Wednesday, April 10, 2013

she was a woman. that was bad.

The lovely Sarah Bessy asked, via twitter, for others to tell her the feminist stereotypes they heard coming from the church. I'm sure she will post about this, and I'm sure it will be beyond fantastic, as is all of her writing. And I won't spoil the fun of discovering the many disturbing tweets when she writes about them, or when you find them yourself on her twitter. I will say that I had heard all of those stereotypes before, and all from church leadership. Reinforced by family and homeschool leadership and basically anyone and everyone I knew. Including everyone I knew and discussed this with in college. And everyone I knew and discussed this with through my husband's seminary years.

Feminists: Destroying the Family Since The Feminine Mystique.

In 1992 I was six-and-a-half and precocious. I climbed trees and kicked boys in the shin when they looked up my skirt - although sometimes one of my withering looks was enough to scare them away forever. I read at least one chapter book a day and I had the vocabulary of a high schooler. And I absorbed everything. I remembered more than my parents comfort level could take.

There was, that year, a bit of political uproar in my house. My parents, my grandparents - I remember them despairing over the state of the world.

"His wife kept her maiden name. Hillary RODHAM Clinton. I guess we all know who wears the pants in that house!"

"I want to elect a man to the White House, not vote for his name and get the wife instead!"

We walked to the Post Office so my stay-at-home-homeschooling mother could mail her work-from-home crafts. She was etsy before there was etsy, selling her creativity all over the US.

Someone had hung a flier for Clinton.

My mother chatted with the Postal worker and mailed her packages and I read the flier. Six year old me, curious beyond belief about these people I had heard of and never seen. These people who were the ones bringing down the world.

I stared. I stared. I stared. There was a normal man and a normal woman. They had their pictures in our Post Office. He was trying to be President - but she was going to RULE.

"Hillary RODHAM Clinton. Hillary RODHAM Clinton."

I whispered those words to myself, rolled them around in my mouth. I knew there was something really awful about them - some horrific meaning to the word Rodham that I just could not comprehend.

She wore "the pants." That was bad.

She would give him advice, or tell him what to do. That was bad.

She was a woman who would give advice to the President. That was bad.

She was a woman. That was bad.

There are people in my life who believe I don't remember things the way they actually happened. Unfortunately these memories are as clear as day. I can tell you the bike I tried to ride to the Post Office. I remember the packages piled on my sister's lap in some kind of wagon. I can see the flier, and I can still taste the rancid word Rodham on my tongue.

That was the first anti-feminist (truly, anti-woman) beliefs and language that I can recall.

And I absolutely internalized this language in the way I detailed above. There was something wrong with women having power. There was something wrong with being a woman.

After all, if there was nothing wrong with being a woman, there would be nothing wrong with a strong, influential woman, who chose to name herself whatever she pleased.

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