Women's Role In Religions

Discussion in 'Comparative Studies' started by Silverbackman, Aug 24, 2005.

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What Control Should Men Have Over Women?

  1. None, Men have no moral authority over women, Absolute 50/50

    31 vote(s)
    79.5%
  2. Little, Men can be head of the house but cannot force women to do something

    6 vote(s)
    15.4%
  3. Moderate, Women must obey men but men cannot punish them if the disobey

    2 vote(s)
    5.1%
  4. Total, Men have abosolute moral authority and women must obey men or be punished

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Brian,

    I agree with the definitions of "patriachal" you've referred to but they by and large do not apply to the Baha'i Faith or it's goals and principles.

    Once again.. We DO NOT endorse a patriachal system.

    Check out your definitions:

    A patriarch (from Greek: patria means father; arch?eans rule, beginning, origin) is a male head of an extended family exercising autocratic authority, or, by extension, a member of the ruling class or government of a society controlled by senior men.


    A social system of male supremacy. Power and significance resides in the father of a family group or clan, and this is passed down through the male heirs.

    social organization in which political power is held by males.

    A system of social relations whereby the senior, decision-making member of the group, clan or tribe is a male elder.

    Societies in which women defer to men; societies run by men and based on the assumption that men naturally directed political, economic, and cultural life.

    "Male-centered and controlled. . . organized and conducted in such a way as to subordinate women to men in all cultural domains, religious, familial, political, economic, social, legal, and artistic"

    a collective dominated by men, a society which identifies the male as the norm or standard by which all are judged

    ______________________

    None of the above apply.

    There are ten thousand localities around the world where Baha'is have communities, they are all open equally to men and women;

    Baha'is do not endorse the model of the patriachal family but rather a model where both share in decisions and consult as equals.

    The education of women is stressed more than that of men.

    Social developement projects stress the health, education and well being of women.

    Our International Community also supports the United Nations convention against discrimiantion against women.

    Also equality is not uniformity...women have talents and abilities and strengths that are as important and valuable as men but men are not more exalted or placed on a higher pedestal.

    - Art
     
  2. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    But wasn't the Guardianship also meant to be passed from male heir to male heir, although that was interupted when the Guardian Shoghi Effendi did not appoint the next Guardian before his Ascension?

    I agree that the Baha'i Faith does a much better job emphasizing the equality of men and women in its scriptures and promoting the two wings, as Amy pointed out, than most other religions before it. However, many denominations of Christianity are even more egalitarian than the Baha'i Faith and because of the Baha'i laws of interpretation and the termination of the earthly role of the Guardianship, there is no chance that women will be allowed to serve on the UHJ until the next Manifestation arrives, according to Baha'i teachings.

    As much as the role of the UHJ is downplayed as a central authority in the posts above, it remains that it is the ultimate and only active authority of the Baha'i Faith. All other spiritual assemblies of local and national orders obey the the UHJ. Indeed, every individual Baha'i turns to the UHJ for guidance.

    Finally, the inheritance laws of Kitab-i-Aqdas also show a bias toward the male heir, although granted one is free to write their will to speicify it as otherwise.

    peace,
    lunamoth
     
  3. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Luna moth:

    I think what we've seen in the past century is a transition from male dominance in religion to a more egalitarian concept.... For Baha'is this also means actually supporting the liberation of women in many areas of the world...and working toward seeing that needed educational and health services are provided. Many areas of the world women cannot read and vulnerable to exploitation.

    The office of a minister or priest is another area that we Baha'is would probably differ with many Christians about. That more women are accepted now as priests and ministers is coming about and people may feel this is more egalitarian but we Baha'is would feel that role is again one where there is still dominance and authority. Yes it was held by men before and now more by women but the institution is still there.

    It's true the Guardianship was supposed to have been passed to male heirs, but that's a mute point today. It's true the Universal House of Justice consists of males elected every five years but male dominance is not a Baha'i teaching as you recall.

    - Art
     
  4. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    Arthra, I don't see how you can at all avoid applying the term patriarchal with reference to the Baha'i faith.

    You are keen to stress that women are well veiwed within the Baha'i movement, and that there are many communities where women have equal local responsibilities - but you seem to shrink away from the fact that your administrative body is ruled by a male elite.

    Poetry and bird wings as may be, but practical fact appears to be an organisation that answers ultimately only to male authority, to the exclusion of the female voice.

    And that is what male dominance is - it is not does not necessarily equate with misogyny nor of violence to women, but simply the subjugation of female authority - and it appears very much enshrined in how the Baha'i movement is administrated at the highest level of authority. That would very much be a patriarchal system.
     
  5. 9Harmony

    9Harmony goin' with the flow...

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    Hi everyone!

    I acknowledge that to those looking in from the outside it may have the appearance of a patriarchal system. And I can actually understand that.

    But as a Baha'i and as a woman, I do not see it that way.

    I personally would not want the responsibility of serving on the Universal House of Justice. Being the first educator of my children, how could I possibly do that adequately while simultaneously serving the entire Baha'i world? Those who are elected to serve on the Universal House of Justice basically give up having any personal life of their own. To me it seems to be more of a show of God's mercy to women. I think there is a wisdom enshrined within that escapes the average onlooker.

    On the whole, women have made more progress in the past 100 years than they have made in all prior recorded history. Tremendous progress has been made with regards to womens rights. Yet, some parts of the world are still very backwards, a balance is still needed. Also, we often see how good things taken to extremes can produce negative results. Moderation in all things, is still necessary.

    Some Baha'i's like to speculate amongst themselves about the reasons for this, one of my favorites is that perhaps the next manifestation will be a woman, and it will be up to an all male Universal House of Justice to recognize her. But that's all it is, speculation, truth is, we don't know why, and probably won't in our lifetime, that honor is to be bestowed on a future generation. But I'm okay with that. I don't feel oppressed or deprived. I feel liberated.

    I believe things are unfolding according to Gods plan, all things in Gods time, not ours.

    Have a nice evening!

    -Amy
     
  6. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Brian,

    I doubt very much we're going to reach agreement on this topic as I've already stated my reasons previously...

    Your characterization of my Faith as "an organisation that answers ultimately only to male authority, to the exclusion of the female voice" is also to me inaccurate.

    - Art
     
  7. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    9Harmony, mercy or not, if the system is male-dominated then surely that is a sign of a patriarchal system? It seems that you're making an almost apologetic statement with regards to allowing men to dominate the Baha'i movement at the highest level.

    I know you may not agree with that concept - heck, I hear a common complaint amongst Muslim women that they do not feel oppressed, and that if God has willed issues such as use of the burkha, then that s not patriarchal, but simply Divine Will.

    It seems that the Baha'i perspective may be something along those lines - that because Baha'u'llah has decreed equality, that therefore any actual inequality is simply regarded as a different form of "equality". Does that make sense?

    It doesn't make much sense from the outside, though - I should have referenced them earlier, but I don;t see how the following references raised do not apply to the UHJ position within the Baha'i movement:



    I'm not trying to judge the Baha'i faith, but I simply find it odd that where I'm told that your organisation is headed by males at the exclusion of women, that this is actually said to be a form of equality - some are more equal than others?
     
  8. Bandit

    Bandit New Member

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    all religions do something. if it is not this, it is something else. they say one thing on the outside, the writings say something else, & when you get inside what they say is something different, or there is a long explanation for it.

    every religion does something or has some kind of doctrine that does not add up all the way through.

    that is just the way religion is.

    from what i can see a woman can do everything in the minsitry, except Pastor, because then you have a woman excercising authority over the men, not just one husband but all of the men.

    2 cents
     
  9. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Brian wrote:

    I'm not trying to judge the Baha'i faith, but I simply find it odd that where I'm told that your organisation is headed by males at the exclusion of women, that this is actually said to be a form of equality - some are more equal than others?

    My comment:

    It really does feel like a you are judging Brian... Problem is it's not as simple as you present

    and maybe we should have some more talks about that.

    - Art
     
  10. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    Can you understand why your position seems odd, though? It's simply an issue of applying a general definition, whose basis is that a patriarchal system is one where the ultimate authority is exclusively male.

    I'm simply surprised you have so much difficulty accepting such a general definition and applying it within your own Faith.

    It's just a discussion issue, though.
     
  11. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    I agree with that bird analogy, and perhaps my view doesn't differ so much from the Baha'i point of view. I do think women should get equal pay as men, and heck I'm even okay with a woman running for president or prime minister :), as long as she isn't some radical feminist. But I just hate feminist today that pressure women to become breadwinners and what not because it shouldn't be their responsibility, it is the man responsibility to take care of his wife and to lead the family as well.

    So in other words I am for the modern Japanese view of women, not the modern Western View of women. Modern Japanese women can do what ever they want (vote, go for any job) but still have their feminity, unlike many western women who are pressued to "compete" with men. What is there to compete, men are better than somethings than women and women are better than something than men. Men were created/evolved to act one masculine and women were created/evolved to act their way. That is how it has been ever since homo sapiens have been around :). Motherhood is a very important role for women, and providing for the mother is a very important job for men.

    So yea women are definatley equal under the eyes of God, it doesn't mean they have to be the same or do the same exact things ;)! If that is the Baha'i view of women then I guess I agree:).
     
  12. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    BTW all religions have a reason for the laws they make. Dressing in modesty for example is created in order to prevent rape, similarly there have been strict laws in the past regarding men's control over women. Basicly the whole point of this in the past was to show men are created as the leaders, nothing more. We don't have to follow things so strictly as what the religions teach us. Women do not have to cover up every inch of their body like what fundie muslims think. Women do not have to worship their husbands like Gods and follow them with blind obedience like what a fundie hindu might think. We need to realize the bigger picture in all this, and not follow these scripures literally but at least we need to heed some of them.

    Similarly why are homosexuals considered evil in Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism? The truth is homosexuality is not a wrong as long as it does not become so open that is considered equal to a union between a man and a woman. Homosexuals are not evil, and God/Nature doesn't care less if someone is gay, but God does not want homosexuality be equated to a union between a man and a woman because it clearly is not the same thing!
     
  13. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    I was very much under the impression that many modern Japanese women find Japan very oppressive - heck, they were only allowed access to the contraceptive pill a couple of years ago.
     
  14. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    Not sure about their problems in the reproductive department;). There are other type of family problems in Japan, such as men that stop having sex with their wives after marriage, which is sort of evil;). Of course no nation is perfect. But as a whole the attitude of Japanese women modern women but have are little like the women in the West in their atitudes on life. They don't feel forced to conquer men as if it is there life to surpass men (which is the goal of no real man or woman). There not trying to become the head of the house, they don't believe that their goal. I hope all Eastern Countries modernize the way Japan, NOT the way the West did. As far as I've heard Japanese get many reproductive prevention pills, I don't see why they wouldn't;).
     
  15. I am free

    I am free And anything is possible

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    Hi Silverbackman,

    Dressing modestly does not prevent rape. If that was the case there would be no rape in Islamic countries.

    True equality of the sexes would be when each person is allowed to explore his/her potential, desires and passions without having to stick to rigid role definitions. So in an equal society a woman who is inclined to lead, become the president or even the chief of army would be encouraged to follow her passion without being told that she cannot lead because "women were not made by God to lead".
    Similarly a man who wants to stay back home to look after his kids would not be ridiculed and told "A man is supposed to provide for his family". That according to me would be true equality.

    regards.
     
  16. At_the_Wellspring

    At_the_Wellspring ...always learning

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    Hi Silverbackman

    I'm sorry but I wouldn't agree with you that Japanese modern women have it all worked out better than 'Western woman'. I'm not wanting to put down any culture or place here, but I just want to make a bit of a comparison here.

    My sister has spent a lot of time in Japan, she went to high school there for a few months, has been back several times working there for a year and travelling there other times. She is now married to a very cool, very laid-back Japanese guy. I have also been there, though only once.

    My sister found it unusual when she was in Japan that the girls at her school all wanted to get into a good university for the sole purpose of getting a 'good' husband, and then that was it, there was no need for life-planning ahead of that. Whereas at school here (also girls school) in career planning they would all imagine what they would be doing in 10, 20, 30 years, not only in terms of family, but also career. I'm not criticising Japan, singular, as I know there are many communities here and elsewhere where there are not high-expectations career-wise for women. But I do know that Japan is a society where strong gender differences and expectations exist, and where only a small percentage of women are in employment. There are huge societal and family pressures and expectations not only for women but also for men.

    Anyway, away from Japan as a focus, I would agree also that men and women are different, but I don't think that the difference is so extreme, like polar opposites. There are varying levels of 'feminity' and 'masculinity' in everyone. As well as the black and white there are a whole lot of shades of grey between them too. And I don't mean just in terms of sexuality.

    I would have to agree with I am Free

     
  17. At_the_Wellspring

    At_the_Wellspring ...always learning

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    Sorry that was a long post! Guess I was defending my place as a 'modern western woman'.


    Just thought I'd add... We've had a woman Prime Minister for the last 7 or 8 years now (first one took over leadership of govt for 1-2 years before losing the election to the opposition, our current and recently re-elected PM). The CEO of Telecom, our largest company is a woman, our Governer General is a woman, our Cheif Justice is a woman...

    New Zealand is in a great place economically, culturally, low crime, low unemployment, etc right now. (who said in is not in women's nature/ God's intention for women to lead?)

    This is not women specifically trying to take over or dominate men, it is simply women doing their jobs well.

    Anyway, enough from me for now.
     
  18. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    Hello I am free and At_the_Wellspring,

    The purpose of dressing modesty in Islam isn't to prevent rape, yes you are correct. But keep in mind many of the laws of religion were created for the fundamental reasons of preventing certain wrongs from happening. Some religions may teach anger is a sin because it is against God, but if we look at it more in an anthropological sense the reason why anger is a sin is to prevent people from harming others. Religions are to be taken metaphorically not literally, they contain much wisdom, and many might even be from God.

    By the way when I say God, my definition of God is mostly Nature. I believe that Nature can tell us a lot on how we should live. For thousands to millions of years women have been the mothers who took care of the children at home, sharing stories and educating their children on how to act in society while men went out hunted for food and "brought back the bacon";). I do believe this simple life we lived back then can very much apply to us now, and is why it has appeared in many religions. Of course we don't live in the Savannah anymore, living in tents and what not but the basic outline of how our civilization functioned back then is very effective in all timelines.

    Also it would not be as efficient for the husband and wife to do the exact same things. One spouses designed for a specific task while the other with their specific fact is far more effective than two spouses doing the same thing. Before human civilization everyone in the civilization did the same thing, although there were still differences between the sexes on what each gender was designed to do. However 24,000 years ago the specialized society arose, no longer did everyone do the same thing. Specific tasks were assigned to different members of the society. This created more efficiency in society, and is very applicable to family life. If a woman specialized in homemaking she will be far more effective than both a man and a woman doing the same thing. And this will give more time for men to work and specialize in providing all the needs of his wife and the family. It is really a beautiful thing the more you think about it;).

    My definition of equality is when men and women have the same legal rights recognized by the government, which is okay. But supporting the ideal behavior is not bad. Smoking is legal in the US for example but there are anti-smoking ads all the time on TV to support the ideal behavior of not smoking. Don't get me wrong, women being more than mothers or whatever is not as bad as smoking, but my point is the ideal behavior is not wrong when supported.

    Of course my idea of ideal behavior may differ than yours, so wouldn't it be better that society not promote any behavior at all for women? Well the truth is in Western Society in many ways does promote the career driven woman more than the homemaker woman. All over the media you see feminist propaganda showing women are superior to men and can do many of what men were designed to better than men and that women were built to rule men.

    And what is even more bias about the media is that they claim that women naturally want to do the same exact things as men and hate the idea of being a homemaker and mother. They are trying to fight off over 4 million years of human evolution to promote their ideas.

    But hey, people have the right to believe whatever they want;), right? Their opinion as valid as yours or mine, but it doesn't change the fact they promote their ideals which many people strongly disagree and at the same time oppose.

    So no I don't mind the West because they promote equality of the sexes, I mind the West because they try to promote one lifestyle for women over the other.

    The other opposite extreme of promoting women to do one thing is in the countries like Iran that say that women have no other life than the home and motherhood. Clearly Iran is as much if not more bias in their support of the other extreme of homemaking woman as the West is toward the career woman.

    That is why I like countries like Japanese culture as opposed to Western Culture. In Japan a woman can do whatever she wants with little propaganda in the media on how they want to live (neither promoting homemaking women nor career-driven women) and it just so happens women manage to do both! Women do have jobs and are career driven the first part of their life and when they get married they give up their career for something for more important than anything a man or woman can do, and that is motherhood.

    So I don't want you guys to get me wrong, I am not completely for women having a career but at the same time I am very much for the role of women given by the supreme Goddess of the universe; Mother Nature :).
     
  19. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    What is wrong with that? What is wrong if that woman wanted to go to a university for the sole purpose of getting a good husband? Why is that reason any lower than a woman going to a university to get a career?

    That is basically my point here, you already are assuming that women wanting to be a wife, mother, or homemaker is a sign of inequality and oppression. This is clearly what the feminist want you to think, be careful on what you see on TV ;). Don't be so swayed by what your culture or media telling you, be a freethinker on the issue and you will find that being a homemaker and mother is as important if not far more important than any other occupation in the world. Do not only be a freethinker in this issue, be one in all issues.



    The biggest ignorance of the Western World is in fact their idea that liberals are the freethinkers. This is far from the truth, if anything centrists are the number one freethinkers because centrists (true centrists) know that the liberal and conservative are both valid and invalid. We cannot say the liberal way is right, neither can we say the conservative is right. The truth is in the middle, some things are meant to be liberal while others are meant to be conservatives ;).

    I suggest the same thing to women living in Iran, who are forced to listen to the propaganda that women outside her roles cannot be. Obviously this way is as wrong as the Western's opposite view. The truth is somewhere in the middle ;).
     
  20. At_the_Wellspring

    At_the_Wellspring ...always learning

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    Hi Silverbackman. Thanks for your first post, I understand what you are trying to say, but there are still a few points on which I have to disagree.

    Firstly, I am definitely not saying there is anything wrong with wanting to be a homemaker and mother - as I said, I myself have a very strong urge to be a mother and to care and nurture my children myself rather than leave them in the hands of a nanny while I work. In some ways I understand what you are saying when the role of strong career woman is praised higher than being 'just' a homemaker these days. I disagree with that.

    I agree with having choice. What I don't agree with is when someone doesn't have a choice to make those choices. This could be because of legal restrictions (such as you are saying), or it could be from prejudice, social or family expectation and pressure. This can be very subtle, and so it could be said that it no longer exists. Yet it very much does.

    I agree with you in that nature is very much who we are - so many things can all be linked back to our basic hunter/ gatherer instincts. BUT if nature is indicating to us how we should be living, isn't it about now at this point in time that we are beginning to over-populate our earth, so that we are rapidly running out of resources? While much of the 3rd world still has a rapidly increasing population, doesn't it make sense that in other parts of the world the population growth is diminishing, that women now have alternatives to a career as a mother? Biology ensures the continuation of the species - correct me if I'm wrong, but it doesn't seem that we are in danger of dying out. In fact it would do our world some good to reduce our population growth.


    I see the beauty in a partnership providing for one another, and I am not wanting to diminish the role that women have provided in home-making, mothering and nurturing their families over the past centuries. But as you say, things have changed, we have become more 'specialised', becoming more efficient etc. So can't we begin to recognise and value the diversity of men and women rather than retaining the narrow view that there are only two, distinct types of human beings - men and women.

    While this is mostly obviously true (visually), physically, even science these days, is showing that there is not necessarily such a defining line between us. Women also have testosterone, at varying levels. If one woman has a higher level of testosterone it may be that one 'masculine' quality is more evident in her. For example, she is able to understand 3 dimensional spaces more comprehensively that the 'average' women. So she may recognise this strength and go on to become an aviation engineer. In true equality, she should come across no barriers/ prejudice (whether legal or simply subtle) in acheiving that goal.

    I am not rejecting the fact that we can make generalisations about characteristics of men and women. All I am saying is that traditionally we have expected men and women to act in that way, within that mold. I'm sure along the way 'behind the scenes' not everyone fitted to that outward mold - perhaps the occasional woman in the family was more 'together' 'organised' and a 'leader' than her husband, perhaps the occasional father was kinder and more empathic/ nurturing to his children than his wife..? (despite outward appearances)

    Anyone who typically fell outside of the expectation of what men and women have been harassed. Men who were too feminine/ weak/ sensitive/ gay not being considered 'manly' enough. Women in leadership being hassled for being too masculine, too dominating.

    I wouldn't claim that the media is that strong, personally. Perhaps in the last few years or in the earlier feminist movement (though I'm no expert). Perhaps media and liberation - the ability to have a career, to be a leader which was currently so supressed, was reason for celebration? Also, I think sometimes it is necessary to have a bit of discontentment at inequality in order to raise awareness of an issue and to bring about change. Obviously different places and cultures need to modernise in their own way (for example France needed a revolution, England didn't, to bring power to the people - some places may only progress with disharmony others might change more slowly over time).

    More recently, though, I have seen more evidence that we have relaxed a little, and that science is finding some basic differences between men and women (monitoring reactions in the brain etc, levels of testosterone). It seems that we are realising that there are differences, but that there are always variations. We need to accept that there are all kinds of variations, and therefore not have expectations. We need to accept that a woman might make as equally a brilliant boss or leader or construction project manager or engineer as a man. We also need to recognise that men can make brilliant stay-at-home-dads, nurses, teachers etc. I'm not saying that we should aim for a 50-50 balance in any particular job, as I agree that nature puts us generally into the category of man / woman and with that comes particular attributes that may lead to particular careers etc.

    When the expectation remains that a womans place really is ideally in the home (not that there is anything wrong with being a homemaker/ mother) then it can be very difficult for someone who does not fit that mold to feel 'normal' or 'acepted'.

    Homemaking and mothering needs to be a choice not an expectation. When it is expected to go to university, find a husband and become a homemaker, then anyone who falls outside of this is considered slightly abnormal, or is not fully catered for in society, may feel pressure or disappointment from family/ friends/ self.. etc

    I agree that we need to recognise the importance of and value of motherhood. Perhaps we need to relax a bit and re-embrace motherhood as a valid career option. But it still needs to be a free and liberal choice - this is what I would predict is not completely apparent in some strongly traditional societies where the pressure of expectation can be huge. And I imagine if you were to truthfully survey a portion of Japanese women, I would say they do not necessarily feel as ideally free in choice as you may believe they are.


    I guess my definition of equality is different. I believe equality must first come from the law, then with freedom from prejudice/ racism/ sexism (now there are laws to deal with those offenses, though they still exist in subtle ways), then there is freedom from expectation - with the ability to be completely ones-self and make completely ones own choices without outside influence/ domination/ expectation swaying your choice.



    We also need to allow fathers to be loving and nurturing to their children, not only in the monetary sense of being the 'breadwinner', but also in the sense of allowing them to spend time with their family. I think its wonderfull that fathers as well as mothers here can now take a significant amount of paid leave around the time that their child is born to be with and enjoy their family.

    I think it is a beautiful thing when both the mother and father truly share parenting, both contributing to the finances and time spent with the children. This is how I personally would like my (future) family to be - where I can continue to work and engage my mind whether only 10 or 20 or 30 hours a week (again, not to say that mothering is not valid use of time and mind...) and where my partner/ husband can also share looking after the children and also contributing finances. I find this a beautiful thing. :) (though again I'm not saying it is a choice that everyone will want to make)

    I do not think that parents sharing the child-care/ financing is 'doing the same thing' and therefore inefficient. For a start, both should be equally capable at each - we already know that women are equally as intelligent as men and can therefore survive in the workforce earning money. I also know that some of my male friends/ acquaintences are far better cooks than some of my female friends. And anyway, the thing I consider of most importance is not the tasks to be done, but the time spent with the family. And there can never be 'wastage' or 'inefficiency' in that. Just because I have one friend doesn't mean I don't need another. One has the patience to listen to my long stories, one I can laugh and joke around with, another i can debate the meaning of life with.

    Well anyway, theres a few more comments for ya :)
     

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