October 17, 2013


So the topic of women’s education has been making the social media rounds as of late and I’m sure that more than a few feminists have flown into fits of rage because of it.  The whole thing seems to have started with a blog post touting eight reasons parents should not send their girls, specifically, to college/university.  They are the following:
  1. She’ll attract the wrong type of man (basically lazy, good-for-nothing men go to uni)
  2. She will be in the near occasion of sin (uni’s are dens of debauchery)
  3. She will not learn to be a wife and mother (there are no ‘homemaking’ or ‘how to be a good wife’ courses of study in most uni’s)
  4.  The cost of a degree is becoming more difficult to recoup
  5. You don’t have anything to prove to the world (a person does not have to go to uni just because everybody else is doing it)
  6.  It could be a near occasion of sin for the parents (some parents decide to limit the number of children because they think they can’t afford to send their kids to uni and so they contracept)
  7. She will regret it (for many reasons)
  8.  It could interfere with a religious vocation 

Now I am a product of my generation - my “femi-nazi” or “faux-minist” generation – and some of these arguments touched a nerve or two.  But I had to admit to myself that some of them made sense, yet I found it quite challenging to distinguish between the propaganda I’ve been fed since I was child and the truth.  My mind eventually settled on three points:

1.  Homemaking is an actual profession, sometimes unpaid, not the leftover crap work that people are forced to do when they get home from their “real” job, or have to do because they stay at home with kids.

Feminists say they fight tooth and nail for women to do everything and anything they want to do, well some women desire to work at home and choose to do just that, whether they have children or not.  So why does this cause many a feminist to retaliate with anger?  What difference does it make to Gloria Steinam that a woman chooses to forgo a career for something else?  The feminist mentality seems to state that women must have an “anything-but-housekeeping-job” to be happy.  So this is where I tend to agree with the authors of this article.  For years I was embarrassed to admit to my coworkers that I wanted to be a homemaker and that I had no big career plans carefully laid out before me.  To many of them, homemaking was a non-profession, something they forced their husband (who also worked full time) or kids to do.  Elizabeth Gilbert in her book Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage coined the phrase “Wifeless Marriages” which refers to marriages where nobody exclusively plays the traditional role of the wife.  I worked with several of these couples – all of them working more than full time hours outside the home and having zero time or inclination to do work around the house, which they viewed as either below their dignity or they just downright couldn’t be bothered with it.  So they hired people to do the grunt work: cooking, cleaning, laundering, running errands, gardening, watching the children and organizing the home – while they did the “important” work.  But contrary to (very) popular belief, homemaking is important…if one wants to, among other things, eat healthy, sleep well, have clean clothes, save money, be hygienic as well as relaxed and be able to unwind in a soothing environment.  There is an art and science to keeping house, which takes a significant amount of time, energy and work to keep up with.  Not only that, but horror of all horrors, it can be fun and fulfilling and some people (like me) enjoy it.  So in light of this, arguments 3, 5, and 7 in my mind could hold some water.   

(As an aside, number 4 is unarguably true.  For myriads of reasons the cost of a university education is getting harder to recoup as even now, folks with more and more advanced degrees are finding it more and more difficult to secure work in their fields.  Definitely worth taking into consideration when your child (male or female) is considering higher education.) 

2.  Hypothetical situations aren’t reality and we do not base our reality on the hypothetical but on the true.

I could be hit by a car or struck by a meteor tomorrow morning when I walk out my door.  Both are highly unlikely, but hey, it could happen.  Does this mean I should never leave my home?  I could also cut my thumb off while chopping carrots for dinner.  Does this mean I should never chop carrots, or worse, never make dinner?  No, it doesn’t.  Avoiding something because of what could happen isn’t prudence, it’s fear and fear has a tendency to govern one’s life rapidly and without knowledge or consent (which flushes argument 1, 2, 6 and 8 down the hypothetical toilet).  The truth is that we are God’s.  He made us.  We trust that he is making the sun rise and set and keeping our hearts beating and our lungs moving in and out.  We hurt.  We make bad decisions, and yet he is still there, loving us, allowing all things to work for the good.  So it doesn’t make sense for a gal to not go to college because she might meet a lazy guy.  Or because she or her parents may sin because of it.  Or because she may lose her vocation.  It’s true.  There are lazy guys at university.  Sin is lurking everywhere – on college campuses and within marriages near you.  And a vocation could easily be overlooked with many lingering distractions around.  But these situations can be applied to just about everything you do and everywhere you go: church, the grocery store, the science centre, our nation’s capital, not just college.  Furthermore hypothetical situations aren’t. actually. real. They are certainly not reasons to avoid doing something - like finishing off an education – most especially when higher learning may be something a gal wants (or is called) to do.  The truth is that at some point, every woman (and man) will have to learn to choose the good, the true and the beautiful from a world that is evil, false and ugly, no matter where she goes and no matter what she does.  It’s called living life in the world, but not being of the world, and we’re all required to do it. 

3.  Proverbs 22:6 and God’s Will for a soul

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  God has a specific plan for each specific person, which may or may not be the specific plan you have for that person.  Parents, from the moment their children are born, should be learning to let them go and allowing them to be who God means them to be.  Yet the whole tone of these arguments seem to be more about the Parents Will for their daughter, and less about God’s Will for her.   Oh I imagine that if you asked this particular couples’ daughter(s) if they wanted to go to university, they would say no, but having likely been drilled with these arguments who, but God and the girls themselves, truly know their own hearts?  Parents have (often) been wrong in thinking they know what’s best for their grown-up children all the while trying to control or manipulate them in the name of love.  But the truth is this.  If your child, son or daughter, shows promise and skill, naturally gravitates to something that would be greatly enhanced by attending university and there are no real impediments (like finances or academic standing) to him or her going, there is absolutely no reason for him or her not to go.  In fact it could be that the Lord wishes for them to go.  Perhaps your daughter is meant to be a mathematician before, during or after she raises her family.  Or perhaps her husband will die or be injured or require her help in garnering a paycheck from time to time.  Or perhaps she will not get married despite her best efforts, or be unable to have children or she might be the one in a marriage to work outside the home, and her husband the one to stay home with the children.  Unconventional, yes, but has and could happen.  Or perhaps the order of nuns your daughter joins prefers their nuns to have a degree of some kind: nursing, teaching, accounting, etc.  Now it also could be that your daughter desires to be a homemaker, and in that case her education could be tailored to her specific wants and needs.

The point is that there are as many different life-paths as there are people in the world and it’s unfair, and damaging, to wrench your children (daughters included) into your own obtuse worldview. Sure be honest and truthful with your kids about the possible consequences that their life choices might mean for them (like what it means to have a full time job and raise children, or what it means not to attend college/university) but after that, as much as it might kill you to do so, let them decide. You are not living their life, they are, and they answer to God alone.


Posted by: Sarah

7 comments:

  1. this is an interesting post. I, too, was raised in a feminist home. I went to a Catholic university. Did I fall into sin? Yes. However, it was probably due to a myriad a reasons. And my degrees? I still use them for a 1 evening a week part time job I have. But my full time job is a homemaker and boy do I wish I had better training in that! And for my daughter, I do want what God wants for her. There are many positives to a college education but by the time she gets there in 15 years, a private education may be affordable for us. There are many ways to get an education these days-online, community college, commuting to a state school, etc. At this stage, we are putting our efforts into forming her conscience and her soul but also carefully watching what her interests are and where her maturity may lie in 15 years. Who knows.

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  2. Love, love, love this post! I didn't finish my degree in child development because I couldn't justify us taking out a loan for it if I did not intend to work full time. I wanted to be a homemaker and my hubby knew that when he married me. Though we have been married almost 6 yrs. and still no children I still want to be a homemaker. I really love keeping house cooking, cleaning, home project, etc. I do work part time seeing my Creighton clients but that is a flexible schedule that suits me. I know a lot of women who have been angry with my decision to stay home but my husband and I feel it works for us. If I do need to get a full time job then I will but God has not called me to that yet if He ever does.

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  3. I love to putter! Doing little chores around my home makes me very happy. You could consider it drudgery, I suppose, and there are tasks I don't enjoy as much (vacuuming... ugh) but done with the right attitude (sometimes one of sacrifice) it is very satisfying. There really is an art and science to home keeping, so I'm very glad you've emphasized that here and in a previous post. It's nothing to scoff at!

    As for education, if a woman shows aptitude or interest to do a particular job, I would hope she'd have access to the training and schooling she needs to perform her work well. If many universities are dens of iniquity, I would hope that parents would help their daughter choose a campus that isn't, and also equip her well to withstand the vices and temptations she'll find there.
    There is a difference between going to school and being educated. I think every woman should have a good head on her shoulders, but that doesn't necessitate having a degree.

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  4. this should not even be a question..
    and if our thinking is truly on equality between the sexes, and I sure hope this is so, than we will be equally concerned about our sons having to face debauchery and all evils brought to the fore in this argument...
    my passion is for those women in this world today, who face unimaginable difficulties and truly are heroic in their determination to be permitted education.. so lets get back to this redundant question....

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  5. My mind is still stuck on you cutting your thumb off with a knife! wink, wink. It all comes down to what God wants, doesn't it? There are a few (possibly many) religious orders for women that require higher learning and that exist so that their members can engage the laity and the world within the workplace, specifically places of higher learning. Thus, their members are doctors, lawyers, professors, scientists etc. As parents we must help our children to build strong spiritual immune systems so that they can stay healthy (or at least recover quickly) from the plagues of sin and the modern world. And, one further point: we must also allow our children not to seek higher education if their hearts are set on a trade, ministry etc. (or, if they aren't cut out for university - no shame in that.)

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    Replies
    1. Ha - as I was writing this I was laughing at my knifing mishaps too.

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What is a woman? What does it mean to be feminine? There is softness and hardness, compassion and ferocity. There is contentment and adventure, freedom and service. We're conundrums, especially to ourselves, but we all, in some way, possess beauty, creativity, intuition and love. We were made for love, and we are loved, cellulite and all. Here we aim to show every woman the richness and beauty of her own femininity and explore current issues relating to women in our world. We also wish to share our own experiences - exploring the joys and challenges of stay-at-home moms and single professionals and everyone in between. Welcome! So glad you're here!

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