Biblical Womanhood,  History

The Rise of “Convenience” and the Modern Woman

There is a BBC series that we all enjoy watching, centered around a farmhouse in England. There are several different editions of the series — Victorian Farmhouse, Edwardian Farmhouse, War Farmhouse…..basically a “Farmhouse” episode for every major historical time era. We watch them to learn how to better manage our homestead, learn a bit of history, and to glean from times past how the generations before us produced their sustenance from their own land with their own hands.

By now you are wondering what under the sun does “convenience” have to do with watching BBC productions???

A great deal, actually. We can probably all agree — at least those who are crazy enough to read this blog — that along with the rise of convenience came a whole host of sin problems that past generations didn’t have to deal with. Things that may have sounded nice in theory, but in actuality was quite, well….inconvenient.

We have watched all the Farmhouse episodes, and enjoyed them. But there was a stark difference between the Victorian period and the Edwardian period. The Victorian Farmhouse was the best, I think. The woman of the house was busy around the farm. She was busy overseeing the dairy products, the quality of dairy products, the garden produce. She was busy canning and preserving the food she produced, watching over her flock of sheep and pigs. She had cleaning to do, ironing to finish, meals to cook from scratch — food she and her family had grown and raised. She had the liberty of being free. Being free to do what God had made her to do — being a help-meet to her husband, fulfilling her divine calling by serving her family. She had the liberty and freedom to order her days however she wanted; however she needed to. It was a beautiful picture of love and contentment.

In the Edwardian Farmhouse, everything was different. The men were still out in the fields; they were still producing food from the land, but they no longer kept it for themselves, selling only the surplus. Now, they were trying to raise as much as thy could with as little labour as possible, selling it all to the market. The lady of the this particular house was too busy to mess with the trouble of canning it, she was too busy to trouble with her dairy delights, she was far too busy to be bothered with all the duties that she had delighted in just a few decades ago.

And she was too busy because of only one invention — the bicycle. It “freed” up the modern woman, allowing her greater “liberty” and “freedom” to go her own ways. Because of this, she was no longer around her home, working to preserve what the family had raised and farmed, working to preserve what had cost them essentially nothing. The cost of living went up. The men-folk were working double time, selling their produce since no one was around to care for it, and using the money to buy other things — things for the women who had “no time” for the little home duties, but plenty of time for gadding about on a bicycle. But the family still had to eat, and the women decided to do something about it. Now, instead of coming home and putting the bicycle aside, the women decided to put the bicycle to greater use — the contraption now gave them freedom to earn a living, provide food for the family, additional income for the household. Ironically, the bicycle invention gave this particular woman the liberty to clean another families chamber pots. To scour the waste and filth of a strangers home, leaving her own home to suffer neglect.

Think of it. This woman in her own home had the freedom a few years ago to go on a ramble in the woods, to pick berries, put up food, and be wise about the families needs. Now, she was stuck in another house, all day long, cleaning chamber pots. In her own home, she wouldn’t have had to clean those articles of necessity all day, every day. She would have had the freedom and liberty to order her days to make her little “mundane” tasks more enjoyable. In her own home the only person she had to “take orders from” would have been her husband. Now, she was taking orders from the master and mistress of the house. The bicycle became nothing more than a way to “liberate” the women to the position of a servant. In her own home she was still considered a mistress, a home manager, a wife and mother.

Can you see the irony of this? A simple invention. A bicycle.  A wonderful contraption that we still have around today, that we still ride and enjoy and bring places. When used properly, a blessing. But it quickly became a curse to the women of another era.

Do we have hindrances in our lives,  things that promised to bring freedom and liberty to us as a people? Under the guise of “convenience” we have let a lot of things slide under our radar, as it were, that we never would have agreed to or allowed before. It might be convenient to keep up with our family using social media (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or the like), but is it worth the convenience if young people sneak out and leave homes for someone they have met online?

Cell phones are a wonderful convenience — a cell phone is an immense blessing, where having one to contact emergency personnel, say, in the case of your mother suddenly collapsing from a brain bleed, would be nice.  But they interrupt so much of our day. They ring at inconvenient times, they allow us to answer texts and emails immediately, they provide a distraction for long car rides. They have the ability to interrupt our quiet time before God. Now there is no accountability for young people’s interactions with each other. No central phone in a central part of the house where everyone (aka parents =}) could keep an ear on the phone conversation. Susie can talk to John all she wants, saying flirtatious things that both know they really shouldn’t be saying, because no one is there to keep them accountable, to correct them, to put a stop to it, because no one really knows.

And now our cell phones are “smart” — you can message people, check social media, and take pictures. All of which could get someone in trouble — indeed, all of which have gotten people in huge-mungo trouble. Trouble, and a myriad of sinful actions that just one generation ago people never had to struggle with — because it was non-existent. We have all sorts and types of devices that can access the internet, anytime, anywhere, and almost any place.

Are the lives and well-being of our families, children, siblings worth the convenience of having instant communication with everyone in the world? Can we be “inconvenienced” for the sake of others’ souls?

No, we may not be riding a bicycle to go scrub chamber pots, but do the distractions around us — the “modern conveniences” — take away time from our families? Can we have a conversation without being distracted, pulling out a phone, looking at a television, typing an email? Can we talk to someone without a bunch of “umm…” “uhhh….” “what was I saying?” Ohhhh, yeah…..wait…..ugghhh….”???

No, this post isn’t about reaming modern conveniences — not necessarily. I do see where a phone is a blessing. I do enjoy having the internet, being able to communicate with others, and keeping up with politics, new laws ect. But I also see a rising flood of families — well meaning families — who have not monitored online usage in the families. I see it, I see young people backsliding, running away, compromising on key values that were once important issues they would have fought for. I see young people seducing each other, flirting with each other over social media, internet sites, texts and phone calls. Teenage suicide rates are on the rise – due to social media and inappropriate interactions.

And I think of the bicycle. Have we allowed our pursuit of convenience — our desire to be known as “modern” instead of “old-fashioned” — our desire for pleasure and fulfillment — to become a stumbling block to our families?

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I am a 23 year old young lady who is redeemed and saved from my sin only by the grace of God. A bibliophile at heart with a love of history who desires to see the Word of God practically applied to all aspects of our daily lives -- in our homes, in the grocery store, in the political realm. I strive to put my jumbled, chaotic thoughts down onto paper -- reducing them into black and white rows, letters, sentences. Into some semblance of sanity. And I share them here with all of you, where I can challenge you, make you think, and cause you to ask questions. I am the oldest of eleven children living the country life in the deep south.

One Comment

  • Abigail Joy

    Another great post! And so true too! We can learn a lot just by putting down our cellphones and looking at the earth for a second. And, we love those farmhouse shows!
    Abigail Joy.
    I am going to get back to your email soon, I have been very busy lately. :-)

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