Interesting question posed today by reader Magdalena Julie Bragdon Perks in the comment section on this about the Amish I did a while back. She wonders why us “young people” don’t want to be more like the Amish. (Not all of us define ourselves as young people, but thanks both for the compliment and for bringing up this point, Ms. Perks.)
What’s with all you young people bashing the Amish? Yes, you do need to be more like that. A lot more like that.
Well, Ms. Perks, as with many groups that do great work and have an admirable belief system, the Amish/Mennonite groupthink includes some negative aspects. Like I said, I grew up in that culture, so I saw it firsthand. It can include very narrow, patriarchal, male-centered subsections. There were so many of my female classmates who were much brighter and more capable than I was academically who were denied an education simply because of the evangelical Christian stereotype that stigmatizes higher education as “devil’s learning.” And girls who were forced to pursue higher learning were openly condemned.
Trust me, the number of times I was forced/and am still forced to defend MY educational experience at Temple Univ. is ridiculous. It’s such a waste of talent.
There are Amish/Mennonite women who grow up in a very limited sphere. (My friends are gonna hate me for saying this.) If a girl isn’t asked out by a gentlemen by the time she is 16, she’s generally defined a spinster and given a job in a school as a teacher (a job that pays considerably less than a male peer because OBVIOUSLY her male peer will someday be supporting a family while she will never get married.) If not a nurse, than a babysitter, cleaner or some other type of blue-collar work. NOT that there’s anything wrong with blue-collar, but if one doesn’t have the choice…..
And God forbid this same girl decides to become an R.N., that would make her less-than-Christian because we all know college=corruption. Things are slowly changing (it’s amusing at how many of my Mennonite friends are on Facebook, now.) But trust me, nothing happens overnight without a long, drawn-out, petty fight from church elders.
I guess I’m a little bitter at how some of my friends were treated and allow themselves to continue to be treated.
There is no religious group I’m fonder of than Amish/Mennonites. I admire their work ethic, their convictions, etc. However, Magdalena, while buggies and little black hats may be cute, part of the problem with living in a world that lives in the past is that it doesn’t include a lot of the progressive measures that our society finds so necessary today.