Thursday, November 03, 2005

Being A Woman

Last week I made a potentially life-changing discovery.

In Utah for my brother's wedding, the relatives nestled all snug in their beds, I found my night-owl self scanning the bookshelves of my parents' home in search of some eventide entertainment. Running my hand over the familiar titles, I came upon a white, gold-lettered volume I'd never seen before. Curious, I pulled it from the shelf. The Joy of Being A Woman: Guidance for Meaningful Living by Outstanding LDS Women. I was intrigued. My life could certainly be more Meaningful, and I'm always in need of Guidance. Who better to help me with these things than Outstanding LDS Women? I opened it in anxious anticipation. Published in 1972. Best wishes for a happy marriage! This had been a gift to my parents on their wedding day! What words of wisdom would it hold for me? I scanned the pages. Here was a chapter on making your husband happy. I definitely want to do that! With eagerness I read:

Strive to keep your voice soft. If you have become more accepting and peaceable in nature, you will find that you have less to say. Men find whining, piercing, nasal, screeching, raspy, shrill or rough aggressive qualities very annoying in a woman's voice.

I searched my soul. When I was getting over that cold last week, my voice had been raspy! Steve told me he thought it was cute, but had he actually found it very annoying? He could have been lying! And did I strive to keep my voice soft? No, not by a long shot. Sometimes I even yelled to Steve from the other room when his music was loud! This was not looking good. I decided that I would try to cultivate a soft voice when next I talked to him. He had flown home earlier that evening, so the following morning I dialed his cell.

"Good morning, Em!"

"Good morning."

"What? I can't hear you."

"Good morning, honey. How are you?"

"What?"

"How are you?"

"I must have bad reception. I'll call you back."

As I pondered the results of my efforts, I realized the book was right: when I kept my voice soft, I did have less to say! The conversation with my husband would usually have lasted at least ten minutes, but with my new soft voice, it had lasted mere seconds! This book held such promise. Over breakfast, I read on:

The solution I suggest to you for overcoming your problems in marriage is to submit to your husband in everything. Ask his advice on things, without even thinking what you would like first, and accept it. (You may slip back from time to time, but let him know that it isn't permanent and that you are still dedicated). . . When something bothers him, change it immediately. If he expresses a wish, make it the first thing on your list . . . Your single and most compelling desire is to obey and please him 100%. As you do this you'll never have to worry about yourself again.

Wow. I really had some work to do. Why, just last week, Steve had said that he wished he owned a jet, and I had merely agreed with him that that would be really cool. Had I made it the first thing on my list? Not even close! Well, I could remedy that right away. I hopped online, pulled out my credit cards, and put a down payment on a Dassault Falcon 900. What else . . . At church a few weeks ago he mentioned that a woman in the ward really bothered him, and what had I done about it? Nothing! I resolved that as soon as I returned home, I would find some way to get rid of her.

It is going to be so wonderful to never have to worry about myself again.

15 comments:

Kiki said...

I stumbled upon that book at an old friend's house a few years ago. I was both horrified and delightfully amused at the same time. I would love to find another copy of it and read on.

c jane said...

I thought you were kidding until I read Carrie's comment.

Wow.

Did you ever ask your mother if she had read it?

Emmie said...

Carrie,
The title of the book is now a link to Amazon, where it is actually AVAILABLE. For 35 cents!

Courtney,
My mom said she read part of it, and it made her horribly depressed. Can you imagine reading that and thinking it was what was expected of you? The soft voice thing is just a little part of a list that made me want to jump out a window.

AzĂșcar said...

And here I was wondering what to teach the Young Women on Sunday. Thanks for making it easy!

Layt said...

Sounds pretty awesome, actually.

Rousseau would be proud.

Mom said...

Wow. This is so inspiring! To think that a slender volume I received as a wedding gift but cracked only once, 30+ years ago (fearing that the consequent emotional trauma might damage my unborn child, but look at her now: a blogging actress!), could suddenly appear as a result of a remodeling re-shuffle just in time to teach my vivacious, brilliant, multi-talented, irrepressible eldest something I could never teach her: pre-feminist, obsequious wifery! (Women should be seen but not heard.) Goodness me. Though really, what do I know? Cultural trends I despise do seem to come in cycles, because other people apparently like them: like really ugly, unflattering clothes and really flattering, cute, but life-threatening pointy-toed stiletto-heeled shoes. Could the era of The (Joyful) Fascinating Woman (see if there’s an Amazon link for Helen Andelin’s Fascinating Womanhood, Stuvey) make such a comeback? (“Woman is the gas in the eternal automobile that is man.” “Woman is the doormat upon which man wipes his feet to come in clean before his God.”) I mean, once upon a time, lots of women studied these things carefully (they held classes here in Provo, just in case you couldn’t learn it on your own; a sort of ladder-onto-the-pedestal course). Never open a pickle jar when Muscles is around. (Study hard, or you might forget and accidentally pick up a hammer or a light bulb.) But, honestly, how can I criticize? Certainly such women would be tidy in expression, and never use relentless parentheses (except in true emergencies), or an excessive amount of exclamation marks in their writing!! (if they could write [sorry] at all). I stand condemned (of erratic tonal shifts in this comment, if nothing else). And, of course, I must be lacking in joy. (But see downstageleft and katiebirdsnest, both at blogspot.com, et al. !!!!!!)

Emmie said...

Mom,
Hooray! You posted on my blog!

Anyone who has a master's in English (and just last month became a lawyer) is allowed to use all the parentheses and exclamation marks they want.

(And now I know where I get it from.)

P.S. I love you!!

Kiki said...

How could I pass it up for $0.35? I'm so excited to read it with friends.

AzĂșcar said...

As a follow up, while Joe doesn't cotton to books, after he was informed of this tome, he insisted that we order a copy right away.

Emily said...

There is really in print somewhere that woman is the doormat upon which man wipes his feet? Sign me up! Let's get that baby republished and on the promotional media circuit. There is sure to be money to be made from the interest that would generate.

lisa v. clark said...

Topher and I read excerpts from this book when we were first married and we still refer to it this day. For example, when I want to get my way, I talk like a little girl or wear rick-rack (sp?), because men like feeling like they're in charge. Also, when you don't get your way, you're supposed to insult your man in a flattering way. I always yell, "Oh Chris, you BIG BRUTE!" (it makes him feel big and strong and manly). Oh, if I had a nickle. . . fascinating indeed!

Kiki said...

I got my 35 cent copy today. Thanks for the tip. I'm so excited to sit down, read, and laugh.

Emmie said...

Carrie,
Enjoy! And please feel free to share your favorite passages. I haven't read the whole thing, and I'm sure there's some great stuff I haven't found yet.

becky baird said...

Is this for real?

Emmie said...

Yes, Bexi, unfortunately . . . I'll send you a copy for Christmas if you want!