Sunday, April 21, 2013

Listening with the heart

Today at mass the gospel reading was about the sheep hearing and knowing the shepherd's voice.  He said the meaning of obedience in Greek was to "listen with the heart". I can really embrace that definition whether it is in my relationship with God or my relationship with my future husband.  I need to keep that thought in mind.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Feminism and Femininity

Recently Gabrielle Reece published a book called "My Foot Is Too Big For The Glass Slipper". She and her husband have been interviewed on a number of shows and the thing she is really taking the heat for is the fact that she wrote about letting her husband be in charge and her being submissive.  Gabrielle talks about empowering her man by letting him take charge.  Most of the critical comments have been about feminism and how maybe Laird should submit to Gabrielle. 

I have a lot of thoughts about this whole thing.  The first is that Gabrielle changed her tactics in how she responded to her husband and it has helped her marriage.  They have been married for 17 years and in the interviews she seemed happy and calm and in a good place.  So, what's the problem?  I don't think she was saying everyone should live that way.  I frankly don't think everyone can live that way.  Every couple needs to work out a dynamic that works for them and there are so many ways to relate to each other and as long as everyone's needs are being met and everyone is happy for the most part, why not embrace more traditional roles if it works for them?

Second, it seems that even though Gabrielle is the submissive one, she is the one that changed how she acted towards her husband.  That seems to be a reoccurring theme (lol).  The woman wanted the marriage to be better and she didn't want to divorce him (she had filed five years into their marriage) and so she changed the dynamic. She chooses to yield rather than he seizes control. When Gabrielle says she submits, I am sure that what is going through the reporters heads is that he is being some big jerk and forcing her into a relationship style that stifles who she is, but if you think about who really has all the important is still the woman, which is an interesting thought.  She has the power to yield or not, because her husband will not take what is not offered.

The other thing that has been brought up is what a blow against feminism this is.  I clearly don't understand the definition of feminism, so I looked it up.  The definition is the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men. So, I'm not sure how choosing to yield to her husband is a violation of the tenants of feminism.  She is paid very well for what she does.  I doubt there are any doors closed to her because she is a woman.  She can vote and do what she wants with her life, even though she is a woman.  So how does her choice violate the doctrines of feminism?  When feminism started I do think woman were treated unequally and they weren't getting paid the same as men for the jobs that they did and there were more than a few male chauvinist pigs keeping woman down and feminism was a force for good, but as often happens when there is a paradigm shift, the pendulum swung way in the other direction.  Things like motherhood and staying at home and being a wife began to be scorned.  If you didn't have a job you were a traitor to the cause and I sort of get that: if a woman wasn't working, she didn't have her own money and she often didn't have a way to get out of a bad marriage.  I think many of the woman in the forefront of the movement rejected the more traditional roles because they saw them as promulgating the subjection of woman.  Being a wife and mother became a taboo thing.  I think, thankfully, the pendulum is swinging back.  I know many women who I went to graduate school with who have chosen to stay at home and raise kids. Their husbands are not complete jerks who forced them to stay home; they arrived at that decision as a couple. Their eduction allows them to freedom to stay home because they know that if they needed to end the marriage, they would still have a way to make it in the world.

Finally there is the thought that some how Gabrielle is no longer strong.  The woman is six feet three inches tall.  She is an athlete.  She contemplated divorcing her husband because of his behavior and I am sure she would get out of the marriage if it wasn't good for her.  She sounds pretty strong to me. She mentions lifting her side with the expectation that Laird will lift his side. She also says it is not about him commanding that dinner be on the table at six, but rather that she is in service to her husband the same way that he is in service to her.  She says femininity is about being soft, receptive and submissive. She likes that Laird is acting more like a man and more masculine and treating her the way she likes to be treated. She says she likes being cherished and protected.  When I read those lines I often think about the romance novels.  You know all those ones where the woman rides in to save the man, where she is independent and has no need for a man, but she saves his bacon over and over and then they ride off into the sunset with him is the passenger seat.  Yeah, I haven't read many of those novels either (lol).

One write suggested that Gabrielle likes the relationship the way it is because it "allows her to not have to be Superwoman in control all the time."  She may very well be right...I can certainly identify with that.  Gabrielle also says that the way they conduct their relationship allows Laird to feel empowered.  The reporter argues that not all men need the dynamic to feel "empowered".  I would tend to agree, but when you show a man respect and let him lead, you often see a blossoming that just can't be achieved without a woman's hand in that area. I think deep inside of every man is a knight who wants to show his lady what he can do for her and what he can achieve for her. When she respects him and yields to him and shows him how proud she is of him, he is empowered in a way that I don't think can be achieved any other way.  I would say the same for a woman.  Having a man stand behind you and encourage you and be your strong rock, empowers women in a way that women just can't be achieved on the own, even with feminism on their side.