The Woman is The Glory of Man; Feminism in March

I noticed last night that the Classics Club Event is Feminist Literature in March. I poured over the list and felt half confounded by the articles and books suggested on certain sites.

This morning, in turning to my Bible as I do almost every day, the subsequent chapter in my reading was  Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 11:

“Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head–it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head. 

In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.” (1 Corinthians 11: 3-12)

My dear friend Carol and I have often scorned women feminists. “If they weren’t so vocal,” she says, “we could still be at home doing just one job instead of out in the work force adding more to an already huge amount of responsibility.”

And as much as I have loved my career of teaching, and I do, I often think how lovely it would be to stay at home making sure that the laundry was done on days other than Saturday, that every night a meal was placed on the table where I wasn’t exhausted in doing so. I love my home. I love to care for it so it looks pleasing and comforting. I’d love to give it the attention it deserves full time instead of around the edges of my life.

I like it when my husband compliments me on how I look, when he says, “You smell nice!” after sniffing my Chanel, or, “That’s a good color red on you.” I like it when he protects me and thinks of me with small acts of kindness like Cadbury’s dark Easter eggs placed on the counter just because he knows I like them.

So I’m equivocated about this feminist thing. The problem lies in the fact that by definition a feminist “advocates or supports the rights and equality of women.” (Oxford English Dictionary) Okay. But, I don’t just advocate and support the rights and equality of women; I advocate and support the rights and equality of everyone.

So, I’m going to do some reading of novels classified as “feminist” in March. Surfacing by Margaret Atwood is one, because I’m crazy about Margaret Atwood’s writing. I’ll probably throw in some Persephone books as well. But, all the while I’m reading I won’t necessarily be thinking, “Women are equal to men.” I’ll be thinking, “the woman is the glory of man.”

Because to me, she is.

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20 thoughts on “The Woman is The Glory of Man; Feminism in March”

  1. I too wish I could give my home (and family) the attention they deserve instead of “around the edges of my life.” You put that so well. As our parents age I'm feeling this even more so and feel like my priorities are all twisted up. As for marriage? I'm happy to be married. My husband and I fully love, respect, and support each other. There is a fullness and completeness in our relationship and to me that is glorious!

    I look forward to hearing about your reading choice for Feminism in March!

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  2. As someone who has had to make hard, hard choices involving career, marriage, life in a male-dominated profession (no, not varnishing! women hold sway there!) and whether or not to accept a role as a “first” and rejected it, I find myself appalled at what passes for much feminism today.

    Promiscuity and substituting the government for Daddy do not a feminist make. I've probably already offended half your readers, but believe me – the sight of Lena Dunham before Congress, arguing that the poor darlings at these high-powered universities just can't afford their birth control? They don't know what the real consequences were for the women on the front lines – either in my generation, or farther back, when the garment workers were unionizing and my grandmothers were seeking the vote.

    Feminism was meant to offer women a choice about their lives. I've made my choices. It's time for the young ones to stop arguing for a denial of choice.

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  3. Looking forward to your thoughts too! I think these mixed feelings are common among women of our age/generation; I also think that for me personally I was perhaps conditioned toward certain roles and attitudes but I was not forced to accept them. I'm also thinking of how much I would like to spend this afternoon reading, and how messy the apartment is… 🙂

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  4. I once voiced similar thoughts about a friend at law school who wanted to get her law degree and work for a few years, then have kids and stay at home. What was the point, said I. Why spend all that money and just stay home with the kids? How feminist is that? Someone much smarter than I told me this: feminists fight for equality, not so women can just go out in the work force and have a job, but so that they have the ability to make choices. If that choice is to have a career, so be it, but it may also be the choice to stay home with the kids. It's about being ABLE to make that choice, rather than being forced into one role (whichever role that is) by society.

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  5. I'm re-reading Isak Dinesen's Seven Gothic Tales, which, sometimes subtly and sometimes not, has some really marvelous and provocative things to say relevant to a discussion about feminism. So there's another recommendation.

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  6. Hmm, I think feminism means different things to different people. For me, and to most Indian women, it means the freedom to study, freedom to be able to say no to marriage at 15, the freedom to be able to walk away from a battered marriage, and so much more.

    I can understand where you are coming from, but I am grateful to feminism because it has been so empowering to us. Women all over the world have been subdued and are still subdued in the name of patriarchy and feminism helps fight that.

    And while I agree with you that men and women may not be equal, they must be equal under the law.

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  7. Bellezza, I can totally understand your viewpoint and think its great that you are talking about this topic. Plus, I can't wait to read your review of Surfacing – I love Atwood!! For me, feminism is what I've studied for so long (I majored in women's studies and have written all of my theses with a feminist approach) that I'm always excited when its explored in any way – like with this Classics Club Event 🙂 I've always believed feminism to be about equality for both men and women. Women and men should be afforded the same choices and that is all that feminism is trying to ensure (or at least that is what I think). I am loving reading all the comments your post has garnered. Great post, Bellezza!!

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  8. Promiscuity and substituting the government for Daddy does not feminism make…wonderful! I tend to think the last good thing that feminists did was getting women the right to vote.

    Some comments further down this page have really given me pause, but for the most part I still am not on board with the American screaming women when let's face it, we have so much here.

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  9. I was conditioned to certain roles, too, now that I think about it. My parents, church, school textbooks, television shows, and even society seemed to feel that women should be soft and dainty. But with the loss of that ideal, I feel we have also lost the idea of men protecting us. “Women and children first”; whatever happened to that?

    Hope your apartment tidied itself up, or at least allowed you to read amongst the clutter.

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  10. I love Persephone books! I wish there was a shop locally in my area! or even that I had the opportunity to go to the one in London. Thanks for the title suggestion.

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  11. I was so taken with you comment/suggestion that I picked up the collection this afternoon. I have only just begun The Deluge at Norderney, but my goodness can Dineson write! Already I have the images of the people on the roof so clearly set in my mind. The suspense, the description, it's all quite wonderful. And to think I've only seen the film Out of Africa, not having read any of her books before.

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  12. Nishitak, your thoughtful comment brings me such awareness of lifestyles I've never seen let alone been forced to live. How terrible to be subject to men with no voice of one's own. Thank you for sharing his insight.

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  13. I love Atwood, too, especially her early stuff (as opposed to the apocalyptic stuff, ew). How fascinating to have majored in women's studies! I wish I had had the time and money to get about a thousand more majors than the two I have. 😉 Thanks for the clarification as to both sexes being afforded the same choices.

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  14. A very thought provoking post Bellezza.

    I struggle tremendously with the idea that woman was created for man. I see so many men and religious groups who use this idea to “keep women in their place” – a place which is subservient to men & for the pleasure of men. I struggle to see any glory in that role. (Even as I acknowledge all the wonderful men I know & love who are not like that).

    I am grateful for the strident feminists of times gone by for giving me the right to vote, to be educated to the highest level, to work at whatever career I choose, to have choices. Without their stridency nothing would have changed. They were prepared to be gaoled, laughed at, ridiculed and called terrible names (often by women) to ensure a change would happen.

    So even though I sometimes cringe or feel uncomfortable about strident modern feminists, I accept that they are putting themselves on the line for issues that do actually affect me and my daughters now and in the future.

    Women have the choice to be educated and work & live how they want to in most Western societies, but we still suffer inequalities within that system. There is still an inequality in pay, in conditions and in living standards. Women still retire with less money & with less health care than men. Greater numbers of women and children live in poverty than men. Women are graduating from university in greater numbers than men, but still end up in jobs that pay less, with poorer conditions and offer less chance of promotion than men. Yes, I know there are exceptions, but they are still called 'exceptions'. Until it is 'normal' we have a long way to go.

    I know a number of men who would have loved to make the choice to be the stay at home dad, but economically, the choice was not possible. The reality is that most men still have better earning potential. The pay inequality still in existence also affects the choices that men can make.

    The fact that child care and caring for our homes is so difficult for nearly all men and women in western societies shows that our governments and work places haven't caught up to the reality of working families. Child care, work hours & conditions still reflect the old patriarchal work system.
    The big changes have been fought over and won. It is the details we all still need to nut out for true equality to exist….

    Even as women, children & minority groups the world over envy us our liberties and choices….

    I can see this is going to be a topic that will create lots & lots of discussion! Thanks for getting the ball rolling 🙂

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