"I like fiery passion, actually." - Olympus
Question #32190 posted on 01/15/2007 3:01 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Philosophically speaking, which of these two extremes has had more of an effect on our 21st Century Provo paradigm?

1. The romantic, Victorian ideal of a "beautiful invalid."

2. Or the modern, feminist ideal of a "career woman."

I know these are both extremes, so neither fits the BYU paradigm exactly, and you'll have to explain why you think the way you do... but all in all, to which direction do you think we lean more heavily?

-Whistler's Brother (not mother)

P.S. I think the Victorian idea actually has a greater hold on our men and women, especially when it comes to male/female relationships.

A: Hey Whister's Brother,

The first one. Victorian ideal. There's that idea that women should be stay-at-home mothers and major in HFL and MFHD--a girl in fatigues is definitely not the ideal. It seems like Provo is generally way too traditional to really support feminism in most of its forms.

Romantic ideal, completely.

-that chick in the camo-
A: Dear friend,

I kind of agree with TCITC, in that women are more expected to end up in the home than anywhere else. But I also think that the second ideal is at least a little embraced. As women, we are encouraged to get truly educated, and to work hard to make ourselves marketable. So what if the HFL and MFHD departments are mostly female and engineering and computer science mostly male--those are personal choices and the students at BYU are intelligent enough to make choices based on more than cultural expectations. Just because a girl is expected to study something home-and-family-livingish for her future life to be spent as a stay-at-home mom, doesn't mean that most girls do that. I know a lot of girls who are chemistry majors, engineering majors, economics majors. And they are actually supported in their goals.

I think in general, while women are culturally expected here to eventually end up in the home, they are also encouraged in their endeavors to break the mold and get themselves into typically male-dominated fields. Maybe not ROTC or whatever, necessarily, but yeah. People might look at me wierd when I tell them my goals, but in the end no one's tried to talk me out of them, and I do have some friends despite my ambitions. You know?

Like you said, these are both extremes, and BYU doesn't exactly fit either. I think on the grand continuum, it would fall closer to the first than the second, but perhaps not by all that much.


-Lexi Khan
A: Dear Brother of Whistler,

Actually, I don't think that either really holds. I can see where you're coming from when you say that the Victorian ideal is more emphasized in male/female relationships, but in truth the LDS woman's life is all about marriage and children, and child-rearing is emphasized in neither extreme.

- Katya