Let me just start by saying I firmly believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion. It’s one of those great things about being a human being with free will and life experiences, as is the ability to share these opinions if you reside in a country that legally allows you to do so.
That being said, when the opinion you express fundamentally offends me on the basis of gender, religion, my ability to make decisions, and my right to an education, I’m going to have a few things to say about why your opinion is, for lack of a better word, wrong.
Just, so wrong.
On September 8, 2013, Raylan Alleman posted the article “6 Reasons to NOT Send Your Daughter to College” in the Catholic blog Fix the Family, stating that one position they strongly hold is that parents should not send their daughters to college.
The author states that, “…these positions we have are a threat to the trophies of the feminist agenda, so the rejection we receive is always emotionally charged and ends up insulting, since once explained logically, the opposition runs out of substance and is only left to hurl insults…”
Basically the women who disagree with this position of women not attending college are women, and therefore are too emotionally fragile to handle the harsh reality of logic and are incapable of making solid rebuttals. I’m surprised he didn’t add that the best way to deal with a hysterical woman is to pat her on the head and give her some chocolate.
Alleman, by the way, is a CPA in Louisiana. He is not a clergyperson, an educator, family counselor, or sociologist. He is an accountant who happens to be Catholic, just in case you were wondering what his credentials were on the subject matter.
As for my credentials, I am a college-educated IT professional. I am also not a clergyperson, an educator, family counselor, or sociologist. I was raised Catholic and attended eight years of Catholic school. I happen to be a woman.
I’m going to take the article in two parts. First, the common objections Alleman was kind enough to list:
- “You don’t believe in educating women. False. College and education have very little to do with each other.”
Well…no, actually. College is, by definition, education. Literally. “College: (n) an institution of higher learning, especially one providing a general or liberal arts education.” His argument is that college provides a diploma and job training rather than education, and that anyone can educate themselves by visiting a library or the internet. He says he believes in educating girls and women, but as there is very little within Catholic doctrine that promotes women working outside of the home, there’s no reason to for women to get a diploma for a job outside of the home.
I see where his logic is with this, but Catholic doctrine wasn’t exactly written for 2013, where two paychecks are often vital to the survival of a family, or women don’t always get married at 22 so they need a way to support themselves. I don’t know a single unmarried woman in her twenties whose parents would be willing to completely support her financially until she finds a husband. Furthermore, if he wants women to be educated but not prepped for the workforce, why not advocate liberal arts schools?
- “You believe in oppressing women. False. The Church teaches that husbands and wives are of equal dignity, but with different roles.”
Basically the man is in charge of working and supporting the family financially, while the woman is in charge of having lots of babies because the day-to-day grind is below the dignity of women. Feminists who twist the world so that a career is elevated above homemaking are the workers of Satan.
This viewpoint assumes that all women only want to be mothers. If men and women are of equal dignity, I assume that means equal in God’s love as well. We’re taught that God loving us means he allows us to have free will and personal choice. Some women want nothing more in life than to be a wife and mother. Other women choose not to marry, but to still care for others through careers in education or medicine. Some women choose to become entrepreneurs or lawyers or CEOs regardless of their marital or family status. All of that’s fine because it’s what they want and it’s their choice to make. Grouping all women together and saying they must all be stay-at-home moms is like grouping all men together and saying they must all be bankers. Some would find it tolerable or even enjoyable, but others would be miserable. Furthermore, where does this leave all the single women in the audience (myself included)? We’ve already established my parents aren’t going to support me just because I’m not married. Does ranking my career above homemaking make me evil?
- “You believe in taking away opportunities for women and trapping them into a subservient role. False. We believe in women making wise prudent choices for themselves.”
Alleman states that woman with a college degree will feel an obligation to use it, so the degree is actually what traps her because without it she would be free to enter marriage and have children.
Again, he’s assuming all women only want to be wives and mothers, and any other choice is unwise and imprudent. See above.
- “God calls women to use their talents. True. Women over the last couple of generations have proved their abilities in the workplace, but only in different ways.”
As Catholics, he reasons we are called to help others, and naturally women have migrated to places they believe their services could be of value, which has of course affected the quality of family life. The solution for this need to help others while still fulfilling their duties as a mother is homeschooling, and if they feel they would be unfit to perform that role they should readily join the convent.
Let me see if I have this straight. To quell the overwhelming urge to help everyone they come in contact with (this is apparently a common phenomenon among Catholic women), Alleman says women should homeschool their children. The same women he believes do not need a college education. I would say this slowly, but since I’m writing it, please imagine me saying this slowly: In order to become legally certified to teach at a level acceptable to government standards, teachers must complete a four year college program chock full of important curriculum that enables them to use different techniques to cater to all sorts of learning styles, abilities, disabilities, and behavioral dispositions before they’re ever allowed to step foot into a classroom. They undergo hundreds of hours of observations, reviews, practice, and evaluations in order to get licensed, and must constantly complete continuing professional education to remain licensed and up to date. Homeschooling is a fine institution in many instances, but to suggest that women who have nothing more than a high school diploma would do a better job educating their children than the professionals is so beyond offensive, it’s disgusting.
Props for finally answering the question of what to do with all the unmarried women in their twenties, though. I should have realized that as a single 23 year old who places homemaking quite low on my list of priorities, becoming a nun is the talent God is obviously calling me towards.
- “A woman needs to have something to provide income in case her husband dies, becomes disabled, or leaves her. True. The first 2 issues can and should be solved with insurance…as for the husband leaving her, the possibility of being left in such a state would make a woman MUCH more careful about the man she decides to marry.”
He reasons that insurance is affordable and easy to obtain for young couples who may be vulnerable to the “VERY remote possibilities” of death or disability, and that a woman who does not completely trust her future with a man should not marry him.
This is actually pretty solid advice: always have insurance, and if you don’t trust your boyfriend, you probably shouldn’t marry him. No one wants to enter a marriage thinking of exit strategies and back-up plans because that typically doesn’t bode well for the relationship. However, most women who get left by their husbands are blindsided, particularly when it happens twenty or thirty years into the marriage, which isn’t necessarily uncommon. People change. It’s an unfortunate fact, but it happens sometimes even if they’re trustworthy.
As for insurance, it is absolutely affordable, easy to get, and necessary to have. However, life is unpredictable. He has no reason to state that death or disability are very remote possibilities, because no one knows that. The healthiest man in the world can still get hit by a bus, and there are hundreds of diseases that can wreak havoc on a family’s stability.
What’s actually really terrible advice is insinuating a widow will be able to live the rest of her life and support her (probably multiple) children off of her late husband’s insurance policy. With very, very few exceptions, she is going to need another means of supporting herself.
Now that we’ve thoroughly come to terms with the common objections, here are the purported reasons to NOT send your daughter to college:
3. She will not learn to be a wife and mother.
The concern here is that there is no college curriculum geared towards homemaking which, as previously discussed, is the only suitable life work for a woman who does not wish to join a convent.
I’m not going to repeat all of the faults of this idea again. Now, true, there is no degree for motherhood. However, for a woman who wishes to become a stay-at-home mother, would it be so terrible if she procured a degree in early childhood education or child psychology? Surely studying religion would be beneficial in raising Catholic children. Even degrees in art or music or culinary studies could prove useful in child rearing. At the very least, having these degrees as a full time mom wouldn’t have a negative impact on a family.
4. The cost of a degree is becoming more difficult to recoup.
As someone who works in the finance industry, I’m sure this hits very close to home for Alleman. College is expensive. Painfully expensive, and student loans follow people for years. For a woman who wants absolutely nothing more out of life than to be a wife and mother, I can see why a four year degree may seem a bit superfluous. However, that’s up to her. It’s a choice people make, because they want to or need to in order to support themselves and their families. It’s not fun, but it’s part of becoming an adult.
5. You don’t have to prove anything to the world.
Societal pressures mean Catholic daughters feel forced to go to college, lest they be branded unmotivated or inadequate. Really, Alleman? The only reason women feel the need to get a higher education is peer pressure? If that’s true, that has to be the most positive form of peer pressure I’ve ever heard of.
6. It could be a near occasion of sin for the parents.
Parents feel a misguided obligation to pay for their children’s college education, so to cut down the potential financial strain they turn to contraceptives to prevent having more children than God intended, which leads to sexual intercourse without the intent of procreation, which puts their immortal souls at risk.
Again with the soul losing? OK, fine. Wild claims of damnation aside, I think he’s grossly overestimating the number of parents who feel the need to finance every child’s college endeavors. I’m sure many parents would like to help, and probably do to some extent, but for the most part parents recognize that their children are choosing to go to college and take on debts in order to better themselves for the future. Again, it’s part of becoming an adult.
7. She will regret it.
According to Alleman, the majority of women who lead dual lives as working mothers have come forward to tell their tales of regret for having neglected homemaking in favor of winning approval of the evil feminists who cared only about furthering their agenda.
There will always be regrets in life. This is unavoidable. Not everyone will be happy with the consequences of the choices they made when they were younger, and there’s nothing they can do about it. However, I would really, really like to see this statistic that most working women are emphatically remorseful for having gone to college, because I’m pretty sure it’s more BS than he claims feminism to be.
8. It could interfere with a religious vocation.
Catholic seminaries and religious orders do not accept candidates with substantial unpaid debt. Earning a college degree could prevent women from being able to become a nun if the Lord so calls her to do so.
Honestly, I don’t have a rebuttal for this, other than if joining a convent is truly what God has planned for a woman, then shouldn’t Alleman believe He will find a way to make it a reality? The Lord, after all, works in mysterious ways.
My only closing remarks are two points that have been bothering me since I first read the article, and are never brought up by Alleman.
First, I have many friends, classmates, colleagues, and relatives who were married at or by 22 or 23 years old. Every single one of them met their husbands in college. I’m not a proponent of going to college for the sole purpose of finding a husband, but it is a good place to meet your future spouse. My question is where exactly is an 18 year old woman with no plans of a future outside of the home supposed to find the man of her dreams who will provide for her?
Second, Alleman’s article is clearly aimed at the parents of the Catholic daughters for whom he vehemently opposes college. However, if these women are of the age where college is the next step, they are in fact women. The large majority of people attending college are eighteen years old or older, meaning legal adults. Alleman can advise parents all he wants against sending their daughters to college, but legally there is absolutely no way to stop them from going.
Food for thought.