A friend of Slim’s asked for my opinion on feminism. I liked my letter so much, that I thought I would publish it. There are so many misconceptions out there about the topic and they are so influenced by everyone’s definitions, which are so different from one another–a superbly charged topic! I hope I did justice to explaining what I think and feel without falling into any particular definition. So, here is my letter….
|copyright: Karen Larsen photography
August 29, 2015
Slim mentioned to me that you would like to hear my opinion on feminism—which I will gladly share with you. However, I am not necessarily sure you will agree with me, which is fine too! 🙂 Because it is my opinion, not ours 🙂.
Two things, first, I do not like the word feminist, not because I do not appreciate what they have done (quite the contrary), but I am not very excited about where they are heading. (I will explain.) And second, I am going to speak with you as I would to one of my daughters and in person (writing) as I prefer that to rhetoric and platitudes.
Back to where they have been and where they are heading. I think most people have differing definitions of feminism, based in their ideologies and political leanings thus their immediate connotations of the word brings strong feelings for good or ill, which is why I just try to avoid it altogether. That being said, I believe women should vote, receive equal pay for equal work, not be discriminated against in the work place, or anywhere else for that matter. I think women are brilliant, educated thinkers capable of almost anything a man is. She is an amazing, talented, gifted, creative being who can solve problems, work hard, and make decisions for herself, her family, her education, and her career. She can be very independent. She does not need to be dependent upon others.
But here is where I believe the world has swung the pendulum too far. I do not think she should be independent. Let me explain. 🙂
Women have inherent gifts unique to them. We are typically more compassionate, kind, and service oriented. We reach out to help others because we see a need and recognize our ability to do it and BOOM we take care of it—no questions, no arguing about whose responsibility it is or who is picking up the tab, no committee to organize or consult before we act. Oh, someone needs something? I can do that! Here is the help. We are more mercy driven—our hearts and hands reach out to help the widow, the orphan, the baby, or that cute, fuzzy chick. Anything little that needs attention? We will do that. When things are over our heads or more than we can manage, we are more likely to get and receive counsel or ask for help or just an opinion—from a girlfriend, a professional, or a book. And when it comes to the moral teaching and training of children, I think we are uniquely suited to that mostly because of our interactions with and knowledge of those children. We can speak directly their hearts and influence their choices.
Now, do all mothers do this? No. My mother didn’t and maybe yours did not either. But wise mothers do. They recognize their intrinsic ability for influence and from the time that babe is in their arms until he/she leaves the nest and even beyond that—a mother is whispering morality into those little ears and training and educating them in the ways the mother sees fit. If she is choosing not to directly shape this life, then her example for good or ill does. The mother who teaches ‘do what I say, not what I do’ has severely limited her influence.
Now, let me ask you something, Isa—
Who has more influence over the hearts of man (men and women)—the one who spouts rhetoric from political platforms and argues, however articulately, across the television and social medias, or the one figure who has been teaching, training, and nurturing that child for twenty or so years? Whose influence carries more weight and power?
The difference is my influence is not a public presentation. Mine is not motivated by self-interest. It is not motivated by greed or popularity—but by love and growth for the individual. The woman who rocks the cradle really does rule the world! The problem is, we don’t have enough people who understand the real power and role of women.
Society has seduced us into thinking that we need to be exactly like the men. What a crock! We aren’t men. We shouldn’t aspire to be men or compete with men. Our gifts and talents are unique to us! As we learn to embrace and appreciate the gifts and talents unique to women, we will change the world—through kindness and charity, not through committee, lobby, and legislation. We will learn to work in harmony with men and allow their unique gifts and talents to shine through. We will learn how to be interdependent—where men learn to recognize and rely on our unique talents and we learn to recognize and rely on their unique talents.
You know Slim. Do you think he would be the man he is today if I had raised him alone? What if Drew had done it alone? Either way, he would be a completely different person. Slim snowed me all the time. If ever he wanted to do something, he knew what to say to me and how to do it to get his way. Easy as cake! The only problem? He could never get around his father. As much as I tried to be the gatekeeper, I was miserably unsuccessful. And if Drew had been in complete control, Slim would have been more rebellious than he otherwise was. The best place for the child was between the two very different viewpoints. But instead of competing for control, we complimented each other in each of our roles. Sometimes I gave a little, sometimes he gave a little.
True feminism, in my opinion, would remind us of who we are and our true power and influence–not try to cry that we are treated unfairly, or unequally and encourage dissent. I do not want to be treated like a man, because I am a woman, not a man. I find joy, fulfillment, power, and influence in my role as a wife and mother. I am not tied down, nor is my freedom inhibited because I have embraced this role. In fact, it is just the opposite—my influence is 10 fold what it would have otherwise been! Why? Because I have participated in companionship with my husband in bringing life and love, teaching and training to nine souls, who will then turn around and choose nine other souls, similar to theirs in ideology and philosophy and start the process over again. My righteous influence will live on for generations! Facebook posts or social media comments may not last for weeks.
When our society awakens and recognizes where a woman’s true influence and power lies and then we choose to embrace those qualities that are uniquely given to women instead of fighting to become like a man, that is when we, as women, will experience true fulfillment–because we will recognize who we are and what we can do. Marriage and motherhood don’t bind us down, they lift us up and ennoble us! No woman is more like Deity than when she is using her God-given talents and gifts to lift, teach, and train another soul.
Does that mean that all women should or will be mothers? No, but all women have motherhood DNA—those unique gifts and talents, the ability to nurture souls, and reach in and touch hearts, soothe aching feelings, counsel and calm angry and aggressive attitudes, those gifts are an innate part of every woman. And as she learns how to use those gifts for the nurture and admonition of mankind, her own children or not, she will have a greater understanding of who she is and the power and influence she has. To that degree, she will find greater personal fulfillment and joy than she will ever know.
And that, my dear Isa, is how I feel about feminism.