Chivalry Is Dead: It Collided With My Stroller

I never understood why the women of my mom’s generation had the urge to roar.

There’s something to the old ways, where men and women lived by a set code. Heck, if men would go back to paying for luxuries, opening doors, and fighting for our honor, I could certainly modulate my voice, exude charm, and do a few dishes. It might even be worth wearing a corset.

My mom never roared. She was proud of the fact that she didn’t have to support her husband financially. She didn’t want her own paycheck. She wanted to spend his. Her name was on at least four store credit cards, and his was on the bills. He didn’t seem to mind a bit.

Whose idea was it that we should change this?

It was that class of women who decided to work for eight hours, come home, cook, do housework, and in between drive the kids all over the place, all without a man. And then had the gall to say they were liberated!

Mom felt that she was doing enough. Aside from taking care of a male-dominated household of ten, she taught catechism, counseled unwed mothers, and organized prayer vigils. She never complained about my dad’s enormous garden and the acres of farmland that, besides cultivation, provided hours of canning and freezing work for her. She did not complain because she was doing exactly what she wanted to do.

In the early twentieth century, Laura Ingalls Wilder was asked to add her name to the feminist movement. She declined on the grounds of not being able to relate to it. As a farm wife, she knew the priceless value of her economic contribution.

It was the bonbon eaters who wanted out. They were bored and unfulfilled. But I personally blame the men. Once they caught on that they were being let off the hook, there was no stopping it.

Hank: Lois is sick of watching soaps and eating bonbons all day. She wants a job.

Mel: What are you going to do about it?

Hank: I don’t know. It’d mean more money, and I’d quit cab driving nights. Course, she’d probably expect me to hang out with the kids more and help with the dishes once in a while.

Mel: Tough choice.

Hank and Mel made up the slogan, “You go, girl!” Hank and Mel are revered by feminists everywhere as sensitive folk-singer types.

Now we have come full circle. Larger household incomes have driven prices up, our material wants have become needs, so now an ordinary paycheck no longer covers the cost of living. Women now get heart disease at the same rate as men, and in a few more years we might yet break even on the mortality rates.

And still, the majority of women will tell you we are better off than our grandmothers were. We can now work on highways and mail rooms, and at other jobs that were traditionally hogged by men in the past. We can file for divorce just as easily as men and lose custody of our children at the rate men traditionally used to.

To think that in third-world countries with traditional sexual roles, women are missing out on this! The divorce rate is abominably low and the birth rate dangerously high; virginity is prized, and marriage is thought of as a positive good. We must export liberation to these backward places right away!

Even if you manage to stay stubbornly unliberated here, you can’t fail to reap the benefits of progress.

For instance, in my sheltered world, my husband carries the baby in one hand and opens doors for me with the other. Out there, in the Real World, doors sometimes drop in my face. Real World logic goes: It’s degrading to have someone open a door for a woman as if she can’t open it herself. Never mind if she can’t because she’s pushing a stroller and holding on to a bunch of other kids at the same time. That’s the Catholic Church’s and her husband’s fault for making her have so many children.

Let it be a lesson to all who resist progress!

Still, there is much work to be done. According to some feminists on a talk show I recently saw, the percentage of girls who went to become plumbers is still in the negatives. Girls still obstinately gravitate towards hairdressing. Everyone knows hairdressers are shamefully underpaid compared with the selfish men who earn three times as much just for unclogging toilets. Remember girls, you’re worth it.

Poor mom. She was just too oppressed to know what she was missing.

::Susie Lloyd was born into a large Catholic family that spanned the baby boom through the hippie and preppie decades. She was educated in parochial and public schools and in a parent-run catechetical center. She is a graduate of Thomas More College of Liberal Arts. She is the surprised recipient of three Catholic Press Association awards, one for her first book, Please Don’t Drink the Holy Water and two for her columns in Faith and Family Magazine. She is also a long time columnist for The Latin Mass Magazine and contributes to Inside Catholic, The National Catholic Register and Faith and Family Live! She is an enthusiastic member of Sunrise Toastmasters and enjoys connecting with her readers through public speaking. She is also the author of Bless Me Father, For I Have Kids. She and her husband Greg have been married for over twenty years, homeschool, and have seven lively children. She finds time to write in the dark hours before dawn or from the middle bench of her full-size van.You can also find more lively writing by Susie at her personal blog, Susie Lloyd: Unedited, and her next book due out next year with Ave Maria Press::


This chapter taken from Please Don’t Drink the Holy Water and used with permission by Sophia Institute Press.

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