Class and Femininity

Over the last few years and mainly with the current election and swearing-in of a president, there appears a growing trend in society. It’s one I feel increasingly leery of.  Today, for the first time, I felt myself reluctant to speak out and share my own opinion. That is until I realized I can share it more fully through this blog.

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Am I for women’s rights? Incredibly so. Am I for equality? Absolutely. Am I angry that women haven’t always shared that? Definitely. Am I thinking it’s time to bash men and declare that a woman must not show any femininity? A resounding NO.

We witnessed the woman’s marches across the country yesterday. I’ve listened to some people say they are voting for so and so because they have a vagina. I’ve heard others state I will be hated simply because I’m a woman. I’ve had “men” declare I don’t know how to make my man happy because I work for a living and need to be home in the kitchen. (Naturally, I use the term lightly about men in this instance. More like boys if you ask me.) I’ve been told I will make less than a man. I’ve witnessed it first hand in paychecks over the years. I’ve been harassed based on my gender in the workplace (suggestions I should wear such and such or I can’t do something because I’m not a man).

On the other hand, I’ve been chastised and told how horrible it is I let a man bully me into working outside the home. I’m told I’m allowing him to mooch off me. I’ve been told I should be the one staying at home, raising potential children, and that I need to force my husband to be the one outside the home. Wait a minute! Isn’t this a bit of a contradiction???

Some of you readers know my marital situation and agreement, which quite frankly should be entirely only up to him and myself. My husband is a licensed LPN. I hold a Bachelors of Science Degree in Psychology. Besides the LPN, my husband also has done forestry, cooking, and photography. He moved to our current area where we met to live off the land and he assumed he would live alone, building with his father a one-room cabin which would be his home. That is until he met me only 1 month into building it. I worked from the time I was 10 years old, in various offices, then at Disneyland. In the meantime, I took medical classes to follow my dream, a dream I later realized may not be realistic for me. Then, I worked in law offices and also obtained my insurance license for the state of Colorado. I write. I learned tax preparation and accounting. I continued my working as a child welfare case aide where I decided I wanted to return to my pursuit of a degree and obtained my bachelors degree strictly through online classes. From there I managed the business office of the local Chamber of Commerce, substituted as a paraprofessional for Kindergarten classes a semester, and then worked as a home visitor/parent educator for the SafeCare Colorado program for over a year. Now, I’m back with insurance as a Health Coverage Guide for the Affordable Care Act and our other local programs meant to assist patients with paying their bills at our hospital. The fact is I enjoy working and I enjoy relaxing when I choose too.

As a result of this, and after complete open discussion between my husband and myself, I continue to work. However, my husband grew ill while working as a LPN right as we were married and could not work for a year as we attempted to get him through the illness and also a hernia surgery. Then, he spent this summer finishing the house we are in now with his father. We’ve decided between us that it is best if one of us is not working. This allows the non-working spouse to work on our home, our vehicles, the chores, etc. Our decision together was that my husband would stay home. And, he is simply not staying home to mooch off me. He has started our homesteading! We have rabbits to breed and raise for meat. We have fresh microgreens and other vegetables growing.

Does this make him any less of a man? NO! Does this mean I am any less of a woman? No. Those who suggest I am ridiculous allowing him to stay home to do this and his dream of photography really make me shake my head. How is he mooching off me because we willingly and whole-heartedly agreed he can be the “housewife” in our marriage? The irony… the same women who have stated this to me on many occasions are the ones staying home in their marriage! So, are they mooching off their spouses? Are they lazy? Are we saying that women are allowed to just stay home like that and be financially supported by their husbands? Is that an entitlement for being a woman I wasn’t aware of? How is that fair?

Which brings up my ideas on this feminism debate. I am completely a feminist, no doubt. However, I must be a rare breed of feminist if you watch the mainstream media. I want equality between the sexes. That means that I should be allowed to decide for myself if I want to work or stay at home. Staying at home should I choose does not make me less of a woman or a disgrace because I’m not honoring what our generations prior fought for in the Suffragette movement. I firmly admire what those women did. But the point is to me they did it as women. They did not deny their feminine traits that defined them and kept them different from men. They only asked for the same rights, like the right to vote, like the right to choose. Plus, they did so with class and decent manners.

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In today’s world, I see a horrendous lack of manners existing in the general public. It really wears on my nerves, and causes questions of what is going on to wander through my head. Someone disagrees with us, we tear them down. We cuss with such vulgarity it is unbelievable. We are angry if a man holds a door open for us even though he is just being polite. I hold doors open for men myself. Am I saying they are less? We attack other women simply because they are stay-at-home mothers or they are wearing skirts and heels. Then we attack the ones working and wearing pants, calling them names too. And this just isn’t about the feminists. I see it among all issues: the man vs woman, woman vs woman, man vs man, black vs white, Muslim vs Christian, Democrat vs Republican, Straight vs Homosexual.

It’s as if everyone thinks they are entitled now to simply say whatever they want, to criticize anyone out there. You post something on Facebook and wham! Tons of new comments to posts telling you what you should do and how you’re wrong, as if we’re all experts on the subjects because we read about it online or saw it on the news. What happened to if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all? One example: my husband and I started a photography club in town a couple of years ago. We urged to spread the word, shared the posts of upcoming meetings and tried to get press to get new members to join. NOTHING! Then, the minute we closed down the club, suddenly we see it posted on a few pages. Oh, so now we get attention… I WANT MORE POSITIVE NEWS!

Do you guys remember Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman? This woman right here…

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She was one of the first pioneer doctors in a series on CBS, portrayed by the very lovely Jane Seymour. She fought hard for what she had and showed brains. Yet, she stayed feminine and showed integrity and decency. She didn’t resort to insults and rioting. She used her mind and showed she was capable. She didn’t blame others when she made mistakes or was discriminated against. Instead, Dr. Mike showed us that we can just continue to do what we must and through our own efforts rise above it. We can set an example and then others will see what we can do.

Even in the Netflix series The Crown which focuses on the early years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, we see a woman with authority and power up against immeasurable odds in what was then still a “man’s world” far more than today. Yet, she has class and manners. She uses her mind to overcome the odds even then, hiring a tutor to educate her more when President Eisenhower is prepared to visit, asking her advisers for knowledge to make informed decisions, insisting despite everyone’s wishes to marry the man she wanted, then fighting to have him included. She wanted a simple country life as a wife with the man she loved and her family. Queen Elizabeth II has now been one of the most influential women in our modern history. She didn’t turn vulgar or crass. Nor did she once resent her marriage or try to dominate her husband. If anything, she attempted to accommodate him in his new role as less the “man” than her in the marriage.

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Actually, when watching The Crown, I was struck at how similar I could relate to those moments in her life. We have roles to play. Maybe I’m not “Queen” in my marriage, but I am breaking the traditional roles established in the root of society by being the more dominant and known one, working outside the home.

However, I haven’t lost my feminine side. I love my husband remembering I love chocolate mints and picking them up for me at the store as surprise. I love seeing flowers on the table. I love having a soft, floral scent present on me. I enjoy putting on make-up and fixing my hair, and finding nice feminine outfits to wear. Making jams and preparing breakfast on my days off and cooking from time to time also appeal to me. I like being submissive in some ways with my husband. A nice soak in the tub after he’s prepared me a candle lit bath with lavender knowing I’ve had a stressful day at work means so much to me. I like being soft to his more masculine traits. Is it wrong of me to do this? No. I think it is us balancing one another. I do the things a woman can do and also the things he as a man cannot do.

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I admire the Duchess of Cambridge as well for this. It is obvious she is strong and her husband and her treat each other as equals in their marriage. She is feminine and classy. You don’t hear her vulgarly calling out another. Yet, she, too, is criticized by some as a puppet or merely a breeding doll for the royal family. She has a major role and she CHOSE the life she has.

After all, that’s what feminism is all about, right? Equality. Equality means we have the same rights. We are free to choose our destiny. We can vote. We can work or stay at home. We can stand up for ourselves. Let’s just realize though as the Dowager Countess declared on Downton Abbey, “Vulgarity is no substitution for wit.”

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So I choose to have equality. I choose to make up my own mind and not be forced into what everyone else around me thinks. I choose to work out of the home and love my husband for what he contributes in the home. I choose to love my husband and be soft to him. I choose to hold onto what makes me different from him, show a girly side. I choose to be who I am and feel what I feel, even if it differs from what some think. I choose to not blame others out there for any discrimination that comes along and take the responsibility to address it if I must. I choose to stand up for myself. I choose already who uses my body and how it is used. No one forces that on me. I choose to decide with my husband what we do as a couple and our present situation about who works. I choose to be a woman, but a woman of equality. However, a woman entirely on my own terms as I choose.

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