No Prorogation

Today was YSA Stake Conference, which is when a large congregation made of sub-congregations meets to hear their regional and general leaders speak.

My solitary self arrived fifteen minutes early as instructed, and already, the parking lot and a quarter mile of the roads in either direction of the stake center were filled with cars.

I rushed into the chapel and chose a seat almost to the very back of the overflow, actively avoiding eye contact with others, and praying that i’d be left to sit alone for the duration of the meeting. Due to the overwhelmingly large number of attendees, we were all forced to sit shoulder-to-shoulder in order to accommodate everyone.

So there I was, sitting on a fold-up chair next to a red-headed gentleman in a sports coat with above-average singing capabilities, who probably came by himself, too.

To my delight, we avoided each other perfectly.

The fun thing about YSA anything is that the main goal is to get us all hitched. YSA Stake Conference is no exception. Our first speaker was our stake president, a man whom I love and respect. He counseled us to pray to find an eternal companion, and to not delay marriage. He then continued to emphasize that our biggest and most important decision in life is whom we choose to marry, which I agree with (if we decide to marry.)

This counsel seems contradictory to me for a couple of reasons. First off, if marriage is the most important decision we make in this life, why are we being told to rush it? Isn’t the universal advice to “sleep on it” when faced with big decisions?

Secondly, getting married complicates educational and career goals, especially for women in a lot of cases. My mom (whom i’d been texting throughout the meeting) told me that a woman in her ward told the story of how she’d achieved her dream of getting into medial school, but then she got engaged and gave it all up to raise a family. It breaks my heart to hear stories like this, because I don’t see why a person can’t pursue the career of their dreams and raise a family.

I do believe that it can be done, if timed and prioritized correctly.

This is not to say that I think that those who chose to get married young are wrong in doing so. We’re all individuals, and different circumstances yield different decisions.

I’ve been twenty for three days now, and at this stage in my life, I can’t imagine rushing much of anything, much less decisions of whom I choose to spend the rest of eternity with.

Hmmm.

M.

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The Mommy Paradigm

The other day, i’d sparked yet another heated discussion on my FaceBook status. We were discussing gender roles, primarily, and who should take on the role of the primary care giver. One of my friends said that he believed that women shouldn’t be limited to being “just a mother.”

When a woman describes herself as “just a mom,” I find that completely problematic. You see, when individuals who have careers are describing their occupations, they rarely say, “I’m just a salesman,” or “I’m just a doctor.” Though not equal in compensation, each of these occupations is as equally demanding and deserving of equal recognition.

Though I, too, agree that a woman should not be limited to the role of the homemaker, I don’t believe that any woman is wrong for choosing to do so. People seem to forget that feminism is all about choice. The whole issue is that women are taking on this task by default, rather than choice. Both genders are sliding into their predetermined roles without really considering what would fulfill them the most and bring them the most satisfaction out of life.

Aside from the fact that being a mother requires a 168-hour workweek, (that’s 24/7, for mathematically impaired individuals) mothers, as well as stay-at-home fathers (which, frankly, there could be more of) are burdened with an immense task of influencing the direction and values of our future. And no, they don’t have a bi-monthly paycheck that keeps them motivated to maintain their quality of work. They get tantrums, messes, and chronic fatigue.

Though I don’t believe that a woman should, by default, become her children’s primary caregiver; I think that those women who do dedicate their lives to the raising of children should start giving themselves the recognition they deserve. Trust me, all the stay-at-home daddies are getting ample extrinsic recognition, because it defies the norm.

Which brings me to my second issue of the “mommy” paradigm. When it comes to occupation, how is a girl to win? You see, if she chooses to remain in the workforce, with or without children, she will have the label of “selfishness” slapped on her forehead, and will be looked upon disapprovingly. Conversely, if she stays home with the kids, she’s “just a mom.” Seems a little unfair, doesn’t it? Welcome to the patriarchy, my friends.

The stereotypical gender roles provide a blanket solution to a very individualistic problem. Not only should the parent who is most suited to raise the children take on the role of the primary caregiver, but a couple should also consider who would be most fulfilled in that role. I think that if we evaluated those two criteria before assigning roles, we’d be surprised by how many bread-winning moms and stay-at-home dads would result.

Just a thought.

M.

Aspire

I hope y’all had a fantastic Mother’s Day! And I REALLY hope that Mother’s Day significantly improves your attitude and treatment of your own mama. That lady deserves the utmost respect and love on a constant basis. She also deserves breakfast in bed and a sentimental gift on occasion. 

Image

You could say I won the mommy lottery.

Mama Tingey and I are both very highly-opinionated, tenacious German women, and as consequence, we haven’t always had the strongest relationship. But now that I’m getting older, I’m starting to realize that if we join powers, we could become quite the force to be reckoned with. Whether we’re getting along or not, my mom will always be my best friend. 

I want to focus this post on the kind of mother I aspire to become. (AFTER i’ve achieved my academic goals and established myself in a stable and successful career, of course.) 

According to the last MA$H I played during church in ’07, I am going to have 27 kids and marry Aaron Carter. But real life, unfortunately, isn’t MA$H, so I will be having two children, and will probably marry a very non-famous young man, perhaps an accountant named Steve. 

Once I have birthed my two children (preferrably a boy named Boston and then a daughter named Saylor), I am determined to be one kick-A mama, granted that the inhabitants of earth are still human and not some sci-fi, high-tech cybourg race. Parenting will only get harder, given the rate at which technology advances and the culture and societal views as a whole continue to get more and more sucky, but I will not let that discorage me from bringing up my children to become kick-A adults themselves. 

First of all, this whole gender-role thing is going out the window from day 1 of Boston and Saylor’s lives. If Boston prefers to feed a cabbage patch doll with a plastic bottle, he shall be given multiple bottles and a stroller for his doll. If Saylor finds toy trucks and race cars more fascinating than a play kitchen, she will have a Hot Wheels birthday party at the Go-Kart track. 

But, if they naturally gravitate to their respective gender-role based toys, that’s a thousand percent fine with me, too. Whatever draws in their interest and creativity most. 

My kiddos will not be naive, but they will not be cynical, either. They will know of the dangers that lurk within the world they live in, but they will also be taught to see the good in others, and how to successfully veer out of trouble’s wake. 

I’m going to be the best friend and the worst enemy. Hard work and respectable behavior will be heavily rewarded, and shortcomings will be punished. Attitude will not be tolerated. 

Body image issues will not even be a possiblity, because my children will be primarily praised for their non-physical, positive character traits, rather than their physical ones, and as consequence, they will learn that a person’s value is not measured by physical appearence. 

Bottom line is, i’m going to raise my kids to be happy, independent, educated, non-ignorant individuals who know that they have the potential to become anything they desire. 

I am not going to be perfect, but you can bet your bottom dollar i’m going to burn myself out trying, just like my own mom. 

Here’s to the moms of the world. Y’all are incredible, and we need you more than you could possibly know. 

M. 

Isonomy

Women are people. 

Women are not objects, property, toys, second-class citizens, baby vessels, commodities, sandwich-makers, or psychologically/physically incapable of “masculine” tasks. 

Women are people. 

Men are people. 

Men are not financial plans, sugar daddies, jar-openers, or objects. 

Men are people. 

Homosexuals are people.

Blacks are people. 

Hispanics are people. 

(Insert any minority/group of people that differ from groups of people you belong to) 

THEY ARE PEOPLE, TOO. 

I am willing to bet that a majority of you stable-minded people would be willing to come to a consensus that all of the the above statements are fact, and if you’re not, feel free to discontinue reading. 

Tell me this then: Why do sexism, racism, ethnic stereotyping, or homophobia exist? 

Those of you who are still reading have previously agreed with my argument that all variations of people are indeed people. More than that, they are equal people. 

Because all people are equal, all people are equally capable of making their own life-decisions, regardless of cultural norms or gender stereotypes. 

I am going to focus the majority of this post on the issue of sexism. 

Now, I understand that each sex is maybe better-equipped to fulfil certain roles in our world. By this, I mean that men are GENERALLY (not absolutely) physically more muscular, thus being able to develop a greater amount of physical strength at a more rapid pace than women. On the other hand, women are given the ability to bear children, thus making them GENERALLY more capable of nurturing their offspring. 

Both of these instances are due to each sex’s physical makeup, and I realize that there is nothing I could possibly do to change that. 

Because both instances are GENERALLY the case (not ABSOLUTELY the case), there is always deviation from the “norm.” Just because one sex may TEND to be better at fulfilling specific role, it is crucial to remember that every individual’s circumstances are unique. 

Each person ever born was born with this thing called “agency.” Agency means that we are willing to choose how we want to live our lives, regardless of our biological sex, skin color, religious beliefs, socioeconomic class, etc. 

Because all people are equal, it would only make sense that they should all be able to decide what to do with their lives, and other people should shut their fat pie-holes about it, even if they disagree with another’s choices. 

In my Utahn culture, it is virtually expected that a young woman marry as soon as she can so that she can pop out a half-dozen children and then spend the next 20 years raising said offspring. 

I have no problem with girls deciding to take this course in life. If being a housewife will be fulfilling to them, I say go for it! Even though I have prioritized my life a little differently, I respect their decisions to work within the home. 

Because I respect other peoples’ life choices, even if they are the complete obverse of my own, I expect the same from them. I have no desire to be a housewife. My aspiration is to establish myself in a successful and personally empowering career. Just because my decision deviates from the cultural norm, this does not make me any worse, less, or more selfish than those who choose to stick with what society expects of them. 

I believe that whatever will make a person happiest and help them to live the most fulfilling life possible, is the correct choice for the individual. May that be to join the marines, become a school teacher, or a stay-at-home mom. (Which, may I remind you, is a full-time job of its own. Don’t ever say you’re JUST a stay-at-home mom.) 

All I want out of this is to be presented with ALL the same opportunities as my male peers, and to be able to choose whatever is most suitable for me without being judged or questioned for pursuing said opportunities. Think about it. Nobody ever questions a GUY for earning a PhD. But when I say that getting a doctorate degree is my goal, people always ask me when I’m going to fit in marriage and a family. And the answer is, when I am good and ready, and inevitably fixed on achieving my educational and career goals. 

I am a feminist, because I am just as human as my male peers. And it’s about time that I begin to be treated as such. 

If you’re with me on this, congratulations! You’re a feminist, too, and you can sit by me. 

M.