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Home >> Blog >> The quote that gave her angst: Part 2

The quote that gave her angst: Part 2

continued from part 1

"There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind."

I laugh at dirty jokes, and I make them, and sometimes I've even been known to attend a sex toy party or two and giggle at the dildos. BUT....I also say please and thank you, bring meals to women who just gave birth, and I give to charity every month. See? Coarse and kind. I'm just so dynamic!

"Well behaved women rarely make history." - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (psst, she's Mormon)

"There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined."

This line just makes me want to be all Jane Austen and put on "airs". Of course, Austen was all about satire meant to mock silly, cultural rules. Being refined is generally a matter of culture; little cues we set up to let others know we are better than them. And I'm sure we're all aware of at least one "refined" person who, in their snobbery, is completely rude. Forget being refined. Be real.

Another way to say it: "Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women." -–Nora Ephron

"We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith."

This one is just patently not true. It is so grossly untrue that it makes me see red. Statistically, we are seriously lacking women of fame and fortune. We need more female leaders, innovators, activists, politicians, writers, and scientists who can bring their unique female perspective to the public square. Women who can add some levity to a heavily patriarchal culture, to place female values in higher regard in society. What we don't need are attitudes like Nadauld's that portray female achievement as something to be frowned upon. We need more female wisdom in places of authority, and we should be suspicious of anyone who would discourage this.

And please don't tell me that we don't have enough women of faith when probably 85% of this world's inhabitants believe in some type of deity and afterlife. Women of faith are everywhere, and are keeping their families butts in the pews too, even while excluded from religious authority. And the sad irony is religious patriarchy is arguably the greatest societal cause of women's oppression throughout history and all over the world. So take my big, fat "PUHLEEZE" and stuff it in your pocket for your future pity parties over lack of faith in women.

"We have enough greed; we need more goodness."

I actually think women could stand to be more greedy on the whole. Making women think that they are greedy is a great way to create paranoia about actually standing up for their needs, wants, and desires. This is a mentality that makes appetite, want, and ambition in women an unattractive quality. Thus we see exhausted and drained mothers who perpetually put themselves last. We see women afraid to say what they really want. We see women ridden with guilt for wanting more. As Naomi Wolf said, "A quietly mad population is a tractable one."

"We have enough vanity; we need more virtue."

Vanity and virtue. Of the two, I consider virtue to be the more pernicious concept to be foisted upon women as far as it has been linked to virginity. As for vanity, it comes in different packages. Nadauld says in her talk, "Our outward appearance is a reflection of what we are on the inside." This is just another form of vanity wrapped in nice words. Even the most "virtuous" of God fearing women get a lot of brain cookies from dolling up in their Sunday best. The same could be said of Muslim women who take pride in their burqas, or catholic priests in their flashy robes. It's just another form of vanity couched in faithful traditions. So...you can clamber on down from your high horse there.

"We have enough popularity; we need more purity."

Not sure what popularity and purity have to do with each other. Unless she means to imply that being popular means you had to sleep your way to the top? In which case we could talk about girls being taught that their power lies in their sex, which kind of leads me into my rant on "purity". The obsession with purity is an oh-so typical trope of patriarchy. The pro-purity crowd purports to combat the "worldly" objectification of women. But the truth is that they're just advocating the flip side of the same coin. We're talking about the virgin-whore dichotomy, another false choice that effectively represses and marginalizes women and makes them easier to control.

130 million women have been genitally mutilated and their labia sewn together to insure female purity. Before you start arm flapping, I know Nadauld would not endorse this practice. But still, her emphasis on female virtue and purity are no different than the attitudes that underlie genital mutilation, honor killings, and full body burqas. You may brush those off as all extreme examples that have nothing to do with what Nadauld is talking about. But even a seemingly beneficial emphasis on purity is still using shaming vocabulary that warp a woman's relationship to her sexuality. It breeds hurtful metaphors about licked cupcakes and otherwise damaged goods, ultimately diminishing women to an object to be had and ruined. This obsession with virginity, purity, modesty, and virtue, is disproportionately directed towards females. This is because these values are created by and for a male-centered view, and as such are no better than a male centered view that enjoys Rhianna booty popping in a skimpy leotard. Both are extremes. Find the middle road of wisdom that respects a woman's whole personhood, not just her sex.

So there it is, my gripe fest against one little quote from a fairly forgettable, 12 year old talk. Pretty lame, eh? This Hillary chick needs a new hobby!!! What can I say, a sexist quote about women, by a woman, and passed around by other women makes me turn into a female Hulk. Hulk smash!

But above and beyond this quote, I want to push women to be critical of this sort of "keep sweet" rhetoric. Not because I don't think you should be tender, kind, nurturing, compassionate, and good. Those are fine qualities, but you are not limited to them. Women are diverse, and we should embrace that, not discourage it. We should not discourage female achievement, or paint female ambition as being unattractive. We should not shame female sexuality, or female strength that's perceived as too tough. We should not let quotes like this pit us against one another, because that only lends power to forces that want women in their assigned place. We must allow each other to embrace the full scope of our personhood. We are stunting the potential growth of women when we try to shove their feet into Cinderella's tiny shoes.

When we support each other in the vast myriad of life choices and possibilities, we are strong.

I look at my female friends and I love their differences. Some work, some are SAHM's. Some are scientifically minded and I could listen to them analyze all day. Others are more intuitive feelers, who write poems and dance with their eyes closed. Some come to book club to discuss, others come for the food and drink. Some love to cook and some are pro at ordering pizza. Some have chosen not to have children, others only want one, and some have a whole pack of kids. Some swear like a sailor, some don't. Some love fashion and hair and even cosmetic surgery, and some probably wear socks with their sandals. **And it doesn't matter.** What matters is that they support me and I support them. That's how it should be.

"Without community, there is no liberation...but community must not mean a shedding of our differences, nor the pathetic pretense that these differences do not exist." -–Audre Lorde

If you see Nadauld's quote making the rounds, and you agree with me that it's awful, feel free to share the link to this post in response. =)

Last modified: 2019-04-21 21:46:50


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Name: Jo (355 weeks, 4 days ago) utahcountyskeptics.blogspot.com
really, really good stuff. Especially love the part about women of faith. And the group pic. ;)
Name: Travis (355 weeks, 3 days ago)
You run, I vote.
Name: Tyler (355 weeks, 3 days ago)
Fantastic. Always makes me feel a little better to hear a voice from the middle road of wisdom.
Name: Heather (355 weeks, 3 days ago) http:gofita.blogspot.com
Yup, beautiful! Like you, Hillary. I'm posting this! I'm even teary-eyed! Bitch ;) lol. Love ya!
Name: Jefferson (355 weeks, 3 days ago)
This is good. Really good! Very very good!! I've always loved you for being exactly who you feel like you are. You have always challenged my beliefs, reenforced my "weirdness", and made me feel accepted... at the same time. I'm so happy that you are still a part of my life. Albeit and primarily cyber part of my life. ;) Girl power. Regular power! People power!!
Name: Sarah (355 weeks, 3 days ago)
"And please don't tell me that we don't have enough women of faith when probably 85% of this world's inhabitants believe in some type of deity and afterlife. Women of faith are everywhere, and are keeping their families butts in the pews too, even while excluded from religious authority. And the sad irony is religious patriarchy is arguably the greatest societal cause of women's oppression throughout history and all over the world." So true.
Name: Amber (355 weeks, 3 days ago)
Perfect. So well said.
Name: Neil (355 weeks, 3 days ago)
You go She-Hulk! She-Hulk is a much better role model than the Hulk, because she accepts who she is and can be a super hero and a lawyer AT THE SAME TIME! But she does need a name that denotes more than being the female version of another person... Why is he not the He-Hulk? LoL.
Name: Birdy (355 weeks, 2 days ago)
YES! I completely agree with you Hillary. My friend shared this with me. So happy you are adding a voice of reason to the discussion.
Name: Jody Mellin (352 weeks, 4 days ago)
Love it! Especially the line about Cinderella shoes. You are amazing! :)
Name: Cory (352 weeks, 1 day ago)
In all honesty this is one of the best posts I have read in a very long time Hillary. Kudos for your honesty and courage to post. It is extremely precise in identifying the same sense of unease that I have long felt in my life in the church.

For me, listening to the "comfort words" such as the quote that you skewer was one of the things that ultimately led to my disillusionment. Many people would hear something like this and really just tune in to the soft speak, without actually thinking about what the words truly mean. For every platitude that is endlessly repeated and exalted, I would find myself thinking of specific examples of someone who has been harmed as a direct consequence of trying to "live up" to an ideal that is frankly impossible.

As a man, the surreal thing is that many times the patriarchy that infuriates you so is bringing in young men as unwilling participants - but it is often the matriarchy that acts as the enforcer to the edicts. In my own (admittedly complex) relationship, it has been my wife and mother that insist that I "honor my priesthood" by acting as a patriarch to the family. This in turn causes me to act a part that I am not competent or especially happy to play. I have never wanted to be the "Head of the Household". In the beginning of my marriage and when my first child was born, I had EXTREME anxiety that I constantly had to hide from my wife. I felt like I needed to present the face of a strong decision-maker and moral compass. As it turns out, I kind of suck at both.

Anyway, sorry for the wall of text and gratuitous use of quotes. If I were an English teacher I would probably mark off "10 points" for "quoting everything" even when "it technically doesn't need to be quoted for emphasis".
Name: Hillary (352 weeks ago)
@ Cory, thanks for that comment! I totally hear you, but I wouldn't call what you experienced matriarchy. I would call it women perpetuating patriarchy, which is unfortunately very common and the most insidious of all (no offense to your wife and mama.) The gender expectations patriarchy produces hurt both men and women, no doubt about it. I hope to write sometime about why women of all people are just as guilty of this, even sometimes more so than men.
End of comments.

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