"Women belong in the House... and the Senate." -Author Unknown
While this is my latest favorite quote, I'm not sure how it fits in with frumology (the science of being frum - yes, I created this word.)
I thoroughly believe that women can be excellent members of Congress as much as any man and even have a little dream of my own about becoming a Senator one day (it sits somewhere next to my dream of being President) but whether it's okay for a frum woman to have such ambitions "out of the house," is a question on my mind.
I don't believe that Judaism has a problem with women being leaders. Devorah the Prophetess rode out to war and no one criticizes her. I think that the issue is less about women in a position of strength and more about what they're using that strength for.
As a frum woman I believe that being a mother is the most spiritually and physically important job that a woman could have (I'll get into the "spiritually and physically" part another time.) If a woman has children, her children need to be her priority. I think that this is true of any woman, not just a frum woman; I don't like Dr. Laura that much but I tend to agree with her opinion that if you're gonna have kids, you'd darn well better be ready to give your all for them. Though, of course, that holds true for dads just as much as moms.
However, I don't think that motherhood is the sole important job that a woman could have. I think that it's possible for a woman to have more than one mission in life. I do think that her children have to be a mother's top priority, but not all women are mothers, and not all mothers are cut out to be full-time housewives. [Please note that I didn't say "full-time mother"; I think that any person who has kids has to be a full-time parent, whether they have other jobs or not.]
So is it okay for a woman who isn't a mother or who isn't cut-out to be a full-time housewife to have ambitions out of the kitchen? I believe it is.
Now I can already hear frum people shouting over me that a mother needs to be a mother, first and foremost, and I am not arguing with that. If a woman is a mother and her ambitions will hurt her children, she has to fix those ambitions so that her children aren't hurt. But first of all, that's not exclusive to women; men who are fathers also need to make sure that their careers don't impede on their ability to father their children.
Second of all, I don't think that it's an "all or nothing" situation. I think that it's possible to be an excellent mother even while having other - though not top priority - ambitions.
This is a controversial position to hold in the frum community, but I stand by it.
I now await the criticism that I know is going to come from all the people who disagree with me... I know you're out there and I know what you're thinking. Feel free to drop me a line (those of you who have my number) or a comment (those of you to whom I'm just a random lady in cyberspace.)