Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Big Dilemma for Women

The war over women is raging in the U.S. and it’s getting ugly.  It seems everyone wants the influence or the vote of women, but each side has fallen into trying to win influence in a negative manner.  Professor Rachel Lu in her article, “Conservatives and Women”[1] delves into the issue as it appears in the political realm.  The political players have gotten used to pointing fingers and accusing others of mistreatment.   Lu lays it out well by explaining how conservatives have pointed to liberals' narrow focus on abortion as a women’s rights issue  and also pointing a finger at Bill Clinton, still a democratic party icon, as “Womanizer in chief”.  Liberals point to conservatives and say that they relegate women to subservience.  They point to the issue of abortion and say that conservatives want to take away women’s reproductive rights. 

There is a real dilemma underlying the war over women.  Women grow up knowing that one day they will most likely be mothers.  What happens when they become a mother?  Do all our life ambitions have to be put to a halt so that we can stay at home with the children?  There are a couple of realities here.  Children are a lot of work and children do best if raised by their parents.  The other reality is that women are fully capable of being successful in a career.  It is difficult to balance both and it is difficult to go back into a career after years of being a stay-at-home mom. 

In this fight over women I see a major problem.  Both sides are trying to solve our dilemma incorrectly.

Liberals incorrectly focus on “reproductive rights”, or abortion, as a way of escape.  Abortion can help us escape the captivity of motherhood or even just the temporary hardships of pregnancy (because it would be easier to kill a child than bring the baby into a family who would like a child).  Women will have more to offer society if they don’t let a child get in the way of an education and career or just an independent life.  Liberals will also tell us that we should be able to have access to birth control so that we can have “safe sex” because who can really control their sexual urges anyways?  So let’s get young women on birth control that isn’t 100% effective so that they can have more unwanted pregnancies so that we can kill more babies for the purpose of furthering “women’s rights”.  It seems illogical that the focus be on a procedure that not only kills babies, but can negatively affect the life of the mother by decreasing her chances of being able to conceive later on in life and increasing her chances of depression.  Women who have had an abortion are 4 times more likely to contemplate or commit suicide[2].  Women who have a Dilation and Curettages abortion at 16% risk of Asherman’s Syndrome which causes infertility and this risk only increases with subsequent abortions[3].  Should we kill a human and hurt another for the sake of “reproductive rights”?  What about helping women to be both good mothers and to pursue their careers without the answer being abortion? 

Conservatives tend to have a singular focus on abortion just as much as the liberals.  While I have to agree that exposing the evil of abortion is necessary, it shouldn’t be our main battle cry.  Abortion is wrong, but instead of focusing on the problem the focus needs to be on the solution.  We need to focus on the solution without feelings of resentment or anger towards those who have provided a way out through abortion.  And the solution is not pressuring women to be full-time stay at home moms and to forget their careers. 

The problem we need to address is the barrier that society has set-up for mothers who wish to have a career after taking some time to focus on their children.   There is financial pressure, and the reality for some, that more than one income is needed to support a family.  Within these realities we need to realize that motherhood is an honorable calling, but not the only calling for women.  We need to look at scripture to remember the God-given worth and value of women.  Here are just a few sections of Proverbs 31.

“The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.  She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life… She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.  Her lamp does not go out at night.  She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.  She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy…. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.  She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.”

In Proverbs 31 we can see that the honorable woman is someone who does her husband good, takes care of her household, raises her children, has skill in so many areas and uses them for the glory of God and for the good of her family.  A family is a blessing, not a curse.  God blesses us with good things to bring us closer to Him.  We can glorify Him in all that He calls us to.

I’m not sure what the solution would be to break down barriers for women.  Maybe it would be help with education to keep up to date in our fields while being a mom or maybe it would be more opportunities to work from home.  Despite these possibilities, I think the main problem is our hearts towards women.  Some think mothers have forgotten how to work in their field.  Think about all that a mother has to do to invest in the lives of her children.  She learns how to sacrifice for the needs of another, she grows in her patience, she learns how to handle conflict, and she teaches and imparts wisdom.  A mother gains so many new skills while raising her child.  Let’s cherish and value mothers around us and encourage them in the work they do.  The most honorable calling should be that of creating, shaping, and molding the future.

Maybe if we didn’t feel so bad about disappointing those in our lives who wanted us to have a career, but instead were surrounded by those who encouraged us, there wouldn’t be a stigma with pregnancy or with motherhood.  Then maybe the ability to also have a career wouldn’t be so difficult.

- Carly Winterstein





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