I am a bibliophile. To be more exact, I am an unabashed and avid book reader. Mostly, I stumble along picking selections that appeal for no particular reason, or because a friend has given a good review, or just to be plain contrary. I have been known to read a book simply because a huge uproar that riles against the content is warning of an impending moral apocalypse.
But occasionally, I find myself reading a book mentioned in a text book as an example of a style, time period or school of thought. This is what prompted a deeper reading of Mill’s The Subjection of Women. I have actually heard this book derided from pulpits. But I never dared to read it, when I subscribed to many of the fundamental underpinnings of hyper patriarchy.
Admittedly, I was enticed to this selection by my contemporary viewpoint of the status of women in the right fringe American church pews. In truth, my viewpoint of the status of women in most hyper-religious and hyper patriarchal scenarios (Christian or other) is much better explained by an author from the late 1800s.
The words leapt off the pages! I feel as though many women in the hyper-patriarchal community today are living in a time warp. Here are excerpts that prompted me to fully read the work:
“Men do not want solely the obedience of women, they want their sentiments. All men, except the most brutish, desire to have, in the woman most nearly connected with them, not a forced slave but a willing one, not a slave merely, but a favorite. They have therefore put everything in practice to enslave their minds.”
“All women are brought up from the very earliest years in the belief that their ideal of character is the very opposite to that of men; not self-will and government by self-control, but submission and yielding to the control of others.”
“….that it is their nature to live for others, to make complete abnegation of themselves, and have no life but in their affections. And by their affections are meant the only ones they are allowed to have-those to the men whom they are connected, or the children who constitute an additional and indefeasible tie between them and a man.”
Now before you brand me a man hater, slow your roll. Okay?
I have no qualms with a proper interpretation of biblical mutual submission. I have no problem with headship in a marriage. What I decry is a twisted application and a misguided following of subjugation. I rail against a woman's destiny and life plan being determined for her. I know of a few women that choose this lifestyle with eyes wide open. But I know of many more that languish in hopelessness.
For clarity, I provide this virtual time warp.
A Merry Future Homemaker
Take your time……… I’ll be here to finish up after you return from 1869.
Yes, you read right. Yes, you understood.
Granted, these are examples of women that purport happiness in their lives. It may be so. For their sakes, I do hope that they are truly happy. That is all I wish for all women. That they may be happy in their choices. And that they have choices.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. At least for the hyper patriarchal families out there, it is circa 1869. Sad, isn’t it?
Those books that you've been warned away from are out there. What are you waiting for?
*Originally posted at Da Bees Knees 10/05/08*