Sunday, April 29, 2012

Marx Sisters

Marx Sisters by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

The "Bright Maidens" were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!

I have the typical, boring opinion on the question of "Should moms stay at home or work outside of the home?" Just like some women are called to a single vocation, some are called to the religious life, and some are called to married life, I believe we are called to contribute to our families in different ways.

Of course, I still believe we are biologically better-equipped for some duties within a marital household, namely those related to bearing and raising children, but men have a great importance in that area as well.

La dee dah, see? Boring and very politically correct.

So let's talk about Marxist Feminist theory instead.

Bigger, more skirt, please.
I've watched six episodes of "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding" in the last two weeks. These people fascinate me and before I write you a dissertation about them, I'll to focus on their strict adherence to traditional family roles. Women marry quite young, some as young as sixteen, and enter a life similar to every "traveller" wife: one centered on taking care of the husband, cooking, child-rearing, and extensive cleaning.

Seriously, these women put sponge to every surface of their homes, everyday. I've never seen anything like it.

Their husbands earn the money, have a lot of fun at pubs, and, in their words, "own" their wives. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and anthropologically point out that we do not have a full understanding of their culture in order to call this regressive or stunted. It's vital we also point out how extremely rare divorce is in their culture.

Marxist Feminist theory feels responsible for sticking up for women after centuries of what its troubadours believe to be wrongful oppression based on societal structure (rather than any relation to biology). This theory holds that a patriarchal, capitalist society demeans women because it enslaves them in the home to perform duties for free that men would otherwise have to hire employees to complete.

Old-timey headache
Marxist Feminists believe women are not properly compensated for the traditional roles they hold, so its supporters believe that as many inequalities between men and women should be flattened out as possible. In other words, it seems these theorists would be at least partially happy to see women receive salaries from their husbands, appropriate for the work they do in the home.

Call me crazy, but that sounds like capitalism more than Marxism.

Here, Marxists try to explain, in capitalist vocabulary, their belief that a lower value is placed on a woman's day than a man's and the translation is muddled.

The lasting issue with this theory is that it discourages women from entering a lifestyle Marxist Feminists define as the poorly-valued role, a stay at home mother. Marxist Feminist theory states that, no, it was the  patriarchal, capitalist society that shaped the role to be lower.

However, because the Marxist theory presents no alternative, they shame women away from being stay at home mothers, lest these women accept a shameful label of settling for a regressive lifestyle.

If a card-carrying Marxist Feminist could get their hands on one of these gypsy girls before walking down the aisle in her teens, he or she would try to convince the bride that her life can have more meaning in the eyes of the men of this world. If she could just NOT perform the slave duties thrust upon her as a wife and stay at home, cleaning, cooking mother, she could be much happier and more highly-valued.

Apart from the point that some of these women really do want to live their vocation in the traditional way, perhaps the young bride would have sense enough to point out the unspoken enslavement of the crazed person trying to shake her into the 21st century.

If you're doing something to spite someone else or to be seen as more valuable in the eyes of a society, who's the real slave?


Val Bianco said...

Great post, Elizabeth. And as the husband of an intelligent beautiful woman, with whom I have conceived and raise ten children, I must say that the men DO own their wives, as they are, in turn, owned BY their wives. Does not the heart belong to the mind and the hand belong to the arm? For without each other they become weak and meaningless. Man and woman "cleave unto each other and become one flesh." Mutual ownership is the height of respect and honor. Having said that, I have never seen the show, but two points: Men in pubs (at least habitually) is not a good idea. And marital fidelity must be absolute...INCLUDING pornagraphy, which so plagues our culture today.
Finally, as the father of three well educated, beautiful, stay at home Moms, I salute you for the depth of wisdom your post diplays. It does a grandfather's heart good to see Godly young women. Bravo, Elizabeth, bravo!

Elizabeth Hillgrove said...

Thank you, Val! I love the way you describe your happy family.

I agree, well put. Husbands and wives belong to each other and that is a kind of ownership. My reflection on that word, "to own," was in anticipation of those reading this who may shutter at the idea before thoroughly thinking it through. Thanks for commenting!!

Christine Falk Dalessio said...

It amazes me the way we label things. Like, everyone should be empowered to make their own life long as you work for a salary. Or, let's support diversity, unless you're religious...
I am also fascinated by that show btw :) though I wonder about the repercussions over overly-sexualized teens and tweens (have you seen the parties?) and the claim by ome that husbands are free to bet their wives... (an episode abt a gypsy marrying a non gypsy)... Still, are we not created to make choices as wee them to be good?

Sarah said...

This post contains a few of my favorite things: Marx brothers references, olde timey photos, labor history theories, and ridiculous TLC reality shows.
You raise some good points here. If some well-meaning progressive person were to barge in and shake up the lives of uber-traditional women, they'd do more harm than good. Antropological studies of patriarchal societies that practice, say, strict Islam or polygamy, have shown this.
I can't get behind gypsies as icons of traditional femininity though. Their culture objectifies them - no sex before marriage, but flaunt your goods as much as possible. Men "grabbing" them against their will is typical party behavior.

Elizabeth Hillgrove said...

Thank you, Christine and Sarah! Oh I am definitely not defending the parts of gypsy tradition that squash free will such as the "grabbing" or objectifies them.

And I don't buy the argument the show touts that the girls wearing those ridiculously revealing outfits still won't sleep with a man or drink (though the outfits are new for the culture). I do think their culture is different, though. They never touch on it, but do you think gypsy boys look at porn? Some episodes leave me to believe that they don't, therefore those outfits are probably very different to them than they are to American boys.

Again, I can't defend a lot of their ways. They just fascinate me! I do like that when they get married at 16, you can pretty much guarantee they'll be married at 66.

Elizabeth Hillgrove said...

**won't sleep with a man or drink, so that makes the outfits better than if a non-gypsy girl were wearing them**

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