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The New Feminine Story
By Meghan Schulthies
In Margaret Wheatley’s article The New Story, she brings to surface the zeitgeist of 2006, the idea of a new story, a feeling of going back to traditional values and priorities but calling them by new names. But can a society go back to traditional values unscathed by progress?
Feminism is the Old Story of Femininity as retold in Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique and Ayn Rand’s Dagny in Atlas Shrugged. The feminist movement progressed the society of women from Stepford Wives to Ms. President. Women were being liberated from social restraints and set free to join this progression. Throughout the 60’s and 70’s the rise of women in the workforce doubled. But a stir of resistance began to gain momentum towards the end of the twentieth century. Women were waking up to empty cribs and microwave dinners for one. Entering the mask of masculinity left their mothering soul empty. They could no longer suppress their desire to marry and have children. Working all day left them no time for the domestic arts or personal cultivation.
Sarah Breathnach’s Mrs. Sharp and Miriam Lukken’s Mrs. Dunwoody called women back home through the domestic arts. Home was not just a structure it was a canvas, a place of self-discovery, fulfillment, beauty, peace and relaxation. They believed the fulfillment women were seeking in the work force but did not find could be found by coming home.
Is the call to come home bringing back traditional femininity or is it taking Feminism out of the workforce and bringing it home?
In Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, Marmee doesn’t stay at home to discover her authentic self or develop her inner “domestic goddess”. Instead she stayed home for her traditional feminine values of creating a safe, loving and spiritual environment for her husband and daughters.
Today the Mrs. Sharps’ who are creating the new feminine story believe they are tapping into a woman’s nature by calling her home. Yet they do not realize that she, like most of us, is a product of her social environment where feminism has a strong hold. The new feminine story is calling for traditional values for modern reasons—women shouldn’t stay at home for their husband or children but for themselves.
If we come home for ourselves we will feel the emptiness we found in the work place. Why? Because a woman has never received fulfillment through self-centeredness; it is against her nature. Therefore, selfish motives will always bring us back to the drawing board in search of happiness. Our motherly nature finds happiness through service, it is who we are. Once we lose sight and stray from that unique ability we will never find fulfillment. Society may say that fulfilled women pursued their careers, children or education for their betterment and in pursuit bettered society. However, great women are fulfilled because they seek out the happiness, peace and joy of others— Mother Teresa, Abigail Adams, my own grandmother and mother to name a few. All of these women came home for their husbands, children, community and humanity.
As players in the new feminine story we see a movement towards women leaving the workforce to cook dinner, clean their house and raise their children. However, our problems have not been solved because our feminine hearts are still feminist at heart.
Ms. Schulthies holds a B.A. in Statesmanship from George Wythe College and is a Fall 2008 Masters candidate in Education.PrintShare this article with a Friend