Words by Mary Alayne Long
Now is the time for all good men to turn over new leaves and walk down new paths and make plans to be better, healthier, nicer, more intentional people. In 2020 you can be anyone or anything you choose, and I want to challenge you to be something people seem to be struggling with these days—reasonable. For instance, if you read that opening sentence and thought: That should read, “men and women,” and it made you want to paint a protest sign to hold up while marching around town, then you might want to reconsider how you use your time.
I proudly describe myself as a “happy housewife,” which is somewhat of a dying breed. So, when I recently read a story about a happy young housewife in Australia, it especially interested me. She asked her online group to suggest lunches for her husband and wrote: “I would love to hear what other moms make their hubbies for lunch and snacks throughout the workday. We are getting over sandwiches.” It seemed like a perfectly reasonable request to me, but the rude replies proved me wrong. She was vilified and called one name after the next, when alls he wanted to do was save a little money by packing a lunch. It was insane. The lowbrow, snarky remarks that have become all too common from those hiding on the other side of a keyboard proved to me that those mean-spirited folks clearly had no idea what they were typing about. They were being completely unreasonable.
I am also notably troubled by what has been identified to me as modern feminism, and it makes me weep for those who so willingly drink the Kool Aid being poured out in gallons by its very unreasonable leaders. From where I sit, I can't see that it has any basis whatsoever in helping women. It seems to focus on hating men and shaming the women who don’t. If all these well-meaning people honestly believe within themselves that they are here on this earth to save other women from undesirable circumstances, I can easily point them to countless domestic violence shelters where hard work and real help is truly needed. And if that sounds like too much heavy lifting, they could always work toward having beauty pageants or The Bachelor taken off the air. Talk about objectifying women. Seriously, how on earth do they keep finding girls to sign up for this stuff? It baffles me.
In the South, we have something I like to call Southern feminism. It is an elegant, gracious art that has been handed down from mothers to daughters for generations. Before you panic and start painting another sign, let me assure you that the lessons learned are merely a companion for the rules of being a Southern gentleman, which are handed down from father to son. You could sum it up like this: If my neighbor were trying to save money by making lunches for her husband, I would pack a picnic basket of treats and drop it off at her house. If on the off chance her husband were being controlling and abusive toward her, my husband would go over, drag him out in the front yard, and kick his ass. It’s a team effort down here. That’s what makes it work.
For those of you who want to discuss equal rights, I’ll go ahead and let you know—my husband does too. After working his rear end off to fund every single thing we’ve done over the last 26 years, he wishes to the Lord he got half a say in the things we did. But when he walks in the kitchen and the music is on and the candles are lit and I'm wearing red lipstick and I’m barefoot in a pretty dress and there’s a little something in the oven that smells good, I could ask for pretty much anything and he would say yes. I try to use my powers only for good, but really—it’s not rocket science.
And to be clear, this is the life I wanted. It’s what I chose for myself. Really. It is. In my mind, that is what feminism is about: making wise choices that work for you as you build your life. And although I would hope you would not choose to be one who openly chases after a complete stranger on national television, if you decide to sign up for The Bachelor, you are perfectly welcome to do so. (Although I really hope you won’t.) But you should also know that making a career out of making a family doesn’t make you any less valuable than someone who puts on a suit (with or without a tie) and heads out the door each day to save the world. In the end, reasonable people who are happy in their own lives don’t lash out at other folks who are equally happy. They simply don’t. And I’ll tell you something else, strong women aren’t threatened by strong men. They simply aren’t.
Someone once said: “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” I heard it was Mother Teresa, but it wasn’t. I checked. I think I am going to pretend she said it though, because everything I’ve ever known to be true about her backs it up. I also think she would approve of my making sandwiches and cleaning house and writing funny (sometimes bossy) stories whenever I get the chance because she was also very reasonable. You know, I bet she’d even give me a pass on the red lipstick.