Monday, June 21, 2010

The Ministry of Truth

1984 by George Orwell was one of my very favorite reads in High School. I still remember how it intrigued me then. If you have never read 1984 or don't remember it really well or just read the SparkNotes then I may have to explain the reason I chose the title for my blog.
In 1984 the main charater works at The Ministry of Truth in which it is his job to change newspapers to reflect the way that the governing authorities would want history to be portrayed. He rewrites history but the Ministry of Truth is also involved in chaging entertainment media and any other sort of media that would cause the citizens to think differently than those in charge think they ought to. Anything that would oppose their ideals.
Keep the above explanation in mind while I explain this next part because they will tie in eventually. The other day I read an article in a magazine that has a specific target audience which is, namely, Christian homeschool families. By just skimming the magazine you can tell there are most certainly some ideals that a large part of the demographic have concerning how to raise your children and what a proper Christian looks like. Then again, it may be the editor that is skewing it one way.
I was reading this magazine in the first place because I am working on breaking into freelance writing. I figured it would be wise to break into it through an avenue that was familiar to me- a subject I know a lot about. I was homeschooled throughout my formative years-elementary, junior, and high school- and I was raised in a Christian home. I thought this magazine would be good because as far as I can tell it is the most professionaly done and widely distributed of its kind. I have learned that the first step to writing for a magazine is to research it and study the format and what sort of articles they are interested in.
While loooking through the magazine I came to a section suggesting books to let your boys read and books to let your girls read. Before books were listed the article explained why the different sexes should read the suggested books. In short, boys should read adventurous books with plenty of sword fights and confidence and resourcefulness, books that help them become a provider and speaks to their love of adventure. But for girls, the contributing author (who is a woman) said that "modern" books provide girls with role models who are too focused on education and adventure. This shouldn't be so girls are the ones (in her words) "who hang the calico curtains in the cabins the men build." In a word, this author managed to say "don't fill their pretty little heads with ideas." She said that girls should read books about the home and the family and relationships since that is eventually what they will be concerned with. I was flabbergasted. I had to check to make sure that this was a recent publication and that it wasn't dated 1950 something.
I am a mother, I love my son, I love my husband, and sometimes reading about adventure IS discouraging because it is hard to do with a family. But that doesn't mean that I can't have adventure ever and it doesn't mean that some girl out there or MANY girls out there aren't meant to have adventures and to invent and discover things in fields of education. Not all are even meant to marry,not all are meant to have children and not all are meant to follow the mores set on wives and mothers even if they are in that position. By the way, why do Christians forget to tell girls that they don't have to get married? Why do they pose the life of singleness as a plight to be endured? God said marriage was good but he also said (through Paul) that those who are married will endure hardship because they are focused on the things of this world. But this is another blog subject entirely. Back to the subject at hand. Further than that, the thing that bothered me the most about these "suggestions" was that the boys were supposed to delve into and relish adventure whereas girls were supposed to abstain from looking at it. It isn't because girls would not find pleasure in the reading of adventure or in imagining themselves doing adventurous things or being educated but because they would be dissatisfied with their lives and not focus on their inevitable purpose.
In the same vien, it is a double standard because nothing is said about men being involved in the family. If there are women having a family then certainly there is a man who helped the family come to fruition. It seems as if that man is meant to inseminate the women with his seed and not bother further with the family, but to pursue satisfaction in his work and adventure. He is free to go here or there and so it is no problem for him to read all his life about adventure. He should be pursuing it then, as a boy, and later as a man; wherever his mind can take him he can go. Whatever is his pleasure it is in his reach, it is his privilege, his birthright as a male. However, the woman will only have so long to revel in the summer of her life. Soon she will be concerned with babies and surely she will leave this resonsibility if her head is filled with ideas. It is not in her future, it is not her privilege, why make herself unhapppy? It is a sin for her to be unhappy and she will inevitably be unhappy if she expects adventure. It is also unladylike. BS.
I admit, when I was young I had so much freedom and I loved adventure books. I imagined myself in each one of them. As I grew older I realized that my decisions were a little more limited than boys. Mostly because I was not encouraged to reach for the stars so much as they were. It was cute when I was young to exclaim that I was going to be a pro pitcher, but the older I got the more I heard what women were not capable of or should not be doing as it was a violation of ladylike behavior. I wondered why I had these desires if they were wrong. I don't those think those desires were wrong. Man and woman alike should realize their responsibilities and look at their adventuerous dreams in this light.
A man has a family as well as a woman and they should both be tied down in some respects and both encouraged in their dreams as well, able to support one another to enjoy their family as well as to reach other goals. Family should not be a rope that ties you down. Suggesting that a girl should not read these books suggests that a family is a weight more than it suggests its original intent which is for the woman to be a good mother and wife. But why are these the only words that define her? "Wife" and "Mother" she is also many more things as well, those are only her titles. If a family is a rope it should be to support, to help climb, to lasso the bad guys.
I would suggest that boys read books about men who love their kids if girls are to read books about relationships and that if boys are to read books about adventure then girls should be able to read books about adventure if it is something that rings true with the desires God gave them.
It just made me think of the Ministry of Truth. Have the females read only the propaganda that keeps them in line with this media venue's own ideology. We need family men and family women. We need men with adventurous hearts and minds and women with adventurous hearts and mind. We need men who work hard to provide and women who work hard to save and budget what the men provide. We need women who can sew and men who can brag about the quality of the sewing. We need men who will iron and women who will hammer. We need them working side by side enjoying the satisfaction that hard labor brings. We don't need one independent and full of life and the other dependent and dull. Interdependency on Christian brothers and sisters, wives dependent on husbands and husbands dependent on wives. Most of all, dependency should be reserved for God only and in that case men and women alike must lean on Him in an equally submissive and trusting manner.

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