My Final, Personal Conclusions of The Feminine Mystique

This is a more personal exposition, but because my Feminine Mystique posts may have been a jumble of ambiguity to those who wondered what I really think, I want to break it down a bit. I have learned the hard way that nothing goes without saying anymore. Everything which follows is offered from the perspective of my Christian worldview.

The book was pretty much what I expected. Liberals are quite predictable. They identify a thing that rightly needs to be addressed, and then offer a poison pill as the answer to the problem. Having had only secondary knowledge of the book mostly presented from the perspective of devoted feminists or devoted anti-feminists, I wanted to read it for myself. I’ve learned to mistrust the assertions of rabid ideologues.

What Friedan got right: It is silly and anti-Biblical to relegate women to a domain solely related to what they produce sexually. The notion that a woman is designed by God, filled with His Spirit, endowed with gifts, and no one except husband and kids is supposed to reap the benefit is nuts. When you look at Friedan’s source material, it’s easy to see that something had gone terrible wrong. After WWII, women reverted almost to a Disney Princess existence, where all of life -including attending college!- was about snagging a husband. Then upon marriage, nothing mattered but keeping the house perfectly clean and the husband perfectly happy. I’m all for clean houses and happy husbands, but stay with me.

What Friedan got terribly wrong -and feminists today, including Christian feminists get wrong- is this notion that women were unfulfilled at home because they were excluded from the greater world, and that the way to bridge that gap was to leave their homes and go to work. WRONG!

We can be homemakers, full time housewives, and make a difference in the world through the use of our gifts and talents. I will use my life as an example. I have been at home 24 years. When our older girls were in school, I volunteered at their school two mornings a week. I taught several struggling students how to read, offered them love and encouragement, and it only cost me three hours a week. My home was not neglected. This was before we entered the glorious years of homeschooling.

A Christian friend of mine from our neighborhood taught a parenting class in the school based on the book “Boundaries with Kids” and I helped facilitate it. I was on both the PTA and the SCA.  I served in the greeter’s ministry at our church two Sunday mornings per month, and authored and published the monthly newsletter for the helps ministry.

Later, our entire family, led by my husband, served in our city’s men’s homeless shelter twice a month for over 10 years. We cooked for those men, served them, prayed with those men, and our children from earliest ages were right there with us. When our 4th and 5th children arrived, my life slowed down tremendously, but we still worked with the homeless although my role moved farther into administrative stuff through the outreach ministry until the two youngest were tall enough and coordinated enough to fill ice glasses and roll silverware. They were 4 and 6.

During the slower years, I started taking my babies with me to visit a couple of elderly widows in our subdivision, and boy did they love being able to play with my cute little babies!

Now we homeschool, but we also utilize a classical group two days a week. I teach a literature and writing class there in exchange for a tuition break. Again, no career, but I am contributing to a community. Not to worry though. My house is clean and my husband is happy.

Who in their right mind would say I hadn’t contributed to the world outside of my home? Who would claim that my contributions would have been greater if they were offered in the form of a career? Friedan certainly would, but a decent chunk of traditional Christian teachers of women might argue that I dedicated too much energy outside of my home, even though I was doing exactly as my husband directed, and even though my kids and home were well taken care of. Americans, including Christians, have almost completely abandoned the role of women as community builders. What better way to use our gifts?

This is why I get disturbed by and perturbed with people on both sides of this argument. One wants woman to abandon her home and the other wants to imprison her in it. Neither is what God intended.

Currently, I am considering classes to prepare me for what I hope is a book that serves as a much better Christian approach to femininity for a group of women who are by and large, in a very tough spot on these issues. Many of my females relations and friends, even those who love me dearly, view me as either highly privileged or very weak for situating my life so fully dependent on my husband.

You see, we don’t have these “to stay at home or not to stay at home” debates among black women. It is largely accepted that most black women cannot stay home. I want to talk about how we can change that for our daughters’ generation besides simply saying, “Marry a man of a different race!” which is basically the prescription being offered to single, childless black women right now. When I write it, I want it to be readable, hence school.

I thought it was only fair when I reviewed the book to be honest about the fact that even a broken clock is right twice a day. Acknowledging that Betty Friedan raised some very good questions isn’t to say I think her conclusions or prescriptions were correct.

 

Because I don’t.

7 thoughts on “My Final, Personal Conclusions of The Feminine Mystique

  1. Bike Bubba says:

    Well said. Your comments on chapter 10 said it for me–that in response to the difficulties of materialism, Friedan recommended more of the same and we’re surprised to find more of the same in results. Along those lines as well, even being “pigmentally impaired”, it has struck me for years–at least since 2008 but I believe much longer–that the Caucasian fundagelical model of “keepers at home” really didn’t have much to do with Proverbs 31, either. The model of “keep the house pretty, the kids pretty, and you pretty” sure did feed Friedan’s ire, though.

    I look forward to what you come up with, and may it be a blessing to us all.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. hearthie says:

    What Bike said.

    The 50’s housewife is a update of the Victorian Angel of the Home, not a reflection of any woman I can find in my Bible. Particularly not the Prov 31 woman.

    Looking forward to your book! Start writing already! 😀

    Like

  3. Elspeth says:

    Hey, Bike:

    Along those lines as well, even being “pigmentally impaired”, it has struck me for years–at least since 2008 but I believe much longer–that the Caucasian fundagelical model of “keepers at home” really didn’t have much to do with Proverbs 31, either.

    I agree completely, and it would be wrong to write that truth away dismissively simply because I don’t agree with feminist theory and ideas.

    So much of what we consider a homemaker today is all about the house and the kids. Some Christians (emphasis on some acknowledge that serving your husband is an integral part of that, but too many completely ignore the parts of Proverbs 31 which relate to activities which clearly cannot be done solely within the confines of the home, and that is particularly true in this current era where suburbia is where most homemakers live.

    Like

  4. Elspeth says:

    @ Hearth:

    The 50’s housewife is a update of the Victorian Angel of the Home, not a reflection of any woman I can find in my Bible. Particularly not the Prov 31 woman.

    You know my thoughts on the “angel in the home”. Don’t get me started. Of course, I’ve always preferred an earthier approach to marriage. We can be angels (or at least as close as we’ll get to that) in Heaven.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Elspeth says:

    Oh yeah, Hearth. I actually have started writing. I was hoping to have 10000 words of intro for trusted people to read *wink* by March.

    But then I decided I needed to back out of the direction I was headed, so I stopped. Started looking to see what else had been written, and then I need to do some research. Need to get TPC’s help on how to find some numbers that would be very helpful.

    Hopefully, after some relevant classes, the end of 2019 will see me produce something truly original and worth reading. We’ll see how it goes.

    I’m figuring out that all the years of hearing how well I can write really don’t mean much. EVERYONE thinks they can write these days, LOL.

    To borrow from Cal Newport, I want to be so good that what I produce can’t be ignored. And the message is a delicate one which makes that doubly important.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. V era Lee says:

    I read you regularly and I think very highly of you. I’m so tempted to play writing coach and, for example, urge you to just write the book — do it quick, use speed writing — and then research and edit — but trying to write that comment I realized it’s way presumptious. This is your life and your book, so I withdraw those comments. That being said, yes, you should this. An East Tennessee hillbilly and recovering feminist is watching, hoping, and praying for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Elspeth says:

    Thanks. Vera Lee! Your comments are appreciated, and I am going to continue to write even while I embark on some studies.

    I try to speed write, but something in my personality just wants to stop and fix every little thing I see wrong after every finished paragraph, LOL.

    Like

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.