The Greek’s view on women is a topic I found interesting, if not a little depressing. Let’s just say I would’ve hated to be a Greek woman. I know women today feel they’re treated unfairly, but if they take a walk back in history, they might not feel so undervalued.
To illustrate, I’d like to give you a quote from Hesiod’s Theogony. The passage starts with the birth of the first woman, created by Zeus, formed by Hephaestus and clothed by Athena…
From her (Athena) comes the fair sex;
yes, wicked womenfolk are her descendants.
They live among mortal men as a nagging burden
and are no good sharers of abject want, but only of wealth.
Men are like swarms of bees clinging to cave roofs
to feed drones that contribute only to malicious deeds;
the bees themselves all day long until sundown
are busy carrying and storing the white wax,
but the drones stay inside in their roofed hives
and cram their bellies full of what others harvest.
Like I said, cruel, right? It makes me look at my own role as a woman, and particularly as as stay-at-home mom. In the past this has been a touchy subject for me. Am I still contributing to society by staying at home with my kids? I’m not earning any money. I’m not adding to my resume. I get no breaks, no rewards, and sometimes it’s very hard to see if I’m doing any good at all.
But that’s when I have to stand back and look at the big picture.
When I got pregnant with my fourth baby, I got really sick. I couldn’t do the things I always took for granted–the laundry, dishes, picking the kids up from school, making meals, taking the kids to sports or dance. That’s when I realized how much I actually do. No, I don’t get a paycheck, but that doesn’t mean I’m worthless.
Moms–you’re worth it. Every effort you make is worth it. The Greeks didn’t think so, and I believe that’s what perpetuated our society’s view on women, a view we’re still trying to make right today.
Some people ask me what I do for a living. My answer: I stay at home with my kids.
Sometimes I get “the look.” That face that says, “Oh, you’re just a mom. You don’t really DO anything, do you?”
It breaks my heart to realize that some people think that way.
A stay-at-home mom’s efforts are not be as visible as someone working in a professional career. The clean clothes, the dishes, the meals, the juggling game between sports or dance or scouts, but I’ve come to learn that these things are just as important as being the bread-winner. I don’t have a paycheck to show for it. But I hope what my children learn from me will be of greater value than money.
Women and men are different, but they’re also equal.
In my book, RAZE, I write about two sisters who have lost their mother to cancer. My lead character, May, realizes how important her mother was when she’s driven to the testing point, and remembers her mother’s advice. If you’d like to read about two heroines who show what it means to be strong, please purchase my novella, RAZE. It’s on Amazon for only $2.99. Thank you!
I’ve written more about mothers than I expected. It was not something that I intentionally sat down to write about. I guess that deep down, I feel strongly about good mothers–and how vitally important they are to our society. The Greeks never realized this. It’s our responsibility to set the record straight.
Our job as parents is to raise healthy, thoughtful, children who will grow up and contribute to society in a positive way. If you are lucky enough to be able to stay home and spend time with your children then you are doing all of society a wonderful service. Earning a paycheck does not help our society progress, it may help put food on the table and pay taxes and support some other businesses but unless your job does something that helps the greater good it is just a paycheck.
What a depressing piece of Greek literature. I had no idea that was how women were viewed. I was not taught that in history class.
You're words are very encouraging. Thanks so much!
I'd argue that the Greek view of women is far more complicated than one passage shows. Penelope was a "stay at home mom," and had she not, the suitors in "The Odyssey" would have pillaged her home and lands while Odysseus was off frolicking for ten years.
These days, it's women who are more likely to carry the financial burden of the family rather than men. We just tend not to talk about that as much. I think in part because we have wage discrepancies.
I'd argue that the Adam and Eve story has done more to define women as evil in our society than have the Greeks. Eve gets the blame for original sin, as though Adam had no choice. Women who don't want to submit to men as though we are toddlers get called the female dog word.
Having one parent at home w/ children is the ideal scenario, whether this is a man or a woman. I tell girls the idea that they can have it al is a myth. Life is full of trade-offs. They should be individual choices that work for each family.
Alas, we live in a very imperfect world. But you're right, we've got to make the best with what we've got. Thanks for the insight!
😉 Good post! New follower here. I'm stopping by from the "A to Z" challenge, and I look forward to visiting again.
Thanks for following!
I know that "look" you mean! Ever been told, "Wish I could quit my job and do nothing, too." Um, yeah right.
Plus, obviously you're writing, too. And let me say as a writer myself, though not yet unpaid for writing, it's a LOT of work! Good luck with your writing endeavors. And congrats on being home with your kids.
Thank you! Some people ask me how I can write and raise kiddos. My answer: writing keeps my mind active and helps me relax while I'm not tending kids. In a way, writing helps me be a better mom. Thanks for commenting!
I'm an author, but my day job is in insurance. I have discussions every day with clients about life insurance and the value they bring to their family, and what would happen if they didn't come home for supper tonight. One of the common comments I hear is, "Oh, she doesn't work, so we don't need life insurance for her." Nothing could be further from the truth, and we've had to get very clear about that in the industry.
Do you know what the average converted salary is of a stay-at-home mom/homemaker?
Nope, not a typo.
Pretty sobering, yeah? So remember that, next time you're tempted to feel badly about your life choice. You DO matter, you DO do work that matters, and you DO bring economic value to your family – aside from the intangible value, included among which is the simple fact that your children will know they were loved and raised by someone that is family and not paid by the hour. I applaud your choice to stay home and lament the reality that, for many families, that's not an option anymore. It's bad: bad for family, bad for our society, and bad for kids. So good for you, for doing that work.
I'm glad that you're well now, and sorry you got ill with your fourth child. They're lucky to have a mom like you.
(My goodness. You were commenting how you didn't mean to write so much about moms, and I'd echo the same thing – I can't seem to hush up! lol)
This is A. Catherine Noon, visiting from the Noon and Wilder blog at http://noonandwilder.blogspot.com for the A-Z Challenge (and the Under 100 Followers section too), #1554 on the list. Happy blogging!
Nice to meet you!
Wow, that quote is really messed up, especially the drones and bees analogy! Good on you for making your own choices and finding your own sense of value from that.
I agree. And thanks for the compliment. I think sometimes we have to see how bad it could be to realize how good we have it.
Oh patriarchy, so adorable sometimes, with your "God, all women do all day is nag and live off the backs of men. It's almost as if we've created a society that narrowly blocks women into a domestic role, giving them no say in government or policy, forcing them all the be dependents with little else to do than gossip and nag in the home. Wait…" 😛
At least these days you can choose to be a stay-at-home-mom, and still have other, personal occupations outside of that. 🙂
Very true. I am thankful to be a writer as well as a mom and not feel shunned for doing it.