Before I write this last post on feminism or whatever else it has morphed into at this point, I just want to say this.
These posts, the last one especially, have been about how our culture, through sex, has managed to distort
how women should view themselves in terms of their worth. And although I used unmarried girls as examples, this idea extends to all women, married or not. Wrong thought patterns don't end with a wedding ring.
Additionally, I know the Orthodox Church's stance about sex outside of marriage. However, these posts were not meant to talk about the Church's beliefs, but more about how women are being taught to view themselves in western culture. The Orthodox Church does not teach women that their self-worth is based on how sexy they are. And, if you can recall the first post, I mentioned how the Church holds women in extremely high regard. It is world that does not. Most of us live in the world and not in a self-contained monastery. I can walk into my local grocer and see a stand-up cardboard cut-out of a nearly naked young woman greeting me by the check-out. She has a six pack in one hand while the other grasps the string of her swimsuit bottoms. Oh, so just turn my head the other way you say? Okay, I've turned my head and now I see a stack of magazines promising me "101 Ways To Be Sexy Well Into My 50's" staring right back at me. Okay, then look ahead. Alrighty, I'm looking ahead and in front of me is a painfully thin 60 year old woman in "skinny" jeans with just slightly less plastic to her than a Barbie doll. It's unavoidable.
And lastly, I don't think I'm wrong in assuming that most mothers, whether Muslim, Jewish, Christian or atheist/agnostic want "good" things for their daughters. They have hopes of raising happy and loving young women. However, as we cannot meet in the religious forum to discuss this, we must meet in the secular one and call out the lies that has the potential to ruin our daughter's lives. It was from this point of view that I wrote the last post. I don't think I said anything un-Orthodox, but it certainly did not have a religious "flair" to it if you will that most of my blog posts have. Truth be told, the initial idea for this topic came from an agnostic mother. We both love our girls and expressed our terror of this demented world that they face.
Now back to our regularly scheduled program...
So what to do? I have a few ideas, although I am certainly open to others.
1 - The obvious. Always reassure our daughters of our love for them. Their worth to us is obviously not based on sexiness, but it also is not based on academic, athletic or musical ability either. My eldest plays on a competitive sports team. Although she may be disappointed in her performance certain days, and I will agree with her that she has the ability to play better, I never ever compare her to other players or withhold love from her as a method to perform better. Maybe that works for some parents, but not for me.
2 - The idea of self-awareness (which I think I meant to say instead of self-control). It seems to me that too many people (male & female) just float at the surface of life. They indulge every whim that their body tells them to do without being aware of how it affects both themselves and others. Be conscious. Be aware. Don't give into every craving you have...be it food, sex or whatever. You have much more power over yourself than you realize.
3 - Don't lie to yourself and be realistic. It's okay to have dreams and plans, but it's also okay to change course. If you are having a hard time balancing a career and children, it is not a disappointment to anyone that you stop working, or work less and spend more time with your family. You are no less of a woman if you decide to do this despite what some "feminists" may say. I read an article* a few weeks ago where the editor-in-chief of More magazine, Lesley Jane Seymour, suggested that women need to "...suck it up for the sisters, girlfriend" and try for higher-paying, more stressful jobs in the workplace. You don't answer to Ms. Seymour or any other "expert". "They" are not there for you when you have to miss another chorus recital, wipe away a child's tear because of hurt feelings or clean up throw up at 4:30 in the morning because your child has just gotten sick all over the bathroom and now you are completely stressed because you have to give a presentation at 8 am. I'm not saying that women cannot work outside the home and still be good mothers. My point is that you should not feel like you "have" to live up to expectations set by other people, especially people you don't even know.
*(This article was published in the 11/2/11 Arizona Republic, section CL, page 1, sourced from Gannett news service. I've tried to find the online version, but only came up with one that not surprisingly omitted the "suck it up" comment. Most of the article is found here. It's a good read. )
Again, I apologize if these string of posts weren't religious or offered an Orthodox Christian response to modern day feminism. I'm sure someone much smarter than myself has written something on the topic, but for now, all I can offer are the things that I have discovered to be true or untrue. It really turned out to be more of a public lament more than anything else I guess.
Okay, well now in the Orthodox Church we are heading towards the Feast of the Nativity, aka Christmas. The Nativity Fast starts today actually. From here until the feast, the topic will be mercy. I love mercy. My favorite Old Testament story, the story of Joseph and his brothers, and my favorite parables in the New Testament either center around mercy or somehow allude to its importance.
...Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy....
See you soon...