Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Value of a Woman

For many years I worked in higher education. Every October, usually during the weekend where the fall foliage was in peak color, the university scheduled their annual Homecoming weekend.  I particularly remember a female friend who was a stay at home mom. She was the Head Volleyball coach but hated homecoming. She hated it because of the same questions that were asked again and again when old friends were reacquainted. The question was “So, what do you do for a living”. Irene hated that because her friends that were working for a living didn’t respect her decision to stay at home and raise her children.  And so she typically was absent from campus that weekend.
My position within the university was that of a professor.  I was a teacher. I taught people ‘stuff’ that I knew. One of my frustrations was the shunning that some faculty had toward the employed staff. You know the maintenance guys, the custodians, the IT department, the dining hall cooks and even some of the students themselves. I couldn’t make sense of that kind of attitude. Some were arrogant. Most not. Yes, the faculty was paid more but they were no more important to the day to day function of the University than anyone else. Yes, they were the ones most directly associated with why students paid to attend that school but without the others, the school couldn’t exist. We all served a necessary role.
I mention this because I sometimes posts that presume that in order for a woman to be viewed as important they need to work in the workforce. They need to get up at 6:30, dress in nice clothes, drive into the city or wherever their employment is and work until 6 pm daily. By doing so they gain importance. Really? Are you kidding me? Are we that shallow in our thinking? Are we that ignorant in the D/s community that is so acutely sensitive to elevating a woman’s status as one that is loved and valued by the man that loves them?  I can’t believe the posts I read that equate income with equality. They assume that making money makes a woman more valuable and more valued. They assume that if there were more women working in this field or that profession then women would be viewed more highly. Well, what if they don't want do work? What if that is not their life goal?
It maybe that the writer fails to qualify their real point, which I hope is that there is a need (in their mind) to have more women working, more women in administrative positions, more women running companies, more women in political office. I don't know if I even agree with that since my position is that it depends on the desire of the woman rather than the need of the woman to do 'this' or 'that.  But I digress......
A greater income may be a pathway to an easier life with more ‘things’ that make life easier.  It may allow one to own a home or a bigger home, or get stainless steel appliances rather than enamel ones; it may allow them to purchase more stuff or more expensive stuff. I would hope that they would feel blessed to be employed but feeling blessed is different than feeling more important. Employment is a job. It's work. It's something to do that leads to a paycheck. It may lead to a purposeful life but so do a million other things.
I understand that women have not, and still do not, have all of the rights and status that men have in many professional fields. But that is a separate point. My friend Irene hated Homecoming because her friends fell into the same trap of so many and looked at Irene as ‘less’ of a woman because she didn’t earn an income. My friend Floyd who was a custodian could tell you stories all day long of how faculty disrespected him because he cleaned the floors rather than taught Sociology or Math.
I get frustrated when we place such importance on something so trivial – work. Irene raised beautiful, well-behaved children who are now adults. They are neat people to be around. They are well mannered, well spoken, and honorable. And, Irene worked to raise those kids. She worked hard. My friend Floyd was a really cool guy. He made a fraction of what I made yet, he was my dear friend. So were Gary and Don, two plumbers that I loved sharing a lunch with. Those guys were real. They laughed and interacted honestly and spoke from their hearts. Compare them with a few hundred faculty members together in a faculty meeting and it won’t take but ten minutes to see real from ‘facade’ - and snobby Profs come in both genders. Snobbery isn't predicated on whether or not the person has a penis. Both men and women can have this demon at times.
I hope that you value your wife or girlfriend for the person that she is (and I know you do) rather than the job she holds. If she is the CEO of a major corporation, a genius with an IQ of 160, a stay at home mom, or an empty nest woman that would rather dig in the garden and get her hands in warm soil, they are all equally important.  I hold Katie in the highest regard. I know that you hold your Domme there too. I doubt that you will love her more because she gets a job and now brings home a pay check. I’m sure you’d be proud of her if that was her choice but I would think you’d hurt for her if she had to do it out of necessity rather than choice.
I am not knocking the working woman. I am knocking those that equate employment with status.  I once went before the Faculty Review Committee, which all Faculty were required to do every five years. We were required to write some paper on some topic and self-assess our abilities in a few areas. Our peers then asked questions about how we were improving professionally.  At the time I had a Master’s degree. I had been assessed by those that I taught as one of the best teachers they’ve ever had, but I only had a Master’s degree even though I taught upper level courses. I remember the Academic Dean looking me in the eye and asking if I had intentions of pursuing a doctorate. I told her I didn’t and explained my reasons why. She told me that I would never be promoted beyond that of an Assistant Professor, nor would I be viewed by my peers with the same respect without that terminal degree. I remember replying without hesitation, how ashamed I would be of THEM, if they treated me that way. Yet I realized that she too viewed importance with ‘the degree’.
I love Katie. I make more money than Katie. I have a higher degree than Katie. I’ve been more successful in athletics than Katie. But you know what. It doesn’t matter one bit when it comes to our relationship. I work because I have to but I happen to work because I love what I am doing. Katie works part-time. She loves what she does as well but the fact that her job pays less than mine has no bearing on the value she holds with me or with anyone else. She has value for one reason only. She is a person. Period. The last thing I would want would be for her to equate self-worth, value, and significance with her job. Although she enjoys what she does, it isn't what defines her. If she were to fall into that pit, I would fear for the day she lost her job, or decided to retire from it for when that day came, so would be the end of her feeling valued and important as a woman.  Can you see what I'm driving at?
Let’s get over this pettiness that importance comes with income and ‘worldly’ status and focus our energies on what is really important – caring for and loving the woman in our life - irrespective of what they do during their waking hours.
 I'm Hers

12 comments:

  1. In the land down under there has been a push over the last x years for mothers to put their kids in child care and get a job.

    The rabid feminists (I think) support this as empowing women and so on as do politicians who seem to feel that by providing child care that they are freeing women.

    To me it devalues women.

    We now know the value of a woman. It is $100 per day. That is about what child care costs. So a stay at home mum is worth $100 a day. In fact further, the inference that you should put your child in child care and get a job implies that we (the government) can do a better job than you can.


    So it devalues and disempowers women.

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    1. I couldn't have said it better. Thank you for sharing.

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    2. Mr. SMH,

      my children have been in child care all their lives. I take a little offense at your comment. I feel my children have benefited from the group exposure. I see children reared at home and they are almost always timid. My boys are well adapted to social situations as a result of being raised in child care.

      Many stay-at-home parents send their children to child care for such reasons. They are stay-at-home and still pay to send their children.

      -SH

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    3. Mr. SH, Here are two articles I think you will find to be an interesting read on the topic you responded to the man from down under:
      http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000000/00000068.asp
      http://www.nheri.org/research/
      I think you will see that your perceptions, like those of most people are not quite accurate. I have children raised at home. One is a marine. The others in education - hardly timid. Katie's children were raised at home by her - two are very outgoing, one is quieter. All types come from home, just as they come from being raised in group facilities. The following were not only raised at home but taught at home. I'm seeing holes in your assumptions :)

      http://www.homeschoolacademy.com/famoushomeschoolers.htm

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    4. Mr. IH,

      I have four nephews who were/are home schooled. I do know the arguments of which you refer. I also know many stay-at-home parents elect to pay for their children to go to daycare part time so they can benefit from the group interactions. Many parents find this of benefit enough to pay even though they could just as easily keep them home. I doubt you would disagree this is a common conclusion of stay-at-home parents, even if you and / or your new wife chose differently.

      The main idea I was countering was that day care is apart of some feminist conspiracy. It is not. It is simply market forces at work fulfilling a need. There are government subsidy programs which can rightfully be argued the validity of. Perhaps that is what Mr. SMH was referring to.

      However, parents sending their children to daycare is common accepted practice for which there is very real benefit.

      To suggest that parents who send their children to daycare are harming them in some way I do take offense to.

      -SH

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    5. Then I agree that it is not a femanist movement as well, but I would agree, and I know you would too, that given the option of being raised by you and your wife is a better option than being raised by other adults. Maybe I misunderstood your comment but mine was more on the blast of kids raised at home are timid - which is not an accuate comment. Let's call it a draw and move on friend.

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  2. Mr. IH,

    There is a Julia Roberts movie, Mona Lisa Smile. The movie explores gender roles in the post WWII era where women were expected to be homekeepers. Their value in society was lower then men. Inequality between the genders was generally understood to be reality due to the biological and spiritual superiority of men.

    Today’s post industrial economy is placing an economic premium on skills women hold a superiority in and the invisible hand is quickly adjusting accordingly.

    I raise this as I feel it touches the topic of your post.

    From a macro-economic view, the skills women are superior in have a higher premium placed on them. In this sense, they are of more value in terms of human capital within the society. I refer you to the Liza Mundy book “The Richer Sex”. It was also the cover story of Time magazine in condensed form.

    Your friend Irene may be confronted with what a man in her position would have during the 1970’s. If a man came to homecoming 1977 and told his friends he was not working but was a stay-at-home dad while his wife worked, he would most likely have the same response Irene is having today. To me it speaks of a shift in perceptions.

    I agree with you that people should be free to pursue their life’s interest free of societal pressure. Irene should be free to be a stay-at-home mom and also be free to attend homecoming at your school. I for one, would support her.

    ;-}

    -SH

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    1. Mr. SH, we keep going back to one aspect of life – economics. Life is more than work. I am not going to dwell in the ‘who is better than who’ realm because we can argue that point for ever – and I am not saying I agree or disagree with you. But when one views life as a whole – work, home, friends, talents, abilities, shyness, eccentricness, wealth (or lack thereof), the value of a person is on the person themselves irrespective of what they do for a living. My friend Irene actually shared home raising responsibilities with her husband for most of their child-raising years. She was in intercollegiate coach. She did work yet she felt like her friends just wanted to talk about work. She saw, and still does, see life as more than making money. Life is not about making money. Making money is a way to live and not vice versa. The fact that you went back ‘there’ implies (and I may be mistaken) that you too value others, at least to some degree, based on their position at work rather than independent of a woman’s life irrespective of ‘traditional work.

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    2. Mr. IH,

      I guess I did a poor job of communicating my thoughts. I was agreeing with you. I do agree that a person has intrinsic value as a human being regardless of their income. Also, I support Irene in her stay-at-home endeavors and applaud her for going against the grain,

      I do think she having to feel ostracized for being a stay-at-home female speaks to the societal shift in converse to the situation Julia Roberts portrayed in Mona Lisa Smile. It is a refreshing change, in my mind since so much injustice has been done to women for them to instead being liberated in our societies. Their liberties should include enjoying being stay-at-home, like your friend Irene, as well as continuing to usurp men in the work force.

      As far as macro-economic value of the feminine human capital vs. the male human capital, I speak to it in terms of a macro sense. In the micro sense, as in the example of Irene, she has just as much intrinsic human value as any other person. From an economic sense, a persons value can be equated to the value they can contribute.

      With second generation feminist, there was an effort to equate a value to the societal economic services a stay-at-home mom contributes to the society and therefore build it into the tax code somehow. Women like Gloria Steinman spearheaded the effort, but it did not ever get written into law.

      We are now into what is being known as 3rd generation feminists who tend to discredit the value of stay-at-home moms and instead suggest that a woman’s value is associated with her earnings. I do disagree with this third generation feminist view, as do you. For me, the second generation feminist view seems like a better approach.

      If you teach at a school that has a women’s studies department, I am sure one of your colleagues could help explain the difference to you.

      Sincerely,

      -SH

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  3. I am a stay at home mom, and I do homeschool my children, and I can tell you I LOVED your article. It brought tears to my eyes to see such respect to us women that choose to raise our children in the home.
    My children are anything but timid kids. They have freedoms that other children do not have. I am not saying my way is the only way, but it works for my family.

    I love being cherished by my Submissive husband. Yes, I do the majority of the work in the home, because that is what makes me feel complete. I paint the interior and I claim it as mine. I have worked outside the home. It just does not fullfill me the way this does.
    Thank you for your wonderful post!!!
    ~Lady Jill

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    1. Lady Jill,
      Comments like yours make the effort to write and then rewrite a blog worth the time it took to do so. My children are also the products of home education and I can say without a doubt that it was a great way for me to stay close to them during their growing years - especially once they became teens. I realized that education is not about teaching them stuff - that they will most likely forget - but rather teaching them how to learn, how to question, how to respect and interact with others, how to develop self confidence, how to develop their own personal strengths and to understand where they are weak and to strengthen those areas of weakness.

      I agree that home education is not for all but for me, I can say that now with adult children, I hold a special bond with them. Earlier I sent a link to one of my children with pics that reminded me of a 10 day backpacking trip I took with them years ago. Their response: I miss those times and wish we could do it all over again. That brought tears to my own eyes.

      Thanks for sharing and hope you stop back soon. I will do the same to your future posts.

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  4. That was a most beautiful post. What I beleive in is the importance of giving both women and men a choice. There is nothing wrong with being a stay at home mother. There is nothing wrong with a women entering the work force.
    What is important is that women and men be given equal opportunity to achieve thier indivual goals in life. Love you boys for having the courage to change. Mistress

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