Superwoman Doesn’t Exist…

We-Can-Do-It

[I couldn’t find a picture of Superwoman that wasn’t inappropriate, so this poster will have to do.]

Recently, a couple of people have invited me to certain Christmas season events, and I have done my best to politely decline, reminding them that I am in my last weeks of pregnancy, and feel that I need to spend this time taking it easy and resting. They did not seem supportive of that approach. Instead, one person didn’t answer me back at all, not even with any sort of, “Oh, I hope you’re doing well, and you are able to get the rest you need,” etc.; and the other person couldn’t contain her disappointment, and did not say anything sympathetic to me, either. She even sounded incredulous that going to one of those events would really tire me out as much as I thought it would. I did not feel that they had any sense of compassion for me.

However, the purpose of this post is not to complain about those two people, but rather, to ruminate on the more general principle I believe is in play here: that of feminism (I don’t really know those people’s true reasons for why they responded the way they did, but I’m taking a guess that it may have something to do with a feminist-influenced attitude).

Feminism says, “I can do everything a man can do.” This attitude translates differently in different areas of life. In the case of pregnancy, the mentality becomes, “Why can’t we women do everything we’re used to doing, even if we’re pregnant? We should be able to, anyway.” Many women adopt this mentality for themselves, which might be okay for them; but when this perspective is allowed to harden their sympathy toward other pregnant women, the problem becomes larger.

When I told one woman how I was trying to be careful to not overexert myself, her response was, “Well, when I was pregnant, I ran several miles a day, even up to my seventh [or was it eighth?] month!” Great, if you’re used to that sort of thing, I suppose–but I’m not.

My husband used to not believe that I was really that delicate, too. When I would say to him, “I need to rest now, because I’m just sooo tired!” or, “I can’t lift that heavy thing, because it would tax my abdominal muscles,” he used to say, “Well, the women at my work lift heavy things all day long when they’re pregnant, and they don’t complain; then, after the baby is born, they come right back to work.” You know, that’s silly. Lifting heavy things while pregnant is not recommended by doctors for a reason. And what’s more, think of that poor, poor little baby, left by his mother at the babysitter’s; I couldn’t bear to do that. Is it really that those women have to work, or is it mainly by choice–is it their preference to be working, but not truly necessary for survival? (Of course I understand that there are exceptional circumstances which warrant a single mother’s working outside of the home, or a mother whose husband is severely disabled. However, this should be the exception, not the rule.) Seeing those “tough” women at his work made my husband think that all pregnant women must be able to withstand heavy workloads with no problem; but this viewpoint is false.

It is expected that women will work right up until the baby is born, and that afterwards, they will only need to rest a few weeks (or less), and then, back to work again. This isn’t logical thinking. A pregnant woman IS NOT able to do all the same things as a man! To try to convince ourselves otherwise is just insane! There are physical, emotional, and mental reasons why a pregnant woman (or any woman, for that matter), should not be expected to perform out in the world like a man; we were not designed for it. When women try to live oblivious to the facts because they want to be respected by men, they only do themselves, and the rest of us, a disservice.

So, take for instance those two women I mentioned at the beginning of my post: they apparently expected (it seemed to me, at least) that I should be able to do what I normally do (on occasion)–drive long distances (60 minutes round trip), go to outings, and hang out with people for hours at a time–despite the fact that I’m very pregnant, and expecting this baby to be born in the next few weeks. And I have done those things while pregnant, before. But, now I’m wiser, and know that my body (and emotions, and mind) needs the relaxation of staying home, and staying away from the bustle, right now. Why can’t they understand that? They’ve been pregnant, too! But, I think it’s due to the feminist way of thinking that even Christian women have absorbed: thinking that to be pregnant is no big deal, and treating this stage of a woman’s life as if it were no different than any other time in her life, expecting her to be able to do everything that she would normally do, because, “We can do everything a man can do, even if we’re pregnant,” right? So, their attitude toward my wants and needs as a pregnant woman is unsympathetic. Feminism has caused women to be more hardened toward each other, and to underestimate the reality of the truly sensitive condition that we women find ourselves in during pregnancy. Not only that, but when men see that women don’t care that much about each other, then they too, start to think that pregnancy is not that big of a deal; they begin to treat women, not with more respect, but with more carelessness.

My husband has since changed his mind about pregnancy. Now, he’s the one who tells me I should stay home and take it easy. He sees how easily I become tired, and he is genuinely concerned for me. I love his compassion and care! Part of this change may have come about because I explained to him, at one point, that those women at his job probably get home absolutely dead tired from all that work while they’re pregnant, and probably go straight to bed as soon as they get in the door! I bet they don’t have the energy to cook dinner for their families or to spend time reading stories to their children, since all their effort has been expended trying to prove to the world, and to themselves, how tough they are, no matter how contrary to reality. But what happens in their homes after they get back from work is not what the rest of us see.

You know, Superwoman doesn’t exist, and we need to stop trying to convince ourselves that she does. It’s not reasonable to think that women can do everything that men can do. That’s not to say that we can’t do anything! Yes, we can do many things that men can’t do! We were made by God to bear children and nourish them with milk from our bodies. We were outfitted by God with everything we need to care for babies and children. We are compassionate and caring, perhaps more so than most men, generally speaking. We have an eye for detail, and notice when something is “just not right” with our children, before dad even starts to think about it. Yes, we are smart, very smart: we were gifted by God with the intelligence needed to supervise the inner workings of a home, and to manage a houseful of children; to be mother, teacher, and manager all at once!

Let’s let go of Superwoman, and embrace instead the Godly Woman God designed that we should be! Hopefully, as we do this, more pregnant moms will get the sympathetic support that they deserve, and the compassionate understanding of their tender state that they need.

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10 thoughts on “Superwoman Doesn’t Exist…

  1. I love this, and agree with every point absolutely. The superwoman myth is still very prevalent, exemplified in this week’s national decision to put woman on the front lines of combat in every military branch. This is absolute foolishness on so many fronts. My husband, who follows a lot of military Facebook groups, has said that the decision has met with almost uniform dismay and disgust by those actually in the military.

    But aside from that, feminism bears bitter fruit in every area of modern life, and the superwoman myth in the home and the workplace is one of many manifestations. I find it both disappointing and astounding – that so many people are sadly taken in by the untruths of feminism. We all suffer for it.

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    • I appreciate your concurrence on this point! Your’e right, that we ALL suffer as a result of feminism. Think of those poor women being put on the front lines: they will not be able to withstand the force of combat as well as the men, and will suffer for it (as well as the men that fight with them, who will have to worry about their female comrades’ safety instead of focusing on the task at hand). Feminism wants to “liberate” women and make them “independent,” but in the end, it is women themselves that it ends up hurting! (as well as everybody else). I agree that such decisions are complete foolishness.
      And, as I point out in my post, feminism has caused people in general to expect more from women than they should, imposing unrealistic expectations on us. I’m not a feminist, so I don’t see how this is fair to ME–I deserve to be treated with tenderness, compassion, and care. For my part, I DO NOT want to be treated like a man! I want to have men tilt their hats to me, open doors for me, and carry heavy loads for me. I want for men to hush themselves in my presence when they’re about to say an ugly word or joke, out of respect for me. THAT is what I call respect! This tough girl attitude that most women adopt robs them of the very thing they want most as women: to be loved, nurtured, and TRULY respected by men.
      Jessica

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  2. Dear Jessica,
    Your latest posts on your pregnancy have me going down memory lane to my pregnancies. So,i hope you’re up for story time :-)I was working full time when we found out I was pregnant with our 1st. I have to agree that I was tired and sometimes nauseous at work. I’d get home and take a nap everyday, and at that point I was feeling like I needed to take care of my home and husband as well. (My super woman syndrome)I thought I was getting enough rest, but 2 months before I was due to deliver,I began dilating and cramping. My dr put me on complete bed rest, and warned of the complications if the baby were to come too soon. We delivered a healthy son, I took off work for a 6 month maternity leave and went back to work part time there after. That was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do, but my saving grace was that my husband rescheduled his work around mine so that our son always had a parent with him. I became pregnant with baby #2 and before this time, I had started doing an aerobics class to get back down to my pre-pregnancy weight. (Vanity) I began having cramps again with this pregnancy. My dr said that if I was going to do exercises, I needed to find some that didn’t involve jumping. (What a selfish young woman I was!) He did not put me on bed rest, but I did stop the exercises and was able to work to almost my due date. (Can you hear the world in that statement? It’s like a badge of honor that we work as long as we can, till our due dates.) I once again took a 6 month leave, but this time, my hubby had lost his job. The logical thing in the world’s eyes would have been for me to go back to work, but the Lord had a different plan 🙂 The Lord laid it on my husband’s heart that I needed to stay home with the boys. I, of course, was flipping out because we had our insurance through my job, what were we going to do, (yadda, yadda) but he was adamant. Home I stayed, and guess what? The Lord provided 🙂 I look back and see a very immature, Christian young mother who thought she knew better than her husband what was needed for our family. I was so wrong. Praise the Lord for my husband. He saw a need that only I could fill, when I was too busy looking at the monetary.
    So, Jessica, to wrap this up, you are light years ahead of me compared to when I was your age. Spiritually, you are putting your precious calling of motherhood first, and physically, you are listening to your body at this stage of your pregnancy, and it’s telling you that rest is needed 🙂 I’m sure those same Christmas activities will be there next year, and for this year you don’t need alot of undue stress. Oh yeah, don’t you dare be running any Christmas marathons either! Ha, ha!
    Many of God’s richest blessing to you and your family! – Ruthie

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    • Thank you so much, Ruthie, for sharing your story!
      It was wonderful to receive your confirmation that what I think about this issue is correct. I was also inspired to read about how God provided for your family when your husband was temporarily out of a job and he wanted you to stay home anyway–how encouraging to hear that!
      It also warmed my heart to be encouraged by you that I’m doing the right thing; thank you sooo much for that!
      Jessica
      P.S. I always LOVE hearing from you, and enjoy reading about your personal life experiences!

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  3. In Japan,people are getting to think that women should marry,have more than two kids,but keep working outside. You know in my country,the number of babies is getting decreaced rapidly,the government is so worry about it. They want women to work as men do,but at the same time to give birth to more kids to keep population and market.The concept of superwoman is so convenient for them by political reason.

    I feel that it is impossible for mothers(especially with little kids) to work outside exactly same as men.
    Many mothers have to work with guilt to their children. And they have to be also sorry to the company because they cannot be always ‘available’ because of their kid’s sickness or so.

    Reading your article,I am bit surprised how egalitarianism and feminism are so common even among christians in USA, people force ladies to become superwomen.
    Also in Japan,we will see the same phenomenon in near future,I think.

    How nice that your husband changed his mind and have so tender concerns for you!

    Godly value is not always politically correct. Believers especially in developed countries often have to face this reality.
    Choosing godly value. This is our battle in faith in this modern world.

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    • Thank you so much for your reply, Sanae! I was impressed by your observations and insights regarding this issue. It was interesting to hear how things are in Japan in relation to this topic.
      The Bible says: “In a multitude of people is a king’s honor, But in the lack of people is the downfall of a prince.” Proverbs 14:28
      At first, people are afraid that an increasing population will mean more problems, and yes, there are challenges associated with an increasing population. But, I believe that those challenges have solutions, if we are wise. However, a DECLINING population has no, or little, remedy! You can’t force people to have more children, if they don’t want to; and in the meantime, the economy gets worse and worse, until the country is too weak to support itself. I say this like I know a lot, don’t I 🙂 but declining populations are reported to be a very bad thing, according to some articles that I’ve read (and according to the Bible).
      I think that that is one of the reasons why God is calling Christian families to leave family planning in HIS hands, as He has always wanted, but is urging us to return to this timeless biblical mandate in our present day–we are the thread that holds the fabric of society together. So, even while many are reducing their family size through birth control, some Christian families are being blessed by God with many children. It’s what our society needs, even though they don’t recognize it yet.
      Jessica

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  4. Jessica, I think one of the most successful ways the world attacks women is the “motto” you can do it all” This causes women to pursue so many things, and often God is left on sidelines.
    There is a lady in my church, she is married (they both believers) and she has 2 children. Their kids are 5 and 2–both girls. Her youngest goes to nursery during church services. She has attachment issues, when her mother leaves, she clings to her. This is hard on all nursery workers.
    It’s great to see so many, who are going against the lie.
    Irina

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    • You’re right, Irina, that the motto “you can do it all” is a lie. Our husbands and children need us. If we try to do it all, we will neglect their needs, and they will suffer for it. In the end, not only does the family suffer, but society as a whole suffers, when the woman rejects her God-given role as homemaker and helpmeet to her husband. That’s what we’re seeing in the US today, the disintegration of the family.
      Jessica

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  5. Dear Jessica,
    I hope you and your family are having a great start to the New Year. I’ve been thinking about you and your soon to be born little one. I follow this one website where the writer is also pregnant with her 5th or 6th. Anyway she has had alot of nutritional ideas for pregnancy and nursing that I thought you might be interested in. It’s wellnessmama.com. Maybe there will be something there you can use?
    Blessings to you,
    Ruthie

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    • Thanks for your thoughts, Ruthie–I really appreciate them! I and my family are actually doing great! I hope you and your family are doing well, too, and that you have a wonderful New Year.
      I looked up the link that you provided, and that website definitely looks like something I would be interested in–Thanks! You know, one of my goals this year is becoming more informed about nutrition and healthy living, in addition to preparing my body for the next pregnancy, whenever God decides that will be 🙂 So, perfect timing!
      Jesssica

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