My husband and son spent a few days recently visiting Christian colleges. After one tour, my husband called me and shared a rather odd experience.
“We were standing in a group of 20-30 high school students with the college tour guide, who was also a student. She began her announcements, then launched into the demographics of the school. One of the things she said struck me as out of place. ‘Our enrollment boasts 57% women and 43% men. Go GIRLS!’ she squealed. After receiving cheers from many, she then continued with the other information about the school,” he said.
“It was odd,” he continued. “Not just in fun, but like a serious “us versus them” thing. If I did that with black versus white, or Hispanic versus Asian, it would be appalling. Like, ‘Go Blacks!’ or ‘Go Asians!’ Who talks like that? It’s offensive,” he wondered aloud.
What I find interesting in this exchange is how very pervasive the culture is – even with Christian kids in a Christian college. It seems the pendulum has swung once again from the time of oppressed women to oppressed men. I suggest that both ideologies are incorrect. I know too many men who have been passed over for promotions because they were the wrong skin color, age, or gender. And yesterday, on the front page of USA Today, a woman named, Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, and leader at Facebook® insists that women really can have it all – a successful career and children.
Having been an executive in two corporations, I respectfully disagree with this assertion. I would also humbly suggest that the last thing women in America need is another woman executive suggesting we all spend more time and energy trying to “have it all.” While it is true that women earn 77 cents for every $1 a man earns according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, it is also true that there are legitimate reasons for the difference. Even the US Government Accountability Office states that they “cannot determine whether this remaining difference is due to discrimination or other factors that may affect earnings. For example, some experts said that some women trade off career advancement or higher earnings for a job that offers flexibility to manage work and family responsibilities.” I personally know many women who quietly left middle management jobs when their careers changed to motherhood. I was one who left a full time executive job for a part time training position with flexible hours so I could raise my children.
While it was a fabulous job that I loved, I guarantee you even if I had stayed, I would not die wishing I had spent more time at work.
Sandberg complains that the feminist movement has stalled, and calls her book a “manifesto.” She insists that women can have it all – career and family, and at age 43, she is the mother of two and an executive with Facebook®. And for what it is worth, if your standards for quality of relationships are low, you probably can have it all, especially if you have the money to pay someone else to raise your children while you work.
I might be wrong about this, but it’s been my experience that quality time doesn’t always just happen when it is scheduled – it seems like it’s been found in the midst of the quantity of time you spend together.
Please know I understand what it is like to have a great job, and children at the same time. I also know what it is like to be a single woman who has to work to support herself while going to college. Add to that the stress of providing for children and I couldn’t even imagine. What we have to be careful about as women, however, is the notion that our self-worth is tied to the amount of money we make, the level of education we’ve achieved, or the position we hold in a company.
The other thing we have to be careful about is living above our means to impress other people whose opinions really shouldn’t even matter.
I am blessed in that when my husband and I married, after emptying our bank accounts, holding a garage sale and literally digging through the couch cushions to come up with enough for a down payment on an 800 square foot house, we lived off of his income alone. Even though we were not planning on having children any time soon, we came to agreement that his income should be the one that supported us so that when/if we had kids, I could stay home and raise them. We agreed upon this fully and it made a ton of difference in our financial situation and gave me the freedom to go from full time to part time work when we did start having kids. Even if you are just starting now, might I suggest Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University? It’s awesome and will get you on track.
Someone needs to tell you that it’s okay to have a small house, drive used cars, wear consignment clothing, and NOT own a $150 purse or a smart phone. Someone needs to say aloud that Motherhood is a worthy profession – one which when done with gusto, transparency, gobs of reading, legit conversations, apology, forgiveness, fun, TIME, and serious intervention of the Holy Spirit, can result in relationships with teenagers and young adults that are anything but rebellious and gloriously rewarding.
We do NOT have to worship money, prestige, power or position.
Who is on your throne?
Someone needs to warn the college girls thinking they need to prove to themselves and others that they are “better” than men that there is no such thing. We work fewer hours than men because we work part time more than they do, take more sick days than they do, and we are the ones wanting to get our kids when the school calls and someone’s thrown up or has a fever. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics 2011 report reveals the additional fact that we work fewer hours on an average day than men do.
And as a professional woman, one who worked very hard to get where I was, I find it insulting to suggest that I should receive something I have not earned, so no, I don’t want legislation that regulates how much I get paid in comparison to men. I do NOT want the government (or a company) to hand me something that I haven’t earned. And for the record, there are just as many disrespectful snarky women out there in the work world as there are sexist male chauvinists. I’ve worked with both sides.
I also want to show compassion to the single working mom – she is appearing in the culture in mass, largely due to the high divorce rate and unwed pregnancies. And for the record, I admire these women for choosing to have their babies instead of visiting an abortion clinic. These women are taking on “double the curse” – both Adam’s struggle with hard work to feed his family, and Eve’s pain at child birth. The American Psychological Association reports that stress for women is on the rise – we should not be surprised by this. What I wonder, though is this: What would change in the lives of American families if women stopped trying to measure up to outside standards, and started truly living life for the Audience of One? What if our identity was wrapped up in what God thought of us? What if we taught our daughters and sons this, too? And what if we walked through our marriages as women of strength and dignity, instead of doormats or dominators? Would there be fewer divorces? Fewer out of marriage pregnancies? An end to abortions?
It might just give those college women a chance. Something they failed to consider, with their campus 57% female – for every 3 women, there’s only roughly 2 men. And men are waiting until much later to get married, mainly because they can readily get sex, or so the research shows. Women, on the other hand, want to marry at an increasing rate from years past.
The problem is of course, obvious – the math simply doesn’t work.
So let’s be young women of strength and dignity also – you want to get married, don’t give it away for free. Make him act like an honorable man. If he wants to play like an adult, he needs to behave like one. It’s respectful to yourself, your future husband, and your God.
I know from experience that if we speak the language of respect, it not only changes our marriages, but positively impacts our careers and the salaries we earn – right out of college or otherwise.
Dare you to stop looking for oppression and instead BE a person worthy of respect and one who freely treats others with respect. If you want a short example of what that might look like in marriage, check here.
And respect yourself, your kids, and your God enough to do what is right for your family with regards to working for pay outside the home. Stop giving a rip what other people have to say about it.
It changes everything.
Double dog dare you to join us on this journey of becoming women of strength and dignity.
Love to you,