Monday, April 20


When I was in High School, I did NOT take psychology. I wasn't that interested...and I also figured best not to wade in uncharted waters. But once at University, I took a 1010 course in sociology and then an advanced course titled 'Sociology of Gender.' Fascinating stuff, sociology. Of course, it's a 'soft science' based on the general, not the specific, but it is nevertheless, fascinating. And, being a feminist, I love to ruminate on the sociological effects of being classified as "female" because I know how much of gender is reared -- not biological. I for one enjoy the constraints of girlhood; I love pink. I love getting dressed up. I love shopping. And so on. And if you were to ask my mother she would tell you that I loved those things as a small child, nay, an infant. She always tells people about how I loved dresses as a little girl. My mother is not a girly girl. Where did my ultra conformist feminine personality come from? Who knows. Perhaps I am simply more willing to go with the societal flow.

I am happy as a girl.

That is not to say that I am constrained by my gender, or by the gender of other people. I will stretch outside of my comfort zone to non-traditional territory. For example, many of you know that my husband did not work while he went to school and I was the bread winner. It did not bother me, but it did bother others. Maybe "bother" isn't the correct word; people thought the situation worth commenting on. And by commenting, I mean make snide remarks about how he wasn't employed even though he was not employed by choice, and a student, and we made plenty of money. These comments pissed off my gender sensibilities. WOMEN stay home all the time. WOMEN are unemployed often, or do intermittent work with no career path in mind. MEN do not comment on this situation.

Why don't they comment? Perhaps because they think it benefits them, or the family, or the wife herself. I for one do not think the cost is worth it. For those of you who know me personally, you know that I enjoy being busy, and yes, my opinion is slightly jaded towards being a "working woman." Part of this is because I know myself and I know that if I stayed at home I would be insane. Said insanity would then drive me to an asylum of some sort -- just to get me out of the fucking house. That is what I call self preservation.

I suppose this rant is coming from a head full to the brim of thoughts about wifedom and domesticity. Because, like I said, I don't mind my gender assignments, but maybe that's because I'm not trapped by them. Tom allows me to do and BE what I choose, and I in turn allow him the same. I'm reading 'The Feminine Mystique' and let me tell you; the mind reels. In the late 50s, after emancipation, during civil rights, even extending out to the hippy era, women all across the country were falling for the happy housewife. This myth that women are better in the home than in the work place. And women all across the country were tricked into thinking that college, even high school, were only as good as the husband it would catch them. Education was a means to an end; that end being a husband and family. Birth rates skyrocketed as women believed that their sole and best purpose was to procreate. Women were "happiest" at home cleaning and raising kids and taking care of their husbands and reading drivel and selling away their own dreams. (Does this sound familiar to anyone? Hello, Utah? Are you listening? Utah is still, to this day, a place where women stay home to raise a family and even though they are some of the most educated women in the country, they aren't doing anything with it. Perhaps this cultural phenomenon is tied with Utah's high methamphetamine abuse...) Sometimes I wish I wanted kids, simply because it would be an easy out. Throw my passions into my children, into motherhood, and worry about their well being rather than my own future. But that's not fair to me or to my hypothetical kidlings. That is not what would make me happy.

I think Carrie Bradshaw said it best: "Perhaps as women we've been given too many we're unable to make a decision." The women's movement empowered women to think that they could do and be anything they wanted because they had been given the right to vote. But sometimes I think -- men always had the right to vote and they don't feel as though they can do or become anything. So maybe we got the wrong idea; our dreams got so big we couldn't possibly attain them and to make the failure less painful, we stay home, stay small, stay safe. I'm not meaning to bash stay-at-homes by saying this. In fact, Charlotte, in the same episode, said, "The women's movement is supposed to be about choice" which I believe. I believe in doing what makes one happy and obviously this is something I wrestle with in my own brain quite often. And I still have a difficult time putting the thoughts down in a comprehensive manner...

I guess what I'm really trying to say is: what will satisfy me?

No comments: