Feminism and Flat-pack Furniture

While she was building a flat-pack chair, my friend once commented “Does this mean I’m an Independent Woman now? I’m worried that means I don’t need a husband.”

Now, there are several things about that statement that worry me. Apologies to said friend if ever she should read this. It is not criticism of her nor her plight, but it was the perfect example with which to write a blog that has been brewing for a few days. PLUS it gave the perfect alliterative title!

These are only preliminary thoughts which I hope to develop over time. How many of them I publish here depends on my waxing and waning concerns over how I am perceived and judged by any readership that should stumble across my small corner.

Okay, here goes … in no particular order…

1. Inherent is a picture of a God who gives women certain skills so they can cope when he makes them live as old spinsters.

Women I know (in this context of the single variety) often think about whether or not God is ‘calling’ them to be single til the grave (I imagine men also think about this but with perhaps less urgency…). It’s a big thing. Perhaps it’s the bio-clock a-ticking (of which we’re aware in one way or another from a ridiculously young age), perhaps it’s the importance and honour which the media and culture place on couples/romance or perhaps – and I think that often – it is rooted in a tragic sense of ‘What if…?’ What if I’m not attractive enough? What if I’m not good enough? What if I don’t deserve it? What if God doesn’t love me enough to give me what I most desperately want? Relationship. Connection. Community. What if God is giving me practice at building flat-pack furniture so I can look after myself when all my friends get married and I’m alone?’

Is this really the provision of which ‘Jehovah-Jireh’ speaks?

2. Negative connotations of being independent – as if its not a feminine quality.

Now, I know Beyoncé and the girls coined this idea of an Independent Woman – and let’s face it, if we could wave a wand and be like Beyoncé I’m not too sure how many of us would decline the offer (the Spice Girls’ ‘Girl Power’ might be somewhat less tempting…) – but, actually in reality, culture (at least N.I Christian culture) seems to consider independence in a woman isn’t ‘all that’.

I’m in great danger here of stealing another blogger’s soapbox and start ranting, but I’ll curtail it for now as this, I hope, is just the introduction to a series of posts on these things.

Suffice to say (for now) that, whether explicitly or otherwise, culture says that ‘real’ women are pink and fluffy. Which leads to my third preliminary observation…

3. Desire to be seen as ‘feminine’ in ‘masculine’ eyes.

Again, the fear that we don’t match up to what we’re ‘supposed’ to be. Most women (we cannot be completely free from generalisations here…) are greatly concerned with relationships and connections with people – its what we love, its our frame of reference for our identity. It is both a blessing and a curse. The curse being that we want others to think well of us and thus the concern to be desirable to the opposite sex in the hope of finding that one relationship that will remain til death do us part. So we fuss about our hair, our weight, our clothes; as students we cook for the boys’ house down the road, we do their dishes to ‘serve’ them ‘like Jesus would’, we talk about relationships to show we’re interested,  but not too much in case we look desperate… We want to be the ‘feminine’ friends our ‘masculine’ friends feel safe with, always fearing that if we get it wrong we’ll soon be spinsters with nothing but feline friends to inhabit our flat-pack furniture filled flats… FOREVER.

Perhaps this all sounds very negative and pessimistic, but it is sometimes necessary to talk in extremes in order to illustrate the issues. My intention is NOT to enforce flat-pack furniture lessons and burping contests on girls from the age of three, neither is it to criticise nor diminish the incredibly important, demanding and beautiful work that mothers and homemakers do every day. Nor is my intention to incite hatred towards men – their struggles are as big as our own (I just don’t have the same kind of insight into them.) and we must learn to love each other well as people made in the image of God. Rather, my desire is to become, and help others become, who God has designed us to be rather than what society would tell us to be.

I also will NOT be burning any bras…

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8 Comments

Filed under culture, dating, fear, modern life, relationships, sin, truth, women

8 responses to “Feminism and Flat-pack Furniture

  1. As someone who actually quite enjoys doing DIY (mainly of the ‘rebuild the entire house using Polyfilla variety) and building flat-pack furniture, I think this is a great post. I also used to feel like I had to ‘dumb down’ the fact that I had a PhD, ‘cos it wasn’t thought of as a ‘proper’ thing for a Christian girl to do.

    But now I just do what I enjoy, and sod the consequences (well, kind of).

  2. Honestly, I don’t troll you’re blog… and I know I don’t even know you. But its 4.50 on a Monday, im losing the will to live… I go to 5-a-side football in 10 mins… and I literally surfed here via Soapbox.

    Goes without saying (as im guessing you’ve noticed) that I by-pass the god stuff on this post. But the rest is interesting… if onlty for the fact that the mrs and I had a quite honest discussion along these lines the other day in the car… in a “what if”.

    The conclusion was, I think… rather scarily… (slight tangent, but similar ball park) that obviously NOW I’d love my mrs to earn more money than me, and be more handy around the house (with the flat packs) than me etc etc … but if when I ‘d first met her … would these traits have ‘put me off’. Simalarly if I had earned less than her and been less ‘suuccessful’ would this actually have put her off.

    If I’d been a low earning PA, with not many career prospects … who kinda needed ‘provided’ for .. would this have put my mrs off me… even though im the same person.

    If my mrs earned a phd now.. id be emabrrasingly proud… telling everyone I met.. but If my mrs had been a phd would this have put me off.

    The question was hanging – but in a …. Flip, you know what… maybe yes… way.

    Never ‘dumb down’ but… honesty about the way people (of t’other sex) think is important too. And I think what people say they think , and what they really think.. don’t always match

  3. !! my……. you’re – your …choices are diabolical!

  4. meinmysmallcorner

    Hey qm, thanks for the comment (not sure what choices you’re talking about in the 2nd one?). Its good to hear others’ thoughts. Can’t promise the sort of philosophical responses you’re used to getting 😉 but…

    Few questions for you…? Do you think its okay that we ‘play up’ to what others think? Like, should a woman pretend to have no DIY skills, or hide how much money she makes; should a man keep schtum about his culinary skills or lack of toolkit? Just to ‘pull’ I mean.

    Like, I think what I’m thinking at the end of the day is looking at people as individuals rather than as part of the whole male/female of the species?

    Thanks for the honesty.

    Anyone else have some thoughts?

  5. >>>>(not sure what choices you’re talking about in the 2nd one?)

    grammatical choices. . my grammar is industrial, shall we say.

    Worth noting – that i’m uncomfortable and unhappy with the idea that i would have possibly been less initially attracted to my wife… and her to me … if we’d fitted less in to typical gender attraction stereo-types. I think you get that don’t you? i’m not saying its ‘OK’.

    … but that it might be a fact (not always of course). Also, worth spinning it round at you… and saying that its not just men who subconsciously think like this, women, i think gravitate towards ‘protectors’ whether its financial or physically… forcing men to ‘play up’ to that.

    it’s always really easy to say… everyone should just ‘be themselves’.

    So, do men when they are ‘trying to pull’ put on a bit more of a manly swagger and talk themselves up a bit – well of course. do woman bat their eyelashes and look a bit more shy and less dominant, gigling at unfunny jokes – of course. thats part of the dance.

    maybe.

    maybe the dance continues on after marriage… i was blaize about loving the idea of my mrs earning more than me etc etc … maybe if it came to it i wouldn’t actually be as comfortable as i think i would. Maybe its not just what i say i think that is divergent… but actually what i THINK i think.

  6. meinmysmallcorner

    “that i’m uncomfortable and unhappy with the idea that i would have possibly been less initially attracted to my wife… and her to me … if we’d fitted less in to typical gender attraction stereo-types. I think you get that don’t you?”

    Lol… yeah, I got that. I was just trying to draw out some thought on how far its ok and how far its not, but you’re right when you say: “it’s always really easy to say… everyone should just ‘be themselves’.” I’m thinking in abstracts really, which doesn’t really help 🙂

    And, yup – women are just as guilty!

  7. i guess its OK to a point isn’t it… though i think my granny was ‘against’ make-up because it was fakery 🙂 so, eye liner, yes? boob job, no? botox, maybe ?

    🙂

  8. Pingback: The problem with being single – 2.5: Sometimes you lose your voice « my small corner

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