"Any woman who chooses to behave like a full human being should be warned that the armies of the status quo will treat her as something of a dirty joke. That's their natural and first weapon." ~ Gloria Steinem

Friday, April 17, 2009

More parentally-mandated oddness

I forgot to include the topic of homeschooling in this post on Catholicism leading me to atheism. Therefore, I will write an addendum. And since it's separate, I'll go into a detail a bit more.

I was homeschooled. True. But think about every stereotype you've ever come across, whether positive or negative, and that probably wasn't my family. In my world, there were the Catholic Homeschoolers and there were the Protestant Homeschoolers. We were too Catholic for the Protestants and not Catholic enough for the Catholics (apart from one very amazing family, a family we are still friends with, a family I will love and respect and defend to the end of my life).

When I was in 7th grade, my mom put my sisters and me in "Christian Girl Scouts" when I was in middle school. This program was technically called "Hearts After His" and basically involved earning merit badges for activities in which "godly women" participate--namely: baking, cooking, sewing, learning about nature (note: not actually going outside), memorizing Bible verses, ironing (this is not a joke, people), and, for the adventurous godly woman among ye, photography. I have a homemade vest in a box in my closet, a homemade vest adorned with "merit badges" made out of--literally--wood and/or rhinestones. As a member of the oldest group, called "The Joy of Womanhood" (I know, I know. I am seriously NOT making ANY of this up or exaggerating in the slightest. The youngest group was "Pebbles"; the middle "Stepping Stones". Do not ask me why my group didn't follow the rocks theme, because I have no idea.), our final project of the year was to "present" the last section of Proverbs 31.

For anyone not familiar, the last section of Proverbs 31 is titled "The Ideal Wife" and begins

When one finds a worthy wife,
her value is far beyond pearls.
Her husband, entrusting his heart to her,
has an unfailing prize.

It then goes on to say all sorts of things about the ideal wife, like obtaining wool and flax and making her own coverlets and being girt about with strength and rising while it is still night to feed her husband and children.

Again, our project was to "present" this bit of the Bible. I had no idea what my leader meant by present, so I asked her, and she hemmed and hawed a bit and then finally came out with embroidery.

Yes, that is correct. She wanted me to cross-stitch 21 Bible verses onto something and then embellish it with flowers or something...I think. Anyway, I don't know how to do that, which lessened her opinion of me (needless to say), so she allowed me to make a little book and illustrate the verses.

Ok, got all of that? Have you fully absorbed the ridiculousness of the situation?

This next bit is very, very important. Please read it. My mom put us in this program mostly because she wanted us to interact with other kids, but also because she thought we might be able to get a bit of fun out it. She never bought into the fundie side of it, and indeed probably didn't realize the scope of it at first. She would have put us in Boy Scouts if she could have, but she didn't know about Venturing at that point. And yes, there are the real Girl Scouts, but she has moral problems with GSA.

The entire program was based on very fundamentalist, "traditional" gender roles, but my mom was always very clear about her views on the matter--and those were that fundamentalist gender roles are complete and utter bullshit. She taught us to pull the good things out of the crap, like all of the doing God's will stuff that I used to believe in.

When we started to realize that the entire program was geared towards producing docile Christian wives, she gave us the choice to quit, but we had a lot of friends in the program, so we decided to stay. However, every time I didn't like what they were telling me, I could handle it, because I knew my mom backed me up and I could laugh about it with her later. I knew these adults were fucking crazy and I could be a godly woman without wearing a fucking apron and baking pies all day (unless I wanted to, of course).

A warrior of truth once more.

Being an odd duck among the Catholic Homeschoolers wasn't half as hilarious; it mostly consisted of my mom allowing us to wear pants, climb trees, go to Mass in English without wearing veils on our heads, and sass her. Beyond that, it's a bit hard to explain the differences; it was more of a general attitude towards life--a more joyful attitude, if you will. You kind of had to be there, but trust me, we were odd.

Again, the key here is that I have been odd my entire life, and my parents started it. I'm glad they did, honestly; I feel that it contributed to our family closeness. But that's a new topic as well.

1 comment:

  1. You are one of the lucky ones. I will still hold out hope that there are more Catholic moms out there like yours. Myself? I was raised in a non-religious home. I guess that makes me "blessed".