Country Living Series

Monday, April 25, 2011

Head of the household

I have a deep dark secret to confess: I enjoy reading feminist literature.

Well, to be more specific, I enjoy reading literature that bashes feminism (maybe I should call it anti-feminist literature). I just do, that’s all.

If you haven’t yet read the Flipside of Feminism, I highly recommend it. And at the moment I’m re-reading a book called Women Who Make the World Worse by Kate O’Beirne. Today's blog post was inspired by O'Beirne's chapter on daycare. The author discusses the pervasive feminist mindset that children do better away from the constant, smothering care of their mothers. Preschoolers should be thrust into institutionalized day prisons in order to learn egalitarianism. Or something.

Ms. O’Beirne quotes a passage from another book called The War Against Parents by Sylvia Ann Hewlett (which I haven’t read but would like to) as follows: “Important strands of liberal thinking are antagonistic to the parenting enterprise. Scratch the surface and you will find that many folks on the left don’t particularly like marriage or children. In their view, the enormous quantity of other-directed energy absorbed by families gets in the way of freedom of choice, and ultimately of self-realization. This is particular true for women, which is why some radical feminists tend to see motherhood as a plot to derail equal rights and lure women back to subservient, submissive roles within the family.”

It was the terms “subservient, submissive roles within the family” that annoyed me. What would a radical feminist have to say about the dynamics of the Lewis household, for Pete’s sake, where I freely admit my husband is my hero? Not only my hero, but the acknowledged head of our household?

Yes, he’s the Head of this family, and frankly I like it that way.

However much feminists want to deny biology, the fact remains that men and women are different.  (Shocking, I know.) I like to think that God in His divine wisdom came up with the spiffy concept of a division of labor for the sake of efficiency.

Feminists call this oppression.

But why is it oppressive to look to one’s husband for guidance and strength, rather than to feminists? Why can’t it be a freeing thing for a woman to lean on her husband?  Isn't it nice that women don't have to "do it all," including leading their family?  (Unless they're without a husband, of course.)

Perhaps it’s because feminists can’t acknowledge how men – True Men – don’t throw their weight around, either physically or psychologically.

I’m reminded of an old story. Apparently a heavyweight boxing champion and his friend boarded a subway train with standing room only. Shortly after a new passenger came on who pushed and shoved his way rudely past the other standing passengers. The boxer was shoved so hard he almost fell. But he did nothing except straighten up and re-grip the overhead strap.

His friend was annoyed. “You’re the heavy-weight boxing champion!” he scolded. “You could have decked that guy! Why didn’t you?”

“A heavy-weight boxing champion doesn’t have to deck that guy,” the boxer replied. “He’s strong enough to know when not to throw his weight around.”

It’s that way with men who truly assume the mantle of Head. My husband doesn’t have to throw his weight around, physically or psychologically. Such behavior merely indicates insecurity and would not garner respect from his wife and children. True men don’t force their wives into submissive, subservient roles. They know diamonds are too valuable to treat like glass.

I am the Heart of this household, and as everyone knows, a body is no good without a heart, just as a body is no good without a head. We need both, and the fact that I view my husband as my Head in no way diminishes my importance as his Heart, which is my role. But someone has to have the final say in a house for peace and order to prevail, and that job goes to the man.

A wise Head takes advice and counsel from his Heart. Don and I discuss all household decisions and mutually agree on nearly everything. But if there is a dissenting opinion between us, and unless I can demonstrate why my opinion is superior, then I defer to his guidance.

Oooh, sacrilege to the feminist cause. Feminists, presumably, must always have the last word, which I interpret as meaning feminists try to make their husbands submissive and subservient.

And here’s something most feminists don’t have: Domestic harmony. Because Don and I each understand our unique and critical roles in our marriage, we are blessed with domestic harmony that is the envy of many. But we are not unique in this. All our happily-married friends do the same thing. It’s like we’ve discovered the “secret” to happy marriages that no modern-day feminist will ever admit has worked well for, oh, several thousand years.

Don and I had an interesting conversation with a neighbor last night. She’s in the middle of reading my book. Naturally I asked for her candid opinion. The first thing she said was, “It’s a praise fest for Don.” What she meant was, my admiration for my husband permeates the entire book.

The discussion segued to the tendency for women to bash their husbands (one of my pet peeves). If you get a group of women together without their men present, just about the first thing they start to do is gripe about how stupid their husbands are.

My mother never did this to my father. I never do this to Don. I pray my daughters will never do that to their future husbands.

See, I tend to look at things from the opposite perspective as these griping women. I tend to assume that every woman has the potential to be as happy with her husband as I am with Don. This attitude is confirmed by many of my friends' attitudes toward their husbands. To hear our neighbor Enola Gay talk about her husband is a beautiful thing.

But to feminists, this is anathema. A happy, harmonious, and (worse) traditional family arrangement can no longer be admitted as the best environment for raising children. It is no longer politically correct for a woman to honor her husband because it’s interpreted as (cough) subservient and submissive.

Remember the parents (Charles and Caroline) of Laura Ingalls Wilder? I once saw it written that Caroline went wherever Charles took her, but Charles would only go where Caroline let him. In other words, they worked together as a team. Being the Head of a household doesn’t mean a man is a nasty dictator. In means taking wise counsel from others, primarily one’s Heart, to discern the best path for a family to take. So an important task for a woman in choosing a husband is to pick a man who truly understands what it means to take his place as Head of the household.

Much of the hostility toward stay-at-home moms appears to stem from the notion that home is an awful place to be. And frankly if I had to live with a feminist, I would agree – it would be an awful place to be. But a home ruled over by a domestic diva is a lovely, warm, welcoming place, a refuge from an often cruel world, an anchor of peace in a tough economy, a haven of tranquility against the rigors of the outside world.

And men know this very very well, because they are the slayers of dragons and our knights in shining armor whose efforts permit us to create those homes.

19 comments:

  1. Agreed. Feminist don't have a problem listening to men as long as they're *paid* for doing it. If their boss is a man they will listen and obey, only if they're married to the man do they feel the need to rebel. Compliance based on money, that makes them a ....what? :-)

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  2. YES YES YES!! Love this post! I love the way you say that you are the heart and your husband is the head! That is a perfect way to put that! :D Same at our house as well! :D Thanks for sharing!!!--S

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  3. I honestly think this is the best post you have ever written. I have not read every post but I have read a lot of them and this is my all time favorite now. Great job Patrice!

    Ouida Gabriel

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  4. This is SO true. It took me years to figure out and I wish I had sooner. We are so much happier when we both take up our own roles. Everybody in the house prospers.

    My stepping back and letting my husband be the head of the household was the first step that lead him back to Christ. I don't think we would be a Christian family today if I had held on to my nagging, ultra-controlling ways. Luckily I came to my senses :)

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  5. Isn't "the woman is in charge" one of the main goals of modern feminism? If so, feminist behavior is the antithesis of a traditionally structured family. Two people--a husband and a wife--fighting for the same leadership position leads to nothing but chaos. I am, therefore, not surprised that feminists abhor the traditional family arrangement.

    The best leaders are also good followers.

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  6. awwww, I love you :)

    Well said.

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  7. I don't disagree with what you say, you make some compellingly it's-that-simple points....however, I'd like to "put out there" one thought I had while reading this: it's just not that easy to find people of integrity in the world right now - of either sex.......and I have been around for many decades, and at various stages have met many types of people in many different lifestyle situations.....In other words, sometimes it's just not that simple to make good choices if the choices are limited (or hard to find) to begin with, LOL....

    I suspect it will take a couple of generations to undo the damage feminism has done....and to undo the "me first" damage done by people who parented along with that mindset.....one fad followed by another fad, and neither were very "forward progressing" towards becoming better human beings......

    While I believe certain things can be influenced by how you react or treat other people, we still don't have any power to change other people who don't want to change......or don't understand they need to change....or have ingrained ideas of how to act/think that just aren't smart, LOL.....

    Not to mention many humans who have lost the ability to communicate with each other (the way they use to, at least)......the "art of the discussion" dynamics have changed drastically in the last few decades, it's become defensive rather than sharing any of one's feelings or finding mutual ground - and compromise is even harder to accomplish.....

    I admire those out there who still value the right kind of attitudes, and have successfully managed to apply them to relationships (thus making them solid)......I wish there were more people like that in the world ;)

    There are alot of miserable people, and yet they still haven't figured out WHY they're so miserable (or bothered to try), let alone set out to fix it...

    Maybe your book will start some of the positive ideals rolling (again), and hopefully not be a fad but something that people embrace more permanently.....

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  8. I can spot a woman-headed marriage a mile away...and it's not a pretty thing to see. EVERYBODY in the family is unhappy and they just can't seem to figure out why.

    It is interesting (and sad) that my younger brother's family seems to be headed in that direction after being quite happy for several years. His wife has recently started hanging around with some women that lean towards a feminist mind set and apparently it is rubbing off on my sister in law.

    She used to be a very devoted mom to their 3 girls that are 10 and under. Now she has started spending their family time with her girlfriends and planning trips away from home with the girlfriends. Last I heard she has booked herself a trip to Hawaii and is leaving my brother with the 3 kids and a full time business to run. And she doesn't cook much anymore, just lots of take out food while she meets her friends at the exercise classes they talked her into taking.

    My brother used to be a perpetually happy guy, but the last few times I have talked with him he has been disagreeable, grumpy and downright rude. I finally asked him what's up and he said he just doesn't know anymore what's happening to his family...

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  9. What a wonderful post! I couldn't agree more.

    I was a "radical feminist" for many years. Throughout my first marriage, in fact. Whenever I'm discussing the reasonings for our divorce I always say "feminism (mine), and alcoholism (his)". There is no feminism in my marriage now (to my 2nd husband). What an amazing, fabulous world of difference! :)

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  10. Dangit. Now I gotta go look up "anathema."

    ;-)

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  11. Amen! I SO appreciate my husbands willingness to do his job which allows me the opportunity to do mine:) We are a team, and he is the head of our family. And I love what you said about speaking well of our husbands. We certainly wouldn't want them to speak badly of us. Seems like some view marriage as a competition rather than a team working together for the good of all. A home where peace abounds is a beautiful site to behold these days. And I think children respond to the way parents treat one another. Our children think of their father as the greatest man on earth, and I am thankful for that. Thank you for this post. I hope to get your book!

    Blessings,

    Sherry

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  12. Amen! Beautifully written!
    (I don't know how you read those anti-family/man books, though. They always make me WAY too angry!!)

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  13. "anathema" isn't that what you get an inhaler for? (I crack me up!)

    Ahem... Couldn't resist, just ask my long suffering keeper (My loverly and talented wife).

    About your "unless" about agreement. It seems to me that you still have agreement, you just persuaded Don that you have the better view or things. Once persuaded, he agrees. No problem.

    I count on my wife to be our heart as well and often my conscience. I am not that tightly bound to my own at times.

    I am a pretty smart fellow. Before I met my wife, I always said that I wanted to marry a woman who was wiser than I. I have smart and "wise ###" down pretty well (probably ought to include smart-### in there too). I did marry a woman who is wiser than I. See? I told ya I was a pretty smart feller! B-)

    Sometime there is a degree of worry on her part about various threats. She is hyper-sensitive to them and I not enough. I think that between the two of us we get it pretty much "right".

    Guess which one of us likes firearms more? (hint: I see them as tools. I am not the one who gets a grin that threatens wrap all the way around, when I fire a weapon...)

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  14. I desperately need to work on this. I'm better at it now than I was in the early days of our marriage, but I can still see room for improvement.

    Thank you for such thought-provoking posts, from a woman trying to follow God's blueprint.

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  15. Before I was a Christian, I was a serious feminist and a horrid rhymes-with-witch to be married to. My husband and I have been together since college days, which was 20 years ago now. I used to do all those awful things you mentioned - complain about my husband, compete with him, consider myself the final authority. I had no idea how that made him feel at the time, though we've now talked about it since coming to faith. I no longer contradict everything he says and undermine his every decision; well, I try not to, and God is perfecting me in that area. I'm fortunate that he's been willing to stick with me through this journey of changing from a radical feminist to an Ephesians 5:22 woman - friends, that is the POWER of the gospel in action. :)

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  16. As a fella that has lived thru feminism, escaped to safer grounds before the crash (her suicide), i feel its important to point out, with a woman its about 'feeling' good in what you are and what you are doing. you only find that 'feeling' when you do the things that bring true reward. true reward will come 'naturaly' as it was intended, not demanded or designed.
    i can only hope our daughter can sees beyond the hype and takes notice of why her mother never found that feeling, and why her step mother 'feels' it everyday..... thanx for the time you put in here for us all ,, HB

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  17. I became a feminist after witnessing much gender-based violence while serving in the Army and more so later while working with victims of human trafficking. I am driven by the fact that women continue to be abused, murdered, and raped, all over the world, for no other reason than because they are female. The shaming of wives and moms who choose to be at home is just a symptom of oppression. We feminists want women to have a choice of whether to stay at home or enter the workforce, without being scrutinized for their decisions. We want equality for those in the workforce and safety for those working at home, because not every husband is as decent as your Don. We want a kinder world for mothers and children, and yes men too. So-called "woman's work" such as caretaking and raising kids is sadly underappreciated, and that's another symptom of a patriarchal society. If a stay-at-home mom/wife is happy, I'm truly happy for her, but I want that to be a choice she made, not a role that was thrust on her by society or her family on the basis of her gender. I won't judge couples for whatever way they have of reaching agreements but the traditional marriage is not for everyone, as evidenced by some overbearing husbands and some wives who are treated as property. I'm so sorry that feminism is so often misrepresented, but we radical feminists will keep fighting for the dignity and safety of all women and girls.

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