". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Stupid Housewife Thoughts

One of the questions being asked about Supreme Court Justice nominee Elena Kagan is whether or not she's a lesbian.

I don't care. If she's not making an issue of it, coming out militantly in favor of a gay rights' agenda, then in my opinion it's not worth talking about. A lot of public servants engage in behaviors that are against my personal moral code. For example, I daresay that many politicians whose views I agree with have committed the sin of fornication. I think that is wrong. But in today's culture it is common for people to not see anything wrong with it. So as much as I would like for all of my leaders to live a sexually pure and decent life, I don't think realistically that I have much hope of that. Therefore, if a person doesn't engage in a behavior publicly, flaunting and defending it as an "alternative" choice that is as legitimate as any other, and if the behavior doesn't compromise his ability to do his job, I am not going to lose sleep over it. We all sin daily and fall short of the glory of God in ways big and small. The question for me when it comes to a public figure is whether or not the sin is being committed in such a way that its consequences are foisted on those the public figure is called to serve.

Back to Elena Kagan. Interestingly enough, it is not the conservatives who are politically opposed to her that seem to be most obsessed with the question of her sexuality. It is, rather, her political allies and friends. Case in point: this column in The Washington Post, penned by Ruth Marcus, who identifies herself as a friend of Kagan's. The opening sentence of her column:

"She's not gay, okay?"

Marcus goes on to say that she wishes Kagan were gay because it would be of great benefit to the country to have an openly gay woman on the Supreme Court, but that she knows for a fact that such is not the case, and that the only reason people are talking about Kagan's sexual identity is because she is an older woman who has never married nor had children.

I appreciate Marcus' point. An "older" woman's lack of husband and children (I'm putting "older" in quotation marks because I don't think Kagan is much older than I!) should not be taken as reason to suspect that she is a lesbian! God does not call every woman to the vocation of wife and mother. But after arguing that we should not come to one conclusion about Kagan based upon her lack of a husband, Marcus goes on to promote another that I think is just as silly: in her opinion, Kagan is just too smart for marriage and motherhood.

I'm suddenly having a flashback to the 1970's, when the militant women's liberation movement was still raging and the argument was that there were two kinds of women: thinking types who went out and got a "real" job, and heads full of mush who opted to stay home and rear their children.

I thought we had gotten beyond that mindset. I guess not.

So Cate, Melody, Lora, Jane, Elephant's Child, Susan, and Rebekah, Reb. Mary and Gauntlets, I have some news for you: the only reason you have a husband and kids is that you're not very bright. If you had been smarter, those guys wouldn't have married you. And the fact that you are home caring for them and their children instead of out in the workforce means that you are even dumber than we suspected. (By the way, that list of links could have been longer. But my poor, feeble, little brain is tiring so I had better wrap up this post while I have some mental juice remaining).

Of course, I'm being ironic. The ladies to whose blogs I have linked are not only stay-at-home moms but are some of the smartest people I know. But here's a thought that is not meant to be ironic. Maybe Elena Kagan has never been married because she just hasn't found the right guy yet. Or maybe God has other plans for her (plans which I personally hope don't include being on the Supreme Court, but on that one I'm not holding my breath).


Susan said...

Maggie and I are reading book #5 in the Betsy-Tacy series. I squirmed today when we got to the Betsy's thoughts about some of her friends' view of the future. The girls are now freshmen in high school. Her old friends all wanted to be something when they grew up, such as writers or dancers. But Betsy's new friends are thinking about when/who they will marry, and preparing to set up housekeeping. That bothers Betsy a lot.

And my brain is racing through "uh.... do I want to be reading these stories to my freshman-age daughter????"

Cate said...

I find this mindset to be fairly pervasive and this quote doesn't surprise me that much. I am not terribly upset by it b/c it's a mindset that has been hammered into us from a young age (like w/Susan's Betsy-Tacy example; i.e. what do you want to BE, as if being a wife and mother isn't enough).

I do my best to present the idea, whenever I am able, that lots of smart women stay home and raise their kids when we could have otherwise done something big or great and been Someone Important because having children and being a wife *IS* big and great and important. No, I do not feel I am using all my inherent gifts and abilities, but I am absolutely OK with that.

I think the same thing happens to men though, too. They're encouraged just as much as women to pursue grandeur and Big Time Success, often at the expense of their families. In some ways, I think the husband's job of balancing a job that pays the family's bills and, yet, being an involved husband and father is almost harder because it is so easy to get consumed by what you do, somewhere out of the home, day in and day out.

You advocate for moms at home every day, Cheryl, right here on your blog. Anyone who reads your blog, whether they agree with you or not, realizes what a thoughtful, intelligent person you are, and what a wonderful job you have done as a mother to your children. I dare anyone to assert that's somehow less important than something else, even being a U.S. Supreme Court justice.

Rebekah said...

I'm sure Elena Kagan is a lot smarter than I am, and she's certainly more ambitious. But then I don't think either of those things are virtues.

Susan said...

Oh! Oh my goodness!
Thank you, Rebekah!!!!!!
Um, you cannot possibly know how helpful that comment is to me this morning!!!!

Cheryl said...

"I'm sure Elena Kagan is a lot smarter than I am"

I don't know, Rebekah. Smartness is hard to quantify, you know? She may have a different kind of smarts. She has definitely done some different things with them. But that doesn't mean she's smart-ER. And I guess that's sort of my point. I don't think smartness (or the lack thereof) can or should be judged by looking at the externals of a person's life.

On the ambitiousness, scale, yes, absolutely. She leaves all of us in the dust. Can't argue with that one. Better her than me.

And as for neither smarts nor ambition being virtues, exactly. Great point, and I thank you for making it.

Gauntlets said...

Sheesh. America becomes more tragicomedic by the second.

Elephantschild said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elephantschild said...

I just think all the angsty hand-wringing over Kagan's bedroom preferences is hilarious, since those making the most noise about it are the ones who claim to care the least about those sorts of preferences.

I do think being smart is a virtue; I've built my blogging "career" on being (a)"smart"(-ey pants). Being ambitious? Maybe not so much.

Although, I will say this: sacrificing all to be present for the childhood of one's offspring is pretty dang ambitious in my view.

Cheryl said...

EC, I guess it depends on how you define "virtue." If a virtue is just an admirable trait, then yes, I would say that intelligence is a virtue. I have to admit I admire and look up to intelligent people. But if virtue equals goodness, righteousness, purity and "moral excellence" (as the dictionary I consulted put it), then I don't think intelligence is a virtue. Innate intelligence, like natural beauty, is not something one can really take credit for. You can work at becoming more learned or more attractive, but the brain you were given is the brain you were given. Same with skin, bone structure, body type, hair, eyes, and the like. We can enhance and develop those things, but we can't really change them. (And plastic surgery doesn't count. We can't will ourselves to be more beautiful any more than we can will ourselves to be smarter.)

Melody said...

If this quote
is anywhere close to true, then the implication is clear that we as MOMS have influence beyond imagining. Or how about this on
I wish these people would STOP trying to make me feel stoopid and get on with messing up the world some other way!
Because then those stoopid kids of mine, who I have influenced with my mushy mommy brain, would have the chance to show them What For.

Suzanne said...

Wow, Melody. I love that quote.

I'd heard the phrase, "The hand that rocks the cradle" many times, but never the full poem. I've especially heard it as an argument for/against public schools. It's a continual struggle in our society.. Who controls the children?