Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Tale of Two Women

I thought I'd share an article I wrote for another website back in 2005:

I recently finished reading Charles Dickens' masterpiece A Tale of Two Cities. The story was exciting, the imagery vivid, and the characters leaped off of the page, so I was surprised to find myself focusing on an issue in my own life as I became engrossed in the plot. Little did I think, when I began reading this classic, that I would be lead on a quest that would change my innate nature, as a woman.

As in all Dickens stories, there are many characters with different story lines to follow in the novel. But two stood out in my mind-- even though they are not the most pivotal-- and would not leave my thoughts. The first is Miss Lucie Manette. My initial impressions of her, I'm ashamed to say, were not complimentary. And I began to examine why I looked down on her. She was a lovely girl with a kind heart, but she trembled, and threatened to faint at least once. But why did that bother me? I read her description over and over again, and tried to figure out why I was not able to associate myself with her. I continued through the chapter, and she began to show some bravery. As I watched her nurture her crazed father without fear, I came to respect her more.

Then I came upon Madame Defarge. She was a commanding presence who demonstrated an awareness and knowledge of all that was going on around her. Nothing passed her notice. Here was a powerful woman, with a mission and a focus. She was a bit too pushy with her husband, in my mind, but she seemed to keep his purpose focused, and that couldn't be bad, right?As the story unfolded, I kept finding myself slightly annoyed with Miss Manette, and more impressed with Madame Defarge.

And all the while, a conflict was arising in my sub-conscious. Why did I have a problem with Miss Manette? I realized that I was touched with jealousy. Every person, man or woman, who came in contact with her, wanted to protect her. She was femininity defined-- but not helpless. She had nursed her father back to health through her intense nurturing. She did not shy away from his lunacy. Father and daughter clung to each other, and her love worked miracles. When her true love was imprisoned in a nation fraught with danger, she pressed forward and raced to his side. Violence raged around her, yet she remained pure and innocent-- a strong, yet feminine woman.

In contrast, Madame Defarge and her peer group of women (including one woman named only "The Vengeance") screeched with fury and soaked themselves in the business of revenge. I was horrified. These were wives and mothers who left their children each day to tend to "La Guillotine," and revel in the bloodthirsty trials. Why, oh why, had I ever found this woman impressive?! Her obsession became uncontrollable and deadly to all who came in contact with her. She was equal with Lady Macbeth and Medea. The picture of womanhood was so twisted and perverted that I was brought to tears of despair and disgust.

So what does this have to do with MY life? With the world today? Because of the contrast between these two women, I was impacted, as never before, with the ugly lies and deception associated with today's so-called "feminist movement." What has this movement reaped, in terms of fruit? Confusion, the erosion of moral values, the decay of families, the near-extinction of woman's divine feminine nature! And I was ashamed to find that I had bought into this twisted view of womanhood. "But I'm a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom of a large family!" I said to myself. "Where did I come up with this 'holier than thou' attitude?" Yet, I realized, that I have been taught by society, by my conveyor belt education, and by the media, to look down upon "weak women." I have clearly seen the “Madame Defarges” of today. And their reality is frightening.

Through Lucie Manette's actions, I saw that there is strength and power in nurturing. That really surprised me. Her calming, feminine, caring presence and efforts saved the lives of others. Her willingness to sacrifice for those she loved, gave her the ultimate influence. She was a strong woman-- and it was her beautiful, soft femininity which made her so.So today, when I feel like a martyr, or yell at my kids, or grumble about my responsibilities, I stop and ask myself: "Am I reacting as a woman like Lucie, or like Madame Defarge?" After reading this "Tale of Two Women," I don't even question whom I wish to emulate.

Now, my work begins.


  1. Your response to the book is thought-provoking, definitely. However, as a self defined feminist who has a masters degree in history with an emphasis in masculinity and feminine studies--I have a few issues. First, and foremost, is that you lump the entire feminist movement in with the post 1970s "man hating, pro lesbianism" feminists. That is misleading.

    The feminist movement started out as the suffragist movement. I find it hard to believe that you don't agree with women voting. Also, many LDS women were leaders of the early feminist movement including Emmeline B. Wells. A powerful, yet feminine and faithful woman, whom I respect and admire. So much so that I named a daughter after her! Brigham Young was also an ardent feminist who showed an understanding of the value and power of womanhood unmatched in his time (or most any time, come to think on it).

    After those early feminists came those who fought for things like being able to study all subjects at the college level and protection from sexual harassment in the workplace. I am positive you would agree with those feminists as well and be horrified at the prevailing idea of the value of women as expressed so perfectly by one white civil rights activist who encouraged women to participate in the movement by making sandwiches or providing sexual services.

    Things needed to change and our early feminist sisters changed them. I am so grateful.

    I understand that you weren't referring to these people or this early movement in your post. However, using the term "feminist" so loosely and incorrectly is misleading and encourages those not of our faith to misunderstand LDS beliefs about womanhood.

    I hope I didn't sound disrespectful or negative. I also love A Tale of Two Cities.

  2. Hi Andrea,

    I appreciate your polite tone. :-) It really is okay for us to disagree! But that's just it-- I DO disagree. ;-)

    I actually am familiar with, and understand the history of, "feminism." In ancient Greece, women were seen as equals, with voting rights, leadership roles, and even sports participation in competitions like the original Olympics.

    But my point is this: What was the fruit of Grecian society? Broken homes, homosexuality, publicly-accepted pedophilia, children seen as a burden, and finally, ruin and destruction.

    It sounds all too familiar.

    About suffrage: I would WELCOME back the idea that husbands are the head of the homes, and they vote as a representative of their families.

    YES. I would happily give up my "right" to vote, and hand that responsibility and privilege to my good husband.

    Women in the workplace: I don't believe that women should have ANY place in the workplace. What are the fruits of women working outside the home? Broken families, misplaced priorities, infidelity (emotional AND sexual), children seen as burdens, not blessings, and rampant materialism.

    I referred in this post to the feminism movement of the 1960's and 1970's because that is the most recent movement that has changed our society. I grew up a child of the 70's and 80's. Many of my friends went home to empty houses to watch HBO and find meals for themselves. THEIR MOTHERS ABANDONED THEM FOR SELFISH REASONS.

    The fruit bourne from that most recent so-called "feminist" movement is STILL handicapping mothers today. We were not taught HOW to be mothers, how to value home, children, and husband.

    I am like most frustrated homemakers of this day and age. Homemaking wisdom has not just been lost, it was rejected! We were taught by society, the media, and in public education to bury our nurturing, feminine natures. We were brain-washed to believe that men and women are the same, that career ambitions for mothers were desirable, and that "just doing dishes and changing diapers" was demeaning, disgusting work that should be passed off to the day care, so moms could "get a life."

    But motherhood, that power that comes to us only when we nurture our families, SHOULD BE OUR LIVES, our most valuable blessings. It is the GREATEST mission and career any woman could have.

    One can argue about all the exceptions (single women, barren women, etc.) until the cows come home, but in this day and age, the exception is now more important than the rule.

    And that is a falsehood Satan perpetuates over and over again.

    Every day, I see the fruits that have come about in our society and homes because of the selfish women who named themselves "feminists." I do not thank them. I pity them, and I mourn over their misguided lives and generations of women who don't know how to be mothers.

    I want better for my daughters and future generations yet to come.

    Mama Rachel

  3. Andrea,

    The point I was trying to make in my late night rambling comment (*sigh!*) is that I see the recent feminism movement as a RESULT OF the women's suffrage movement.

    Yes, I do.

    When women decided that being a helpmeet was not enough, they traded feminine influence in the home for influence out in the world. "Feminism" spiraled down from that point.

    There are actually MANY women like me of different faiths, who are trying to find our way back to traditional motherhood and femininity. But we fight a constant tide of other mothers who have bought into the modern ideals of selfish feminism.

    As I said in my post about "Tale of Two Cities", it is not enough that women "stay at home", or that they have a child or two. It is about a change of HEART. And we cannot understand the hearts of women of the past by studying them through a modern perspective. We must go back to the SOURCES, the classics, the only place where our feminine, traditional foremothers still live.

    I do not claim to represent all of LDS women. But I feel honored to encourage and inspire the LDS women of the world who are dismayed by the fruits that LDS and other feminists bear in society today.

    I've made my choice, and I seek to promote traditional-- NOT feminist-- womanhood to other LDS women thought the mouthpiece of this blog. I feel it is part of my life's mission. Your mission may be different, and that is fine. :-)

    Thanks so much for your comment. It's helped me reaffirm my purpose in maintaining this blog. I wish you all the best! :-)

  4. Well put Rachel! I agree. As a matter of fact, a sister in my past ward told me that back then the church asked the members not to support the movement because it would bring all kinds destruction with it. She said it was a difficult time in the church because not all woman sided with the church's view and it was the source of much conflict. It was interesting to hear her perspective of one "being there".


Old Fashioned Motherhood will not approve any comments that are rude, negative, or disrespectful. Thanks for being civil! :-)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...