Women’s Roles

On women in society at large: Perhaps we’ve climbed from inferior to identical but the equality we’re looking for is still ahead.  It is something that we need to give to ourselves by valuing and claiming our divine roles as women.

As a Latter-day Saint, I believe that God designed the family to begin with a father, whose role is to provide, and a mother, whose role is to nurture.

I am 26 and I’ve been married for five years. Recently, I made the transition into motherhood.  My son is Six-months old. I am my child’s full-time care-giver.  My business is just a side job.

It is sometimes difficult to live by my belief that a mother’s role is in the home.  Being “just” a stay-at-home mom has a negative connotation in our competitive society.  The culture seems to say, “Really?  How back-woodsey could you get? You’re being oppressed by your husband and belittled by the menial tasks of child-care.  Don’t you have any self-respect, intelligence or resources?  You’re wasting your youth trapped behind a pile of dirty diapers.  Don’t you know there’s a big world out there, brimming with opportunities, and that you could really be someone?”

It’s frustrating that my opinion of women’s roles is not widely understood or valued.  But I have a strong conviction.  My mother taught me that being a stay-at-home mom is a privilege.  I was also taught that my education was of equal value, if not exceeding the value of my husbands’ education, and this not despite the fact that I would be staying home with the kids, but because of it.  I was taught to be a strong woman and to expect equality.

Equality is a concept that we hear a lot about with reference to women’s roles.  Women have fought for equal rights as voters, in the workplace, in the political arena, and in the home.  This is rightly so, for women have suffered through centuries of oppression and belittlement.  However, could it be that we’ve gone so far in our fight for equality that we’ve belittled ourselves and minimized our roles as women?

I think so. Let me explain. Women have fought to gain equal standing with men, but in order to be equal, we’ve attempted to become identical.  Sixty plus years ago little girls were taught to marry doctors and lawyers. Instead, they grew up and became doctors and lawyers.  There was a definite sense of wanting to prove ourselves; prove that we are as capable, as driven, as talented as any man. Tired of being told that we were not able to meet the challenges of the workplace, we rose up and rushed into the workforce with a resounding, “we can do it!”

We can.  We have.  But what has happened to the role that women traditionally filled of being mothers, homemakers and nurturers? Did men suddenly evolve and begin bearing children?   Well, no.  Women still do that.  Was there an equal movement for men to prove that they could be stay-at-home-dads?  Well a little, but generally no, men still work too.  In fact, research indicates that working mothers contribute around 40 hours/week to housekeeping, childcare and homemaking—on top of their full-time work schedules.  Dads have stepped it up too, helping around the house more but statistically the bulk of these domestic responsibilities are still performed by women.

So, women are doing double duty, working outside the home while also bearing children and keeping house.  This leads me to wonder, have we achieved equality? Because it seems like women are working harder and receiving less of the richness of life; creating children but not having the pleasure of raising them, trusting their little ones to day-care providers. Likewise, we’ve proven that we can replace men in the workforce.  However, perhaps the more important truth is that we cannot be replaced as mothers in the home.

We have effectually sold our birthright in order to prove that we are mans equal.  But why do we have to perform identical roles in order to feel equally valued?  Women can be esteemed equally without behaving identically or interchangeably with men. So, Perhaps we’ve climbed from inferior to identical but the equality we’re looking for is still ahead.  It is something that we need to give to ourselves by valuing and claiming our divine roles as women.

One thing that I love about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the tremendous respect given to the role of women and motherhood.   The church teaches that mothers are irreplaceable and that motherhood is a crowning privilege and a gift from God.  In a society where stay-at-home moms are looked down on I greatly appreciate the LDS Church’s affirmation that motherhood is beautiful and worthwhile, that our children are worth being home for, and that women do not need to forgo motherhood in order to be someone.

2 Comments

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  1. I’m a little late to the table, but I loved reading this (and all) of your posts. I’m grateful to have such a thoughtful, strong sister-in-law.

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