I got up this morning a little after I realized that my husband’s warm body was no longer next to mine. As he got ready for work, I did not put on a burka or a veil, or any other religiously or culturally mandated article of clothing. Instead, I rifled through the clean wash for a shirt and sniff tested yesterday’s jeans. As my oldest daughter started a pot of coffee, I read a New York Times article about Camille Paglia and considered her response to the pink hats worn at the Women’s March.
She loved the idea of the march, but was a bit embarrassed by the hats. I posted a quote from her on my Facebook newsfeed, as it expressed something I have been trying to put words to for a while: “I want dignity and authority for women,” she said. “My code is Amazonism. I want weapons.” My thoughts immediately turned to women like Deborah and Jael. Women who were considered mothers in Israel. Women like Mary, who braved the scorn of society that she might submit to God. This is the feminism that I want for my five daughters.
As we got ready for family devotions, I watched my daughters brush each other’s hair. I observed the beauty of sisterhood and community. I understand the desire that compels women to march today, but I think we’ve missed the mark.
There is oppression in the world and we must, as image bearers of God, stand against it. At the same time, we are people. Men are people. People need people. I need a man as much as a man needs me. Not in sick codependence. Not under a man’s heal, nor he under mine. Men need mothers and sisters and women need brothers and fathers. We’ve boiled it all down to sex and sexual politics, but I think we may have reduced too much.
In the book of Jeremiah, in the Old Testament, a false prophet came saying it was time the throw off the yoke of the oppressor. Jeremiah rebuked him, telling him that if they threw off the wooden yoke, it would be replaced by one of iron. Israel didn’t listen. They rebelled against imperfect leadership , and ended up crushed by cruel tyrants.
I feel like that in our rush to prove our independence of men and equality with them, we may have, in some instances, thrown off an easy yoke for an iron one. Let me explain:
My interdependent life is comparatively easier than that of most women in the world. I live in a free country. We live near what would be considered our nation’s poverty line, but we are able to live on my husband’s income. I spend my days caring for my children and my home. I have enough to eat. We have electricity and indoor plumbing, appliances and plenty of modern convenience. I have time to pursue my own interests. Many women do not have these things, but not many women in this country.
My husband works hard, but his career is subordinate to the needs of our family. (When did careers become an end unto themselves?). We budget, but we never go without. I have a creative outlet through writing and volunteer work in the community. I benefit, in that though we live a simple life, it is not a harried one. I have time to write, take walks in nature, and think my thoughts. My family benefits in that I am able to devote my energy to keeping our home running well. My community benefits in that I have time to teach a class or start a literacy program or help a neighborhood child with their homework.
This is a pleasant land. There will always be a yoke, because as human beings we all need each other, and in order for us to labor together effectively, there will always be ties. But this yoke is easy, burden light, and the work most pleasant.