Tuesday, March 9

For the hand that rocks the cradle

I absolutely love this William Ross Wallace poem celebrating motherhood as a having endowed power to change the world.

Sorry in advance, this is long-winded!

A friend on Facebook posted this article featuring one of my favorite BYU professors being on the Foreign Policy's annual list of top 100 global thinkers. Her personal life is amazing in its own right, but her professional life blows me away! I was all ready to go to bed til I saw this and it got the juices flowin'!

Am I a feminist? I always shy away from that word, it's got too much baggage (like a recent post I read here).

Ever think about what you'd study if given a college do-over? Hind sight is 20/20. Although Women Studies existed when I went to school, I shied away from it for the same reason "feminism" makes me squeamish. For a gal new to her love of learning, I had arrived at BYU's uber-buffet with too much to choose from and not enough time to try each dish! After dropping Elementary Ed as my major within a month of starting classes, I sampled from many tasty social science/liberal arts options but nothing ever seemed to quite satisfy my interdisciplinary cravings.

My parents never knew what to expect when they asked if I'd nailed down a major! I always felt I didn't know what my options were, that I hadn't been exposed to enough of the world or a diverse spectrum of career paths to know what would be fulfilling. I knew I ultimately wanted to be a wife and mother, but a girl's gotta have skills to help her magnify those roles as well as be able to step up in a pinch!

Sometime in my youth I remember hearing a talk at church which I've always wanted to attribute to President Kimball. In admonishing young women to pursue an education, a statistic was given to the effect that 9 out of 10 women will have to provide for themselves or their families at some point in their lifetime. [Anyone know it's source?] It has proven true for me more than once. I was single longer than I expected, worked while newly married and once kids came along so Ryan could finish his MBA, and then was able to go to work when he was unexpectedly laid off for a short period. Ya just never know what lays ahead!

During my BYU days, I followed a dream and worked myself to exhaustion to study in the Holy Land for six months at BYU Jerusalem. One of the best things I've ever done! I realized something there that shouldn't have taken a trip across the world to discover, but I'm glad I felt and saw what I did to better understand the complexity of the world.

People are the same everywhere in the world with the same core aspirations. We live such a charmed life as Americans. We enjoy freedoms and opportunities that many people around the world work tirelessly, fight courageously, and sometimes die trying to achieve. A Palestinian college student I met there spoke of having to evade Israeli soldiers to try to get to grade school because she wanted to learn so bad. People she knew weren't able to go to work because they were stopped at checkpoints. As a result they didn't have money to take care of basic necessities for their families. On the other hand, one of our favorite Israeli market areas was blown up by a suicide bomber and Jewish school children were among the killed and wounded.

People all over the world just want to live in peace with freedom and opportunity. Peace so they can reach for their dreams and see their loved ones do the same. In that war torn land, I began to see how the loss of hope in peace correlated with all the turmoil of the region. As my coaching clinic said tonight,"We live in a culture of retaliation, not negotiation."

So I'll get to the point. If I were given the chance at a BYU do-over right now, I'd be banging on the door to do student research here:

The WomanStats Project is the most comprehensive compilation of information on the status of women in the world. The Project facilitates understanding the linkage between the situation of women and the security of nation-states.

This is amazing work!!! They tackle hard stuff I spent my last semester studying. Valerie Hudson whom I mentioned above is one of the founders of the Project and taught the hardest, best class I ever took! "The International Political Economy of Women." It was not a men-bashing course. To the contrary, it showed me how divinely complimentary men and women are. Each week I headed to the library for my study materials where I had to check out a thick binder of news and research journal clippings as well as films and documentaries to direct my study. Topics included women and children in armed conflict, the politics of breastfeeding, Adam and Eve, patriarchy, son preference/sex ratio, human trafficking, discrepancies between law and practice concerning women (land rights, marriage/divorce, child custody, health care), micro-lending and sustainable development programs, does having women in leadership roles make a difference . . . oh how I loved this class! Why did I find it my LAST semester?!?

We'd come to class all fired up wanting to make sense of it all so we could march out and change the world with our idealistic enthusiasm. Then our two wonderful professors would ground us, help us see workable solutions and understand how the Restored Gospel tied in.

It made me proud to be a woman because I finally had answers to hard questions of inequities in this mortal existence. I can still be happy and proud to be a woman and mother even if I don't like to do the mundane chores associated with my season of life. In fact, it's those chores that often give me the chance to continue to learn about the world around me as I listen to books and online resources! Life is grand!