The Purpose of Women?
#51
I think if you try to have a full-time career and "as many children as God wills" at the same time, you'll exhaust yourself. Most people who say they'll have as many children as God wills mean they will not use even licit means to space births. Which is fine, of course, except that if the woman having these children is also working full-time outside the home, she won't be able to practice the kind of breastfeeding that naturally spaces pregnancies, so if she is young, of normal fertility, and has an enthusiastic husband, she may end up having a baby a year. Babies are marvelous gifts; they are also exhausting, and I can't imagine going through pregnancy, childbirth, and caring for a newborn every year while also being responsible for a regular job. And I'm wondering if bosses are willing to put up with a six-week maternity leave every year from the same employee. Maybe more if, say, the mother develops pre-eclampsia or one of those other not-uncommon complications that requires she be put on bedrest. And then there's the time off she'll need to take for sick kids ... and they are likely to get sick more than a few times if they're in day care. I'm getting tired just thinking about this!

I'm also going to stick my neck out and say that I think it is just flat-out wrong for a mother of young children to work a conventional full-time job outside the home if she doesn't absolutely have to. It's wrong for the reason Heliodora's already given, but it's also unfair to other women. How? Because by working outside the home in droves, career-oriented mothers necessitate a sub-class of poorly paid women who take care of other people's children. Insisting on having a career isn't a feminist triumph; it's ultimately classist since it's only middle and upper-middle class women who benefit. Most people don't have fulfilling "careers"; they have plain old "jobs" to pay the bills. And the women I know of who try to pay the bills by taking care of young children are either very poor (I'm talking jobs in the $11,000 a year category) or married to someone who also works. Perhaps they are paid so little because people so devalue the work of taking care of children. Even mothers devalue it.

On the other hand, some mothers have managed to work and care for children at the same time because of the type of work they did. I'm personally intrigued by GEM Anscombe, a devout Catholic who was a professor, a philosopher, and the mother of seven children. I'm curious to know how she did it. There are ways ... I have a Catholic woman friend who has managed to raise three (so far) children while getting a PhD ... but the conventional career model wouldn't work.
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#52
Karyn_anne,
I read your post and I am working in the world and contemplating marriage too. I know how you feel!
Like you, I am currently single, working in the world, but when I get married I do not want to work. You are free to do your own thing, but I thought you might be interested in my reasoning for that decision:


- We see from standard child development psychology, that a child's mind is highly open to the ideas and people you expose them to in their first ten years of life, and that these early experiences have a profound effect on the character that child develops, and the decisions it makes throughout its life.

- From basic Catholic teaching (taken from the Doctors of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas, common human experience, etc.) on the talents and natural gifts of women, we see that women have an extremely potent ability to inspire and teach virtue in people (why do you think there is enmity between us and the Devil?).

-A human soul getting to heaven is THE purpose of existence. We must get our own soul, as well as those around us (as best we can) to heaven. Virtue is what does that.

- Now since a soul getting to heaven through practicing virtue is, quite literally, the reason for existence, and since we have seen that women have an uncanny ability to assist in this process, and that children up to ten have an uncanny ability to be open to this process, it would seem counter-productive to remove the woman from her children. We would be sending a woman out to use her strengths in a less maximized way, and short-changing the child.

So Karyn_Anne, your life is your own, and I'm not going to tell you how to live it. But as for me, I don't think it is good to do anything that would pre-occupy a woman's mind so that she could not observe and inspire her children (not to mention her man) on to virtue. Working is very time and energy-intensive, and I just think that this would be time and energy taken away from a nobler task. And one point I'd like to clarify: I don't mean just working would take away from this, as there are many housewives who are so focused on shopping, quilting, volunteer work, or other such things, and they are not off the hook, either.

This is not to say that you should just be a robot watching your kids and having nothing more going on in your life. By no means, women are intelligent beings and our minds need recreation and diversion, just as much as anyone else, but I think the problem is that too many women (working or otherwise) have neglected the duties that children demand. A child cannot raise itself-emotionally, spiritually or otherwise.

P.S. For a mother who was serious about forming the souls of her children, call the Angelus and get the (very short) book on the mother of Archbishop Lefebvre. I think we all owe a huge debt to her for her molding of the Archbishop's soul!


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#53
It is a shame that people in general assume that when a mother has to work, it's motherhood that has to take a back seat. This isn't true. I have friends, acquaintances, and co-workers who earn good money working from home, or who bring their children with them to work. I know a doctor who has one room set aside in her office for the children of all of the women who work for her. They have access to their moms all day. I know other women who are university professors whose children are always with a parent, as are the children of the computer programmers, psychologists, caterers, seamstresses, business owners, engineers, architects, real estate saleswomen of my acquaintance. I've seen a woman sell a house while nursing an infant in a sling. You can be a good mother and earn a decent living without compromising your values, you just need to plan a little bit, exercise a little initiative. It doesn't even require a high school diploma. If at all possible, work for yourself. Look how the rise of daycare as an institution has paralleled the disintegration of the extended family and traditional culture. It's not because mothers work, it's because people buy into the myth that it has to be "either/or." I am living proof that it does not.
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#54
Back to the purpose of women: Sadly, our position as inferiors, or mere helpers to men, comes from a mis-translation of the original Hebrew in Genesis.

In the first account of creation, dominion over everything was given to both woman and man:

Genesis 1:27 -- So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Gen 1:28 -- And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

This was before man and woman were formed in the natural realm. They were created first, then formed in the natural realm in the time appointed by God, which is why there are two accounts of creation.

The mistranslated text is:

Genesis 2:18 -- And the LORD God said, [It is] not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

The phrase "help meet for him" translates the Hebrew words ezer kenegdo. Ezer literally means, "help" and is similar in meaning to the English word 'help.'
This word appears elsewhere in Scripture only when referring to God's help, or to the help of an army, i.e. help from one somehow superior to the one being helped.
Kenegdo is translated 'meet for him',. The root word, neged, literally means 'opposite', 'in the presence of', 'over against', 'in front of', 'corresponding to', or 'aside'.
Literally, kenegdo means, 'opposite as to him' or 'corresponding as to him'.

The sense of the phrase ezer kenegdo is 'an equal but opposite helper to him'.
For example, my left hand is the ezer kenegdo to my right hand; both hands look alike except they are exactly opposite.
Both hands are equal but opposite.
This is so that they might work better together.
Again, the ezer kenegdo of the right wing of an airplane is the left wing; they look exactly the same except they are opposite each other. Both wings are equal but opposite. This is so that the airplane can fly. One wing is no more important than the other.
The same is true with man and woman. Man's ezer kenegdo is woman. Both are equal but opposite.


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#55
I don't think it means anything different to say "an helpmeet for him"or hypothetically, "an equal helper for him." It is exactly the same. No truly Catholic man or woman would ever say that this phrase puts woman at a disadvantage to man.
  The false idea that a woman is "lesser" than man, or some such notion does not come from this, but rather from St. Paul. It is the passage about women being subject to their husbands, etc which causes people to comment that woman are "beneath" men.
The reality of St. Paul's sermon is that he tells us each to do that which is difficult for us. He tells women to be humble, and obedient, and he tells men to love their wives selflessly. He is trying to establish the order of the Christian home. The husband as head, the woman as heart. The woman must be truly loved and cared for, the man must be honored and allowed to lead the family. This is the Christian way of things.
  Nowhere in the bible will you find anything which contradicts a basic "equal but different" way of thinking. This is quite right. Blessed Mother was obviously equal to the apostles, but her role in the Church was different. We are equal to our husbands, but our role in the home, and in the lives of our children is different.

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#56
HappyWife Wrote:I don't think it means anything different to say "an helpmeet for him"or hypothetically, "an equal helper for him." It is exactly the same. No truly Catholic man or woman would ever say that this phrase puts woman at a disadvantage to man.
  The false idea that a woman is "lesser" than man, or some such notion does not come from this, but rather from St. Paul. It is the passage about women being subject to their husbands, etc which causes people to comment that woman are "beneath" men.
The reality of St. Paul's sermon is that he tells us each to do that which is difficult for us. He tells women to be humble, and obedient, and he tells men to love their wives selflessly. He is trying to establish the order of the Christian home. The husband as head, the woman as heart. The woman must be truly loved and cared for, the man must be honored and allowed to lead the family. This is the Christian way of things.
  Nowhere in the bible will you find anything which contradicts a basic "equal but different" way of thinking. This is quite right. Blessed Mother was obviously equal to the apostles, but her role in the Church was different. We are equal to our husbands, but our role in the home, and in the lives of our children is different.

sorry, but I really don´t get this - much as I share the horror at the examples of whacko protestant women given above, who let themselves be controlled and totaly subdued - what DOES "being the head" or "leading the family" mean? What? To me, it sounds like just the thing you do not want when you see it in the Protestants!
 I will NOT be bossed around by ANYONE, will NOT have a human master - however "loving" and benign such a master may be! And I don´t see Christ means us to be. All that is propaganda, NOT Christ. To me, christian marriage is man and woman hand in hand, going together, not one the leader, and the other the obedient slave following docilely her master´s whims.
What qualifies a man to lead me? I will accept real authority - authority that comes from superiority of sorts (like I would accept a trained professional´s opinion in their field which isn´t mine) - but what specific superiority does a man have, that makes him my "leader"? In my personal experience, I don´t see that men are in general in any way "superior" to women intellectually, emotionally or spiritually- quite the opposite, actually, in many cases. (granted, they are physically stronger, but THAT´s no reason in my eyes)

I am not trying to be contrary or troublesome - I just want to UNDERSTAND.

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#57
I dunno, I just think of it as everyone knowing their role. I don't think of it as having a master or being subjugated. I also don't believe in a separation of the head and the heart, with the woman being the heart and the man being the head. I think women and men are two halves of the whole, both with equally functioning heads and hearts, and that each should do what each does best. I don't care who earns more money or who does the laundry or the taxes, and getting that stuff confused with gender roles is silly. I do, however, believe that a family runs more smoothly when somebody has the last word or the ultimate authority, and I think that is the husband's role. How that happens in each family will be different and is based upon each family's unique situation. Both men and women seem to have become confused about the role of a head of a household - men feel unable to fulfull the role and women get defensive about it. This is the kind of thing engaged couples should look at carefully when planning a marriage instead of putting all of their energy into planning a wedding, as has become the custom.

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#58
Hello, again, HappyWife, and congratulations to you and your husband on your new arrival!

Diotima, I understand your frustration. I struggled with the same thoughts myself for many years and still have trouble, being very un-submissive by nature. I can say, though, that I think I got a glimpse of the purpose of male headship upon becoming a mother. Motherhood made me vulnerable in a way I had never been before; I needed someone to protect and provide for me while I recovered from a difficult birth and took care of a high-needs newborn. Now I'm recovered, but find that I am very focused on our daughter and her needs. My husband excercises "headship" -- yes, I find it a kind of silly term, myself -- by sort of taking care of worldly things, negotiating with the outside world as our representative, which allows me to focus mainly on the very important task of caring for and teaching a new immortal soul. There are areas of our life in which he is in charge and I have to step back and let him make the final decision after I've given my opinion and advice. On the other hand, I am in charge of things directly relating to my responsibilities.

I don't know if this helps you or makes things worse. I think male headship will look different in different marriages. My husband wouldn't want an overtly submissive wife, and I assuredly am not ... if anything, I need to work harder on curbing my tongue and being less self-willed. There are other marriages that will fit the traditional model more obviously.

Also, it really bothers me when women insist on being "equal" and able to do things for themselves. Don't get me wrong -- it's not that I believe women are worth less than men, less intelligent or capable than men, etc., it's just that I believe this is the wrong attitude with which to approach the one you love. Far better if both man and woman humbled themselves, each saying to the other, "I am not worthy" and trying to please the other. This is what leads to a loving relationship, not one in which each half of the marriage is trying to assert his or her rights.

Perhaps someone who's been married longer than I have can help you out more here.
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#59
HappyWife Wrote:I don't think it means anything different to say "an helpmeet for him"or hypothetically, "an equal helper for him." It is exactly the same. No truly Catholic man or woman would ever say that this phrase puts woman at a disadvantage to man.
The false idea that a woman is "lesser" than man, or some such notion does not come from this, but rather from St. Paul. It is the passage about women being subject to their husbands, etc which causes people to comment that woman are "beneath" men.
The reality of St. Paul's sermon is that he tells us each to do that which is difficult for us. He tells women to be humble, and obedient, and he tells men to love their wives selflessly. He is trying to establish the order of the Christian home. The husband as head, the woman as heart. The woman must be truly loved and cared for, the man must be honored and allowed to lead the family. This is the Christian way of things.
Nowhere in the bible will you find anything which contradicts a basic "equal but different" way of thinking. This is quite right. Blessed Mother was obviously equal to the apostles, but her role in the Church was different. We are equal to our husbands, but our role in the home, and in the lives of our children is different.
HappyWife, I do think that to term the woman as a "helper" puts the man as the one in the primary role who is getting help, assistance, from the woman -- and not that they are side-by-side working/walking together as equal in worth in the eyes of God. The mis-translation comes from understanding 'helper' to mean assistant, rather than one who gets you out of dire trouble, as the word 'ezer' really means. Ezer in Scripture usually refers to a superior who is giving the help, usually God, but the word kenegdo makes it mean 'parallel to' 'opposite to' etc. reflecting the equality of man & woman.

I think it is important to know what the Word of God actually says, and not what we think it says.

Another example of mis-translation is the word 'rib' in Genesis 2:21-22:
21 Then the Lord God cast a deep sleep upon Adam: and when he was fast asleep, he took one of his ribs, and filled up flesh for it. 22 And the Lord God built the rib which he took from Adam into a woman: and brought her to Adam.

The word "rib' is translated 'side' everywhere else in the Bible, in fact, it usually refers to an entire side, or half, of a structure, so...

...he took one of his sides, and filled up flesh for it. And the Lord God built the side which he took from Adam into a woman...

23 And Adam said: This now is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man.

Adam wouldn't say 'flesh of my flesh' if only a bone had been taken by God to make Eve. One side, half of him was taken to make Eve.

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#60
karyn_anne Wrote:i hope someone can help me sort this out.

I don't know exactly how or why, but i get the sense that traditional catholics (of both genders) expect mothers to be full-time home-makers, and that it is severely frowned upon to hold a job as you raise your children at the same time.

In the future, i intend to work full-time and hold a career even after i marry and have kids ( as many as God wills, of course), but i sense that most traditional catholic husbands won't be too excited about this, judging by what most of the men at my SSPX parish feel.

In short, i just feel that the role of women in this case is kind of restricted...are we 100% made for motherhood and to marry? I guess it boils down to the individual just as it is for the norms within traditional catholicism. I look at Our Lady as the perfect role model for women (and men) to follow, but somehow, i seriously think i wouldn't be happy if i am not out there, being in what many catholics call "a man's postition/role", or else facing restrictions in my choice of work/career after i get married.

God bless.
karyn-anne, at one time my husband lost his job and was out of work for over a year. I was the sole support of the family, fortunately we did not have children yet, but as his search for work was fruitless he would have been the one to take care of any little ones if we had had them. On other occasions, like when he had major surgery, or traveled for long periods, I was in charge of all things, paying bills, mowing lawns, etc. while teaching my kids at home.
It's not WHAT you do, or who does what, it's pulling together and doing what's needed, when needed,.for the benefit of the children first, then each other.
Men and women complement each other by their natures, not by their occupations or 'duties' or 'roles'.
Jesus set no limitations on women: It was they who first saw him resurrected. He defended Mary who sat at His feet listening to Him and not Martha who was serving everybody. In the gospel of John it is Martha who expresses the revelation of who Jesus is, not Peter.
Besides, what about the woman who doesn't marry, or who marries and can't have children? Are they just not counted?
I would not look to people for answers, I would pray about it, and ask Him who made you show you how precious you are to Him, and what His will is for you.
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