I just finished reading The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd.
While this author may be known to most people as the writer of The Secret Life of Bees and The Mermaid Chair, I knew her mostly from Guideposts magazine. My parents subscribed to it when I was growing up. Because I was a voracious reader I read them all cover to cover. It seemed like Sue Monk Kidd had an article in every one. I quit reading Guideposts when I moved out of my parents’ house. I was surprised when I heard that she was writing non-Christian fiction.
The Dance of the Dissident Daughter explains what happened. It details her spiritual journey from being a good little Southern Baptist to embracing what she calls the Divine Femine and rebelling against the patriarchy.
She spends a lot of time dealing with the use of male language in Christianity. “He”, “Lord”, etc. for some reason that never really bothered me. But she does have some interesting points.
“Women with their incessant menstruation, conception, pregnancy, childbirth, and lactation have been too visceral for patriarchal religion. In the Bible, women involved in these womanly conditions were considered unclean and were separated from men. They had to go through purifications before being allowed near men or things religious. And since birth and menses were considered dirty, women were in constant need of being spiritualized and sanitized.”
I had never really thought of all this as a way of keeping women in their place by considering themselves unworthy.
“A man assumes certain entitlements simply because he’s male. For instance, Sandy was entitled to go and come in the world as he pleased. If he had a business trip, he simply went, no questions asked. And lots of time I packed the bag. But if I should have a writer’s conference or a speaking engagement, it was a big deal, something that needed to be discussed. How long would I be gone? Could he manage the children without me? What about meals? How many times a day is the dog fed?”
This one I can relate to. This sounds just like my mother. We’ve been fighting over this for years. She was the kind of wife who pre-made all the meals if she was going to be gone. They were all labelled. My dad would have been perfectly capable of feeding us. Probably he would have taken us out to eat but we wouldn’t have starved.
Usually I don’t cook for the husband because we have very different diets and schedules. My mother tries not to think of this because it causes her mental anguish.
She does everything for my father and brother. Then she’ll complain about it. I tell her not to do it. But that’s unthinkable. How would they manage? They do fine on their own. My brother lived in a dorm for 4 years and didn’t starve. I’ll be talking to Mom on the phone and she’ll say things like, “Oh, your brother’s home. I have to make his dinner,” or “I have to iron your brother’s shirt now.” Makes me insane. He’s 28 years old. He can do his own laundry. He acknowledges this but he’s got it good and he knows it.
He’s getting married in April. I’ve taken this fight to his fiancee. I ordered her not to iron and cook for him. She said that she is also horrified by the fact that he does nothing for himself. She said that he will have to learn to be self-sufficient. I told her to use the schedule thing as an excuse. My brother has the same kind of schedule as my husband. He may be home at 5:00 PM or he may be home at 1:00 AM. Depends on what is going on that day. But I don’t know if she has the nerve to stand up to my mother. My mom can be passive aggressive – “Oh, she didn’t make you dinner? Again?” “That shirt could use some ironing.” I just ignore her. But my brother and his fiancee’s lives are totally intertwined with their families. The families are friends who go out together to eat several times a week. Personally, I couldn’t handle it. I wish them luck.