01 March 2007

Reflections on Womanhood

Well if that isn't a daunting title! I'm about to embark down roads that most of you who read this will probably already agree on. Seeing as my reading base isn't that wide, and most of the reading base I do have consists of females who are pursuing higher education, but I feel the desire to write in order to avoid homework, and this has been on my head so-enjoy if you so feel the desire.

We've been reading David Copperfield in my study abroad class. It's not my favorite Dickens novel. Partly because it feels so much longer than the other novels of his that I've read, and partly because I don't like David at all. He's obnoxious. He has high ideals but doesn't live up to them (ok, so he's human...or as human as literary characters can be). He does exactly what I hate in men-marry the pretty ignorant girl because he's so in love with her because she's so cute and naive and whatever else is exciting about it. She can't do a thing and she knows it and she doesn't try to improve herself at all and he doesn't care. I've been thinking about how much I can't stand women who don't try and make something of themselves. Who live for makeup and parties and social life and being cute and have no higher aspirations for themselves. Yes-I like to look nice. I make an effort to do so. I keep my clothes clean and I do my hair and a bit of makeup in the morning because I like to look like I feel. I want to get married. But I have goals for myself outside of marriage that I intend to meet.

Not that I think the church is wrong-President Hinckley has said that he wants women who are intelligent-he comments on how the best thing the church can do for their women is to let them be and give them space to do what they will with it. But I think that some parts of church culture have gone to a bit of an extreme when it comes to creating cutsy girls. Relief Society lessons that I've been to (not necessarily in my ward here), have turned into frilly, light, pat on the back kind of things that are formulated to make women cry. Sweet, sugar coated cotton candy like fluff. There is something to be said for a nice, feel good lesson, but there is also something to be said for a lesson that teaches and motivates and instructs. I'm tired of modesty lessons, for example, when the teacher apologises for saying that certain clothes aren't acceptable. Don't apologise! It's the truth. Leggings and mini skirts are not appropriate. Period. Sometimes I think girls are so afraid of hurting another person's feelings that they don't come out and just say things. Sure, there's something to be said for tact, but don't excuse boldness (use boldness, not overbearance).

That may not have been the best example. What I'm trying to say is that yes-homemaking is good. I take pride in my cooking abilities and I'm glad that I know how to keep a house clean. When I have my own house, I feel fairly certain that I'll be able to manage the cooking and cleaning. Beyond that though, I want to have hobbies that exist beyond the home. My mother has always been an example to me of someone who knows how to run a household and teach her children, but is able to have something for herself as well. And it isn't selfish-it's completely necessary. What I don't like are women like Dora in David Copperfield who are nothing more than little kittens to be paraded around. I want a life outside scrapbooking and fawning over my husband.

All this being said, however, one thing I respect most is my mother putting aside her career to stay home and raise us. She still has hobbies and pursuits outside of us-we aren't her world, just part of it-but a woman who can do both things is a woman that I want to be.


Ben Crowder said...

Let me reassure all of you that not all men go for that kind of women. :) Independence and individuality make a woman far more attractive than the rest, at least to me. A girl who exists solely for her marriage is boring. Marjorie Pay Hinckley once said something about President Hinckley letting her fly -- do her own thing -- and it's stuck with me ever since. It's one of the coolest parts about marriage, in my opinion: that a man and a woman can be one and yet still be themselves, unique and original as they are. I want my wife to work on her talents, pursue her interests, make and reach her own goals, and be her own person, above and beyond her domestic duties. In fact, I don't see how I could stand being wed for eternity to a girl who doesn't want to do those things. Individuality is a good thing. :)

Liz Muir said...

Oh Joni. You so have to read Fascinating Womanhood. You will love how appalling it is. :D

That said, I have to say I believe that there are fewer of these uber-shallow women than we think. Every time I think I've met one, I've been disappointed to find she was actually a great person. Probably only one or two exceptions. But that's Dickens' characterization for you. Too extreme.

Joni said...

First of all-Ben, if you know any of those men who are willing to hold intelligent conversation with me-then let me know. I don't think I know enough of that part of your species.

Second of all-you'll both have to exuse the ranting ;) You know what happens after you've read two hundred pages of Dickens in one sitting-you start thinking strange things and speaking in strange tongues. I'm not quite so pessimistic about human kind as I felt last night.

Portia said...

Hey--it's Charly.

I really enjoyed this post, and especially admire the sense of balance you seem to strike towards the end. I definitely haven't gotten that figured out yet.

Heidi said...

Heh. David Copperfield is my favorite book ever, I kid you not. But I totally see your point. I could tell you stories...including about my ex-fiance, but not here. :)

And I am still MADLY jealous of you.