Something has really been bothering me lately. I have no idea why I haven’t thought of this before.
My husband and I were talking about what we might have done in our career paths if we had the option. Neither of us had the support or information to chose an accredited college right after high school. The thing that struck me most about this conversation was the fact that in many, many Fundamentalist circles, it doesn’t matter what family you are from, what church, etc., a girl is never going to have the options a boy might have.
A man is expected to support his family and be the sole breadwinner. Many of the boys in these circles are undersocialized and poorly educated so manual labor type jobs are common. However, there is still a big range of jobs within that type, and many men are able to work their way up to better paying jobs. Many of the boys are prepped for these type of jobs in their childhood. They can still find their way to a job that might be a good fit and one in which they may find a sense of accomplishment and purpose and satisfaction. Their self worth is not solely tied up in their spouse, children, or church although the church can be a strong influence on boys raised this way.
A girl is expected to stay at home, have babies, homeschool them as well as wifely duties and managing the household. The girls are prepped for this work from babyhood. This type of preparation barely ever translates to a job should a girl need to get a job outside of the home. The vast majority of these types of jobs (caring for children, cleaning houses, etc.) pay minimum wage with no room for advancement. Like the boys, the girls are often undersocialized and poorly educated which further limits job opportunities, should they ever be allowed to work outside the home. They certainly would not have many options at all in the case of a spouse divorcing or abandoning them.
There is no wiggle room for girls raised this way. You don’t even think about “what do I want to be when I grow up?” because you know the answer. A three year old has the same answer as the eighteen year old. You will be a wife and mom and that is it. If you are allowed to attend a college, it will more than likely be a very small, strict, unaccredited college where you will learn next to nothing while you wait around for a boy to take notice of you.
All these factors propel girls to marry young to the first boy that comes along. You have one goal in life and if you can reach that goal of marriage and motherhood, then you might have a sense of accomplishment for the first time in your life. You have no other options to find fulfillment in life outside of husband and children. You are expected to give a lot of time and money to the church, but your efforts will almost entirely be limited to grunt work. By the time you are mature enough to begin to see the big picture, you are 25 with a houseful of young kids and no opportunities or support to do anything else. Ever.
I find that women my age, 30s, in the Fundamental circles are depressed, bored, understimulated by life and detached from husband and kids. They put on the show of being nice and happy when they have to be aka Sunday morning but the rest of the time, they are lonely and isolated and discouraged. The awful part though is that many do not change at all and raise their girls to be the exact same thing they are. Its an awfully sad sight to watch. When their kids are older, they cannot let go of them, because they have nothing left after motherhood. Many times they are horribly overbearing grandmothers as well. Or the other extreme happens which is even worse to me. Mothers who are so far detached from their children that they are unloving and uncaring when a child is going thru a crisis, when a teen runs away, or when an adult child takes a different path. They are ready and willing to cut these kids out of their life in pursuit of approval from the church.
I see from my husband’s point of view how limited his choices and opportunities are and even with that said, a girl has about a third of what a boy has. They emerge from the womb with every step of their life already planned out for them. There is no individual there. Her importance is in what she will do and be for everyone else, not who she is as a person.
One of the many reasons I am no longer in the Independent Fundamental Baptist circles who operate like this. My girls can thank me some day.