As I mentioned in the first Tenth Commandment essay, I originally thought that I would find nothing for this commandment. But when I prayed to know if there was anything I should cover, two ideas came to me suddenly.
This is the second.
When I was five years old, we lived by a lake. In the middle of the lake was a raft. Many happy childhood hours were spent climbing onto or diving off of this raft. But this particular day, I remember standing on the raft with a friend and discussing what we would do if we were king of the world.
“Wouldn’t you be queen of the world?” asked my friend.
Even at five, I knew that queens were weak. No, I insisted, I would be a king.
As I grew older, my distain for things feminine only got stronger. Some of it might have had to do with being forced to wear boys skates. My father wanted me to hand my skates down to my brother when I outgrew them. I was told that a girl could wear boys skates, but a boy could not be seen wearing girls skates. So I had to forgo lovely white skates like my mothers. My skates would have to be black.
Very soon, I was quite proud of my superior black skates. I still own black skates today.
When my brother entered Cub Scouts, I desperately wanted to be a Cub Scout, too. Brownies was boring. I would dress in blue and go along to the meetings and hope that I would be allowed to do what the boys did.
If someone had told me that I could actually be a boy, I would have jumped on it in a second. I would have thought Heaven had come to earth.
I could tell similar stories about how I stopped liking make-up, wearing dresses, and many other things that were related to being feminine. I looked down on everything feminine. I liked boys, but I also wanted to be a boy.
I completely and utterly believed that masculine and feminine were social constructs, only brought about by environment. So I was going to raise my children to be independent of such things.
It was a three year old boy who changed my mind.
I grew up as a dancer, raised by a dancer. I loved the joy of dancing, but, like most Liberal gals, I hated war. I hated fighting. I wanted to do everything I could to stop all violence. I tried to give my son less violent toys, but that didn’t stop him from using them as weapons. But it wasn’t that that cracked my worldview.
One day, as we were watching something downstairs, he cried out in joy, “They’re hopping and dancing and fighting!”
I stood there with my mouth open. This little boy, so cute, so sweet, equated dancing with fighting. He thought fighting was fun.
This floored me. Fighting? Fun?
I began talking to other young mothers with boys. They had had the same experience. They gave their boy a Barbie; he used it as a gun. Then there was the experience of a woman who went on to write a book about the differences between men and women. She refused to give her daughter any feminine toys…and walked in one day to find her cuddling a baby doll. Surprised, the mother moved closer to find that the doll was a blanket her daughter had wrapped around…a fire truck.
A few other things happened during the same period. I had always been an independent gal. No man was allowed to hold a door for me. And if they tried? I objected! I spoke out!
Until, one day, I was pregnant and carrying a baby in a carrier. The baby was heavy. I was tired. A man stepped forward to open the door for me, and, this time, I felt…
A similar thing happened with carrying things. I was strong! I could carry my own bags, boxes, trunks! I didn’t need any man’s help!
Until I was trying to lug groceries and two little boys, and I stood there, looking at the family gentlemen talking while I worked and noticed how much stronger their arms were than mine. So, I asked them to carry the bags, and I never looked back.
I began to be very grateful that, back when I had wanted to be a Cub Scout, no one had told me that it was okay, I could be a boy.
I always wanted to be a mom, even when I was little, but I also wanted to have a career. We all thought women should work. We gaped in astonishment at the one girl in high school who wanted to be a housewife.
Really? Are you crazy?
I was determined to have a career and earn my own way. The idea of staying home and letting my husband earn our keep was both offensive and shameful to me.
Eventually, I ended up at home, though, because it was a better deal than me working when the kids were young. Still, I felt embarrassed and unhappy about it.
I was at a party one day, and someone asked me, “What do you do?” I said, “Writer,” even though I hadn’t published anything yet—because NO ONE wants to say, “Stay-At-Home Mom.”
People sneer when you say that. Everyone knows this.
Later that week, I was thinking about this incident, and I suddenly realized: I had HATED working. Yeah, I had a job that was interesting and kind of fun, but getting up, going every day, sitting there whether I was busy or not, the whole experience was really painful.
And now? I got to spend the whole day with my kids. True, it was really, really hard. The kids had all sorts of struggles. Some days, I was in tears. But other days…we went to the park, or Mom’s Club, or read books or played in the grass.
It was truly wonderful.
I had it good!
So, the next time I was asked, “What do you do?” I said, with pride: “I’m a stay-at-home mom!”
But I got to wondering: Why had I had to go through all this? Why had the world told me that I would be happier as a man, acting like a man, doing man’s things, than as a woman?
Why had I been taught to look down on all things feminine? Why had I thought that men and women were the same, except for what experience and nurture taught us?
So, I looked into it.
I found out that this idea: that all other species the males and females act differently by nature, but in humans, it was all nurture had been invented by one guy. In the 1960s, a psychiatrist named Dr. Money came up with this theory. He began telling people this was the case and popularizing it.
His work went terribly, terribly wrong. The boy he helped turn into a girl at a young age lived a miserable life that ended in suicide.
The guy came up with his idea with no research and no evidence, He made it up out of his head, and yet, he managed to convince the rest of us of his crazy, crazy theory.
Now our whole society believes it.
Now, about now, you must be wondering, what in the world does this have to do with the Tenth Commandment
I have known for some time that in the Goetia, a 16th Century book on demons, one of the main powers the demons are said to have—other than teaching liberal arts—is conveying dignities and honors. It isn’t a thing we think about much today, but apparently, they were much in demand back then. Enough that someone would endanger their soul to get one.
Because people don’t just covet things, like donkeys and maidservants. They also covet ideas, like honors and dignities.
And yet, it was not until I sat down to pray about what to write in this series of articles that I suddenly realized the sad truth, that for most of my life, without even knowing it:
I had been coveting the dignities and honors of men.
Sadly, I fear I am not the only person in our modern world to have made this mistake.