Thursday, June 5, 2008

Unequal distribution of power = abuse?

Here's a statement that tickled me, in a discussion about wives submitting to their husbands and entrusting our husbands with our life and well-being:

Unequal distribution of power in any group, including the family, is inherently abusive.

That's very interesting. Does it mean that to prevent abuse, we must ensure absolute and total equality of power? Power, by its natural way, isn't distributed equally. We all have our authorities, whether it is God in heaven or men on earth - and the goal of achieving absolute equality might just result in the worst of thyrannies, like it happened in the country where I was born.

The implication of this phrase is basically that every woman must sustain herself and be in control, to prevent being abused. Now, I know some men are abusers and women will benefit from the ability to stay away from them. But most men don't abuse their wives, never did and never will! I have a wonderful husband, but suppose in theory there's a chance he will abuse me, or walk out on me. Should I invest in career and earn my own income, and be proudly self-supportive? Maybe in a few years indeed some terrible tragedy will happen in our family and I will say, oh, good that at least I have my career to fall back on. However I think it's more probable I'll wake up in twenty years and realize I have given up on my dream of giving my all to my family and living a peaceful life at home - for no good reason...

By the way, I'm sincerely puzzled by the claim that men have "everything" in the thrilling and exciting world out there, while women have "nothing" in the boring and limiting confines of their kitchens. My husband is a normal man with an ordinary job. He doesn't walk out of the door every morning to a day of excitement, partying, and adrenaline. His job is much more confined to a set routine, and includes much less variety, than my work here at home. My husband works hard to provide for us, and doesn't complain because his job isn't the highlight of his dreams. The situation is the same for most men.

Also, while I believe each woman should take her job as a wife and homemaker seriously, I also think a woman is geared for a different type of work than a man. God created us physically weaker than men, and while not all women will have many children, or any children at all, our bodies and spirits are programmed for motherhood - carrying a child, giving birth, nursing, nurturing... this doesn't mean women are incapable of working, but our hormonal changes make us prone to swings in our mood and physical well-being as well. It creates a certain weakness which may be vehemently denied, but which exists nonetheless. Often, a woman will need the freedom and flexibility in her schedule that enable her to rest when she needs it. Home environment will allow it, but most places of employment won't, causing women to ignore their natural weakness and harm their health.

You can tell your husband of your nausea or fatigue, and if he is a good man, most likely he will tell you to take care of yourself and rest. You can tell your children Mommy is not feeling her best today, and they won't bear a grudge against you for occupying them with quiet and restful activities. But the chances that your boss will be that considerate are slim.


I should get going - this day, in all its loveliness, is promising to be very busy. Beside the usual cleaning and organizing routine, I plan to make an elaborate (and hopefully yummy) cake for my husband's birthday - Mr. T will be 28 in a couple of days; that means the cake will be a tad early, but since tomorrow we're leaving to spend Shabbat with my mother, and after that we'll spend Shavuot with my in-laws, the only opportunity I have is today and I decided to seize it. It's a new recipe so I can only hope it's successful... and if it is, I will try to share pictures with you!

Due to Shabbat immediately followed by holiday, I will be gone for a few days, and hope to return sometime in the middle of next week. I hope the following days are beautiful and wonderful to all of you, and I wish a happy Shavuot to all my Jewish readers!


Celestial Freak said...

Very thoughtful post. My thoughts on the matter are much the same. I think women today are often way too quick to deny their natural nurture and nest gifts in order to try to prove something else. It really isn't something awful to build your life in your home.

I know for my husband and me, the first few years we couldn't afford for me not to work, and we still would be better off if I did work, but we get by now. I'm the happiest I've been, find this the most rewarding job, and making a home is a lot of work.

When I transitioned from working to being at home people kept asking me what I do with all my time, since it's just my husband and I, but with making homemade meals, keeping up with our friends, and various cleaning activities my time while he's off at work gets used up pretty quick, many days I'm still working on things when he gets home. But then I'm also able to let us just enjoy each other's company when he is home, where before we were both rushing to get everything done because neither of us really had the time but things still had to be taken care of.

I'm very proud to be a housewife, and the kindness I am rewarded with from my husband is all the bonuses or incentive I need to keep doing my job.


donna said...

Hi I don't usually comment, just read and smile an what I'm reading:) But I had to say how much of a blessing this post is.

I am a single Christian woman with a child and my biggest desire is to be married and at home. Even when doing the things I like to do, I can not say I've ever found work more desirable than what I imagine I can achieve at home. I see each missed opportunity of homeschooling my daughter when I walk out of the door and the power trips that occur at the workplace via the three women supervisors are not something I go out of the way to desire.

I am taking advantage of free classes I get to take (work at a university) in hopes to at least be able to work at home in the near future as I continue to pray for marriage to take place.

It's something when your eyes are open to God's plan for our lives it's beautiful to be hold. Yet when coupled with the current world we live in, can unfortunately leave you with much heartache but God is faithful whatever the outcome.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you pointed out that the world of working outside the home is not necessarily a thrilling adventure while we are here at home bored and wasting our talents.

When I was single, I worked full time in the creative department of an upscale advertising agency. It was something others would describe as a "glamor job." But what did I do all day at my glamor job? Create materials to advertise services and products that didn't interest me, and furthermore, that I couldn't afford on the salary I made promoting them! My "creative" job, like many jobs, still involved quite a bit of routine and tedium, sitting at the same desk 9 hours a day.

Now that I am at home, I feel so much more creative than I did in the creative department. I plan the day, have time for my OWN creative pursuits, create meals and a lovely home, etc. Housework, done on my schedule, to music I like, for a husband and home I love, is much more enjoyable to me than doing "creative" work for a company that did not hesitate to lay off people who had been there ten years. (I wasn't laid off, I resigned, but it is stunning to see that after years of working overtime, a person's job can be gone in a moment.)

My point is...where are these thrilling jobs that we women are "denying" ourselves? Perhaps there are some truly exciting and fulfilling jobs out there, but personally I don't know anyone--male or female--who has one. At best, the people I know like their jobs. Most of the time, they tolerate them and do a good job, but they are not full of joy at work. I am full of joy at home.

-Signed, a "glamor job" refugee

Cindi said...

Such wisdom. I was thinking the other day about a comment some one made to me about staying at home. I was laughing to myself that the person was telling me to go out and get a real job and get out of the house. When I ask what in the world I would do about cleaning she told me she hired a lady. Now why would I go out and work for some one and hire some one other man's wife to do what I was doing? It did not make sense to work to pay some to do the mopping of the kitchen when I could stay home and do it. By the way yesterday I had a horrible sinus headache and my oppressive husband of 22 years didn't care that I stayed in bed all day. My terrible useless children made supper. Hmmm. The only abuse I saw was me taking advantage of their good nature. When my husband feels bad he goes to in to work. He hasn't missed but one day in 18 years at the job he is at. He also said he would love to stay home and let me work if that's the way I want it. I told him no thanks and he just smiled.

Heather said...

Anna-Good Luck with your cake! I'm sure it will turn out beautiful.

I do agree that being at home is the ideal place for a woman to be though at times of necessity she may have to work. Children are sometimes like employers though they don't care if you don't feel good. :)

yoshi3329 said...

Good luck with the cake I hope it come out great, maybe it it goes well you'll give us the recipe?

Catherine R. said...

Anna, part of what you said made me think about something. We women have been taught to live our lives in anticipation of failure, haven't we? We are told to build our financial independence because chances are we WILL face a divorce. We are made to feel foolish for preparing for marriage instead of building our careers as singles because "what if you don't find a good man?" We are even told to keep separate bank accounts from our husbands because what if? what if? what if?

Women are encouraged to live lives of no faith. We are encouraged to live lives of paranoia that someone WILL hurt us, someone WILL desert us, the thing hoped for will NEVER happen. We are made to feel stupid if we live otherwise! I wish I could know now what caused me so much suffering and confusion in previous years. Thanks for getting the word out : )

deb said...

Building on what Catherine R has said...No wonder marriages fail so often today. We are encouraged to view our husbands as potential abusers or someone who will abandon us when we have kids and are no longer good looking.

In a good marriage, the couple trusts one another but how do you build up trust when everyone tells you that you are naive and foolish for doing so?

Sharon said...

What a wonderful post I stayed home to raise my children and it seemed I needed to justify my position to everyone. We lived well and cheaply on one income and I am so proud of my daughters who have grown into beautiful caring individuals. Happy birthday to your husband and Shabbat Shalom.

neuropoet3 said...

Thank you for this post - I've had one of those weeks where my motives for homemaking have been questioned by people who don't understand - "You are so brilliant, you could be anything you wanted to be!" -- Sounds so "encouraging" doesn't it? But it is exhausting to deal with - I've been a homemaker for my family for almost 12 years now, and I haven't had a moment of thinking I made the wrong decision. My life is much too busy to second-guess myself - and I'm so happy there is no reason to. :) I would be miserable at some 9 to 5 job... Plus, with my little "special need" boys every day is different - and I get to be the one who helps them grow into the people God has made them to be.
Thank you for for the encouragement once again, Mrs. T... :)


PS - Being cherished and led by a loving man might not be "equality", but it is wonderful... ;)

Anonymous said...

I regret not being a stay at home wife and mother. My child has become an extraordinary young man, my home is secure (not upscale) and my husband is grateful that I worked. But something, in me, mourns all those lost years.

I did work in a very fulfilling, difficult job, one which influenced ( for the better) many lives. I know that God led me to the training that enabled me to work ( I fought Him tooth and nail). Situations (private) within our family demanded that I contribute to our finances but I grieve for the reality that could have been.

You have had training that will help your family within the home. If you ever need to work outside, yours is not a skill that will be outdated. Hold onto your dream of staying within the home. I believe it is a true calling. It is sad to be at my age and realize how much you have missed. Treasure every blessed moment. cb

Amy Evans said...

God's ways are not our ways, and this is certainly evidenced in the things so many women in this world value.

When we come to know the Lord, however, and truly walk in His ways, we see there is nothing more wonderful or beautiful than living a life of service to the families God has blessed us with.

It has been a long journey for me, having grown up in the home of a single feminist mother, but I am finally coming to truly love and appreciate the role I have in my family as wife, mother, and keeper of my home. I finally see that my Christian service and ministry begins in my home.

It has been difficult at times shedding the "every woman for herself" mentality that was ingrained in my so long ago, but with the Lord's help, I am becoming that "gentle and quiet spirit" that is so pleasing in His eyes.

When we realize this is not about us but about God and His glory, the idea of "inequality" becomes moot and our selfish ambitions fly out the window. Our fulfillment and satisfaction comes from our faithful obedience to the Lord, not from seeking after our own wants and desires (often at the expense of our own families).

It is a joy being the lady God created me to be!

Michelle Potter said...

Anna, I agree with everything you said, but I would point out that it isn't just our unique weaknesses that make women perfect for the home, but our unique strengths as well.

Before we married my husband worked in a tattoo shop. One thing he told me that he learned there is that men may be the "stronger" sex, but women are built for endurance. A woman may flinch and say "ouch" much sooner than a man (many men never will!), but she can endure the pain much longer than a man before she needs a break. I think the implications here are obvious: 9 months of illness and fatigue during pregnancy, hours (or days!) of painful labor to give birth, the early pains of breastfeeding and long nights up with a newborn, the incessant chatter and needs of a two-year-old. Women are simply made to be able to handle a job that a man could never do! As they say, we take a licking and keep on ticking!

Good for us, too, since it means we get all of the joys that come along with the job: the miracle of growing a life within our wombs and bringing it into the world, sweet moments late at night with a nursing babe, the love and adoration of a small child who knows we'll always be there. Let's face it, women are perfectly designed for the home. It's just a good fit.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand, do women who say this not trust their husbands? Then I would understand that they feel this way. I wouldn't share unequal power with someone I didn't trust (unless I was in charge). My question is, why would you even marry someone you would not be comfortable trusting? If the marriage is supposed to resemble man's relationship with God and if you would follow God anywhere, shouldn't it be the same with your husband? Don't most people feel like those who care for them the most would never lead them astray or intentionally hurt them? I have never been led astray by my parents and they have always wanted the best for me. A husband should be the same way. If you have a husband who wants only the best for you, then I would think it would be only natural to put trust in him and let him led the way. We place our lives in God's keeping and follow him and if our husband is a man of God, then we should do the same. I think it all boils down to trust.

zetor said...

Very intersting post Anna. Hope the cake turns out well and you enjoy your holiday.

Anonymous said...

Neuropoet3, the next time someone says to you, "You're so brilliant, you can do anything you want to do," you can sweetly smile and say, "That's exactly what I am doing!" And if you're feeling especially mischievous you could remind them of this fact the next time they complain about their job that supposedly is so much better than being a housewife!


Gina Marie said...

One of the more thoughtful comments I've heard on this matter went something like this:

It's not that culture disrespects the tasks of a housewife, but disrespects women and therefore looks down on their work.

I found that profound. Women lacked respect for themselves, and many lacked respect for what they did because it was done by women. A man can cook meals at a restaurant, clean rooms as a custodian, sew clothes as a fashion designer, but if a woman performs those tasks without the financial benefits it is considered worthless and demeaning.

There's a growing resurgence in this generation for domestic homelife. It's small, but it is noticeable. The hustle and bustle, the demanding schedules, and the lack of community are killing hearts and souls.

Advertisements show products that claim to offer peace and serenity in a hectic lifestyle. We do not want to make life less hectic, we just want to make things faster, more efficient, quick. This generation is overworked, overwhelmed, desensitized, tired, and abandoned.

A return to domesticity and simplicity is needed. Not because women are worthless drones, but because their work is priceless and the root of community, tranquility, stability, nurture, and love. We have sacrificed tenderness for progress, and it is showing.

lady jane said...

After reading your posts, I don't always leave a message. I'm in agreement so often that anything I say can't possibly add to what you've already shared.

I will offer a resounding AMEN to this post though. You are right on.

How I wish we lived closer, dear MrsAnnaT, to enjoy kind words over tea and a cookie. :o)

Serena said...

This was such a great post, Anna, and there are a couple of great comments above, too! I love your point about our husbands going to work in ordinary, non-thrilling jobs, while we get to stay at home with a multitude of things to do--and not just 'boring' housework. How exciting can it be to paint houses everyday? (Which is what my husband does.) I cannot express how much I admire my husband for working at the same hard job every day.

50s Housewife said...

What a wonderful post! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Hi ladies . . I have posted here before but for this comment I will stay anonymous. For almost 20 years I was in the work force, now I'm finally at home, with a small child and a little baby. It doesn't matter how much I try to become an organised person, how many lists and reminders I create, or home journals, I always seem to not want to do my daily routine. I live in a messy cluttered home, sometimes dirty too, clothes are strewn on the laundry floor, and my child's toys everywhere. The beds never get made. I just do enough to keep up. Why couldn't I be "born organised". Why can't I be one of those ladies who's house is welcoming for her husband, where things are peacefully clean, and he doesn't have to go through piles of clean laundry to find his underwear?

I am simply accustomed to hours in front of a PC in all my years of work, and that is where I spend many parts of my day - somehow it gives me comfort. And I know I am wasting time. I try to read your blogs and pick up the encouragement and renewed mind I need to be a good homemaker, but I just default back to this time and time again.

The result is that I never get out much (except with my husband on weekends), I am too ashamed to have visitors over, and the days and weeks pass like this. I do however look after my children first and foremost and make sure all of their needs are met, and that my kitchen is always clean, because I am good at preparing meals and taking care of the children. But the rest of the house? I find myself upset at my lack of skill and motivation, and not even caring about it.

Sometimes being at home feels so mundane - (but please know that this is where I want to be - with my children). I get up late due to night feeds, and the day feels like its almost over. My baby just will not allow it that I get to bed early. I wish someone would show me how to do this well. I wish I could enjoy homemaking. I wish I was like you ladies that have these beautiful blogs.


Anonymous said...

Great post Anna, and good point Catherine.

Anna have you read anything about "the new feminism"?
You might find it interesting.

Anonymous said...

Great, GREAT Post Anna!

Hope the Birthday is wonderful. Tell your DH we all said Happy Birthday too.

Many Blessings :)

Anonymous said...

I don't think that traditional male/female roles are unequally balanced as far as power goes- I think that they offer men and women *equal but different* "power/authority" within the sphere of their role. :)

elena rulli said...

Happy birthday and a sweet shabbat to Mrs. and Mr. T.!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,

I have never commented on your blog before, but enjoy reading it. I agree with what you have posted. I wished that I could have been a homemaker when my children were young, but I wasn't able to. I worked for most of my married life, but my heart was always at home.

I worked hard at my job and always did my best, but I never felt it had as much value as being at home raising my children. I so often felt that I never gave my best to my family when I was at home because I was either stressed or tired at the end of the day. Watching the woman I worked with that were in supervisory positions and the stress that went on in their lives, especially if they had families...the sacrifice of family life never seemed worth it to me. The extra money didn't seem worth it.

My children are now adults and are wonderful blessings to my husband and I. I have now retired and am thrilled to be at home. I truly enjoy taking care of my husband and home. Thank you so much for your blog and the encouragement you give to other woman.

God bless.
Susan B

Anonymous said...


I can sympathise because, although I am not yet married, I am also very disorganized. I definitely understand the frustration when things build up and you can't seem to keep up. I am a stay at home daughter with five younger siblings!

Since part of your struggle seems to be wasting time on the computer, would you consider doing a computer fast? Perhaps trying a week (or longer) with no computer, spending your computer time folding some laundry or straightening one room at a time. I would also reccommend a wonderful book called "More Hours in My Day" by Emilie Barnes. It has lots of tips and ideas for using your time wisely and getting more done, from the point of view of a stay at home mom.

I pray that things will go well with you.
Shabbat Shalom,

neuropoet3 said...

Before you get too hard on yourself - if you have small children (which it sounds like you do), remember that this season of your life is not about the "perfect house" and perfectly organized schedule. When the children are older then the house is easier to stay in control of because you aren't as tired all the time. Measure your success as a mother by your children -are they happy, are they healthy? Then you are doing a good job. The rest will come with time...
If you really feel that the PC is a habit you have carried over from your "workforce days" and if it seems to be interfering with your time with your children, then you will have to take some measures to control your time on it - ask your husband for help, sometimes just knowing you'll have to admit how much time you were on it is enough to limit it! :) (A Godly husband is a wonderful encouragement in helping us to become better women IF we ask for help. Afterall, we're supposed to be helping each other grow in holiness, that's part of the blessing of marriage.)
I hope this is encouraging for you - I really wanted to be able to say something useful when I read your comment. I'll offer up a prayer for you!


CappuccinoLife said...

Well put! I have been remiss in visiting your blog, so belated Congratulations on your wedding, too!

Even dear, generally reasonable Christian women in my life seem to expect nothing but abuse and disaster from men. :(

Anonymous said...

Really a wonderful post, Anna. As usual, you have articulated your thoughts so well...& there are some good & thoughtful comments here as well.

I'd like to address AnonMe, if I could. Please, PLEASE, don't be too hard on yourself. It does get a little easier as your children grow! I can remember a particular day when I'd had a very hard time with my children, short of sleep from the night before, teething, diapers to wash....I thought I was bearing up pretty well, & I didn't break until I tried to plant a small annual flower. I just wanted a little bit of beauty & color in our otherwise plain yard. Of course, all the kids were outside with me when I did this, & though I was sure I was careful, as soon as my back was turned one of them got too close to the plant & trampled & broke that poor little thing. I couldn't take it, & I actually laid down on the grass & cried. I remember thinking to myself, "This is the rest of my life!...I'm never going to do anything else but wash diapers, & be tired, & have an ugly yard!"

I got through that day & many others like it. My children don't trample anymore! They are good & helpful to my husband & me. Our house isn't perfectly clean, but I'm not ashamed of it, & people can stop by unannounced.

You needn't feel bad because you're not thrilled with every job connected with homemaking. I really dislike dusting, but doing dishes doesn't make me fret. Hanging laundry is fun for me, but folding is kind of ho-hum. There will always be some tasks, no matter what kind of work we do, that are less than exciting.

You said you're good at preparing meals. Maybe you could make yourself "earn" some time in the kitchen making a favorite dish by first doing something you dislike: say, making the beds or picking up the kids' toys. Set your timer for 15 minutes & just see how much tidying up you can do in that short period of time. But above all, as one of the other commenters mentioned, if your children are happy & well-adjusted, that is the more important thing.


Buffy said...

I think you hit the nail on the head that for some reason society decided that the world of men was much more exciting and fulfilling than the world of women. Feminism took a wrong turn when, instead of arguing for greater appreciation for the role of wife, homemaker and mother, it argued that women have the right to go out and earn money the same as men.

I know that some women do really enjoy their jobs and careers, and that's great, but I have observed that many, many more only work because they feel they have to and really get very little enjoyment from their so-called "career".

Anonymous said...

I have never responded on this site before but I have long since been reading the articles. To clarify my point of view I will say that I am 1 of 10 children from a deeply Christian family; 4 sisters and 5 brothers! My parents have always been adamant about nurturing our individual identities whatever they may be. And because of this nurturing there is much variety within my family!
We all have very equal powers within the family. We are simply all very different!
I believe the fact that the average man has more muscle strength than the average woman has been mistaken through the years for overalll power. Let us not forget that it takes quite a lot of strength (albeit of a different kind) to say, give birth to a human being!
I would say that the confusion around "unequal distribution of power" is the definition of power. If I bring home the paycheck every week while my husband decides how and when to spend the money at the grocery and the pharmacy and how and when to save it, who holds more power? Neither! These are very different responsiblities, different contributions to our home, but- dare I say it?- equally important!