Newsweek.  She forwarded on a few interesting articles from the March 14 issue regarding women.

Men Without Women by Niall Ferguson points out the disparity between the numbers of men and women in the world.  Because of "selective abortion, infanticide, and economic discrimination" there are far fewer women, especially in China -- perhaps more than 22 million more men than women!  "The kind of domestic work [women] typically do is seen as less important than paid work done by men."  When this situation of excess men has happened in the past, it has led to civil wars, revolutions, crime, and the exporting of men.

I wonder, too, however, if it could cause an increased value of women:  Will women again be wooed because of their limited numbers, or on the contrary, will they be prostituted?  Because of undervalued marriage, I wouldn't be surprised if the latter will be the case, or increased homosexuality.  Only time will tell.

The article was quite disturbing and fascinating, and I was additionally saddened at a couple instances of underlying anti-family sentiments.  For example, the author states, ". . . early marriage and minimal birth control together expose [women] to the risks of multiple pregnancies."  Well, yes, of course -- anyone who's pregnant a lot is going to have risk -- is it a bad thing?  Sure, you want to do what you're comfortable with, but I don't think we need to look at multiple pregnancies as a bad thing.  One more example:  "Lock up your daughters."  It's the last sentence in the article, and it is kind of funny, but the point is to keep your daughters away from all these excess men.  I just wondered, is there really a problem with that?  If the men are good and noble men, I wouldn't have an issue with them wanting to court my daughters.  We want our daughters to get married and have families!  I really don't think the author deliberately wrote the statements to be offensive, but they do reflect trends and attitudes in society.

Born-Again Feminism by Kathleen Parker was additionally interesting.  Just a few quotes:

“I think you Americans do not enjoy being women as much as we do. . . "  (stated by a woman in Abu-Dhabi).

Parker goes on about what the woman said: "she allowed that American women, in their quest for equality with men, had surrendered some of their uniquely feminine traits and attendant pleasures."
Those two quotes very much parallel the premise of A Return to Modesty by Wendy Shalit.

. . .males need to be saved to the extent that, too often, equality has become a zero-sum game in which girls’ success has meant shortchanging boys. 

I believe that American women have paid dearly for the privilege of having a voice in the conduct of their lives. Have they failed to enjoy being women? To each her own determination, but I would submit that in trying to find a place in a male-ordered world, women have paid more than their fair dues, much to the detriment of their mental health and their families.

Nevertheless, the feminism of my youth did grow stale and, over time, often became silly. Or so it seemed to me and, apparently, to many other women who became mothers and workers and knew that the real world of juggling career and family wasn’t a calling but a curse. We were trying not just to be as good as men, but to be men. I have the neckties to prove it. It turns out that women make lousy men, a fact for which we should feel grateful rather than apologetic. As a group, we are worse at some things, but better at others—the very “others,” it also turns out, that happen to be driving today’s economy and that of the future.
I would like to know specifically what she's referring to when she says the things women are good at are driving the economy.  Just curious as to what's on her mind.

Women have tried to fit into a male-constructed world and found it either uninviting or inflexible to their needs. They don’t make it to the top of corporations because they find the long hours and travel impossible to manage with children at home. Too, they may find themselves alienated by masculine style, which psychologists Alice Eagly and Linda Carli describe as controlling, versus women’s, which tends to take into greater consideration the rights of others.

When women achieve parity in boardrooms and legislatures, they’ll no longer have to twist into male versions of themselves but can help fashion a world that is a better fit for them and the human beings they create.

But somewhere between the abayas of Abu Dhabi and the pistol-packin’, “man-up” mamas of Wingnut, America, is a strong, compassionate, heroic womanhood of which we can all feel a part and be proud sisters. And brothers, too.
Emphasis added.

I liked those last three paragraphs even though I don't necessarily feel a strong urge to be in boardrooms and legislatures.  However, I'm sure some women would like to and they should have the right to if that's what they want.  Women do need a voice in how things are done in this world; it makes the world a much more comfortable and balanced place!

Now onto the rest of the magazine!

Birth on on the mind

No, I am not pregnant, if you were wondering. . .

After reading that last article, I was reminded of a couple posts Heather had on Women in the Scriptures that I had not yet read.  In one post, she wrote about the Physicality of Birth.  I always wonder what I can do to teach my daughters to value motherhood, and she gave me some ideas:

We do so much to teach young men about the importance of their priesthood callings and we help prepare them for the hard work they have ahead of them as missionaries and as leaders. From a young age young men know that what they are going to be asked to do will be hard but that they will be given strengthen from God to handle it. Why don't we teach our young women from a young age that what they are going to be called to do will be hard, physically, but that God will give them the strength to handle it. Why aren't we teaching them about the symbolism and importance of birth and motherhood? Why aren't we helping prepare them, from the time they are 12, to handle the physicality of bearing children and motherhood? I can't help but think that if we were doing these things that not as many women would be scared of becoming mothers. I think that if men and women really understood the power and symbolism behind birth that the birth process would be treated much differently that it is. I also think that motherhood would be more valued in society.

She also blogged about The Importance of Birth and spoke of our divine roles as compared to Adam and Eve (reminds me of my previous post about birth as well as The Two Trees by Cassler on my sidebar):
This is Eve's gift to us... the promise of birth. That through our mothers, the daughters of Eve, all of God's children will partake of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and literally become the fruit of that tree. Through the power of God they will be born into this world through blood, water and the spirit and will be given a probationary time. During this probationary time it is the role of mothers and fathers to help their children to become worthy to pass through the second veil, the tree of life, through the water, blood, and spirit of Jesus Christ. This is Adam's gift to us---as the High Priest of this earth acting in authority for Jesus Christ--- the promise of re-birth.
The more I think about being a mother, I can't help but wonder if it's not so much the numbers of children you have (or don't or can't have) in this life, but where your heart is and what your attitude toward motherhood is.  If we have the potential to continue to be mothers in the eternities and WANT that, I suppose we'd better learn to love and appreciate it in this life.