Wednesday, March 20, 2013

In which I rant

I worry that agnosticism coupled with budding feminism has turned me into a bore. I have become quite a bit more sensitive to male privilege, especially when that privilege is endorsed by religion. I read about and talk about these issues more and more. Unfortunately, most of my family and friends are tolerant but uninterested. They don't share my outrage and are (most likely) too polite to risk an argument. My attempts at conversation are turning into lectures, which is not at all what I want.

At the same time, I am frustrated by bigoted and sexist attitudes among my family and friends - attitudes that I trace back to the religion I was raised in. I see them clinging to a faith that I can't share; I don't understand why they stay when, to me, logic dictates that they should go. I assume that they are afraid; that threats of damnation are enough to keep them yoked. It is especially frustrating to see women accepting and reinforcing the idea that they are less important than men, pushing themselves and each other towards marriage and family because they have been told that it's their highest calling - told so by men - and then berating themselves for selfishness and other perceived faults when this achievement of marriage and family is not fulfilling.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against marriage or children, but I think people (especially women) can afford to put it off for a few years. I've known too many girls who never bothered to develop any skills because their entire purpose in life was to get married as soon as possible and raise a family. These girls had no one telling them that they were just as capable as the boys and could achieve just as much. How much talent has the world squandered by not encouraging the girls?

I think these topics hit me so hard because I never did achieve that so-called highest calling for women: finding a husband and raising babies. Now, in my mid-30s, I'm angry because I spent so long clinging to a hope that one day, some man would give me value; beating myself up because I didn't think I was pretty/nice/thin/interesting enough. But even while I craved the validation that would come with it, I was so very afraid of being forced into a mold of the perfect wife and mother. I worried that I could never be enough.

I'm angry today because I didn't realize that I *did* have value. I had it all along. Humanity, sentience, intelligence; this is what gives me value. Not my weight, not my appearance, not the approval of men. And yet, I'm still inhibited and uncertain. I stumble over words, I start sentences with "Ummm...", I don't assert myself. Most importantly, I don't try for the things that I want. Logic and action are separate entities. Maybe in that way, I do still have a kinship with people who can't abandon their faith.


Mary said...

Very well written post. I too, get frustrated by those who are raised to think marriage and family is the only thing for them, and therefore they do not pursue an education, etc.

But I do not connect this with my faith, rather with some of the PEOPLE associated with my faith -- if that makes sense. Culture across generations can be so hard to break. I am glad I had the example of an older sister giving me the courage to go to college, where I found my passion for a great career.

I believe my church's leader when he said, "Women are NOT second-class citizens in this church." I hope to find a way to help make that more true.

PaigeE said...

I, for one, have no interest in pursuing a career. I tried a lot of different fields during college and not one held my interest for very long. The one thing that has held my interest is being a wife and mother. I didn't expect to be good at it but I am. It's the one talent I know I have. That wasn't because of religion or "the man" telling me it was all I was good for. I was born to do it. I am not at all offended by your post though because I do agree that a lot of women feel this need to stick to what their religion says and get married and have babies in order to fulfill their purpose. I just don't feel that way. I do it for me. I do it because it's what I feel I'm good at. And heck, I make cute babies.

km said...

Oh, man. I totally understand where you are coming from. And more. But... I am a little tipsy. So I will have to agree with you more lllater.