Excuse my soapbox moments…
I’m reading The Woman’s Room right now and have been for the past three weeks I think. Oops, one book I didn’t get through in a day or two. I’ve had a couple of books in between. But this book is dense reading. Although fiction it definitely keeps me thinking hard about the arguments being made. Take the following excerpt for instance, I have highlighted the parts that I feel the most, but don’t just read those, the whole excerpt is very pointed and fascinating.
“One advantage to being a despised species is that you have freedom, freedom to be any crazy thing you want. If you listen to a group of housewives talk, you’ll hear a lot of nonsense, some of it really crazy. This comes, I think, from being alone so much, and pursuing your own train of thought without impediment, which some call discipline. The result is craziness, but also brilliance. Ordinary women come out with the damnedest truths. You ignore them at your own risk. And they’re permitted to go on making wild statements without being put in one kind of jail or another (some of them, anyway) because everyone knows they’re crazy and powerless too. If a woman is religious or earthy, passive or wildly assertive, loving or hating, she doesn’t get much more flak than if she isn’t, her choices lie between being castigated as a ball and chain or as a whore. What I don’t understand is where women suddenly get power. Because they do. The kids, who almost always turn out to be a pile of shit, are, we all know, Mommy’s fault. Well, how did she manage that, this powerless creature? Where was all her power during the years she was doing five loads of laundry a week and worrying about mixing the whites with the colors? How was she able to offset Daddy’s positive influences? How come she never knows she has this power until afterward, when it gets called responsibility?
What I’m trying to understand is winning and losing. Now the rule of the game is that men win as long as they keep their noses comparatively clean, and women lose, always, even extraordinary women.“
I don’t want to say that I completely and totally agree with everything said here but the point is strong and a thought I struggle with day in and out whether I really give it a clear thought or not. I don’t believe that things are as bad now for women as they where in the time that the story was written in. I don’t believe that men win as much as women but I do know there are some severe glass ceilings still in place that hopefully some women will bring a hammer to soon. I know that there is still the “whore or virgin” stereotype put to women as well.
My mom and I are in an interesting place in our relationship right now. I am fully behind the women’s liberation movement and have been since I was young. I’m also behind men being gentlemen and opening a door for me because I’m a lady. I’m ALSO behind people being decent to one another, a man holding a door for another man instead of letting it shut in his face, a woman giving another woman a compliment even if the first feels insecure by the perceived greatness of the other.
My mom is not and has not been behind women’s liberation movement. She blames current indecency in some men (her ex husband and her friends’ ex husbands) on women’s lib. Now, she says, men can have their cake and eat it to. I don’t completely disagree with her but I think she forgets key parts of her life that would be even more difficult if the women’s lib hadn’t happened at all.
I think about this often. I support things that many feminists’ would retch at but I still consider myself a feminist. I don’t have a black and white explanation for humanity and gender issues and feminism or anything else but I feel like a lot of people do and they miss some HUGE parts and cut out some really important and great people when they do.
Morality means such different things to different people. I struggle to find common ground sometimes.