Friday, March 09, 2007

Blog against sexism day

So, I've been reading various blogs (Bitch Ph.D., Feministe, Redneck Mother, Mom 101 and Pandagon) and discover that today is Blog Against Sexism Day.

As a child, I was raised in the Southern Baptist Church. It was a big deal to them that women were not meant to teach men, women were NOT to be smarter than men, women were best kept at home. Unconsciously echoing Galileo's thoughts ("I do not think it is necessary to believe that the same God who has given us our senses, reason, and intelligence wished us to abandon their use, giving us by some other means the information that we could gain through them."), I would say "God wouldn't have made me this smart if he didn't intend for me to do something with it". This was considered almost as bad as blasphemy and I was told that God wanted me to submit, and he just made me smart so that I'd have more to sacrifice. Other people told me that God didn't give me my intelligence, but Satan did.

The Mother's Day I was pregnant with my first, I went to church with my mom. I've never sat through a more misogynisitc sermon (and that is saying A LOT). My husband was extremely offended. Basically, we were told that if we worked outside of the home we were neglecting our children, UNLESS, of course, we were like the preacher's wife and made sure that we were home when the kids got home from school.

At the time, we had all but decided that Mr. Gaia was going to be a stay at home dad. We were still trying to find a good daycare but were growing discouraged and realizing that we were not going to find the right daycare for us.

I walked out of that church, turned to my mom and said "Would it really be better for ME to stay at home, even though I SUCK at the childcare thing? Mr. Gaia is GOOD at it, why would it be better for me to be with the baby than him?" My mom looked me in the eye and said "Because God's plan is for you to stay home and be supported by your husband."

I lost all respect for my mother that day. All respect. At that point, I knew that it wasn't about what was best for my children or me, it was about what these people thought God wanted. And what my mom knew was that I made 50% more than Mr. Gaia and there is no way we could have lived on what Mr. Gaia made.

It became abundantly clear to me WHY women make less than men. Why women aren't equally represented in upper management. It's because there are enough people out there that believe women are supposed to stay home and care for the kids while their husbands support them. That believe that allowing a woman to make a living is actually perverting God's plan.


Mom101 said...

Wow, that's very heavy and must be a hard story to share. I would argue however that while people think that this is "what God wants," the supression of women (or anyone for that matter) has been a systematic and deliberate attempt on the part of the church to maintain control and power. Okay, so now I'm getting heavy. But no one believed more in the abilities of women than Jesus when you really study his teachings...which sort of makes you wonder exactly how things ended up where they are today.


Good for you for knowing your strengths and weaknesses. Is there any better trait in a parent?

Tanya Brown said...

I'm sorry for these experiences. Sadly, they are more common than one would hope.

And yes, it isn't really about what is best for you or your husband or the children. It is all about appearances and the interpretation of a very old document. An interpretation that seems to mysteriously change depending on the interpreter's motives.

Best wishes -

Gaia said...

The irony, of course, is that 2 years after this conversation I became a SAHM. And it became very clear that I wasn't as good at it as Mr. Gaia was but that I wasn't horrible.

My mother still found lots to pick on me about. Choosing to have my kids so close together. Not keeping my house clean enough. Not cooking (Mr. Gaia does most of the cooking and he's good at it).

Then, horror of horrors, I sent my kids to a jewish preschool. And started attending a UCC church.

Tanya Brown said...

Are you sure we're not related? 8>) My relatives also like to go on "fault-finding missions".

Regarding having the kids too close together (at least according to her), I would have been tempted to ask what she'd like you to do about it? Get an abortion? Kill one? Perhaps she has a time machine, so you could go back and not get pregnant? None of those things? Then ... really, she had no useful, helpful suggestions?

Well, then, there really isn't any choice but to send the kids to a Jewish preschool, is there?