Monday, May 26, 2008

Feminists and FLDS

or, "Brainwashing, Part 2"

I've been pondering some of my points from the earlier, Brainwashing post, specifically how either side of an issue can become 'brainwashing' to someone, especially when it's one of those ideas the opposite side just can't wrap their minds around.

Women are central figures in the FLDS fiasco. We have the mothers trying to get their children back (and fewer men in the limelight). We have the "abused" teen girls, pregnant or otherwise. We have Angie Voss, CPS investigatoress, and Judgess Barbara Walter. All women. But these women represent two very different sides of 'women's choices' today. The FLDS women, provided they choose this life (and most of them say they do), are living far differently than Voss or Judge Walther. The FLDS may have attended some college, but are living 'at home,' caring for their homes and children. Voss and Judge Walther attended many years of college, and at least in the judge's case, many years of grad/law school. This was followed by years devoted to their careers. I don't know either woman's age or family status, but certainly if they did/do have husbands or children, most of their waking hours were devoted to their education/jobs. I don't want to speak of the right- or wrong-ness of this choice, just that they have chosen to spend considerable time away from their families, if they do have families.

Most would ascribe this to feminism, that for women to even have the choice to pursue something other than diapers and dishes, we should thank feminism, or, the Feminist Movement.

But, as in all cases, nothing is truly unbiased. Fingers are pointing at feminism more and more, because while "Choice!" is it's mantra, some choices are less tolerated.

Back to the brainwashing idea... Angie Voss, in the company of 700 armed SWAT/snipers/armored vehicles/helicopters looked around the YFZ ranch, and while the imaginary Sarah was not to be found, she indeed "saw" something just as bad. Young women, pregnant and/or mothering children. *Her* washed brain knew that this was abuse. Why? Because to her, women would never freely choose such a life. Certainly there were other contributing factors (polygamy among some, old-fashioned dresses, hardworking lifestyle), but, this couldn't be choice. Feminism didn't do all this hard work for women to choose what would've been forced on them a century ago!

Maybe it went deeper. Maybe Ms. Voss has her 1.8 children in daycare and suffers guilt. Maybe she feels worse when she sees women making different choices than she, and certainly mothers shouldn't choose this because daycare and preschool are important for kids' early educational opportunities... right? And no one else should choose what she herself didn't. Maybe (again, this is ALL speculation) she bought in to Feminism even more, and never tried to balance family and career... Perhaps career was not just the primary focus, but the only one. Perhaps she has no children or family at all, and when you're starving, it hurts to see others enjoying a buffet you can't have. And some primal part of you wants to overturn that buffet table so no one else can have it either.

Why can't stay-at-home-wife-and-motherhood be a legitimate choice? Is it the (purported) younger-than-statistical ages at which these women are making the choice? How many things do we need to experience before knowing what we want? For the sake of argument, let's say these young mothers (for the record, I'm thinking in the late-teens, early-twenties ages) are better-prepared for the role than most in our society today. Let's say they're experienced homemakers and understand and embrace the gravity and sanctity of motherhood as well or better than most. Why would their choice equal abuse or brainwashing?

If these same girls showed better-than-average ability and desire to say, attend a liberal university and major in sexual psychology (is that a major?) at that age, would feminism approve? Would they be applauded for their advanced intellect and determination and heralded for their courage to pursue such a controversial degree? I'm guessing they would be. "It's so great that, even at 16, you've graduated from high school and know what you want to do in life."

It could be argued, I suppose, that declaring a major doesn't require the same amount of commitment as raising children.

But then again, with all it's "choice!" feminism allows us so very many ways to reduce the commitment of childbearing. We can start with birth control, or abortion if that doesn't work, then there's daycare and preschool and institutionalized education and then college... I daresay some are more committed to their major after all.

Feminism needs to start recognizing that some of us choose what they have so despised. Then it can either rejoice that the playing-field of choices is so diverse, or it can admit that it's not very pro-choice after all, and continue in it's path.

Either one works for me, and I bet either one would've been welcome by the FLDS mothers.

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