International Women's Day

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Today is International Women’s Day and while I’m not entirely sure what this holiday entails (are we supposed to hold our tampons up in the air and refuse to cook dinner or something?), I am taking rare creative liberty with my writing today and am going to address an issue that I’ve been struggling with since I “came into my own” as a woman.


As a fair warning, this blog post might upset some women and get their vaginas in a bunch, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take. You don’t have to agree with me, I just ask that you respect where I’m coming from and not burn my house down after you catch your bras on fire. 

Up until I married Clayton, I was a pretty independent chick.  I’ve been working since I was 14 years old, I’ve made all of my own car payments, and I was left to my own devices while my mom put in long hours at a job she hated. I had a very strained relationship with my father, so I was never plagued with “Daddy’s Girl Syndrome”. Meaning, I never had a daddy to run to when my heart got broken by a stupid boy; I never had a father figure to meet any of my emotional needs in ways that only fathers can.  And it wasn’t for a lack of want, trust me. I wanted desperately for my dad to show up on beautiful white horse and be my knight in shining armor, but that wasn’t the card I was dealt. My mom ached for a similar fairy tale with a spouse, but even after years of fervent prayer, neither of us got what we wanted.  It was around the same time that my mom began teaching me some of the most valuable life lessons a girl like me could ever ask for. Even though life circumstances prevented her from leading by example, my mom wanted nothing else but to engrain in me the principles of a Godly woman. I knew I was called to be an obedient wife someday, but it left me at a strange crossroads: What was I supposed to do in the meantime? How could I be that kind of woman when my life’s circumstance was calling me to be the opposite?

My mom and sister, Ashley, were my life line and even though we had each other, we all had to learn to stand on our own and take care of our own needs. We all wanted a strong man in our lives, and yet at the same time we were rightfully leery of them and their potential to hurt us. We were frayed at the edges, but never completely torn. Because after all, when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade (and if you’re me, you splash some vodka in there, too) …

Before I got married, I made all my own choices and outside of rent and book money, I financed my own life during college. I put on my big girl pants and got the job done. I used to laugh when I remembered girlfriends in high school who couldn’t even pump their own gas because here I was, driving in rush hour traffic on the highway to get to job interviews in Indianapolis. A delicate little flower or damsel in distress, I was not. And I loved that about myself. 

So now, on the completely opposite side of the spectrum, I love being babied and taken care of by my husband. I might be setting my sex back 50 years, but I am a submissive wife. My life choices and my beliefs are firmly grounded in Biblical principles and I do not bend those beliefs, no matter how much pressure I feel from the outside world. I believe the world has a very negative opinion of what being "submissive" because I don't think they fully understand what it means. While I do believe that Clayton and I are equal in the sense that we give each other mutual respect and appreciation, I will be the first to tell you that Clayton is the head of our household and he is the final decision maker. Clayton shows me respect by including me and listening to my opinions and in turn, I show Clayton respect by trusting him to make a decision that benefits us as a family and not arguing, even if I don’t completely agree with it. (That’s why trust is so, so important in a marriage. I can’t stress that enough—if you can’t trust your spouse, you can’t respect your spouse, and if you can’t respect your spouse, your marriage will not last.) And what do I get in return for relinquishing leadership to Clayton? He cherishes me and makes sure all of my needs are met so that I can relax and not worry.

Despite what others will try to argue, this does not mean that I am "inferior" to my husband or to any man. Quite the contrary, actually. God doesn't favor one sex over the other, he simply gave us different roles in our relationship.
In no way do I believe that Clayton’s role gives him “power” over me, nor does it make him a dictator (if it did, I wouldn’t have gotten married. I would have become a spinster who chases children off my lawn with a broom because that is not how I roll. I’ve lived with a controlling, abusive man and that business does not fly with me). I actually stand in awe of the responsibility that men have. When God created Adam, he established men as the leaders of their families. As a man, it is my husband’s responsibility to look out for our emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. Just the idea of how heavy that burden is makes my feet sweat (not like that’s NOT already a daily occurrence).

So where’s the line? How do I find the balance between being the independent gal I once was with being the woman God wants me to be?

Sometimes I feel like an anomaly, or a walking contradiction. I snicker at sexist jokes, yet I would be livid if I found out a man was getting paid more money for doing the exact same job as me. I stopped watching Everybody Loves Raymond because I found Deborah to be a raging b***h and Ray to be a cowardly, weak man, but Roseanne is one of my favorite television shows. I don’t believe that women can physically do everything men can (it’s not sexist, it’s science), but you can bet your bottom dollar we're every bit as equal in intelligence. Some days I want to handle our finances and do everything myself. Other days, I want Clayton to get me some cash from the ATM and keep my debit card so I don’t overspend. 

So honestly, I’m not sure what International Women’s Day means to me. I know it’s a holiday that has been observed since the 1900s and was created to recognize strong women who stood up (and continue to stand up) against gender inequality.  But it’s hard for me to assign an emotion to this day simply because I haven’t pinpointed what exactly being a woman means to me. I feel like I’m a work in progress and still have so much to learn about myself and so much growing to do. However, in the interim, I can definitely appreciate and acknowledge all the women who paved the way before me so that I can have a job, choose not to have a job, make decisions about my own body, and vote (although seriously, I think we may be taking a few giant steps backwards when it comes to controlling women's reproductive rights). 

I feel like having the freedom to do whatever we wish is a double-edged sword. In 2012, American women have limitless possibilities and we can do whatever we want to do without fear of being discriminated against (unless you’re in politics. Because if that’s the case, then God speed). While that’s amazing and liberating, it’s also confusing. It gives us just that many more directions to be pulled in, that many more hats to wear, and that much more confusion about what we’re “supposed” to do versus what we “can” do.  

P.S. Out of courtesy, I always tell Clayton when he’s going to appear in my blog. When I told him I was mentioning him in today’s post, he said (and I quote), “Make sure you tell people that I have great hair.  And a nice beard."

So in case you didn’t know, Clayton has great hair. And a nice beard.



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5 comments

  1. Beautiful post Courtney! Very well said!

    (and Clayton does have pretty decent hair ...)

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  2. I think you and I have a redonkulously different view of what the Bible says. Like that's anything new.
    Remind me next time we drink beers and giggle we need to talk about some Hebrew that got totes mistranslated from Genesis.

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  3. Very well said! I agree with you completely. I unfortunately had the same father experience as you. It's sad but has made me who I am today. And I also love being taken care of but am a strong woman and run my house pretty awesomely! (I know not really a word!) Thanks for writing what I have thought so many times!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awesome is totally a word, Amanda. At least, it is now. :)

      I'm glad you can relate to what I wrote! It is difficult for me to find that balance between being a strong woman and letting myself being taken care of by a man. I know that being a submissive wife is not a popular life choice in our society nowadays, so I can't even begin to tell you how encouraging it to to hear from other women who share similar values as me.

      Take care!

      Delete

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