Thursday, May 23, 2013

The end of the innocence?

This afternoon, yet another shred of innocence was chipped away from America's youth when the Boy Scouts of America announced that it will now allow "openly and avowed" homosexual members. Not leaders, they assure us. No, we don't want anyone to go accusing the Scouts of opening *that* can of worms. No, this is simply an admission that they will now allow a homosexual boy to be open about his attraction to his own gender.

Yay for them! Go Boy Scouts! Way to go for finally "getting with the program" and "evolving" past all of those old-fashioned, archaic, and oppressive standards that tied you to all of those religious nut jobs! Now our boys can be "loud and proud" about their homosexuality! It's about time the BSA caught up with the GSA, right?

Lest you not know me well, the sarcasm was dripping from that like a 3-year-old with a popsicle. For the record, I am thoroughly disgusted. I think it was the worst decision the BSA could have made, and I do believe they have alienated thousands of supporters and they may be seeing a sharp decrease in their membership as a result. This was an organization KNOWN for its adherence to strong moral values and principles. Yet what they did was cave to political and social pressure to "evolve" and make gay boys more comfortable in their ranks.

Go ahead, call me a hater. I'm used to it by now. You may as well throw around the "homophobe" label too, while you're at it, since that's the token accusation, right? After all, I'm "one of those" who believes that homosexuality is contagious like leprosy, and of course if one gay boy is allowed in, he's going to go recruiting.

Yet more sarcasm. I'm in that kind of mood tonight.

Actually, I'm not going to throw around the typical justification for my opinion. I'm not even going to bring the Bible into this at all, because sometimes, common sense just needs to speak for itself. I want to explain just why it is I'm completely appalled by the BSA's change of policy.

I have seven children, but only one boy. Way back when he was in the tender years of adolescence, while we were stationed in Germany, I volunteered to lead his Webelos den of 13 boys while their dads were almost all deployed (what was I thinking???), and even though I was stressed out most of the time, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute I spent with those boys. It also allowed me to fulfill a dream I'd had for years of "being" a Boy Scout. See, years and years ago when I was just a wee, snarky sprout, I spent a year as a Junior Girl Scout. It was horrible. They all wanted to talk about fingernails and hair and purses and "girl power", and I was the lone wolf during the troop campout who was willing to get dirty, so I made the fire, cleaned up the muddy campsite, and chased off a raccoon that got into our tent. Those girls were WAY too girly for me, and I dreamed of being a Boy Scout to do the *really* fun stuff. However, it was very matter-of-factly explained to me back then in terms I would not understand for several more years that there is a VERY good reason why there weren't any girls in the Boy Scouts nor were there boys in the Girl Scouts. I used to think it was because boys didn't want to wear those stupid berets or the silly little sock taggie things.

And then I had children, and I understood VERY well why it is that there is a clear division between the BSA and GSA. I'll not get into my issues with the Girl Scouts right now, but let's just fast forward a few years, shall we? Right now, with two (married) adult children and five little girls moving at an alarming rate toward adolescence, their father and I were faced with a predicament--we wanted our girls to have some sort of non-church, non-sport activity that both supported our own values and encouraged them to grow up to be strong young ladies ... without the co-ed nature of the church's youth group, or our homeschool group (no offense to the families of those boys, they are OUTSTANDING young men) or their karate class. Why? Why on earth would our girls need something isolated from boys?

Two words--sexual tension. Somewhere between the ages of 9 and 12, a curious thing happens to every young person--they become acutely aware that the opposite sex is very, very different, and they begin noticing that they have an awkward feeling around those "other" people. They suddenly feel self-conscious and, even if ZERO attraction exists, the tension is there that this other person might be looking at me, noticing me, staring at me, etc.

In a "safe", one-sex setting, boys are able to be boys, and girls are able to be girls. Sure, they will eventually start comparing notes, sharing the who-likes-who and how this girl/boy is cute, but not *as readily* under circumstances when their attention is being diverted toward character-building activities. 

The BSA just removed that barrier. No, I'm not comparing gay boys to Girl Scouts. However, there *IS* going to be something there that wasn't there before--sexual tension. It's not supposed to be there! Our CHILDREN are supposed to have a safe haven where this kind of thing doesn't exist! They should be able to be pimply, awkward, and innocent. Now they have this added issue of a boy who is not "just" gay, but who is being encouraged to be "openly and avowed" about his sexual attraction to the boys who, up until now, had this one place they could escape that sexual tension! WHY do we have to bring sexuality into Scouting??? Why?? Last time I checked, the orienteering badge had nothing to do with gender! No, I'm not being flippant--I'm quite serious. I do not ever remember anything in my son's Scout manual about sexuality. Nothing. So WHY now do we need to be "open and avowed" with ANY kind of sexuality??? Why on earth would we be encouraging 11, 12, or 13-year-old CHILDREN to explore sexuality of any kind? I do not understand for the life of me why we Americans have this ridiculous need to be "open and avowed" with things that should be very private in nature. I know there have been homosexuals in scouting--both sides-- probably since their establishment. My question is this: Why is it suddenly necessary to make it public, especially when "exploring" one's sexual desires can have such disastrous consequences? Why can't our children just have one "safe place" that they can be children? Why do we have to strip them of their innocence and turn them into tiny adults before they're emotionally capable of handling it?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Why has it come to this?

I have had a battle going on inside my head for several months now over whether or not I would broach this subject at all, but you know what? It needs to be broached, plowed through, ironed out, and buried in the compost pile where it belongs. I know someone is going to get their panties in a wad about it, but we need to talk about these things ... so let's put on our big-girl panties and deal with the wads as they come, shall we?

Sometime late last year, I mentioned on one of my random "this is my crazy life" status updates on Facebook that I'd essentially run myself through the wringer on what was one of my "Crazy Thursdays", and in a mental response to a flippant comment from another grocery store patron, I added that "no one had better say I'm not a working mother". Wouldn't you know it, someone I know in real life took MAJOR offense to this. Not just eye-rolling offense, but responding with a "You've GOT to be kidding me!!!" offense. She then proceeded to detail her own day, spent in the office and then doing various and sundry around-the-house "wifely and motherly" tasks when she returned home, as opposed to what she perceived as the simplistic day of a stay-at-home mom (who had not been home from 8am till 6pm). In the rather confusing dialogue that ensued (because I knew it was my statement that had her so upset, I attempted to explain that I in no way, shape, or form was attempting to take anything away from what she does), it became glaringly obvious that there is something very serious going on under the surface. Had I not just been told by that grocery store guy that "You'd better be glad you don't work!", I might have taken it a little better, but alas, I did not. And I was exhausted. From what, though, if I hadn't WORKED all day??

What defines a "working mother"? Better yet, what defines "work"? Desk work? Standing and teaching a class of twenty-five? Construction? Making sure all of the diners in a restaurant have full iced tea glasses? In the dead-end dialogue I had with the offended party, I learned that anything I said about what I had done during that day was taken as a direct insult on the sacrifice she and her family had made to have a career and a successful life. I couldn't win that battle, nor was I even trying, because I wasn't trying to take any of the respect or prestige away from her job-for-pay, and I was simply trying to gain the same respect for my chosen career-not-for-pay. My question is this: WHY, ladies ... WHY are we beating each other up over whether or not someone is "working", and why on earth would we EVER assume to say that what one of us does is work while the other one does not work, based solely on the single matter of a paycheck? Why do we DO that????

I, as a stay-at-home mother, do not envy those who work outside the home. Period. I wouldn't want it. It's not for me, I know that, and I'm perfectly okay with being "just a wife and mom". Yes, it requires certain sacrifices, and yes, I understand unequivocally that my choice is a PERSONAL one, based on not just personal beliefs, but personal convictions and personal preferences. I don't do "team player" well, and that doesn't lend itself well to a job that requires working with people. I know this, and to some extent, this played a big part of my CHOICE to occupy myself in the work I find in my own home and family. I do have convictions that cemented this decision, but they are MINE. I don't dare assert my convictions on others, because we are individuals! I do value the career (albeit unpaid in any form of income that is monetary) that I have chosen above any other I could have chosen, because I see the value in it to my own family. Does it mean I look down on other wives or mothers who have chosen other paths? Heavens, no! I know the vast majority of people in this world would not choose to be a stay-at-home mother of seven who homeschools while her husband frequently travels the globe for weeks on end. I know that! But ladies, just because I have opted out of spending six years in college to get a Master's degree in fill-in-the-blank (other than music and the challenge of being a combat pilot, nothing else ever interested me) and I don't spend my days at an office, in a classroom, or whatever else I may find to do, does NOT mean what I do all day is not "work". I absolutely guarantee you that I work--sometimes from sunup to long past midnight, and not just at "normal" tasks like laundry and dishes and getting a heater fixed while dealing with a belligerent home warranty company. I do some things--some for myself, some for my family, some for others--that I would never have the time or energy to do, were I putting in 40+ hours working somewhere else. I enjoy that 'luxury'.

Ladies, we have GOT to get past this idea that a paycheck defines work. We have got to stop thinking that because a woman has CHOSEN to stay at home taking care of her home and family full time, that she is somehow less successful or "busy" than a woman who works outside the home for a paycheck. It's ludicrous, and it's demeaning to the many girls and women who desire a simple domestic life. I can't even begin to tell you how much it hurt to have my oldest daughter be lectured over and over again when she graduated from high school about going to college and finding a "worthwhile career" and to be told she was "wasting her life" and "taking the lazy way out" simply because she desired to be "just" a wife and mom.

I'm not a feminist by any stretch of the imagination, but isn't it a bit self-defeating and completely hypocritical to say that a woman can be "anything she wants" as long as she "works", but yet we define work as something that brings in pay, instead of being honest work that can benefit a family in other ways? Why are we doing this to each other?
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