Sunday, November 21, 2010

Another world

After reading a post on a feminist blog about the Biblical womanhood movement, I had to learn more about it. I've spent the last few days immersed.

There are several main components. There's the modesty piece, about how you should dress, sit, and stand. There's the work piece, about how you should work at home or in a family business because no human but your husband or father should be your boss. There's the courtship piece, about why dating will ruin you for marriage. There's the fertility piece, about why you should have as many babies as possible. And there's the stay-at-home daughter phenomenon, which holds that home and not college is the right place for young women until marriage.

There's backlash, obviously. Commenters on feministe.com said things like, "Disgusting . . . I’m beginning to think I ought to go vandalize a church." Within Christianity, there are some more thoughtful and compassionate responses.

But I was surprised at how much I found to like. While I'm not a fan of the denim jumper look, I share the distaste for skanky clothes. I don't want men or women relegated to anyplace based on their gender, but I cheer the revival of homemaking and homesteading. This family's 1200-square-foot house with twelve residents? Awesome. And I have to admire the courage of people who live a profoundly counter-cultural lifestyle.

The movement is all about the family. This article on how daughters can treat their fathers better made me do a double-take - don't we normally advise parents on how to treat their children? Filial piety is totally out of style. And while a lot of the writing around daughters makes me want to gag, these people are on to something. Look for the good in each other. Communicate. Try to function as a unit instead of everyone striking out on their own. Give more than you take, and don't be "thing-hungry". (I can imagine that would be very important to men who are the sole wage-earners in large families).

Despite the stereotype of evangelical Christians as ignorant hicks, it's such a text-based culture. Take this argument by an eighteen-year-old homeschooled blogger. She goes through several texts, analyzes them and their historical contexts, finds flaws in her prior beliefs, and comes to a new conclusion. How many teenagers do that kind of thing without any arm-twisting?

Granted, sometimes the textual analysis goes horribly wrong. Please, please, do not use The Taming of the Shrew as your model for marriage.

2 comments:

Alex K-G said...

While I have no preference for them, I'm cautious about thinking of revealing clothes as "skanky". I think people should be allowed to wear whatever they want (as long as it's not hurtful to others, or blatantly disruptive), and not be judged for it. I do have a similar negative feeling about such clothes, though, but I identify the feeling more as disliking it when women wear clothes that are primarily designed to objectify the wearer. I wonder if something similar to that is the root of your distaste?

Julia Wise said...

Of course I think people should be *allowed* to wear revealing clothes, but aesthetically speaking, I think they're unflattering on almost everyone. I think they're usually a bad choice.