Something that Condoleezza Rice said in her Q&A session Thursday has been on my mente. A sociology posed the question as to whether the emergence of a female president is an immanent reality for the United States. She used some logical evidence to back up her view and announced that she thinks it is only a matter of time. She went on to say that even if people are not vocalizing the question "Can a woman be Commander in Chief just as well as a man?" that it is certainly something Americans are turning over in the back of their minds. "And the answer is, "Yes!" At this point, about 20 girls in the audience hollered in appreciation, myself included. It was a moment both comical and precious. I am sad to say that after this comment, I made the prediction that at the end of the question, men would not applaud with the same enthusiasm as they did with other questions. Realizing my narrow-minded attitude, I quickly took shame and tossed the thought aside. What disturbed me even more though was when I looked around the audience and noticed that my prediction was, sadly, correct. There was an obvious decline in clapping compared to other questions.
And why did this bother me? Yes, because I, myself, am a woman and feel that that means that people do not think I can do some things as well as a ma just because God gave me different body parts. BUT I also began thinking about men and what we as Americans, Mormons, human beings expect that men cannot do as well as women. I think the issue goes both ways. I think having a career is great along with the intellectual stimulation and sense of helping others that comes with it. I also think staying home and raising children is one of the most nobel and precious things a person can aspire to do. And, I think that unequally distributing these 2 duties between a husband and wife is not fair to either spouse. I'm not a mom. I don't know what it is like to have the love of a mother, but I do imagine that seeing my child for the first time is love at first sight. Likewise, I would assume that it is the same for a father. So, why should I get to stay home with the child and make my husband work all the time? Correct me if I'm wrong, men, but with all societal roles and expectations aside, wouldn't you like to stay at home and be a dad like the women get to do?
I have, thus, decided, that equal right between gender is much more than a women's issue: it is a children's issue. I want my husband to be a parent just as much as I am. Not just because I think that is a stressful load on either of us, but I want my children to have a father figure around as much as a mother one. I don't think that a working woman is necessarily any less nurturing or a stay-at-home dad is any less providing. I just want my children to see that there needs to be a balance between work and family not just between spouses, but for an individual, as well. I don't want them to feel limited in their dreams and desires just because of gender roles. I want them to see their father as more than someone who provides and protects. I want them to see him as a man who is deeply devoted to his children. I want to be a mom who does more than tirelessly love and care for her children, and as a woman who contributes to society and her fellow man with the degrees and job she worked hard for.
And at the end of the day, all I really want is for me and my family to be happy. Some women stay home full time while their spouses work full time, and that works wonderfully for them. I have a friend whose father was the stay-at-home parent and whose mom was the full time worker. Her father is one of the kindest men I know, and he is very happy to have spent so many happy years of his life raising his son and 4 daughters. And there are others who find a way to divide the time more equally between spouses and lead very fulfilling lives. I suppose what I am trying to say is that there is no right or wrong formula for society, only for individuals, and I hope that we can recognize that there is no concrete formula for how "gender" duties should be divided. I realize this is a deeply touchy and controversial subject, but I'd be interested in all thoughts and opinions on the subject.
Peace and Blessings!