HuffPo: Leslie Benetts: The Feminine Mistake

The Feminine Mistake

“I wrote The Feminine Mistake: Are We Giving Up Too Much? because the typical reporting on the job-versus-family issue was so biased and incomplete. The media gave lots of coverage to women who quit the labor force to become full-time mothers, but they treated this decision as if it were simply a lifestyle choice. They never seemed to mention the risks of economic dependency — or the myriad benefits of work. As a result, women were being lulled into a dangerous sense of complacency about relinquishing their financial autonomy. Why wasn’t anyone telling the truth about how much they were sacrificing — or what the consequences could be?

When I researched the subject myself, my findings made it all too clear how false that sense of security really is. Over time, most stay-at-home wives are likely to face major hardships as a result of divorce, widowhood, a spouse’s unemployment or illness, or any number of other challenges. Women who abandon their careers and become financially dependent on their husbands often look back on that decision as the biggest mistake of their lives — even women in stable, enduring marriages. I interviewed women all over the country, of every age, socio-economic level and background, but many used the exact same words to ask an angry question: “Why didn’t anybody tell me what a mistake this was?””

And man, isn’t our society lucky to have such a sage in Leslie Benetts, that she is here to let us know how big of a mistake we are making when we marry and become financially dependent on our men.
A few thoughts….I have not read this womans book, just her piece at Huff Po, so maybe it is wrong to even comment on her piece without her full argument being reviewed.
That being said, the very title of her essay, calling this choice to become dependent on our husbands a MISTAKE, sets the tone of the debate.
I suppose in Ms.Benetts ideal world all women attend college until they are 32, then accept a job from some “empowered” she-male, and then gets artificially inseminated to give birth to one child, you know, just for the experience, and because that time clock is ticking, and the second the baby turns four weeks old, shoves it into the care of someone else while momma stays “independent and financially stable”, and thus saves herself the trouble of having to ask that ANGRY and hopeless question….”Why didn’t anybody tell me what a mistake this was???”
In Ms. Benetts ideal world womyn have no need to mess with the rather untidy life of the stay at home mother, and no worries about the future. Momma as breadwinner means womyn will never have to bow down to any patriarchal system, and can stay nice and healthy, financially and otherwise, and never ever have any problems, whatsoever. Because everyone knows that the only women who have problems are those who get married young and rely on a man to provide their food, clothing, and shelter.
Sorry Ms. Benett, your whole premise stinks.
I am completely aware of how dependent I am on my husband. I like to think of us an an interdependent team. However, I choose not to wallow in “what iffing” about the future. Should some unforseen situation present itself where I am the sole breadwinner for my family, I trust that as a smart, intelligent woman, I have the capacity to take care of the children who would then be dependent on me for the basics to survive.
I don’t have a degree. Outside of stints working as an actor, waitress, medical assistant, maid at a hotel, house cleaner, health club dance instructor, and various network marketing businesses, as well as childbirth teacher, I have never had what others would term an ideal “career”.
I have spent the past ten years writing books that few people are interested in reading, promoting natural childbirth in an epidural world, and blogging about natural family living. Endeavors that are not exactly tied to financial freedom.
I suppose if I wanted to make some money at blogging, I could promote sickness on my Blog and then the various sick culture big money machines would come calling, but for now promotion of healthy family life is not a cash cow for our family budget.
Truth be known, without my husbands support I could never have written my E-books, set up my web sites, or even considered blogging. As a computer genius specializing in web connections and fire walls, Paul has been most supportive of my Blogging adventures. Perhaps it would have been better for me to hire a web expert, just so I could say that I was an independent womyn not guilty of making any goofball feminine mistakes like depending on my husbands generousity of spirit while helping me blog.
He installed Movable Type on my site and has helped me in a thousand different ways to be a better online writer. As my in house “free” tech support, he has been the reason I’ve been able to share my words, pictures, and videos on the web. Perhaps your next book should be titled – “The Male Mistake; hard realities for the husband whose wife spend every spare second blogging.”
I am fully aware of the difficulties that COULD happen if my husband were unable to work for some reason. Yet I continue to take my children to the park, spend my time cooking, cleaning, and raising our five children, and call myself most blessed among women for the luxury of this amazing lifestyle where I have the freedom to be queen of my own little castle.
And, I get to choose how I will schedule my free time without worrying about providing food, clothing, and shelter for our brood.
Every time we go out into the sunshine to play, I feel this overwhelming gratefullness in my heart for a man who is willing to work hard every day to provide for me and our children. And I trust and have complete faith that should my husband be called home to heaven, that a kind FATHER In Heaven, the ultimate Patriarch, will be as aware of me as the Lilies of the field, and will help me to know how to feed, shelter, and clothe my family as a single woman.
Don’t call my life choice a mistake.
And don’t assume that I am some idiot who has no ability to prepare for the future, or understand that my husband being gone will mean major adjustments to our lifestyle. I am well aware of how quickly things could change, but that does not mean I am going to put my children into the care of someone else and go start working on a career.
I am engaged in the most fulfilling career any woman could desire…..writing living epistles as we partner with God in the creation of something eternal and holy….A Family.
As I read this essay I was reminded of the play Pippen, which I performed over forty times during summer stock theatre in 1987. The main character in the play is a young man who wants to find meaning in his life, and so he experiments with a variety of lifestyle choices, running from war to politics to womanizing to family life in search of the ultimate happiness and fulfillment. At the end of this musical, he learns that being committed to a family is what will bring him the most fulfillment, and admits that he is “trapped, but happy”.
Here is a clip from the final performance of the cast of 87 in West Yellowstone Montana at the Playmill Theatre. I included our curtain call, as well as the tradition of “street greeting” that we did after the final show of the evening. This particular audience was made up of many friends, family members as well as members of our church congregation in town and former players from previous casts. So alot of hugging was going on as we said our goodbyes.
I am dressed in light blue, and show up here and there in the clip.

Sometime in the future I will share a bunch of clips from this play, it is a profound and wonderful commentary about what brings true happiness and fulfillment in life.
Jenny Hatch

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