Oops. I must have nodded off while ordering my books. Though to my credit the book I ordered had the same name as the one I wanted, but a different author.
I intended to order For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay because I’d seen it mentioned in Real Learning and elsewhere. But instead I got another book by the same title: For the Children’s Sake by Caroline New and Miriam David.
I was not far into the introduction when I started to suspect something was wrong. The authors are self-described feminists and very obviously see male/female relationships in terms of oppressor/oppressed, subordination/domination. Ugh!
This passage made me put the book down, head to the computer to double check that I’d got the right book:
But the point of view that this [caring for elderly dependants] is women’s work is justified in terms of women’s supposedly motherly natures. Because they can bear children, women are considered more able than men to give tender, loving care to whomever needs it.
I couldn’t believe Elizabeth Foss, whose book practically dripped with Edith Stein, could have found this book inspirational. Edith Stein’s philosophy is exactly 180 degrees from this “feminist”* disdain for feminine singularity.
“Everywhere the need exists for maternal sympathy and help, and thus we are able to recapitulate in the one word motherlinesss that which we have developed as the characteristic value of woman. Only, the motherliness must be that which does not remain within the narrow circle of blood relations or of personal friends; but in accordance with the model of the Mother of Mercy, it must have its root in universal divine love for all who are there, belabored and burdened.”
“The differences between masculine and feminine natures indicate clearly that a specific aptitude for certain professions is present in each.”
“True feminine qualities are required wherever feeling, intutition, empathy, and adaptability come into play. Above all, this activity involves the total person in caring for, cultivating, helping, understanding, and in encouraging the gifts of the other. And since woman is mainly concerned with serving people and making provisions for them, she is able to function well in all educational and medical professions, in all social work, in the human sciences, in the arts which depict humanity, as well as in the business world and in public and parochial administration.”
This book is going back to the library unread. I’m not terribly interested in discovering what Caroline New and Miriam David have to say about child care because their foundations are rotten. Their understanding of woman as well as their understanding of the relations between men and women is sick at its heart.
They write: “Women’s responsibility for childcare crosses class boundaries as the central feature of their oppression today.” They find staying at home to care for children “infantalizing”. And “the children who are their mother’s beloved companions and playmates are at the same time the source of her belittlement.”
But I’m grateful in a way that this book fell into my lap because it made me run to my Edith Stein and reminded me again what a radical undertaking a Christian life is. To the rest of the world it is madness to embrace the cross and die to self. And yet this self-emptying, this life-giving love, is at the heart of the vocation of wife and mother. To the feminists it is an oppressive prison, to a Christian woman it is the road to heaven. Christ says that we must die to self. That is the last thing the “feminist” wants. She clings desperately to her self. And Christ tells us that if we do that, ultimately we lose our selves. We only become who we are meant to be when we let go of self and embrace Christ.
*Note: Word choice gets a bit tricky here. I consider Edith Stein a true feminist, but in common parlance the word more often is associated with attitudes like New’s and David’s. Not sure what to do but put it in quotes.