“The issue is now quite clear. It is between light and darkness and every one must choose his side.” G. K. Chesterton

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wifey Wednesday: What Susan B. and Elizabeth C. Might Say to Women of Today

And now, some words from Susan...

I have had the dubious privilege over the past week to write about the lives of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton for a client.  Rest assured nothing short of the love of filthy lucre could attract me to these two proto-feminists.  However, now that I have completed the task, I have to say that I’m glad I did.  For, though neither woman was a Christian, much less a Catholic, I think they would still be appalled at much of what had become of the movement they started over 150 years ago.  In fact, since both were pretty outspoken, I think they’d have some very surprising words for their feminist progeny.

Here are some things they might say:

·         Homemaking can be a delightful career.  In her memoir, Stanton records her early days as a housewife.

I had all the most approved cook books, and spent half my time preserving, pickling, and experimenting in new dishes. I felt the same ambition to excel in all departments of the culinary art that I did at school in the different branches of learning. My love of order and cleanliness was carried throughout, from parlor to kitchen, from the front door to the back. I gave a man an extra shilling to pile the logs of firewood with their smooth ends outward, though I did not have them scoured white, as did our Dutch grandmothers. I tried, too, to give an artistic touch to everything–the dress of my children and servants included. My dining table was round, always covered with a clean cloth of a pretty pattern and a centerpiece of flowers in their season, pretty dishes, clean silver, and set with neatness and care. I put my soul into everything, and hence enjoyed it.

·         Motherhood is a high calling, worthy of respect and training.  Stanton wrote:

Though motherhood is the most important of all the professions,–requiring more knowledge than any other department in human affairs,–yet there is not sufficient attention given to the preparation for this office. If we buy a plant of a horticulturist we ask him many questions as to its needs, whether it thrives best in sunshine or in shade, whether it needs much or little water, what degrees of heat or cold; but when we hold in our arms for the first time, a being of infinite possibilities, in whose wisdom may rest the destiny of a nation, we take it for granted that the laws governing its life, health, and happiness are intuitively understood, that there is nothing new to be learned in regard to it.

·         Your vote is precious.  Use it for good, not evil.  

For Anthony, involvement in the suffrage movement grew out of her experiences with the abolition and temperance efforts.  She came to believe that, if women had the vote, they would use their power to improve society and make it safer for their children.  Neither could have for seen that any woman would ever use the power in her hands to kill her own child.

·         You deserve better than 50 Shades of Grey.

One of the driving forces behind the women’s movement of the 19th century was the how women were mistreated and often abused by their husbands and lovers.  I cannot begin to think what these pioneers for equality would think of a series of novels that glorify any woman making herself a man’s sexual punching bag.

·         Celibacy can free you for great work.

Susan B. Anthony never married.  However, there is also no evidence that she ever became romantically entangled outside of marriage, either.  Without the threat of a surprise pregnancy or commitments to a family, she was able to focus her attention on her life’s work.

·         A surprise pregnancy will not ruin your life.   
      Though she though “she was done” after the birth of her sixth child at the age of 40, Stanton found herself pregnant again at 44.  In spite of the fact that she had no use of Christianity or the Church, she still did nothing to prevent this child from being born. 

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