Friday, December 25, 2009

In A Very Firm Strain

Okay, so I've been increasingly more open minded as I recover from a past of judgmental, cult-like families, but I'm going to take a stand here and now on one subject.

I came across an old 60 minute transcript reviewing Laura Doyle's book 'The Surrendered Wife'. In the transcript, they discuss a passage taken from the book. Laura explains how she teaches her daughter regarding her husband, Jesse:

"We talk a lot about Jesse's, 'He's your daddy and you're supposed to obey your daddy and we want to honour him and we want to respect him'. And just talking about why we are cleaning. We want to have a clean house so that we can honor Daddy because Daddy likes the house to be clean. Put it right there. Do you know why we're making the fruit pizza? We're making it for Daddy. We want to please him. We want to do special things for him. Daddy's the king of our home, isn't he? ..."

According to the reporter, this 2 year old daughter is 'in training' to follow in her mother's footsteps as a surrendered wife. Instantly alarm bells went off and everything in me went No, no, no. Absolutely wanted to vomit. I DO have an opinion on this one subject, and it is a very strong one.

It is NOT right to teach girls from the time they are toddlers that someone deserves respect simply because they have a penis. That child's father should get his fruit pizza because Daddy works hard to take care of her, or because Daddy loves her very much and they do things for him because they love him, too, or because it feels good inside to make Daddy happy. And his daughter should respect him because he has integrity, or because he treats her respectfully, or because he sacrifices for them.

Teaching her that a man – even a father - deserves respect because Mama chooses to make Daddy the ultimate center of her world is absolutely not right. If Mom wants to be a surrendered wife, so be it and I hope she is happy with that choice, of course. She can let Dad make the parenting decisions and she can help enforce them. But it is not okay to teach her children (her daughters) that this way of life is anything beyond her choice as an adult.

Taking future choices away from any girl by teaching her that she doesn’t have future choices in education, religion, occupation or parenting devalues her intelligence, belittles her ability to choose with the same considerate thoughtfulness we did, and ignores the basic human rights we advocate for so many other oppressed women throughout the world.

I say all this with a degree of indignation and with a certain degree of sadness. My mother sought a better way of life for us girls than she had experienced. She and my step dad adopted a unique lifestyle that was meant to protect the kids from the evils of the world. We were raised explicitly in the line of thinking that Laura Doyle's book promotes. If I at any point along the way had aspired higher education or a career, that goal was immediately repressed with guilt. After all, a stay at home mother is the only blessed life God would allow a woman to have.

That was only one of many rigorously high standards we were expected to keep. Fraternizing with any family who was not like us was out of the question. This caused all of us kids to grow up very judgmental of nearly everyone. The most completely miserable aspect was that of being a female. Even though I could clearly see that my mother was the more capable and more fit parent, she insisted that dad was in charge. And even when my stepfather clearly overstepped boundaries that exist in a healthy father/daughter relationship, causing my utter hatred of him, STILL it was reiterated that I show nothing but respect and admiration for him. Respect that had long disappeared with his unjust actions. Admiration that was impossible to find in my heart.

I will not – I refuse to – raise my daughter to be a replica of me. I will not seek to pass on my personality or lifestyle because it’s the one that makes me happy. And yes, I do realize that this is a controversial subject, and I'm no longer a fan of controversy and debates. In the case of this subject, however, I feel no guilt in posting about it because for me there is no controversy. This is a rock solid conviction that Aaron and I stand on, and there is no solid argument in favor if this practice as far as I am concerned.

Dedicated to my future daughter/daughters... I vow that you will have a choice in what your life shapes up to be.