It is a glorious day in Kentucky. The humidity is gone. Mornings are crisp, evenings cool and it is toasty warm during the day. This morning I sat out on my front porch enjoying the birds, flowers and gentle breeze. I took with me an outstanding cup of Colombian coffee and my Voices of the True Woman Movement book. Before I started reading I took a moment to think about my stereotypical idea of the perfect Christian woman. In my mind she is perfectly dressed, perfectly coiffed, and demure. She speaks in dulcet tones and only when she has something encouraging to say. There is no doubt that her make-up is the perfect shade and she uses just enough to allow her to radiate a pleasing angelic glow. Her nails are manicured. Her feet are Barbie-like. She is Jackie O and June Cleaver combined with an encyclopedic knowledge of Scripture and a repertoire that includes a series of perfectly timed, perfectly targeted encouragement statements. She and I look nothing alike.
As I inventoried and compared myself and my idea of the perfect Christian woman, I came up short on all counts. There I sat in all my glory- fat, wearing shorts, barefoot, curly hair uncombed and unkempt giving me a Medusa like appearance, legs unshaven, nails chipped and not an ounce of make-up on. I am loud, opinionated, single, couldn't sew a button on correctly if my life depended on it. I have disclosed in previous posts that I am as subtle as a train wreck when it comes to delivering my opinion. I am none of the polished, classy things I see as the perfect Christian woman. Sometimes I confuse being a Christian woman with being a Stepford Wife. Recognizing my preconceived notions, I began to read.
Leading off in the second part of Voices of the True Woman Movement is Mary Kassian, who takes us on a historical journey using advertising and television to show us how the Feminist Movement took shape and took hold. I have had the pleasure of reading her book, Knowing God by Name and have Girls Gone Wise yet to read. I like her writing style. I also like history. Being 53, I grew up living in the time period that Kassian chronicles for us. She uses June Cleaver of Leave it to Beaver fame as our role model of what the exemplary woman of the 50s decade looked and acted like. The program used what we would call 'dysfunctional' families and people to contrast and accentuate what the ideal family looked like. Dad the protector provider, Mom the pearl wearing cookie baker, community service activist and confident, the two sons in moral dilemmas of the 50s variety- one teenager and one cub scout. I think her (Kassian's) observations are spot on.
Being an historian, I wish she (Kassian) had started back a bit further in the time line of events that made the late 50s and 60s ripe for a feminist rebellion. I am glad she wrote about Simone de Beauvoir and Betty Friedan as they profoundly impacted women in the United States. The ground was fertile for them to sow their ideas. If you have read my previous posts you know I am adamant that before something happens it gets ready to happen. In my opinion the set up for the Feminist Movement came with Rosie the Riveter. Men were called away to serve in World War II and their being gone left an enormous hole to fill in the work force here at home. Most of us have seen the movie, A League of their Own, which shows us how there was a void in sports entertainment because our young athletes were serving in the military. Desperate for baseball, promoters developed an all woman league of players. When the men came home, the women were summarily dismissed to return to their regular lives. The workforce gap was similarly filled with women. Women functioned well in what had been predominately male occupations. They brought home the bacon, fried it up in the pan and realized for the first time that they could earn more money this way than being secretaries and/or taking in ironing. They were experiencing self-sufficiency and many were liking it.
When our men came home from serving they were battered and broken. Wars do that to people. Imagine being raised to be a protector and provider and coming home to find your job occupied by a woman, the very women you were raised to protect Ships were built, planes, tanks you name it... Rosie did it. It's important to admit that caused some emasculation for the men. When you mix the male emasculation with some bitterness for the women into the cultural equation, it becomes easier to see how easily a cultural revolution could occur. Women were dismissed from their positions and expected to put an apron on and forget what they had learned. Men were expected to step right back into their roles as providers and had not been here to witness the modification in roles. The result was the difficult transition from wartime hero to working man became even more difficult. Both men and women lost jobs ... either by attrition, being reclaimed by the men who left them or by being occupied by the women who stepped into them while the men were away. Adding this information would allow the reader to have a fuller understanding of the mechanisms of change that served as catalysts for feminists and accelerated the destruction of the family as we knew it.
Kassian does a good job of introducing how each event leads to the next. I am especially appreciative of her pointing out how, in the pursuit of personal fulfillment, women speaking their perceived injustices aloud fed off one another. Words are powerful things and adversity is the strongest bonding agent. Combine the two and you have a force to be reckoned with whether for good or for ill. She says:
" Feminists in New York discovered that if they gathered women together in small groups, and got those women talking about their personal hurts and grievances against men, then all women in the group would begin to get upset and bitter against men---even those who initially had no identifiable issues. With direction, the group's anger could be then be channeled into personal and political activism. Collectively, the whole group could be empowered to rebel against men, thereby becoming actively committed to the feminist cause."
This chapter is concludes with a description of biblical womanhood and God's right as creator to define it. In an attempt to catch our attention she says, "Being a wife and mom is a great calling and privilege, but it does not satisfy our deepest needs." Denying the presuppositions of feminism is far more than accepting what they [feminists] would deem a second class role as a servant. Our aim is not to be the best wife and mom we can be. Our aim should be to fully embrace our purpose as decided by our Creator. We tend to get mired down in what the surface level questions of what that looks like are instead of digging past those issues into the treasure of what God intends for us. She points out that feminism has not delivered on its promises of fulfillment and how it will continue to fail. Our fulfillment rests in embracing our providence in God.
The second chapter in this part of the book is written by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, who takes us through a look at Esther. She provides some insights into Esther and gives her readers much food for thought. Perhaps the most valuable thing she writes come under her sub-heading Perspective and Hope for the Battle. She gives us 6 things to remember the one of most import being this: We are in a battle. DeMoss writes: " We need to remember that our battle as true women today is not against human powers or political parties or secular culture. Our battle is not against those who promote feminist ideologies. It's not fundamentally against men who mistreat or belittle woman. None of these is the ultimate enemy. The battle we are waging is a spiritual battle and we need to keep our eyes on that reality." This is the crux of it. We have to clearly define the problem before the solution becomes evident. The battle isn't over who is smarter, better, more capable, less willing or most vocal. The battle is one that is spiritual. We cannot find worldly solutions for spiritual problems, what fellowship has light with darkness? (2 Cor 6:14).
I enjoyed the read and there are many things to consider and meditate upon. I am hoping that the next chapters will give definition and provide us some more biblical tools for the battle.