Jane Smith, MRS: You mean I Can <em>Finally</em> Earn My Degree in Homemaking?

What's the point of a B.A. program if coursework centers around diapering and baking casseroles?
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In between botched attempts at starching my husband's shirts and spilling excess peach juice as I prepare my winter canning, I recently learned a Southern university is offering a Bachelor of Arts in humanities degree... with a concentration in homemaking!

This is so exciting.

I already have a Bachelors of Science and a Masters Degree in Public Health, but I never had the chance to take courses in "clothing construction" or "the value of a child." (Silly organic chemistry!) Finally, an institution -- The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, to be exact -- will be able to school me in the proper makings of a housewife. Even better...the program is solely open to women, so I'll be among fellow stay-at-home moms only. Which is best, really, because men should be out at work, where they belong.

Honestly, I can't even keep up the sarcasm. The idea of this program turns my stomach. I understand the college is also a seminary, and there are certain religious aspects I must respect. For instance, I respect the fact that Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary exists "to provide theological education for individuals engaging in Christian ministry." This is the first sentence of the "About Us" statement on their web site. Fabulous. But what's the point of advertising a B.A. program that "uniquely prepare[s you] to address the culture from a sound Biblical worldview" if your coursework centers around diapering and baking casseroles? (more on this later...)

I remember one point in my own undergraduate experience where I had to fulfill a requirement -- a food sciences course. We signed in and the professor proceeded to assign each of us our own apron, salt & pepper shakers, pots, pans and meat thermometer. As our class on applesauce preparation began, I marched out of the kitchen, plastic apron flying in the wind, and called my academic advisor.

"This is exactly why I came to college..." I remember practically screaming in the office phone, clutching a strainer, "so I would NOT have to learn how to make applesauce!" (As it turns out, the stuff was pretty tasty and I remember the recipe to this day.)

Looking back, what upset me more was that I was being forced into a position I was not interested in fulfilling at that point: The role of homemaker, of Martha Stewart. I was 20 years old and more focused on finding a job, finding a fun party that night, finding my place in life (though I certainly didn't know that at the time.) That apron felt like a pair of hands strangling me.

Now that I am a wife, I still don't cook. I do laundry, yes. I can sew buttons on shirts and iron and even Swiffer. But I didn't need to fork over thousands of dollars and enroll in a program to acquire such information. Being a wife and mother can undoubtedly be a selfless, physically and emotionally draining task. I by no means would ever take away the blood, sweat and tears my mother or grandmother put into raising my brother and I, while juggling careers and well as the household. But to insinuate that a woman (only women, remember...men cannot enroll in Homemaking 101) needs a four-year education, filled with courses entitled "Clothing Construction with Lab," "Meal Preparation with Lab" (ah! Applesauce!) and "Homemaking Practicum" seems more than a bit condescending.

This program just butters my bread the wrong way (I looked it up on the seminary's web site so I know which way is right.) It smacks of "women in the home" and being pigeonholed into traditional gender roles (I mean, really...a nationally accredited school offering a homemaking degree only for women?) It's like a little aside to female students -- "Psst! If you don't really want to pursue your Masters in Divinity, come on over and learn how to host a Tupperware party."

Now, regarding my previous allusion to the program's goal of addressing our culture "from a sound Biblical worldview" via homemaking...on this I must plead a bit of ignorance. I was not brought up in this religion and I cannot pretend to understand the link between, as the website preaches, "preparing women to model the characteristics of a Godly woman as outlined in Scripture...through instruction in homemaking skills, developing insights into home and family while continuing to equip women to understand and engage the culture of today." To me, insight and the ability to engage the current culture develop from things like travel, social action, conversations with individuals from diverse backgrounds...not Advanced PB&J Construction.

A B.A. in homemaking? What total and utter B.S.

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