First, read this. Seriously. Go read it. It’s an excellent education in the history of Feminism and its relevance in culture and the church today. And it’s actually much better than this post, so if you only have time for one, read what Amy has to say. Here is a sneak peak:
“I believe that when Christians offer unqualified criticisms of feminism, or frame feminism as an enemy to faith and family, what we unintentionally communicate to many people is that we do not support the full humanity of women….Feminism is the wrong enemy to choose here. Some aspects of capitalism and individualism are also incompatible with Christian belief (and have been just as destructive to family and morality in America as feminism has!), yet we don’t name them as enemies.”
Now that you’ve finished the article, please enjoy my thoughts about going back to work.
I am now seven days into being a working woman again. I have cried twice leaving Eloïse, but she has only cried once. She naps well at daycare and drinks her bottle, sometimes. Over on my campus, I’ve knocked out a couple of design projects and have now taken back all of my responsibilities. Except for answering our website help desk. I’m hoping no one will notice.
My return to work is, in part, a consequence of unwise college loan choices; however, I have found it to be a blessing in disguise. It would be dishonest of me to claim that I spent all my waking hours these last four months serving, loving, and cherishing my baby girl. The truth is, toward the end of my maternity leave, I was getting a little bit bored. Being at home is hard work. And once the initial baby fog lifted, it only seemed fair that I took on the majority of the household work. That meant a good deal of sitting and nursing, sitting and folding clothes, and standing in the kitchen. (I should note here that this division of labor was both my choice and agreed upon by my husband, who would have lovingly pitched in – and often did – on any of the house and baby stuff as I made those needs known.)
Being at home for four months and my transition back to the formal workforce has often brought to mind the church’s iconic lady-example, the infamous Proverbs 31 Woman. This woman, tauted as the model of a Christian wife, is one crazy lady. She makes all her family’s clothes, cooks, sells goods in the market, buys land, serves the poor…and pretty much doesn’t sleep. She’s that mom on Pinterest who makes those artistic, garden-themed lunches, and runs an Etsy shop, and volunteers weekly for her kid’s school, and manages her 401k, AND keeps her home pristine with all-natural, homemade cleaning products. Or maybe she’s just any number of modern ladies – doing her best to care for her family, whatever that may look like.
The summation of the “to do list” for the Woman of Noble Character is actually an underlying attitude, not her fantastic check-list:
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:
“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” – Prov 31:27-28
Which, for a modern lady such as myself, means that my family’s unique mix of talents and education will lend itself to some combination of paid employment, household chores, and relational investment. Today’s Feminist would agree that equality for women includes the opportunity to pursue a career at home or in the public sphere. But Proverbs doesn’t even bother with locales. The “doing” of womanhood is usurped by the purpose of womanhood – to care for one’s household wisely, diligently, and with the love of Christ.