The Traditional Family That Never Was.
Article ID: 2180
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 6,986
Times Read: 28,077
Posted: August 10th. 1998
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The "Traditional Family Values" hawkers have always annoyed me. But it was only after doing the research for this article that I realized how truly dangerous that this conservative agenda is.
Now, these brazen protectors of the American family never really come out and tell you just which ideal of family life that they are promoting. The model of the early Christian Church, A.P. (After Paul)? The time when women couldn't speak in churches and had to cover their heads? When women had no rights and no say and often were not entitled to an education. The time when widows had to rely on their children's good graces or be forced to beg in the street?
Maybe it's the days of chastity belts and arranged marriages for dowry cash? The time when young virgin girls of 10 were given over to wealthy Victorian men for their pleasures while the wives of these good men were "suffering the vapours" at home in their tight little whalebone corsets and high neck collars?
Even the Religious Right knows that the American women wouldn't go for that. I'm not saying that the RR is happy about this, but only that they do realize that those particular "good old days" are gone forever.
What the Religious Right usually is thought to mean by their call to return to the times of "traditional family values" is what the family was like in "the golden age of the 1950's".
What was family life like in the '50's? According to "The Way We Never Were" by STEPHANIE COONTZ, it wasn't all that golden nor good. But this IS what the Religious Right is pushing for. How do we know?
The Religious Right Wants To Control Reproduction Because Then They Can Control Women.
The Religious Right is pushing to abolish contraception availability and sex education to teens and to outlaw abortion. Yes, that may bring us back to the "50's alright, when:
- The number of pregnant brides more than doubled in the 1950s.
- In 1957, there were more than twice as many births to girls aged fifteen to nineteen than in 1983.
- The number of illegitimate babies put up for adoption rose 80% from 1944 to 1955.
- By the end of the 1950s, when Redbook asked readers to supply examples for an upcoming article, "Why Young Mothers Feel Trapped, " they received 24, 000 replies.
Can Happy Marriages Be Legislated?:
The Religious Right wants divorces to become harder to obtain. Traditional marriage (one man-one woman only, forever and ever) is held up to be the ultimate model of morality and values. This is so important to the RR image that they will repress any information to the contrary. In fact, repression may almost be necessary to maintain that image. Just like in the 1950's when:
Not Everyone In The '50's Got Married, But:
- Wife-beating was not really considered a crime. Many psychologists explained that battered wives were masochists who provoked their husbands into beating them.
- A husband raping his wife was not a crime at all, but a sign that the woman was deficient in fulfilling her marital obligations.
- One half of the marriages that began in the 1950s ended in divorce.
- During the 1950s, more than 2, 000, 000 legally married people lived separately.
- More couples reported their marriage "happy" in 1977 than did in 1957. (The "happy marriage" index dropped slightly by the late 1980s, but still remained higher than it was in 1957.)
But Everything Was Great, Except:
- A 1947 bestselling book, The Modern Woman, called feminism a "deep illness, " labeled the idea of an independent woman a "contradiction in terms, " and explained that women who wanted equal pay and equal educational opportunities were engaged in a "ritualistic castration" of men.
- A woman over thirty-five has a better chance of marrying today than she did in the 1950s.
- Men who failed to marry were considered immature, selfish, or homosexual. A man without a wife found it difficult finding work or getting promoted.
- Unmarried men and women were routinely paid less than married men and women because, it was explained, their needs were less.
- The McCarthy-era hunts against communists extended to homosexuals and other political and social "deviants." During the 1950s, 2, 611 civil servants were fired as "security risks"; 4, 315 resigned while being "investigated."
In her book, Private Lives: Men and Women of the '50s, Benita Eisler quotes film producer Joel Schumacher: The uniformity we sense about the '50s, with everyone happily "fitting in, " was, in fact, a great number of frightened people pretending to fit in" and pretending to enjoy it.
- In the 1950s, racism was deeply institutionalized. 50% of black families lived below the poverty line; migrant workers suffered appalling working and living conditions; people of color were not permitted to take part in the American dream.
- Women were often denied the right to serve on juries, convey property, make contracts (including leases on apartments), and establish credit in their own names (including mortgages and credit cards).
- Fewer than half the students who entered high school in the late 1940s ever finished.
- Congress discussed nearly two hundred bills to deal with the problem of "juvenile delinquency" in 1955-the year "Rebel Without a Cause" was released.
- The United States has had the highest homicide rate in the industrial world for almost 150 years. (So nothing new has happened in the last few decades to change this...unfortunately).
- In the mid-1950s, 25% of the population lived below the poverty line. In 1958, 60% of the population over sixty-five had incomes below $1, 000.
Why is there such a rosy glow surrounding the memories of the 50's?
- Alcoholism soared in the 1950s.
- In 1958, 462, 000 pounds of tranquilizers were consumed in the United States. A year later, consumption had more than tripled to 1.5 million pounds.
Peeling Back the Layers Of The Traditional Family Myth:
By now, you may begin to see the dangers, too. But the biggest danger is hidden even deeper within the agenda.
According to the Southern Baptist Council: "God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. It is composed of persons related to one another by marriage, blood or adoption."
"The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God's image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation."
"Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord. Parents are to demonstrate to their children God's pattern for marriage. Parents are to teach their children spiritual and moral values and to lead them, through consistent lifestyle example and loving discipline, to make choices based on biblical truth. Children are to honor and obey their parents."-(Statement of Faith, The Southern Baptist Council.)
Well, since this "god" hasn't shown up on any doorsteps lately to take a peek behind the kitchen curtains, I guess that leaves the "man of the house" pretty much in charge of interpreting just what 'god's" will is for his entire family, doesn't it? How convenient!
The "Traditional Family" Withdraws From The Rest of Society:
The Religious Right wants to put the American Family back behind closed doors. Where no social worker will call to check on the children. Where no police will investigate "marital problems." Where no one can hear you scream.
Moral Majority leader Rev. Jerry Falwell wrote in his 1979 book "America Can Be Saved!": "I hope to live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, there won't be any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again, and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!"
Since they are meeting with some considerable resistance to this "noble" idea-just mention "ACLU" in their presence and watch their teeth begin to grind- they are now considering other options.
Parental rights have become the new demand of the conservative movement. Parents are encouraged to "opt out" their children from social studies programs that do not "reflect their family values." Other ideals or cultural influences are dangerous. Children may consider alternatives to the traditional family values. Very, very dangerous. Better to put them in private schools and home schooling. That way no one can interfere with what they want the children to 'learn." No one can teach a child anything that the parents do not believe in. No one will see the bruises.
Lawmakers are pushing for parental consent in contraceptive use and abortion privacy. Teens can just pray away all those desires if they can or be whisked away quietly into unwed mothers homes if they can't. No one will tell them about sex being a healthy and wonderful thing-until the wedding day at least. If, as reported by CNN, the age of people entering a first time marriage is up to 28 for men and 24 for women, . well, all I can say is good luck to 'em...
Randy Tate of the Christian Coalition said in a July 15th press release: "Passing the Child Custody Protection Act is a commonsense decision by the House of Representatives that upholds parental rights and strengthens families, " said Tate. "This law strengthens parental notification and consent laws being circumvented by rapists and abusers by ensuring that children who are victims of sexual abuse or rape can no longer be taken across state lines by their abusers to secretly obtain abortions."
Since statistically, most abusers are parents or other close family members, this also protects the "traditional family" in ways that the Christian Coalition may not want you to think about. The "Child Custody Protection Act" also prevents outside agencies from extending aid to children in trouble. Once again, this keeps the door to the "traditional family home' firmly shut and those behind that door effectively silenced.
The "ideal" woman in this tight little family situation should stay at home with the children and be a 'helpmate" to her husband. If she's bored, she can always pray more. If she's unfulfilled, she should pray more. If she wants a different life, she really MUST pray more.
And I'll bet a lot of them will, too.
Walk in Light and Love,
August 9th, 1998
The Witches' Voice
Location: Tampa, Florida
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