On Becoming A Woman Chapter 15

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Chapter 15

About your attitudes


Oh goody! I can’t wait to experience flashbacks of being told I had a bad attitude when I was merely trying to be the voice of reason! Yippee!

The author starts out with a description of how a certain hospital handles medication.

You may have wondered how the nurse makes sure no mistakes are made. How is it that a patient always gets the exact medicine ordered and in the exact doses the doctor specified?

Well, when I had my appendix out 3 years ago, I was in the hospital for 4 days. When it came to questions about my medication, they looked it up on a computer. This book predates computers, so let’s see how they handled those things back in the days when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

I get that the point behind telling this story is still the same, but this is still a really good example of why books should be updated before being reprinted for a new generation. I am quite sure this information was correct at one point, but isn’t anymore.

Correct me if I am wrong, and if things are still done this way.

When a doctor orders a certain medicine for one of his patients, the rules require that he write his order on the patient’s chart. His order tells what kind of medicine is to be given, what doses are to be used, and how often the medicine is to be administered.

In a large hospital there is one nurse assigned to the medicine room.

I was in a very large hospital when I had my operation. I have a difficult time believing there was only one nurse handling things.

Then, when the time comes for a certain patient to have her medicine, the nurse who is looking after this patient copies the doctor’s orders from the patient’s chart and hands this copy to the nurse in the medicine room. The nurse in the medicine room prepares the exact dosage of the medicine ordered. Then, according to the hospital rules, this nurse in the medicine room must double check as she puts the bottle back on the shelf, to make sure that the label on the bottle indicates the exact medicine that the doctor ordered. Thus, she looks at the label twice–once when she takes the bottle off the shelf, and once when she puts it back.

Then the nurse who cares for the patient comes to the window of the medicine room to receive the medicine that has been prepared for her patient. As she takes it the medicine room nurse who is taking care of the patient checks once more with the order the doctor has written on the chart.

Note the constant use of the word “she.” Clearly, there were no male nurses circa 1968.

The point of this story is that the nurses in hospitals must learn to follow all the rules of the hospital very carefully in order to be successful.

So it is with life. To get along successfully you must learn to follow certain rules.

In a sense, yes. However, certain situations may change the rules. This is particularly true when one is traveling to another country. The general rule may still be “treat other people with respect,” but my definition of respect and someone from another country’s definition of respect are very likely to be a little different.

And that’s not even getting into the fact that different sub groups within the united states have different views on what is or is not polite.

You must discipline yourself so that you will obey these rules without hesitation.

Hmmm yeah, that’s not a big creepy red flag at all.

You must incorporate the principles of these rules into your personality in such a way that they will become your guides to conduct. Then you will not have to debate, “should I tell the truth, or should I tell a lie?”

Having accepted the policy of truthfulness as one of your guiding principles, you will always tell the truth without hesitation and without fear of consequences.

“Yes, dear Girlfriend, you do look fat in that dress. It makes your butt look HUGE and accentuates your muffin top.”

Let me know how that honesty thing is working out for you. Apparently honest is necessary for a successful career. I’m practically dying of laughter because if I told my boss the truth all the time, I’d have been fired a longass time ago.

The author then tells the story of Stonewall Jackson, who walked a mile in the rain one night to find a person he’d spoken to earlier. He wanted to find this person because he’d accidentally given them wrong information. Jackson felt he had to do this because he literally couldn’t sleep until he’d corrected his mistake.

The author thinks this is an example of someone who is honest. I think it is an example of someone who is obsessed. Mistakes happen. If you accidentally tell me something that you then find out isn’t true, don’t walk a mile in the rain to find me and wake me up. They may not have had cell phones in 1968 but they did have telephones, and you have my number.

Next the author talks about how a person building a bridge must worry about the law of gravity. In character building, there are forces just as great as gravity that, if you don’t pay attention to them, will cause disaster.

The author tells us that truth telling is one of these laws. You must never tell a white lie, or bend the truth even a little bit.

The temptation to tell an untruth should have the same effect on you as a red signal light has on a good railroad engineer. When tempted to tell even a white lie, stop short and reconsider your course of action.

Like it or not, white lies are necessary in today’s world. If you tell your boss her new hair style looks terrible, she might respect you for being honest…or she may hate you for it. You can’t really know in advance, unless you already know said boss. It’s always very important to be at least a little bit friendly with the boss. In case he ever decides to award gift cards.

The author then tells the story of a man who went to the bank. At the bank they gave him more change than they were supposed to. The man went back inside to tell them about this error, and the president of the bank saw it and gave the man a job as his chauffeur.

There are so many stories like this floating around on Planet Adventist that when I became an adult, I was genuinely surprised that no one offered me a job for demonstrating my awesome honesty. I had to live with “good feelings” as my reward.

Most disappointing.

The author then talks about fair play.

The principles of successful Christian living require you to go further than simply making sure that you yourself receive a fair deal. These principles require you to assume a certain responsibility over the others in your group.

Oh, joy.

When it comes to your attention that someone has taken unfair advantage of Susan….it is your responsibility to come to her rescue and help her receive justice.

Ok, I have no problem with this.

As long as you are on the side of right and as long as you insist on justice and fair play, your interference will not be resented.


Not how real life works, Shryock. Sometimes, no one cares when someone’s been taken advantage of, and they really hate you for interfering. I don’t mean this to say that you shouldn’t interfere, I’m simply saying that it may cost you.

So far I have only had minor nitpicky objections to the author’s “absolutely necessary” character traits. But now we come to a parting of the ways:

Another rule for successful living requires that you keep our thoughts pure and your conversation above reproach. With most young women “off color” conversation is recognized as being out of place.

Another reason why books written in the 1960s need to be updated before being republished in the 2000s. What the fuck is “off color” conversation? Does that mean I can only think in black and white? I’m confused.

Most girls tend to shun one of their number who tells questionable stories.

What does the author mean by “questionable stories?” If someone tells me they were kidnapped by aliens, for example, I find that story very questionable. As a teenager I probably wouldn’t have….no, no they would have been my best friend. I would have found them far too entertaining to shun.

Traditionally, our mothers, sisters, sweethearts, and daughters are the ones to whom we look to uphold the good name and high ideals of the human race. Womanhood stands as a symbol of the things that are lofty, noble, and pure. Therefore, a young woman who tells crude jokes or gives expression to thoughts bordering on the vulgar, types herself at once as being cheap and unworthy of the high esteem in which womankind should always be held.

If women are supposed to represent all things high and lofty, why are we to submit to men? The author doesn’t say that men represent the opposite of noble and lofty things, but if women represent all things noble, then surely men represent all things not noble?

A young woman who engages in “foul talk” is going to be thought less of by her friends.

I would suggest that it is her friends who have a problem, but set that aside. Apparently, if a young woman engages in “off color” talk, whatever the fuck that means, good Christian men won’t want to marry her! Men will only make friends with her because they have “base motives.”

Well, good. My swearing habit came in handy, then. Even as a teenager, I knew that I didn’t want to marry an Adventist. I am most fortunate that I came to this conclusion before I actually married one.

The second major issue with foul talk that a young woman who engages in such things is showing that she has no self respect.

What is even more serious is that questionable thinking and talking lay the foundation for questionable actions.

I cautiously agree. The more one thinks about doing drugs, the more likely one is to actually do them. At least, I assume that is what the author means by “questionable thinking.” He leaves the interpretation of the phrase pretty open.

Next, the author warns us about gossip. I’m sure he thinks all women need this advice, because all women are petty gossipers whenever they have the chance.

And in some sense I have no problem with what he’s saying about gossip, but at the same time, I would be cautious agreeing with him completely.

If it is unkind, or if it reflects one someone’s reputation, do not repeat it. In a sense a young woman’s reputation is her most valuable asset.

Only because stuffed shirts like you have decided it is.

On one hand I agree with this, because repeating vicious gossip is probably not a good thing to do (I still do it because I am a vicious person.) On the other hand, I don’t agree with this, because “so and so raped my best friend, don’t be alone with that man” is an unkind thing to say, and it would destroy so and so’s reputation, but at that point, so and so deserves it.

I have seen this happen. I have seen people bring up concerns like this, only to be dismissed as gossipers.

But you say, “surely it is all right to tell something that is perfectly true.”

No, even the truth may hurt. When a person makes a mistake the Christian thing to do is to help him overcome the mistake, rather than make him sensitive because “so many people know about the terrible thing I have done.”

That depends what the mistake is. If he did something petty that can be fixed, sure, be discreet and sensitive in dealing with him. But if this guy fucking raped someone, the Christian thing to do is call the police, making absolutely sure that word of this spreads so that people can be safe.

Gossip has a way of taking on new details as it passes from mouth to mouth. After an especially choice bit of gossip has been circulated for a few hours, it becomes quite different from the original story.

The author here mixes in truthful bits like this with the damaging bits up above. It’s things like this that are insidious, because it’s really hard to weed out which parts of this book you should listen to and what parts you shouldn’t.

In any case, the urge to gossip is so ingrained in human nature that it’s difficult to stop. Here, then, is some helpful advice in dealing with gossip.

In the first place, when you hear something derogatory about another young woman, be careful not to pass it on. If it comes to you as hearsay, it is very probable that it is not correct.

For the most part I can get on board with this.

If what you have heard seems to be really important and you feel that you should do something about it, go to the very person about whom the gossip is told. This is in harmony with the instruction we have in the bible. Tell this person what you have heard. then you may be in a position to help her out of her difficulty.

Look, if you come to Mrs/Mr. Potential sexual abuser and ask if it’s true if they’ve been diddling the kiddies, do you honestly think you’re going to get an honest answer? Going to a potential abuser and confronting them about it is more likely to make things worse, not better. So while in some cases I could agree with this advice, I definitely do not think this is always a wise course of action.

The bible was written thousands of years ago. We know better now.

The author then goes on to tell a story about a girl in college who ruined her reputation by spreading too much gossip. I’m not sure what he means by “too much” gossip, but I can make some assumptions. I have met people in high school who didn’t know when to quit or how to tone it down. One hopes those people have since matured.

But suppose an item of gossip focuses on you. Suppose you find yourself the victim of an unkind rumor. What attitude should you take? Should you become angry and at once denounce the gossip as a lie?

Depends on who’s asking. If you’re talking to the girls’ dean, deny vigorously. If you’re talking to another student, simply smirk and walk away. I didn’t figure this out until adulthood, and have found that such things matter much less now that I am in college.

In any case, I agree with the author that getting angry is not likely to help the situation. That just makes you look guilty.  However, I disagree with the next part.

If your way of life has been consistent, people will believe those things that are in harmony with your established record.

Some people may think like this, others may not. You can’t, ultimately, control what people think of you by how you act.

If the tale is not true, you have no real reason to be anxious.


Look. When I was in middle school, there was a rumor going around that I must be gay, because I didn’t want a boyfriend. This was in public school, mind you. But I knew that if any adult ever thought there was any truth to this rumor, I could be in serious trouble. Back then, even public schools weren’t always LGBT friendly, and there were at least 2 SDA teachers at the public school where I went.

I had a lot to fear if anyone thought this rumor about me was true. I’m only just now finding out the extent of what I should have been afraid of.

The more I tried to stop people from believing I was gay, the more gay they thought I was.  I’ll skip the long part of this story and just say that I learned to roll my eyes at such gossip and deny vigorously if any adults approached me about anything.

The custom of looking for nice things to say reacts on you as an individual,making you optimistic and cheerful.

I am not optimistic. I am realistic. Realistically speaking, people are good and bad. It is a good idea for me to try and find some good quality in another person. In fact, I should probably do it more often. But sometimes the good I find does not outweigh the bad.

As human beings we can control our attitudes. So why not look on the bright side? It will make you feel better. I twill make others like you. And it may even be that your spirit of optimism will help you find ways out of your difficult situation.

There is a certain amount of looking on the bright side that is helpful. However, if one does it too much, one becomes obnoxious. I am what I refer to as a realist. I look at how things are rather than how they are supposed to be. This was particularly a problem in canvassing. The people in charge would set ridiculously unreachable goals, and when I suggested we make the goals more reasonable, I was told I had a bad attitude.*

In closing, the author quotes Philippians 4:8, which I can almost type out from memory, in English and Spanish:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

(King James Version)

To which I say: screw that. Think about what you want to think about, as long as you don’t actually go out and hurt people.

This chapter was quite mixed up. I think he was trying to talk to us about our attitude, but he mixed it in with a discussion of character development. There is also a strong warning against gossip. I almost feel that, although they are related, these things are different topics. I wonder if, originally, they were 2 or 3 separate chapters, and the editor told Shryock he had to cut some of them.

Well, now I’m curious about what more modern books would have to say to teenagers. I may have to go hunt some of them down. To the library!




*Example: we have gotten out 50 copies of The Great Controversy all summer. Let’s now try to get out 100 copies in one day! If you say that this goal is not realistic, you aren’t trusting God enough! You  have a bad attitude and need to change.



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