Monday, November 28, 2011

The Fates of Our Foremothers

It seems to me that religious upbringing is to help define a life's mission greater than one's immediate pleasure and release at all costs from stresses of our animal instincts.

What confounds so many young women today is how to choose their life's mission. We are now faced with so many choices that were not available to our foremothers. When I was speaking to a couple of high school sophomores about their ambitions, they were very sure of their choices in professions. Upon hearing that, when I was their ages, all the women I knew were automatically expected to become wives and mothers, one of the girls replied, "I wish it was that easy." Easy? I wish.

Our educations prepared us for becoming doctors and lawyers, but acted as if becoming the co-creators of human beings and bringing them up to be moral men and women needed nothing other than a set of static rules and a stick. How foolish we were to take the path of family life so for granted.

We could never have even envisioned a book called What to Expect When You're Expecting. Even we who had never gotten a crying baby to settle down (to laugh yes, but not to settle down) were left to figure it out on our own. The closest we came to parenting advice was from Dr. Spock who believed in disciplining even small babies until they bent to our wills.

Forget about advice on life as a couple. We were told that once you married, you could never change any behavior of your man, so we simply learned to live with the resignation to that belief. And we dared not risk sex before the man "bought the cow" because we may end up at the mercy of a damning society for the support of a fatherless child. Men were taught that he way to have easy sex was to marry, even though all who have rared children know this not to be true.

Our greatest ambition for our marriages was that our husbands brought home their paychecks and didn't beat us to death. For these concessions, we were expected to accede to their sexual desires or accept their infidelity. Men had "needs," you know.

I have found some Eastern tomes on married love, but they never seem to have the lovers locked in intimate embraces that include shedding dogs and dirty diapers. I wish I could remember where I read it, but someone once pointed out to me that love is when to people are passionate about the same thing. The closest I could come to finding that quote was this one by C.S. Lewis, “What draws people to be friends is that they see the same truth. They share it.” The problem is that we don't define that about which we are passionate before we pick a path for our lives and mates to accompany us on these paths.

A lot of my friends are distressed by all this unmarried sex. I'm encouraged that the young people seem to be defining the difference between animal attraction and the friendship that grows out of shared passion for something outside one's selves. I believe that, in a lot of cases, they feel pressured into adding the sexual component by the erroneous belief foisted on many generations that males and females cannot have intimate friendships without sex "happening."

Even in this age of AIDS and DNA testing, many males are still brought up to treat their bodies as tools of conquest. Semen and ova are handed off to perfect strangers, as if these are not the seeds of human beings with the potential for souls. We have made mockery of the old-fashioned belief that our bodies are temples of The Holy Spirit.

I would prefer for young people to discover if it is only their animal instincts that attract them to each other before they attempt to bring children up with a shared set of values. Only in this way can we hope for a moral, civil society instead of continuing to foster packs of hyenas competing for the sake of the conquest. My husband once said to me that he believes that the real thing that separates humans from other animals is the ability to say, "No." I believe it is our ability to redirect our animal energies.

Would I prefer that we be taught responsible ways to recognize and responsibly relieve or refocus our own sexual tensions? Yes. Do I see that happening in America in my lifetime? I wish...

1 comment:

  1. Your understanding of Spock and mine are totally different. I thought his philosophy was that we should not correct that child - but allow him/her to develop naturally. Spanking was forbidden because it might warp the child's personality. I see I've forgotten what I once learned.