Monday, November 20, 2006

Ideal Womanhood

Last week's posts and comments reminded us that our life paths are often littered with obstacles. This remark stood out to me,

How do I shake this notion of 'ideal womanhood' that is so ingrained in me that I hardly notice its traces?"

Probably the comment grabbed me because of my own past and current encounters with the issue.

Do any of you struggle with this same concept? If so, how?

To the person who asked this question, do you mean ideal womanhood as ingrained in us by the Church?

Today, embrace who you are as a woman and know that it is God's desire for you to thrive.

"Deborah was a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth. She was judge over Israel at that time. She held court under Deborah's Palm between Ramah and Bethel in the hills of Ephraim. The People of Israel went to her in matters of justice."
Judges 4:4-5


Anonymous Lori said...

I'm not sure that there is an "ideal". However it does seem we are bombarded with the idea of the perfect woman. She looks a certain way. She is sucessful in her work. She is sucessful in her family life, faith, marriage, etc. The longer I live, the more I realize that there is no ideal.

The struggle for me is when I see the images of this "perfect" woman, either in the media, or in religious realms...I become exhausted. Can we really have it all? Can we do it all? Can we live up to everyone's expectations, and most importantly my own?

My name is Lori and I struggle with idealism. Any fellow strugglers on the journey today?

2:04 PM  
Blogger Mandy Mc said...

Sorry to just get around to answering this question. I was out of town until Monday and then my mom came in last night.

When I wrote that before I think I was referring to the ideal womanhood ingrained in me as a southern, evangelical woman. In other words, the expectations formed in me by both church and culture.

As you all know, I am in a PhD program where I study A LOT. I love it and I'm very much looking forward to being a professor one day. But I still feel the need to fulfill my traditional roles as a woman. I feel like if I want to be successful in the outside world I must first have my house (husband, kids, etc) in order. And it frustrates me. Why don't men have this same expectation of well-roundedness (if that's even a word!)?

For example, why do I feel the need to bake cookies or banana bread? I mean, I usually enjoy doing it, but why do I put pressure on myself to stay up until all hours of the night just so that I can take a home-baked treat to the pot luck at church or to my class or to my friend's house?

Why do I feel like I'm responsible for getting the Christmas cards out on time? For sending all the birthday cards and buying all the presents (not to mention remembering the b'days!)? For being polite and holding my controversial opinions to myself in public? I guess because if these things don't get done they still reflect poorly on me...not Chad. Now I am NOT saying that my husband doesn't help with housework or cards (in fact, he does most of the homework), just that I feel the primary responsibility for them.

Then there are all these conceptions and expectations of beauty. I mean, why is there an expectation that women will be good at everything AND look good doing it?

Why do I need to wear makeup all the time? Why do I need to shave? Why do I feel guilty for not caring about having a tan in the middle of winter? Why do I feel bad that I refuse to straighten my hair? Why do my friends feel they need to do these things "because it makes them feel better about themselves?" Why does it make them feel better about themselves?

Well, I guess that is enough rambling. It's just that I do so many of these things without even thinking about where they come from or why I do them. They're just there.

And just think about the women who are successful around you. Most of them are not just good at one thing. They fulfill the epectations of being good-looking, smart, articulate, talented, and hospitable among other things. So there's my two cents.

1:33 PM  

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