Sunday, April 10, 2011

Phyllis Schlafly - Part II

Ms. Schlafly made one point in her talk that I would like to agree with. She said that from the 1960s and 70s, the goal of the feminists was to degrade the homemaker.

At first, I would have disagreed. However, I had a college degree and worked outside the home. I felt respected and held a position where I was rapidly advancing.

Because my husband took a job in another community, I left my position, but could not find another similar one. I ended up working in a factory until I was laid off.

Soon we were in the midst of diapers, and I chose to stay home until the children went to school. By the time all three were in school, I was considering the possibility of home schooling.

As I prepared to take on this new venture, I heard such things as, “Do you really think you can teach your children all subjects?” or “What training do you have?” or “Won’t your children suffer from not being with other children all day?”

I know that most of these questions came from sincere, caring friends. Some, on the other hand, did not. I could tell that some were meant to discourage and degrade me.

As the years passed, I recognized over and over that being home with my children drew scorn from some. The respect that I once enjoyed was gone. This saddened me, but I drew strength from the fact that I believed I was doing what God wanted me to do. God loves me and that is really all that matters.

So, yes, Ms Schlafly, our society has worked to degrade the homemaker. I experienced that degradation. Such a sad thing too because my best days have been those at home with my family.

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At 8:03 PM, Anonymous Jim Rapp said...

I'm glad you are continuing your discussion of Schlafly, especially since I missed her appearance in Eau Claire. I think Shclafly was as polorizing a figure in the anti-feminist movement as were the Gloria Steinem's on the feminist side. Phyllis was not a typical stay at home person herself but she found a voice in the movement to discourage women from seeking careers outside the home and has ridden that opportunity to considerable success.

I think our problem as a society is that we devalue so many things that are valuable. Your choice to raise and train your children was a noble one and I think you rightly found a great deal of satisfaction in it. So was the choice of thousands of women to become doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers, accountants, airline attendants, nurses aids, home care assistants, secretaries, waitresses, factory workers. The list is almost endless. Some chose those careers for love of the career, others to support a family or suppliment the support provided by a spouse whose pay was not adequate to do so.

I think I know some of what you felt as your choice was being demeaned. I ended my teaching career feeling beaten up by a constant drumbeat of criticism, often heard from Christian leaders, politicians, and other educational "experts" of the inferior job we were doing and the supposedly subversive role we educators were playing in society. That hurt a lot of us deeply, especially Christian educators who felt they were fulfilling a calling by being educators. Schlaffly's was one of the most persistent and strident critiques of Amerian education.

So I think everyone ended up being hurt. I don't doubt that Schlafly herself was wounded by many of the criticism directed against her.

This country has, for the last hundred years and more, had two major strains of education, public and private. I happen to believe, as I've stated in one of my blogs that will appear later this week, that the public schools played a uniting role in our culture without which we could well have been as Balcanized a nation as those in many parts of the world today. But we have always made room for those who wish an alternative for their children to have it if they wished to provided it from their own funds. The number of talented and useful citizens that have come through that kind of education is amazing and inspiring. We need to affirm both choices, keep public education strong (and accountable) and allow freedon to make other choices too.

Sorry for the sermon. You can perhaps see that this is a subject I have strong feelings about. I don't mean public education - I do feel strongly about that - but I mean the right of individuals to chose alternatives, feel good about their choices, and not suffer criticism because of them. I respect your choice and I see in you a person who would not have persisted in it if you did not feel you were succeeding in the role you set out fill.

If you get tired of my windy responses say so. I appreciate your blogs.

At 4:19 AM, Anonymous Jim Rapp said...

Hi again, Sheila,

I want to add a thought. You quote Schlafly as saying that in the 60s and 70s the goal of the feminists was to . . .

I think she is making the same mistake I often make of confusing "goal" with "effect" or "result". Schlafly has had many "goals" attributed to her, perhaps by me, that she would vigorously deny as one of her goals. Only the person acting knows what their goal is,if they have one. But we can legitimately make assertions about what the effect of someones ideas or actions were. Our assertions may be right or wrong but since they are not about motivation they are less of a direct attack on the person whose life and work we are assessing. Take care. You keep me thinking.


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