Sunday, October 27, 2013

Perspectives of a wife and mother

There's a Tennyson poem, The Princess, that has a stanza that I've never failed to react to:
Man for the field and woman for the hearth:
Man for the sword and for the needle she:
Man with the head and woman with the heart:
Man to command and woman to obey;
All else confusion.  --Tennyson, The Princess, Canto V
I first came across this when I was nineteen or twenty years old--in a later British literature class taught by a radical (though not man-hating) feminist.  So, of course, I was horribly offended by the implications that I wasn't fully as capable as any man.

As I have grown up, graduated college (and grad school), married, and had children, my reactions to it have...changed.  I don't read that stanza and automatically think "BULLSHIT!"  Not any more.  Not when I am half the size of most men, maybe a third of the physical strength (especially upper body), and prone, despite my best efforts, of going with my gut rather than my logic.

Yes, I am fully as intelligent as any man I have ever met (and smarter than some, even if I have less formal education than others).  I am as good a shot.  I am a better teacher than most of the men in the English department where I work.

Yet...yet.  Yet, I'd rather not have to worry about scheduling my classes around what's in my husband's and children's best interests, wondering if splitting my time and attention--even if for as little time as I do--isn't doing them a disservice.  I'd rather have all of my time, attention, and energy focused on my home, my children, and my husband (with writing and publishing being an exception to that).

I do handle the household budgeting, but I'm not the final decision maker on any of it. Odysseus is the one in charge--and that's the way I like it.  I am his back up.  I am in charge of the kids, and he is my backup on that.

The funny thing is that, were it not for spending all of my time in the campus library (I teach in the fourth floor classroom, and hold my office hours either there or in the coffee shop), my colleagues--feminists, all--would try to convince me that I'm wrong for feeling this way, for being happy in this, and would do their best to apply peer pressure to bring me back into line.*  And the funny thing about that is that these women pat themselves on the back in self-congratulation for being such advocates for women's free rejoin the work force, since that's the only choice which fits their agenda.

But having that as the only acceptable choice is equal to giving women no choice whatsoever...the very thing they claim to fight against.

Judging by the numbers of college educated women with a masters' degree or higher leaving the work force to care for their families, I am not alone in my preferences.  Nor am I alone in having the intestinal fortitude to tell feminism to go fly a kite.

However, I, and those like me who've chosen to focus their energy on their family, tend to be in their late twenties, at the youngest.  We're adults.  We've learned that those who tell us what we should be doing don't necessarily have our best interests in mind.

I think that the way this poem is taught--just this excerpt--by the people that teach it--radical feminists--is doing all young women a severe disservice.  It's really the root of all the depression and unhappiness in middle-class women: that feeling that they're in the wrong place, and that they're wrong to want to be in the place women are designed--by God, or simply by biological evolution, whichever you'd prefer to blame. 

*Peer pressure has never worked on me, and frequently makes the peers that try uncomfortable when it only makes me laugh in their faces.


  1. So, you are a Nietzschean at heart.

    I tend to be flippant with my comments because it's my nature. But let me make an exception and say that your post is very well written and the logic is impeccable. Given my age, I can remember when most women who were mothers and wives kept the home, and I guarantee that the average family was stronger, safer, and provided a better foundation for children. I don't fault women who try to work and have a family. In fact, I esteem them all the more for it. But I think it's a shame that our society has reached a point where both spouses have to work just to have a roof over their heads and enough to eat.

    1. I really do love my job. The problem is that I do love my family more, and my colleagues--especially the feminists--can't accept that. And they can't seem to see that feminism is a big part of the reason they're all unhappy, and that my rejection of it is a good part of the reason that I *am* happy.

  2. Nice perspective and so true in many areas and across all economic/educational strata as well. The bottom line is we all talk about fixing the financial, economic, political and racial tensions in America and the West in general but most fail to realize the core problem is Feminism all the others are just symptoms.

    1. Don't forget Marxism, which is the root and core of modern feminism.

    2. Many claim that Feminism is an extension of Marxism but I disagree with that theory at least in it's final manifestation. While Marxism indeed did plan on it's own form of Feminism with which to help take control, modern day Feminism is an animal that can only grow and do such damage when coupled with modern day Mob rule Democracy. All other forms of government from a Monarchy to Communism actually put more checks on Feminist growth. In a sense today's soft core socialism and Marxism have become a tool of the Feminist just like the civil rights movement of the 60's was also taken over by modern Feminism.

      Also Feminism requires a very high rate of surplus energy to accomplish. Only today's unique combination of these external inputs can result in the type of Feminism we see. It is very strong but also extremely fragile environmentally speaking.

    3. You may well have a point. A lot of the Feminist manifesto mirrors communist ideals, but you're right that the reverse isn't necessarily true.

  3. I tend to think that everyone should be able to do what works best for them. For some women, that's definitely staying home with the kids, and more power to 'em (too bad our current tax structure and culture can make that so difficult).

    (Could it be that your colleagues feel the need to justify their choices in life by trying to make you feel bad about yours? In my experience, it seems that the people who are the loudest and rudest and most judgmental to me about how I live my life tend to be the ones who are most dissatisfied with the choices they made.)

    For me, I'm grateful I'm not consigned to some low-paying, precarious job (like dressmaker or governess) just because I failed to marry and find a man to "take care of" me.

    I don't get why people find it so hard to accept that what works for one person doesn't work for another. It doesn't matter if it's a feminist beating her chest about women needing to leave the home or some "new man" guy saying they should go back into it.

    1. I'm glad you weren't consigned to a job that doesn't make the most of your incredible intellect, too. I'm pretty sure my colleagues do pressure me (or try to) because they're in their fifties and childless because of their choices. They don't want to admit that they cheated themselves out of something that they desperately wanted because of a stupid political ideology, and that their unhappiness is their own fault.

      Women are typically wired to want children, and to need to nurture them once they have them. The core of most women's discontent with their lives really is second wave feminism (not first wave, which is what succeeded in getting us the right to exist legally in our own right, rather than as the legal extension of either our fathers or husbands), which is what pushes all women out of the home, whether they want to work outside of their homes or not. Women who have small children and work outside of the home deal daily with the anguish of walking away from their children, leaving them in the care of someone else--not an ideal situation for those women. Not ideal for me, even though it's my husband taking care of them when I'm not.

      I enjoy my job. I enjoyed it more before I had my kids.


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