I suppose it comes as no surprise that a group like Focus on the Family would view adult single women owning their own homes and taking care of themselves as a bad thing. Wait. I thought these conservative groups believed in personal responsibility and individuals taking care of themselves? Apparently, that notion does not extend to women. Women should not take care of themselves, but rather should remain in a state of dependence on father or husband at all times!
Of course, Focus on the Family's Boundless Webzine article on the topic by Candice Z. Watters must first begin with mocking a strawfeminist. It begins with a "description" of a television discussion by New York real estate broker Barbara Corcoran (who, judging from her photographs, appears quite worthy to be called a "happy feminist" herself!) (Below are some excerpts from the article-- not the whole thing.)
Corcoran's point of triumph was that the numbers had flipped. There were now more single women than single men buying homes, and wasn't that great news! she openly gloated. It was evidence of girl power; a sign of their financial success, she said.
That Corcoran is such a bitch. Actually gloating when women are able to care for themselves.
At first I thought, sure, for many women, it is a wise financial move to buy rather than rent. But I seriously doubted Corcoran's belief that they're doing it as a statement of feminist superiority.
Now, I don't know exactly what Corcoran said. But I find it very hard to believe that she ever said, "Isn't it great that single women are showing their feminist superiority." And superiority over whom? I suppose, we are talking about "feminist superiority" over men, who are not buying houses in such great numbers? It is so typical for an anti-feminist to assume that a feminist who is pleased over women's exercising some independence is actually just trying to lord it over men. Because we all know that female autonomy = male emasculation. Those castrating feminist bitches, I tell ya.
But the skeptical Watters doesn't buy the notion that women homeowners are saying to themselves, "HA! This'll show 'em." Because most women are not in fact castrating bitches.
It's not in our nature as women. Maybe a hardened few do, but I suspect most single women who buy their own homes do it out of an inborn desire for security and sense of place; a need to have a base from which they can move out into the world and retreat back to again.
So, you see, single female homeownership actually shows that women do not really want independence. They're just nesting. And single men who buy homes are . . . uh I don't know. Conquering the world?
Corcoran said the happiest women she sees across the closing table are single moms. Her interpretation? The single woman is proud of her achievement and happy to be doing this on her own. Given that statistically, single moms comprise the poorest among us, couldn't one also deduce that a single mom buying her own home is beaming, not because her husband or boyfriend abandoned his responsibility to her and their children, not because she's a model of feminist independence and power, not because it feels good to finally be doing what used to be something only men did, but because she has managed to climb out of or avoid the poverty that plagues so many in her condition? This is not a sign of reaching the pinnacle — her life's goal — but of avoiding her worst nightmare.
So the single woman homeowner shouldn't be proud of their achievements and happy that she is able to do this on their own? Because she may have preferred to have a life partner, that means she's not happy that she was able to make it on her own, she's not thrilled that she wasn't forced into a state of dependence just because her prior relationships didn't work out? Come on -- Isn't it precisely the fact that the "old maids" of yore were forced into humiliating states of dependence or poverty that makes single homeownership a feminist triumph? Why, I wonder, does Ms. Watters feel the need to set up a false dichotomy that implies that feminism is all about some sort of childish oneupmanship? Well, because, Ms. Watters actually likes the notion of old maids being forced into humiliating states of dependence or poverty.
In [her book] Getting Serious About Getting Married, [author Debbie Maken] explains that yes, single women used to live with their parents until they married. But it wasn't just because it was economically practical — parents also wanted to protect and motivate. They understood that their daughters needed protection from men who would certainly take liberties if given the opportunity that living alone provides. They also knew men were motivated to marry when access to the object of their affection was strictly limited.
Translation: Parents understood that they needed to guard the commodity that was being given to men in exchange for the marriage commitment. After all, why would a man be motivated to buy the cow when he can get the milk for free?
Maken writes, "just as familiarity breeds contempt, access breeds complacency. Our solo living arrangements send a signal to men that they can have access into our lives and apartments at any time." In the past, "men married because they realized that their access to women was going to be constantly monitored by their parents."
Translation: Playing hard to get is the only way to trap a man. And women are too weak or naive to actually engage in these kinds of man-catching wiles without their parents to monitor them.
In most cases it wasn't just family rules that kept women at home. Community-wide standards, expectations and sometimes even statutes required it. These were marriage-minded people and they knew that living apart from family was counter-productive; it not only lessened a woman's prospect of marrying well, it provided "the anonymity needed for the continuation of secret sin." (emphasis added).
Ah, the nostalgia. How I miss those days when a woman living on her own was viewed as a whore and virtuous women were expected/forced to remain in a state of child-like dependence on parents! Thank goodness there are places in the world where these types of standards are still enforced. Like Saudi Arabia.
If you live on your own, your modesty and sense of propriety may protect you. But in the face of temptation, that's all you have. And having been tempted, I know such personal piety only goes so far. How much more firmly a woman's purity is guarded when she lives under the protection of a family — a family with her best interests in mind. Not only does she have her modesty but also the rules of their home, their accountability and their physical presence.
She does have a point there. Women's purity is in special need of protection -- because we all know that women are more prone than men to internet porn addiction, visiting strip clubs, and hiring prostitutes.
Not only does a family home provide protection from unscrupulous, unmotivated men . . .
Unless those unscrupulous, unmotivated men happen to be members of your family home . . .
. . . If marriage is your goal, limited access with accountability — not home ownership — will help you achieve it. Yes, homeownership can be a great investment. But it's not your only investment option. And wealth at the expense of your desire for a husband is rarely a gain.
Translation: Dare exercise any personal autonomy or actually make some money and you will DIE ALONE WITH YOUR CATS!
UPDATE: Amanda has taken this on over at Pandagon. She accurately sums up the crux of the article that "being financially independent is a sign that you've failed as a woman."