Absurdly Long Post; 5.5k+ words
Elsie over at Sweet Baby Cadillac offered a beautiful response to an article that almost had me on the verge of seething by the end of it when I read it myself. Once I managed to collect myself, however, I felt like I should give my response as well. The reason for that is that Elsie covered a lot of the basics, but her view is neither the only one nor a complete view of why some of us do what we do- and if you are going to do what basically and ultimately amounts to closedmindedly degrading the lifestyle choices of others, you should certainly take the time to read a multitude of viewpoints before doing so.
Ultimately, though, the point of this isn’t to change minds. Personal Biases are real, and the Backfire Effect is all too common; in too many cases does correcting or educating a person lead to them sticking their fingers in their ears like a child and screaming “la la la” at the top of their lungs- or worse, taking everything you say as a proof of why their viewpoint is superior even when your words directly contradict or outright disprove it. Such is the way of life, though, and I am not interested in educating people in the hopes that they may become more compassionate, accepting people.
What I do hope to offer, though, is a little bit of perspective for everyone else who is genuinely sitting on the fence asking themselves “but why would a woman want to do that?”…. And here, from my perspective, is everything wrong with the assertions that we shouldn’t and / or can’t- and what we “are” if we do.
Original Post: First of all, lady, what kind of fantasy world does your husband thinks he lives in? I’m going to take a wild guess and say that it was his idea. If not, I pity that your mother/father that taught you this way. You are not a slave to your husband. He does not own you. And really, serve him first? He’s not a king, he’s your husband.
Like Elsie I did not have displays of Traditionalism growing up. I grew up with working parents; my mother worked hard and still works hard to this day, and my father did and still does as well. However, I want to focus, for a moment, on the fact that this response came from their rebuttal to the assertion that one should cook for their man, plate the food nicely, and serve him first: Both of my parents cooked regularly based on who was home and available to do so- and I have a box of recipes passed down from both of them. In fact, when I want to make a familial recipe for my Husband it is usually my Father that I call to ask. Ultimately, ideologically alone I had a fairly modern and Feminist upbringing in a multitude of ways- and I have spoken about that before on this blog.
My Husband, however? Yes. He did indeed grow up in a very Traditional Southern Household; with a lineage spreading from Alabama to Tennessee, Georgia and onward, he is very much far more Southern than I am- with roots twice as spread out and twice as deep as mine. Displays of Traditionalism were indeed common in his household… However, don’t allow the stereotypical image of the Southern Woman fool you. We are a strong, hardy, and sometimes outright brutal bunch when we need to be; a bunch who- in many cases- are taught to demand no less than we are worth and deserve from the Men who enter into our lives.
As St. Germain points out in her article [“8 Absurd Myths About Southern Women“], southern women have a long history of refusing to hear that [silencing, Patriarchal] voice in our culture. The greatest female protagonists of southern literature- from the outspoken ladies of Steel Magnolias, to the genderbending independent protagonists of Fried Green Tomatoes, to Minnie with her “chocolate pie” in The Help- do not fit this “quiet as a church mouse” image we think of when we hear “southern belle”. Heck, even in her own way Scarlett [from] Gone With the Wind demonstrates a different southern ideal: The ideal southern woman is not one who simply says “yes dear” to the men in her life, but [is] fiercely independent, with a sharp wit and an ability to speak their mind.
And you can bet your shiny little bottom that, as a Man raised by a relatively Traditional Southern family, my Husband was also taught that it was a Woman’s place to decide how far she would go for a Man and when; that a Man was not to ever demand anything from a Woman that she did not willingly and gladly give him of her own enthusiastic volition, and which he did not put forth a gallant effort to be worthy of in the first place; that he was taught to properly respect and appreciate a Woman, what she had, and what she was kind enough to offer him.
Which brings me to the next thing:
Original Post: You are not a shiny trophy. He didn’t earn you.
Response to Elsie: A man can be HAPPY to have his wife but NOT pride. He did not create her. He did not earn her. She is a human being, not a toy.
I find this such an odd thing to say to someone, personally- and saying that a Husband has no right to have pride in his Wife is also a very odd thing to say, indeed… I have pride in my Husband and his accomplishments. Why should he not have pride in me and my accomplishments as well?
And it is one thing to say that a Woman is not a toy, is not an object, and is not something to be created, owned, or controlled by a Man… But saying that a Woman is not a prize and should not or does not therefore have to be “earned” by a Man has different implications entirely.
The fact of the matter is that I am a prize. I am a “trophy”, and my love, devotion, and commitment is something that should and does need to be earned by any man that wants to have a relationship with me; I know my own worth and value and I will never settle for less than I believe I deserve- especially not when it comes to a life partner… That man, that life partner, is my Husband- and he did, in fact, “earn me”, otherwise I would not have married him.
Even he will admit that I made him earn the right to be with me because I did… I made him work for me during the pre-courting and courting processes… And I don’t mean that I sat around daintily and made him work a 9 to 5 and support me. I mean that I tested his devotion to me and to our relationship; before we even began dating, I outlined very clearly what I wanted out of a relationship, made it known what I would and would not accept, and was clear in the fact that I was uninterested in dating people who did not want something similar in life- or were not at least open to the idea of it. I grilled him on his ideology to ensure that we were compatible, I tested the boundaries to make sure that he respected me and my wishes, and on and on. He passed those tests with flying colors and his prize for that is me; my hand in marriage and the possibility of spending the rest of his life with me so long as he continues to respect me and be worthy of that prize.
My Husband has been beyond respectful and absolutely has allowed me to lead the way in this endeavor- and we are both very pleased with the outcome of it. Otherwise our marriage would not be doing near as well as it is today; he earned and continues on a daily basis to earn my genuine and enthusiastic devotion to him, my submission to him, and everything that I do for him out of the joy and love that I have for him… And I have that love for him, that devotion to him, because he earned me; he proved that is worthy of it and has consistently proven and re-proven that fact to me.
Original Article: A wife loves her husband, she doesn’t submit to him. […] Like I said, you aren’t a slave.
Response to Elsie: Submission is, according to the google definition: the action or fact of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person. Hmm. I’m not sure if I’d want my husband to be a superior force. Weren’t all humans created equally? Submission doesn’t sound equal to me.
I have a feeling that- me coming primarily from the background of BDSM here- we have very different ideas of what Submission actually is- and looks like… And while I am all for using the dictionary, it’s not always the right thing to throw at someone; I do promise the dictionary is not quite entirely up to speed on the definition of Submission, and that there are actually multiple ways in which it might actually be defined based on several factors.
That aside, Elsie’s right: Submission is not a dirty word, nor is it a dirty act. It’s actually commonplace in life, and every day we submit to and carry out the will of various people; we submit to the authority and demands of the law, we submit to and perform the actions our bosses tell us to, and on and on the list goes… It doesn’t necessarily make you unequal to the person you are submitting to- and nor does it necessarily mean that the person that you are submitting to is more superior than you are. It also doesn’t make you their slave, of all things (and I’m rather appealed at how casually that word is thrown around).
So why, then, does it only apparently become a problem when a Wife chooses willingly to submit to her Husband for whatever reasons she may? And I use the word “willingly” intentionally, because it is undeniable that the forced or coerced submission of a Wife to and by her Husband is troubling and an indication of abuse… But we are not talking about those situations, here. We are talking about a group of women who are willingly choosing to live this lifestyle for their own reasons- whatever those are.
But more importantly, since we are talking about love specifically… What about those whose Language of Love happens to be Submission and Service based? Should we forcefully adopt different Languages of Love because other people say it is a bad thing to genuinely want and be happy to submit to your Husband? Because on top of (indeed) not being a Slave, I am also a Woman whose Language of Love is Service; my personal, natural method of showing my affection and devotion to others is by serving and submitting to them. That’s just who I am– and I have enough intimate self-knowledge and self-experience (as well as enough self-respect and self-confidence) to tell you honestly that that is most certainly not me being “brainwashed”… Which is an incredibly dismissive, degrading, devaluing, and all around abhorrent thing to say to anyone.
Original Post: “Just because you are a woman who happens to live at home, doesn’t mean you should do all the work for your husband. And yes, she does mention cleaning all of her husband’s mess as well. He is not a child. He can clean up after himself […] Also, really? Make his lunch? He knows how to move his hands. He can make his own lunch. She sounds like she is getting her baby boy ready for preschool.” […] It’s unfair to this woman that her husband gets to act like a child his entire life. He first has his mommy to cook, clean, and pack his lunch every day for him, and then he has the same thing when he gets his wife. Your wife is not your mommy. A marriage should have equality, not slavery.
Taking care of the Domestic responsibilities doesn’t mean that I am “acting like his Mother” or mean that he is “acting like a Child”. I am an adult (not his “Mother”) and he is an adult (not a “child”). Both of us are perfectly capable of providing for and taking care of ourselves individually… But I am his Wife, he is my Husband, and Marriage is a partnership. Partnerships mean that both people take on equal responsibility towards a common goal.
The thing is, though, that our responsibilities are just different from one anothers’… But more than different, our responsibilities are divided up in a very fair manner; despite how it appears on the surface, we do have an Egalitarian Marriage where the wants and needs of both of us are weighed equally and those responsibilities are doled out accordingly. Why? Because it is far more unfair and unrealistic to expect each person in a partnership to consistently do exactly 50% of every little thing- focusing on microtasks as opposed to the whole goal overall… I do what I do not only because I find it enjoyable and fulfilling and because my Language of Love is service oriented, but also because it is the most practical and logical that I be the one to do so.
Sure, my Husband is a grown Man who can do things for himself; he could pick up every little mess after himself, do his own laundry, make his own lunches and cook his own food, and so on- on top of everything else that he does in a day… But I don’t just live in this house, though… At the moment I am the one who doesn’t have a formal occupation and spends the most time here with no other responsibilities or obligations. My Husband, on the other hand, works outside of the home 40+ hours a week, often pulling 11 to 13 hour shifts a day.
So my honest to the Gods questions is… Why should he (or either of us, for that matter) have to work 40+ hours a week only to come home and do even more work on top of it? Why shouldn’t it be my responsibility to take care of the house? There’s no answer to that, though, because realistically it is only fair that it is my responsibility. A house can’t keep itself, and if the roles were reversed (and they were for us for most of last year) it would be just as fair that he be the one to take the Domestic Duties on as his responsibility (and he did); it’s unrealistic and unfair to expect women to have a formal occupation outside of the home and then come home and take care of Domestic responsibilities there as well… But it is also no less unfair and unrealistic to expect Man to do the same.
But there is also plenty that I will not and cannot do, and he knows that. Despite thinking that it is only fair that Domestic Duties are my responsibility, I still have quite a few mental and emotional health problems that prevent me from doing quite a few things at different points depending on what is flaring up, how badly, and when. As a result, I do only what I can and what I feel like, when I feel like it… And he doesn’t demand it or expect it of me. When I can, I do it gladly and enthusiastically for him because it fulfills me and makes me happy to do so- and because he has consistently proven to me that he is worthy of that sort of devotion from me.
Response to Elsie: Okay, don’t even try to tell me that he returns the gesture in “mutually pleasing ways.” All she does is clean, and no offense, but she doesn’t even have a job? What gesture did she provide? Being a maid?
In exchange for him bringing home the paycheck, I make sure the bills are paid and we stay within our budget. We both benefit from this; he did something that benefited me (the paycheck), I did something that benefited him (taking care of the financial aspects with said paycheck), and as a result we both benefited
He works outside of the home daily, and I do the housework. Again, we both mutually benefit from this; he did something which benefited me (working so that I don’t have to), and I did something that benefited him (cleaning the house so he doesn’t have to), and as result, we both benefited.
This is how reciprocacy works; the core meaning of reciprocacy is the exchange of actions for mutual benefit. In other words, I do something for you that benefits you, and you do something for me which benefits me in exchange. To chalk up my own equally important responsibilities and actions as just “being a maid and a sex object” for my Husband is both offensive, genuinely degrading, and flat out rude.
What is more offensive, genuinely degrading, and flat out rude, however, is this:
Original Post: I mean, it seems like this lady enjoys living in this artificial world, but in reality, and behind the scenes, I can almost say for sure that she is bored and unhappy. […] I highly doubt that people of intelligence and common sense would want this occupation, but for whatever crazy reason they do, I pity them. […] I have had enough of this whole, “Well, she has a choice.” Is it really a choice when she is brainwashed to like this nightmare? Is it really a choice when she wants the easy way out because she might not be intelligent enough (or she chooses to dumb herself down) to get her own job?
Response to Elsie: The fact that it is expected of the WOMAN to cook and clean is sexist and degrading. And the fact that she willingly does it, is revolting. I mean, I tried to be polite, and she can do what she wants, but to encourage it? Really? […] In fact, if anyone is dehumanizing women, it’s housewives. […] Lastly, I’d like to state that once again, there is nothing wrong with living at home, especially if you have children. But sometimes sexism goes too far, especially when it’s the women endorsing it. I feel very sorry for people who are mistreated. This woman may be happy, and good for her, but insulting feminism, and spitting in its face is disgusting.
To assume that I, as a housewife, have either dumbed myself down or am naturally too unintelligent or incapable to hold a “legitimate job” is the most offensive thing; the vitriol in that sentence is so appalling, so disgusting, so absolutely ridiculous that I can genuinely find no words in any language to describe the atrocity of it. And not only is it an atrocious statement, it is factually untrue; I cannot speak for all Housewives but I know for a fact that I am not unintelligent.
You don’t get asked to skip up two grades twice by being unintelligent. You don’t teach two classes in High School as a Student Teacher by being unintelligent. You don’t get invited to the Junior Congressional Leadership Conference three years in a row by being unintelligent. You don’t get to sit in the 98th national percentile of 3 out of 4 of the Core subjects by being unintelligent. You don’t earn both your Automotive Service Technician and Collision Repair Technician Certifications before even graduating from High School- let alone graduate from High School 4 months ahead of your class, as the youngest person in your class- by being unintelligent. And you certainly don’t own a successful business as an Author, and Artist, and a Photographer by being unintelligent… All of which are notches on my belt that I am incredibly proud to say that I possess- and choosing this lifestyle because it is what makes me happy doesn’t mean that I’m “dumbing myself down”. Not for my Husband, and not for anyone.
Furthermore? If you have a problem with Housewives and Women who (in your eyes) “promote or encourage Housewifery”, go out of your way to make what amounts to ultimately rude, degrading, and judgmental post about them, talk about what a “disservice they are doing to Feminism and themselves”, call them sex objects, call them brainwashed, equate what they are doing to slavery, essentially call them over-glorified maids, belittle what hard work being a Housewife actually is and can be, say they are brainwashed, and so on…. Then no… I hate to break it to you but you are not, in fact, as ok with Housewives and Housewifery as you try to claim you are.
The fact of the matter is… You can’t just say “there’s nothing wrong with doing x” while repeatedly degrading people who do x. In doing so you are not being accepting or in any way showing that you don’t have a problem with Housewifery. Hell, you aren’t even being “polite”. You are making a mockery of true politeness and are saying that you are bigoted and contradictory.
What I really dislike in this entire thing from start to finish (not this excerpt, but the posts as a whole), however, is the complete erasure of Women who actually work within the Hospitality industry and whose job title is literally “Maid”.
As a Woman who has actually worked a formal Housekeeping job in the Hospitality industry for a large name Hotel Corporation at one point, I can tell you that the job of a Housewife is just as valid and deserves just as much respect as the job of a Housekeeper in service to a corporation. Why? Because cleaning and cooking for people is hard work whether you are doing it for yourself, for a partner, or for a parent, a large family, a small family, a corporation, and so on… And until buildings can actually clean themselves it will continue to be hard work that someone, somewhere, is required to do.
And if their job somehow manages to deserve respect from Feminists, then my job does as well. And ultimately, if you devalue one of us then you are automatically devaluing the other by proxy… Because they are exactly the same task in the end and damaging and devaluing one damages and devalues the other, making it harder to find a job, earn that money, keep your job, and other unseen consequences that affect people negatively far more than you realize; because there is no difference other than the location at which that job is carried out, and the fact that one is receiving direct financial compensation for that work.
More than that, devaluing that work shows a significant lack of knowledge concerning just how hard, time consuming, and labor intensive it is even with a good schedule; being a Housewife is not “the easy way out”. It is a 24 / 7 job to take care of and maintain a Household, and ensure that everyone’s needs are being met- including your own. It is emotionally demanding, and it is physically demanding. It is labor intensive, and time consuming. To degrade it as being “the easy way out” honestly shows that the author has never once in her life been forced to take care of herself in all the ways an adult is expected to.
But I really want to touch on that arrogance point right now… Because I am not joking about that and it behavior which ultimately disturbing. But what I have to say ties in a little bit with this next bit, so I’ll address it first:
Original Post: “Isn’t lady like?” Gender roles much? My friend Kaitlyn has an entire post on why gender roles are nasty so I’ll link it here.
Response to Elsie (I believe? It could have been from the original post, but I’ve long since closed it and am far too lazy at this point to reopen it and search for the excerpt since I have been working on these posts for far too long already on top of doing my regular duties around the house when I need to cool down for a moment): Like I said, gender roles are nasty and harmful to both genders.
Yes, I have one of those, too. Most of us do, actually; the Gender Role Issue has been hashed and rehashed so many times, though, that we don’t even have to read the post (though, for the record, let it be known that I did indeed read it) to know that it says the exact same thing that has been thrown at us day in and day out since choosing to be publicly and unashamedly Traditionalist in our approach to Gender and Occupation and Marriage: Gender Roles and the whole concept of assigning arbitrary and ultimately neutral characteristics (and occupations, and colors, and aesthetic traits, and so on) to a group of people based on their external sex organs- then socially punishing them for not adhering to them- is bad, m’kay?
None of us dispute the fact that Gender Roles can be very, very harmful things. But here’s the thing that you say you don’t want to hear, but which I will say anyways because it is absolutely crucial that you hear it: It is your choice (or it should be) to or not to participate in those Gender Roles– and in the modern era, even if we still have a long way to go, we still currently have amazing freedom in this aspect… And no matter how much you don’t want it to be, that statement is true: It is ok to want to do this if it is genuinely what you want to do. It is ok not to do this if it isn’t what you want to do. Both options are perfectly valid; there is nothing wrong with either choice so long as it is a choice made willingly and out of genuine personal interest and desire.
You don’t have to abide by Gender Roles if you don’t want to. None of us are saying that because we live like this, you have to as well (and if they are they’re an asshole- pardon my language)… And we aren’t saying what we do or encouraging it like we do because we think this is how God made Women, or because we are brainwashed, or because this is how we or our Husbands think that Women should live… We are saying it because if you want to be a Housewife there is no shame in that; if anything, many of us are out here outspokenly encouraging it because we have seen so many young Women struggle with the genuine want to be Traditional, and how that want conflicts with the assertion that in order to be a Feminist Woman you cannot be– which is a pain that I struggled with myself for far too long to not be a positive voice in a raging sea of misogyny; a voice telling Women that yes, it is ok just like choosing not to be is ok– and with the messages we receive from every which direction, it’s high time that young Women heard that message again, too.
And ultimately it boils down to the fact that it is not my place to tell someone that I don’t know that this or that thing is the “wrong” decision for them- and quite frankly it is disgusting the things which are said when people think that it is; Ad Hominem attacks which belittle a complete stranger’s relationship quality, intimate self knowledge, their intelligence, their spouses, and so much more is arrogant… Belittling, dehumanizing, and degrading a person for exercising their autonomy and agency is arrogant… More than arrogant, it is abhorrent. It takes a superiority complex and ego as large as the Sun to say something like this. It also takes a particularly arrogant, bitter and hateful person to do so.
Who are any of us, really- but more importantly, who are you? You are one person in 7 billion and rising… You cannot possibly hope to ever know every aspect of their relationship, their structure, their unique lived experiences and socialization, and so on. You don’t even know them. You don’t know why they write what the do, why they participate in what they do, or really anything about them…. And yet you are so arrogant and superior as to believe that you know better about their relationship, their intelligence, their life, their mental state and ideology, their interests, and their motivations, [sic] than they do? You are so arrogant and superior as to believe that you are all knowing and can possibly pinpoint the exact effect of their choice on Feminism and Women as a whole?
In the spot on words of my Husband this morning when I told him about this post set and he read some of the original material:
Here’s an idea: Why don’t we all accept [that] it’s a wide world, there are tons of different walks of life, and everyone has to deal with and live their life in their own way- and maybe we could accept that and not judge everybody based on our own lack of understanding of their history and life.
For those of us who do legitimately enjoy it and find it fulfilling it really isn’t a negative thing. No one is forcing us to participate or adhere to them and we are not being oppressed. We are choosing it willingly and enthusiastically because it’s what we want for our own lives and what we enjoy doing– and making that choice doesn’t single handedly undo or overthrow over a century of Feminist work that gave us the chance to make this choice in the first place.
So if you don’t want to participate in the roles and characteristics assigned to your biological sex or gender identification, that is honestly great– and I am not being facetious or sarcastic right now. I genuinely and happily wish you the best, hope your life is fulfilling, and hope that you find genuine enjoyment in what you choose to do. I don’t want you to participate in anything you don’t have to and I’ll continue fighting for your right to have that choice.
Why? Because Women do not need “help” like that. We don’t need more patronization and more misogyny. We don’t need more silencing of our collective and individual voices. We don’t need more dehumanization. We don’t need more people telling us our life choices are wrong. We don’t need more people telling us that, for whatever reason, we’re not being Women “correctly” enough. We don’t need more people devaluing Womanhood in any form that it happens to take for any given Woman.
The Gods know I am a judgmental person myself and can’t for the life of me understand some of the choices of others. But here’s the big, bad secret that people apparently need to be let in on: This isn’t “us” vs “them”. There is no enemy. There is no “good” or “evil” force. It is just us. It is just Women– and you do not have to agree with the decisions of every Woman that you encounter throughout the course of your life… But I’ll be damned if I won’t demand that you respect them. Because every person, every Woman, deserves respect; every person, every Woman, deserves better than some arrogant tool with a superiority complex thinking and acting like they know best about what’s right for them better than they do themselves.
Being a Woman isn’t a bad thing, no matter how you choose to express or define your Womanhood. Do not let the conflict of society manipulate you into continuing to devalue things which are just as worthy and / or valuable as any other thing; do not let the conflict of society manipulate you into perpetuating the further hatred, pity, degradation, and dehumanization of your fellow Women. We get enough of that shit already simply for being women, and we certainly do not need that shit from our fellow Women as well. We are all in this together, and the last thing we need to do is do their work for them.
I am fully confident in each and every one of your ability to choose the right path for you in your life; to find and obtain the life which makes you the happiest and the most fulfilled person that you can possibly be… If that includes Traditionalism, I will happily be here with my advice and experience to help you figure out what works for you and how to best fit it into your life if you want my help… And if it doesn’t include Traditionalism I will still support you because you deserve that respect and that support regardless of whether or not you walk a similar path to mine and regardless of whether or not I can understand your reasons or agree with your decisions.
I just hope that you will respect me enough and have enough faith in my ability to do the same for myself as a fellow woman and fellow Human Being; respect enough and confidence enough to also respect and fight for my choices as well- which, yes, includes the choice to continue participating in this if (and so long as) it is what genuinely fulfills me.