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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I Am Woman Hear Me...WHATEVER!

As an American woman, I am taught to be independent. I am taught that I should not be subservient to men and to do otherwise is an insult to the generations of feminists who have gone before me fighting for women’s equal rights in our country. I am coerced into being self-serving and to allow my partner rule as the head of the household is to admit failure and dependency.

I must consummate my love before marriage for I must trust no man’s intentional love. I must love many for how else am I to prove my power? I must demand equal duties at work and at home—to do less is unfavorable and impotent. I must wait to have children, for if I have them too soon I will be imprisoned with them in my own home. I must keep my finances separate—for what will I be left with if my husband leaves me? Finally, I must not serve my husband, as surely he will come to expect and demand it.

I recently read a short essay by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston entitled Living in Two Cultures. Jeanne shares her experiences of living in the world of two cultures—in her case, Japanese by genetics and Haikujin, or American by birth. She explains why she loved serving her brothers and father as it made her feel important for performing the duties of her role as a woman, “but (also) absolutely integral for the functioning of the family.” She continues, “I realized a very basic difference in attitude between Japanese and American cultures toward serving another. In my family, to serve another could be uplifting, a gracious gesture that elevated oneself. For many white Americans, it seems that serving another is degrading, an indication of dependence or weakness in character, or a low place in the social ladder.”

Isn’t it curious how, as a woman living in the twenty-first century, I am taught that if I serve my partner continually, that I have somehow accepted a lesser form of my potential or a lower place in society. Furthermore, isn’t it interesting that if I don’t serve my needs first and foremost, then my partner will be recognized as an inherently selfish person. However, by reading Living in Two Cultures, I have learned that to be serving of others before oneself is to elevate oneself higher than others. Jeanne claims, “Serving humanity is the greatest virtue. Giving service of yourself is more worthy than selling the service or goods of another.”

How true it is that as I learn to serve others, especially my husband and children, that I will also be blessed with the greatest virtue: Love. In the words of Albert Schwietzer: “I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” To serve others is to find pride within and happiness with oneself.


A Mac said...

Great post!


Charli said...

I suppose I am just an old fashioned gal, but I believe that as I stay-at-home mom I should be doing whatever I can to be a help-mate to my husband. I'm not out there earning the dough, so I should make it as easy on him as I possibly can so that he can earn it.

I also think that there is a lot there behind why our culture is the way it is, and it is it makes sense why we are the way we are keeping in mind our history and such. I don't think its right. It needs to change- it would benefit us all to change, but there it is.

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