The Double Standard

I’ve had something troubling my mind for a few days, ever since The Iron Lady has fallen into the spotlight. Christians, particularly those that lean more traditional, are having trouble reconciling their political and religious views when it comes to Margaret Thatcher (or for that matter, Sarah Palin or any other mother). I read a review of the film on a Christian website the other day that implicated at the end that just as noble a cause would have been staying home to raise her kids.

They’re right… but is it not possible that God called her to a purpose other than motherhood?

Do not get me wrong. I value motherhood. It is the God-given role of women and they are (or should be) tremendously good at it. It’s important to raise up a child and train him or her in the way that he or she should go. Instilling godliness in your children is an immense calling, certainly of as much monumental importance in the world as being a Prime Minister. But that isn’t all that God calls some women to do. I agree that in the Church, it is preferable that men fulfill their roles and be in authority – but the Church is not Politics. And how is it fair that whenever women want to run for public office, our supposedly forward thinking society suddenly develops a terrible fear for the neglect of their children? This fear would not be present if they were CEO’s of a company, but take one step anywhere toward public office as a conservative Christian women and everyone is most concerned about your kids.

Hypocrites, all of them; but where Christians stand… are not women called to fulfill a higher purpose as well as men? Is it not feasible that God calls whoever is willing to take a stand and do His will, and that in some instances, the most willing heart is that of a woman? Even in scripture, Priscilla taught alongside her husband; she did not sit in the back, she did not focus only on her children (if she had any); she was of service. But that is scripture, and scripture is different from politics. Why is it that Margaret Thatcher might have been wrong for entering politics rather than raising her children? Can we even be certain they were neglected? How come Sarah Palin needed to stay home with her kids when her husband was willing to help out, but Barak Obama is never questioned as to his ability to be a good father? His children are very young too, and his presidency certainly keeps him (and his wife) busy… but no one seems all that worried about his kids.

Are we are forward thinking society or not? What do we really think about women and their role? Is their only calling to their family or is it to God? And if God calls them to put aside the nappies to save their nation from a total meltdown, who are we to tell them to get back to the kitchen and wash tea cups?

11 Replies to “The Double Standard”

  1. We are definitely a nation of double standards. Not only should women stay home and raise their kids, but men should be the bread winners. I read a really disappointing article the other day about stay-at-home-dads. They were looked down on by men and women–the other men just thought they were taking a vacation from their jobs and the women viewed them with distrust (also, there’s the stigma that men + kids = something definitely un-natural, and maybe a bad situation waiting to happen). We call ourselves forward thinking, but we never will be until we let everyone, men and women, live out of the box we would force them into.

    /stepping down from soapbox

    1. I can kind of see why men get that response from others — in our world, it’s all about succcess, and staying home with your kids isn’t seen as very succcessful. I don’t know that I would recommend any father being a stay at home dad for his entire career, but if he wants to do that for awhile so his wife can accomplish her dream (and then trade off again later) I think that’s very admirable of him.

      1. No, I don’t think it’s a good idea for the long term, either, especially since most women are naturally more nurturing. But I think there are many things we feel/think about men that are double standards. That’s just the one that sprung to mind. I feel that when both men and women believe they can be and do anything they set their minds to, we’ll be much more advanced. Unfortunately, it’s going to take a long, long time for us to get to that point.

  2. My immediate response to your post:

    You know what annoyed me once? When some of my friends (whose view may have changed over time if I asked them) once discussed having a woman president, and decided that women shouldn’t have that role because they would be too led by their emotions. It annoyed me because Elizabeth the First sure didn’t let her emotions rule her, nor did Margaret Thatcher. Sara Palin and Michele Bachman sure seem cool-tempered to me. I know that God made women more emotional than women, and it’s wrong to deny that. However, I believe that some people, no matter what gender, are born with the spirit of a leader. That spirit has certain characteristics and it helps one rise above any emotions that cloud their judgment. I loved that earlier Fringe episode when Broyls (however you spell his name) told Olivia that he thought she was being too emotional. She is a woman after all. But instead of denying that she’s emotional, like most women do in TV shows, she said that her emotions helped her be the strong person she knows she is. A television show got it right for once- women are more emotional than men! But that’s not bad.

    I know your post wasn’t about emotions, but that’s just another thing that always pops up when people talk about women being leaders. As far as motherhood goes, a woman can be just as negligent of her children being a stay-at-home mom as she can being a congresswoman.

    1. I pretty much agree with your entire comment. Women do tend to be more emotional than men, but that doesn’t mean we have no control over our emotions. Not long ago, I had to help arrange a funeral for my grandmother. It was hard. My emotions threatened to take over, but I made it through the entire day without crying — because I had to. Women don’t have to let their emotions govern them, and we don’t always make “emotional decisions.” How long have women been in politics? And how many times have we had PMS and blown up a country because of it? =P

      “As far as motherhood goes, a woman can be just as negligent of her children being a stay-at-home mom as she can being a congresswoman.”

      That is very true, and the real tragedy of it is — she’s not accomplishing anything good in the meantime, so she doesn’t even have a reasonable excuse for it. =P

    2. I like your thoughts. Furthering your argument, you could say that men are too logical, that they won’t let their emotions help them in the choices they make, but that would be as fallible as emotions rule women. Women and men bring different strengths and weaknesses to things, and as long as either recognizes that, there’s no reason either can’t hold whatever position they choose.

  3. Motherhood and career is a tricky subject in the Christian community. I just finished a discussion on Elizabeth Barrett Browning who wrote a very controversial poem about a woman named Aurora Leigh. The man in Aurora Leigh’s life disliked her fondness for writing poetry, for doing something other than the basic womanly tasks such as cooking or cleaning or being an ornament on his arm. Needless to say, she refused him, but not on the grounds that she despised marriage, but rather that if he had been a better man, one who would have let her stand equal to him, then she would have found happiness in marriage and raising a family. As it was, the speaker chose a life alone instead.

    It’s just interesting to me how the topic, or something similar to it, would arise in your thoughts too, because that was one of our discussion questions, how Christian women reconcile their domesticity and their career in modern life, and how did EBB influence their choice, if she influenced it at all. All I can say is that my dad would have voted for Sarah Palin if she had run. I would have too, and I’m sure you would have, as well. In the realm of politics, the issue shouldn’t be about gender but whether they’re right for the job. I’m not going to judge a Christian woman going into politics, telling her she’d be better off staying home and caring for the kids. What if God designed her to be of influence, to make mighty changes for the better in politics? Yet she’s shouted down by men, not because she’s ill qualified, but because she’s a woman.

    We’re not so forward-thinking as we believe.

    1. I think a woman would be better off alone than with a man who does not see her as an equal partner in the marriage. =P

      Recently, I finished watching the HBO series “Big Love” about a polygamist family, and throughout the final season, the “first” wife was struggling with her belief that she is called to the priesthood — which in Mormonism is something only a man can do (bless others, serve in a higher place in the church, and have salvation through Christ rather than through marriage). What essentially she wanted was the worth, blessing, and higher status within the church that Protestant (and Catholic) women already have. In other words, this woman craved a personal relationship with God, but her husband, who viewed her as unequal, balked at letting her have it. That marriage, however controversial with two other women in it, was bad because in his mind, she wasn’t an equal partner — in their marriage, or their spiritual life.

      I believe a woman is capable of doing many things that a man can also do. I believe in voting for the right person for the job, regardless of their gender. Margaret Thatcher was the greatest prime minister since Winston Churchill (and ironically, I think they were the same personality types — ENTJ’s) and her being a woman certainly did not hold her back!

      Honestly? I think that some Christians can place so much emphasis on motherhood that they fail to remember that not everyone fits into a box, and that God calls men and women equally to service. He does not call every woman to be a mother, just as He does not ordain every mother to stay at home with her kids. Is that ideal? Yes, it is. Does it not always happening that way mean she has forsaken her calling? No, it doesn’t.

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