Essay: On houses, homes, corporations and large armies

Women who make a house a home
make a far greater contribution to society than those who command large armies
or stand at the head of impressive corporations
. Gordon B. Hinckley. 
One of
my friends posted this quote on Facebook. 
I have several problems with this quote and Facebook was not the place
to dissect it.  But luckily, we have the
essay of the week.  And so:
a house a home is an important part of society. 
Let’s just get this out of the way right now.  People (right now primarily women) who “do
not work” outside the home are a valuable part of our society.  Families who can have one parent happily stay
home full time not only benefit their own children, but the availability for
volunteering, carpools, baking and the like has a ripple effect around
them.  At the school where I work, we
have parents who work outside the home who volunteer.  However, a lot of the heavy volunteer lifting
gets done by parents who do not have paid employment outside the home.  If you are a “stay at home” mom (or dad), I
greatly salute you.
only women?  I think the part of this
quote that irks me the most is that it takes one gender and assigns them a
role.  This closes the door for people of
the opposite gender to take that path and it relegates the assigned to that
role.  This is often done blatantly by
religious leaders, and subtly by a good portion of the society.  Once upon a time, a Muslim man came to talk
about Islam to the high school youth group I was advising and he stated that
women spend so much time raising the children, they don’t have time to be
involved in politics.  I wondered if
women who did not have children and thus were not busy raising them could trade
in their free time for politics instead, if that was what interested them.
I think
I would also like a better sample size before making Hinkley’s pronouncement
above.  Few women are the head of
corporations and fewer still command large armies.  If the few that do those things do those
tasks well, are they still not making a great contribution to society?  And is it because they are women and not
making a house a home?  That seems a
little unfair. Given that we don’t yet have a representative sample, I would
say that the data is not yet in.
quote also gives us a false choice of either “house/home” or
“armies/corporations” Can one not do both? 
Granted, in the United States today we lag far behind the rest of our
peers in the world in making jobs friendly to families, but say that a woman
works part-time outside the home and part-time inside the home?  Is she still making a great contribution to
society, or is she required to only be a full-time homemaker?
If a
person does not want to make a house a home, but does it under duress, that
person’s home probably isn’t much fun to be in. 
The fact is, if you are a woman who is not into making a house a
home—and there are many such women out there—but you do that because you are
“supposed to” your results might not be very good.  Better to outsource some of your homemaking
work to others who are more into it and put your energy where your interests
are.  As the needlepoint says, “When mama
ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”  If
full-time homemaking isn’t your thing, find something that is.
I must
take a moment to note the speaker. 
Gordon B. Hinckley was the President of the Mormon Church for nearly 13
years.  Why is it that powerful men make
statements such as this?  While it
supposedly lifts women up, it also cuts them off from roles other than
homemaker.  Currently, no woman can be
head of the Mormon Church, as Hinckley was. 
His job is not available to women. 
Thus his words seem to put women in their place, hand them a bit of
candy and pat them on the head, as he gets on with other business.  Business that no one will ever question the
value of.  Making a house a home is an
important part of our society and I think both men and women should be able to
do it, if that’s their calling.  But if
it isn’t their calling, society is best served if they go into the world and do
what they do well, even if that is heading an army or running a large corporation.  And even if they are a woman.

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