Women can have careers too!

“I don’t understand the line of thinking that says men are created to be all manner of things, with all manner of skill, temperament, and talent. They can do whatever they like as far as vocation is concerned. Yet women, despite having all sorts of gifts, temperaments, talents, and abilities, all get the same job.”
-5/15/18 reader comment

Believe it or not, there is sense to be found on my least favorite blogger’s Facebook page, but it’s not from her. Surprisingly, I seek wisdom from visitors in the comment sections. Granted, most of the comments are disgusting attempts from readers to ingratiate themselves with the blog author, which make me even more infuriated than the original post, but once in a while you find a comment like the one above and you suddenly have hope for the future of humanity again. These rays of sunshine poking through the haze of sexism and outdated gender roles remind me that not everyone buys into the fanciful belief that “the good ol’ days” were back in the 50’s and 60’s. Or even earlier! For some reason returning to the time before civil rights and women’s suffrage seems appealing to certain folks. The modern world just has too much equality, too many freedoms, and far too much tolerance for their tastes! But getting back to the topic of women’s careers, here’s what the “Christian” blogger has to say.

“There’s no command that tells women that they must get a job or even make money. Yes, there are examples of women who made money in the Bible but no commands from God that women are required to make money. Women going to college and making money are not biblical concepts so let’s not try to say that they are or are of any value to God.”
-8/1/18 blog post

So she’s the arbiter of what’s valuable to God? Sure thing, lady. But as easily as I could write a whole different post on this troubling idea, that’s not the part of this excerpt that I want to expound upon.

I am certainly no expert in this area, but how can something not be Biblical if it’s in the Bible? This seems like a flimsy argument. I mean, obviously there are things in he Bible that are meant to illustrate undesirable behavior, like conduct forbidden by the Ten Commandments, but I am not aware of any examples of working women that fall into this category. As long as those ladies who had jobs and made money weren’t being used as examples of sin or blasphemy, how can we interpret that what they were doing wasn’t Biblical? I am confused. In most cases these days we females aren’t married off when we turn 18 so we spend at least part of our adulthood single, assuming matrimony is even in the cards for us at all. How are we supposed to make a living while single? There is no guarantee that a woman will ever marry, and she may only have herself to rely on for food, clothing, and shelter. If she has a family, their support cannot last forever, and it’s unlikely that charity (religious or otherwise) will provide for her every need during her lifetime. And this isn’t even taking into account widows, wives who have been abandoned by their husbands, or women who have saved themselves from an abusive marriage. I fall into that last category. Thank goodness I am a career woman who can take care of myself. My least favorite blogger might not like it, but luckily I don’t have to live by her antiquated, misogynistic moral code!

Debt and higher education (part 2)

“You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.”
-Brigham Young

Yesterday I wrote a post about the financial aspects of my undergraduate and graduate school education. I was attempting to refute claims from my least favorite blogger that men find women less desirable as potential wives if they have debt incurred from higher education. To take it even further, this woman doesn’t approve of college at all for those of us of the female persuasion. To use her own words, “There’s nothing biblical about young women going away to college.” It’s easy to unravel this argument, though. First of all, college as we know it today did not exist millennia ago when the Bible was written. Of course there were institutes of higher learning, especially in the more wealthy and powerful nations, but I don’t think even those are addressed in the Bible. (Please correct me if I’m wrong!) Second, women had almost no rights or autonomy at that time so I’m sure they received little to no education. They had so few options in their lives simply because of their gender and the male-dominated society they were born into. (This is slightly off topic, but as always, I am unbelievably grateful to all of the women who came before me and made the world a more equitable place for future generations.) Later in her post this blogger continues her rant:

“They [women] will be taught to be strong apart from the Lord and independent of Him and in no need of a man. In fact, they will be taught that there are no differences between men and women and be encouraged to be a man and take on his role. They will be taught about birth control, overpopulation, and the inconvenience of having children. They will be taught to pursue careers so they can make a name for themselves and have money of their own. They will be taught nothing about God’s ordained role for them but instead, spend a lot of money for their college education and gain a mountain of debt.”

To start with, what individual could possibly have the right to determine what God’s ordained role for any person other than themselves? That’s arrogance of the highest order. There are a number of reasons that women want to further their education, but most want to prepare for a career. I was in a sorority at UF and a majority of my sisters had lofty professional dreams that they were pursing, similar to my own. In this day and age a college degree is almost a requirement for any line of work. Of course, I understand that this isn’t universally true, and that college isn’t right for everyone. And that’s perfectly OK! I don’t judge folks for their educational choices, unlike some “Christian” bloggers I know. (I read another article by a different author recently that got me all fired up on this subject, but I’ll have to address that at a later time.) On the other hand, most of my sorority sisters were also eager to fall in love, get married, and start having children. So even though they had ambitions outside the home, they still wanted the traditional house with a white picket fence and a loving family to go with it. We are lucky that thanks to women’s rights advocates and feminists that there’s no reason we can’t have both! For example, where would we be without female-dominated professions like nursing, teaching, and social work? Let me use another quote straight from my least favorite blogger herself. In a recent Instagram post she asked, “Many women believe they are being ‘called’ to their careers but are they really?” For myself the answer is a resounding YES! And I’m sure most of the working women that I know, many with husbands and children too, would have a similar response.

The last point I want to address is single women such as myself. How would I be able to support myself if I didn’t have a good job thanks to my college education? Granted, my situation is unique since I made the choice to be single rather than having singleness thrust upon me. I divorced my ex-husband because he was abusive and cheated on me, but not all women have that luxury. What about women who are widowed or whose husbands leave them? Also, what about married women whose husbands become disabled or unable to work? How do they feed their children, keep a roof over their head, and satisfy their most basic needs? As I mentioned earlier, it’s difficult to get a good job without a college degree now. This is the reason I believe that all women who are inclined to go to college should do so, even if they plan to be a stay-at home wife and mother, just in case they are required to be their family’s breadwinner for one reason or another. It seems prudent to plan for whatever the future could bring rather than relying on a man to fulfill the provider role for the rest of your life. Of course this is just my opinion and I would encourage all women, couples, and families to figure out what works best for them. God gave us free will for a reason and he wanted all of his children to be happy, including members of the fairer sex!

P.S. In case you were wondering, one of the reasons I continue reading posts from this particular blogger is because they inspire me to think critically about the subject at hand and write these responses/rebuttals. Blogging has always been good for my soul. So even if I get angry reading her posts about how ladies these days are apparently loud, improper, and far too independent, I won’t let it affect how I feel about myself as a woman. I will simply use my visceral reaction as an opportunity to explain how not everyone fits into the same rigid box. Use your God-given gifts and live your life in whatever way you wish, ladies!

Debt and higher education (part 1)

“Imagine being born and finding out that because of your gender you’re expected to do one thing. Boys can be anything, but you, you’re only expected to stay home and cook and clean and make babies. I refuse to believe that that is my only purpose in life and my reason for existing.”
-7/3/18 Facebook comment

I was fairly young when I decided that I wanted to be an engineer. Math and science were always my favorite subjects and my parents, as well as all of my teachers, encouraged me to pursue my dreams. For me, college was a given. I never had any doubt that I would head straight to a university after graduating high school. However, I knew that my family wasn’t rich so my higher education options weren’t unlimited. I think I only applied to two schools, and one of them (Georgia Tech) fell off the list quickly because I didn’t get any substantial financial aid. Fortunately I grew up in Florida and our state has an amazing scholarship program called Bright Futures. When I finished high school over twenty years ago all you had to do to get money for college from the state was graduate from a Florida public high school, earn above a certain grade point average, and receive over a certain score on the SAT or ACT. So I had 100% of my tuition covered, plus a stipend for books every semester. (Granted, it was never enough to cover all of the insanely expensive textbooks I had to buy, but it certainly helped.) This means that I went to the University of Florida basically for free. Since I wasn’t living at home (Gainesville is about two hours away from Tallahassee) I did have room and board expenses, but I was extremely fortunate to have a college fund that my grandparents had sent up for me when I was young. They provided invaluable help to all four of their grandchildren in this manner. I got my Bachelor of Science degree with minimal cost to my parents, and without incurring any debt whatsoever. For this reason I know I am one of the lucky ones.

My least favorite blogger insists that men prefer debt-free virgins without tattoos. I already addressed the purity aspect in my 7/27 post, and now I’m going to tackle the debt portion of this hypothesis. After college I had no debt, but then I headed to graduate school at UCLA for two reasons. 1) I always planned to earn a Master’s Degree, and 2) the job market wasn’t great in 2002. I already had my foot in the door at Boeing due to my three internships, but the managers I knew there weren’t hiring when I graduated. So in the fall of 2002 I started my out-of-state, meaning not cheap, graduate school experience. Fortunately I was offered a position as a research assistant, and sometimes teaching assistant, which covered my tuition (four times more expensive than at UF) and earned me a paycheck every month. The drawback is that it was a very meager salary that didn’t cover the rent on my studio apartment close to campus. I lived for two years on the money I earned working at Boeing in 2000, 2001, and 2002. Usually an internship is an unpaid position, but Boeing is extremely generous to their temporary employees. I had saved a significant amount before starting graduate school, but I still needed additional financial aid to afford my continued education. So for the first time I got student loans. I still count myself as one of the lucky ones because in two years I only racked up about $17k worth of debt. In contrast, my ex-husband had attended MIT for undergrad and his student loans were much more substantial than mine. However, since our education had assisted both of us in finding fulfilling and lucrative jobs, neither of us considered the other’s student loan debt to be a point of contention when thinking about our future. Not that you’ll ever get rich as an engineer, but it comfortably pays the bills. I’ll reiterate the neither of us was religious so we weren’t viewing each other through the lens of Biblical suitability for marriage.

I have a lot more to say on this subject, but this post is already pretty long. Come back later this week so I can use my personal life experiences to refute some of the claims made by this “Christian” blogger about women and college. Educated women need to push back on the antiquated, male-dominated conventions that would prefer to limit our options. To be continued!

A woman’s worth

“There is a reason women were created, and it’s not just because Adam didn’t know how to do the dishes.”
-Blog comment that made me laugh

For some reason I can’t seem to stay away from my least favorite blogger’s page. (I’ve written about her twice before, on 6/30 and 7/7, but I refuse to name her or her webpage here because, in my opinion, she doesn’t need any more exposure!) I visit the blog on a regular basis even though her every post make me ill. Most mornings I find myself checking in to see what fresh monstrosity she has put out into with the world. Recently she wrote a post that “went viral” (as she will remind you at every opportunity) so her particularly narrow-minded “Christian” views got a lot more attention that usual. (Note: By putting the word Christian in quotations I mean no disrespect towards the religion in general, but I also don’t want to imply that this woman’s beliefs apply to all followers.) The post in question was regarding what essential traits a woman should have to make her marriage material. I’m sure everyone could come up with a reasonable list of characteristics, like kindness, maturity, loyalty, responsibility, etc. However, this blog post called out three particular qualities that “men prefer” in their potential spouse – namely her virginity, no accumulated debt, and a lack of tattoos. Pretty specific, huh? Taking this list at face value I don’t think any of these things are exactly groundbreaking concepts, especially since every man (and woman, for that matter) has their individual preferences when looking for a partner. But the way the post was written implied that women who had any past at all (like independence or ex-boyfriends) were damaged goods not worthy of a quality husband. What nonsense!

This may be way more personal that I should share here, but I was a virgin when I met my husband at age 22. I’m what most people would call a late bloomer in that regard. That label doesn’t bother me, but I know that most women in my peer group had sex for the first time much younger than I did. However, when my ex and I got married (on the 6th anniversary of our first date) I was no longer a virgin. Not surprising considering we had been dating for such a long time. We also lived together for a year and a half before the wedding in the house we bought a few weeks after getting engaged. Still, he was the only person I had ever been with. But rather than lauding my virginity at the beginning of our relationship, he was actually annoyed by it. Virgins have no idea what they’re doing in the bedroom and he didn’t want another inept lover. (He was my first but I was not his, which I was OK with.) And now that I’m older and have more life experience I don’t blame him! So while I understand that most religions value a woman’s purity when she weds, clearly not all men are exclusively looking for virgins to marry. (For the record, my ex-husband wasn’t any more religious than I am, but he was still interested in my morals, goals, and our mutual compatibility before choosing me as his wife.) So now that I am a divorced woman pushing 40, and obviously no longer a virgin, am I less worthy of a man who loves and respects me in my current state? Am I damaged goods because I am single after saving myself from an abusive marriage? No! Maybe no Prince Charming will ever make his way into my life, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to settle for less than what I deserve just so that I can have a man in my life. I’m doing just fine on my own!

Regarding the other two noted qualities of a marriageable female according to this “Christian” blogger – no debt and a lack of tattoos – I’ll have to tackle those in another post. It’s getting late and I have to get up and run the Cypress 5K in the morning. Just one of the things this single woman can do with her abundant freedom and independence!

Braided hair, oh my!

Remember that Christian woman I mentioned a couple of posts ago who banned me from her Instagram? Well, here’s the story of how I was blocked from commenting on her Facebook page. On June 19th her blog post included an image of an excerpt from the 1st book of Timothy. Here it is in its entirety:

“8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”
1 Timothy 2:8-12

The only portion that wasn’t highlighted in the blog post was the part about women not braiding their hair, or wearing gold and pearls or costly attire. This woman claims to adhere to a strict interpretation of the Bible, and scolds her readers when she thinks they are picking and choosing which verses to honor. So when she used this passage from 1st Timothy I commented on her associated Facebook post asking how she feels about braided hair, gold, and pearls in this day and age. I tried to ask the question as respectfully as possible because I wanted to get a sincere response without starting an argument. How do you think this situation played out? Not only did I not get a response, but my comment was very quickly deleted and I was banned from posting anything further. Why bother trying to answer simple queries when you can just avoid them altogether?

Now, I’d like to make it clear that I am not religious so I am not as familiar with the Bible as many others are. My general belief is that the Bible is an ancient book written exclusively by men back in the time when women were little more than property. While it undeniably contains a great deal of wisdom, not all of it is applicable to modern Christian life. Some of it even seems downright crazy. Simply considering this example from 1st Timothy, I most certainly disagree that women can’t teach men. Gender equality was not even a remote consideration thousands of years ago, but now women are employed in almost as many jobs as men. When numerous churches have female pastors and other leaders without feeling like they are going against the will of God, how can we possibly take the Bible as a whole in its strictest interpretation? All of this is just my opinion, of course. I don’t have a problem with anyone’s religious beliefs unless they advocate oppression, hate, or violence. As long as you don’t try to force me to conform to your moral code, or tell me I’m a horrible person because of how I live my life (more on that in another post), we’ll get along just fine.

Rejecting limitations

When I was growing up my parents always told me that I could do anything I wanted to with my life. In fact, I wholeheartedly believed that women were smarter than men. I’m not sure where I got that idea, but I defended it to my male friends on more than one occasion. Also, I was encouraged by my teachers to pursue the subjects I enjoyed and excelled in – specifically, math and science. In spite of the fact that these subjects have always been traditionally dominated by men, none of my elementary school teachers (all women) ever gave me any indication that I didn’t have the ability to follow my dream of becoming an engineer. I had nothing but cheerleaders in my family and in the academic arena throughout my young life. This gave me the confidence I needed to pursue my chosen career as an aerospace engineer. I never once doubted that I had the competence and intelligence to fulfill this ambition. Unfortunately society compels females to hide their intelligence in order to gain the favor of the opposite sex. We are systematically taught that boys don’t like girls who are smarter than they are. Lucky for me I never bought into that ridiculousness. Throughout my childhood and adolescence I was always a little odd, and by the time I was about fifteen I finally stopped trying to fit into society’s mold. It was so liberating! So how did everything ultimately turn out? Well, In December I will celebrate 15 years of employment at Boeing as a spacecraft systems engineer, so I’d call that a success!

A while back I discovered a website maintained by a self-proclaimed fundamentalist Christian woman who basically believes the opposite of the way I do on just about everything. For some reason, in spite of her hypocritical writings and harsh judgements on anyone who disagrees with her, I keep typing in her URL every day to see what fresh nonsense she has posted. This probably isn’t the smartest thing to do if you are trying to keep your mental health stable or your blood pressure low, but I’ve discovered that it’s like watching an internet train wreck. I just can’t look away! On 6/24, upon reading something this lady posted to her Instagram account about women’s career limitations I got extremely irritated and I was compelled to leave a comment. She claimed that, “One of the stupidest things mothers can say to their daughters: ‘You can be anything you want to be!’ This comes from a feminist mindset and is a lie.” Excuse me??? Besides the fact that in the 21st century girls thankfully have almost as many options as boys (thank you, feminists!), but I imagine having your parent discourage you at a young age would severely cripple your self-confidence. And females already have enough hurdles placed in front of us simply due to our gender. How about you don’t limit your daughter’s possibilities before you even know what she’s capable of? Trust you have loved her and raised her well enough that she can make choices based on her interests and abilities that will lead her in the right direction as she grows up.

Later in her post this “Christian” woman asked, “How about teaching your daughters that they should seek to be what God calls them to be instead?” She can’t even fathom that God would call a woman to a career that requires a higher education, like a doctor, a lawyer, or (heaven forbid) an aerospace engineer. At this point I had already been banned from commenting on her Facebook wall (a funny, yet disturbing story for another post), but I hadn’t yet used my “get out of jail free” card on her Instagram. Here is how I chose to play it – “Believe it or not, I am a rocket scientist. Luckily my parents did tell me I could be anything I wanted. Women shouldn’t be limited!” Even though I got a couple of replies (which lacked significant substance), it wasn’t long before my comment was deleted and I was banned from viewing her account. So because I disagreed with this “Godly” woman (her God is most certainly not my God) I was removed from the conversation. That’s one way to avoid having to back up your claims! Fortunately I am a modern woman with an established career, money in the bank, and a pretty comfortable life (except for the ex-husband who is thankfully in my past) who cares very little what other people think of me. Especially not crazy internet strangers. So I’ll go back to happily living my life, constantly rejecting limitations placed on me because I’m a female. Nothing is going to hold me back!