Sunday, May 24, 2009
Going Public With My Reading List on Women and Marriage
I've read several great books recently ("scandalous books!" as one of my friends called them, while hiding them from her little brother's eyes and inevitable teasing!) that have to a large degree re-shaped my perspective on singleness and marriage.
I didn't say they have changed my state - singleness - but rather that they have changed the way I view my current state and my hope of marriage for the future.
I've deliberated for a long time whether I should quote these excellent but "radical" books on my blog... I don't want to give people the wrong idea about myself or my ideals, and I have a wide variety of readers, and some people, without reading the books in their entirety might not really "get it" ... but I've decided to take the risk and go ahead and post some of my favorite passages and quotes. I'm not going to expound to you on the whole book(s) - you'll have to buy your own and read them for that! Instead I'll just be throwing out random quotes as I have a chance to type them up.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on my "scandalous books" - particularly if you've actually read any of these books in their entirety.
Danielle Crittenden's book, "What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us: Why Happiness Eludes the Modern Woman," examines what feminism has done for women from a secular, but critical perspective.
Even though I was raised counter-culturally, in a home that had rejected modern-day feminism, I still found her book to be an excellent dose of truth and reality - one that I can share even with friends who really don't care about a Biblical perspective on womanhood.
It's common now for the elders of the women's movement to express disappointment in my generation of women - the "daughters of the revolution" now in their twenties and thirties - who came of age long after the last feminist brassiere had been burned. As they see it, we are enjoying the spoils of their victories without any gratitude for their struggle.
We get up in the morning and go to our jobs as doctors, executives, plumbers, soldiers without devoting a second thought to the efforts that were spent making these jobs seem completely normal. We deposit our paychecks without having to worry about whether we are getting paid any less because of our sex. We enroll in science courses with every expectation of being taken seriously as scientists; we apply for post-graduate degrees with every expectation that we will use them and not let them languish when we become mothers. When we graduate, our first thought is not, Whom will I marry? but, What will I do? and when we do marry, we take for granted that our husbands will treat us as equals, with dreams and ambitions like theirs, and not as creatures uniquely destined to push a vacuum or change a diaper.
....In that sense we are enjoying the spoils of our elders' struggles....
The urgent and compelling questions that haunt us from moment to moment are the ones to which the women's movement has no answers - or, when it does, answers that are unhelpful. Is work really more important and fulfilling than raising my children? Why does my boyfriend not want to get married as much as I do? why is the balance between being a good mother and working so elusive? ...By giving up my job, am I giving up my identity? Should men and women be trying to lead identical lives, or where there good reasons for the old divisions of labor between mother and father, husband and wife? If so, do these divisions make us "unequal"?
... The pleasure of being a wife or of raising children or of making a home - were until the day before yesterday, considered the most natural things in the world. After all, our grandmothers didn't agonize over such existential questions as to whether marriage was ultimately "right" for them as women or if having a baby would "compromise" them as individuals. Yet we do. We approach these aspects of life warily and self-consciously....
But feminism, for all its efforts, hasn't been able to banish fundamental female desires from us, either - and we simply cannot be happy if we ignore them.
For in the ripping down of barriers that has taken place over a generation, we make have inadvertently also smashed the foundations necessary for our happiness. Pretending that we are the same as men - with similar needs and desires - has only led many of us to find out, brutally, how different we really are.
-- Introduction, "What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us,"
by Danielle Crittenden, Simon and Schuster Books