Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Day for Women

Upon watching season one of Mad Men on DVD, one must pause to wonder: how did women (or anyone BUT white men) survive the early 60s? It would be funny if so much of it wasn't true: the sexism in the workplace, the stilted conversations between husband and wife, the husband chatting with the wife's psychiatrist after her appointment. No wonder the women chain smoked and had mai tais and mint juleps in their hands all day long (even while pregnant)...yikes!

My mother spent her career as a nurse, and she remembers how the (male) doctors were gods; they patted the nurses on the heads (and likely on their asses, too!) It's easy from our modern perspective to think that we would not have stood for such patronising behaviour. But if we'd been raised in a culture where sexism was just a given, we may have thought it was just the way things were.
Imagine most men's shock then, when the women's movement gathered force! They must have thought the world was falling down around them. What? You want MORE than to just hang up my hat and be a sexual plaything? Handing me a drink at the end of the day and putting up with my affairs isn't ENOUGH for you? What goals could YOU possibly have? (I am exaggerating: I know not ALL men treated their wives and secretaries/nurses like servants/playthings)...

Today we modern (Western) women can giggle at the bra burning and the slogans decrying marriage and motherhood, and complain about the fact that in some ways the women's movement backfired in that we still do a majority of the housework/childrearing while also, in many cases, being the main breadwinner of the family. We have all the rights of men, and all the same responsibilities and pressures that women have always had.
But today, we can talk about it. We don't have to always pretend that raising our children is the deepest joy of our lives when in reality they're driving us to the liquor cabinet. We don't have to eschew knitting and the "domestic arts" for fear that our "sisters" will deride us for being against "the cause". We can write about the complexities, wonders, and frustrations of our lives with honesty, and hear the support and common experiences of women across the globe.

Today, I thank those brave women who didn't just accept that a woman's ONLY place was in the kitchen or bedroom. I commend their vision and hope, the sacrifices they made to make our modern lives better. I also salute the women of today who are reclaiming the right to stay home and raise their kids, be loving spouses (in equal partnership), to knit and can and sew and create a welcoming home. I salute the women who haven't had children, who work in traditional women's careers and who work in "men's" jobs. All of our experiences have value, no matter what choices we make about how we live our lives.

Today is the 100th International Women's Day, and for most of the women in the world, the women's lib movement is just a distant whisper. Today, let's give thanks to the courageous women who came before us and fought for our freedom, and send a loving prayer to the women who are still fighting, or are too frightened for their (or their children's)safety to fight.

In our busy lives, it's hard to think about what we can do to help women around the world. For today, start small.

Hug your daughters, tell them you love them, and give thanks. Hug your sons, too (because in so many ways, the women's lib movement freed men as well). Call the women that have inspired you and supported you. Send a note to women who have mentored you and encouraged you. Gather with women and make a toast (with mai tais!) to those who marched before you.

And, as always, count your many blessings.

9 comments:

  1. Good Post! Happy International Women's Day!

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  2. Counting my blessings..
    A toast to you my friend & the women who led the way (with coffee of course!)
    big love
    shanti

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  3. Gorgeous post, Stephanie. It's all an evolution. We're in progress and you're a beacon!

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  4. Great post! Wishing you a Happy Day!!

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  5. it is very interesting working with young moms as clients how they view their place as women in their communities.With two " twentish" daughters of my own I am also aware how my life and attitudes have shaped their own. I am so happy and blessed to have had choice in so many areas that I once would not have. I owe a great debt to so many brave women who swam against the current to give me those opportunities.

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  6. Love it! Great post! Just found you on Twig and Toadstool blog roll, looking forward to trawling your archives, I like your style!

    Have you read Radical Homemakers? I did a piece based on it, about feminism and housewives which this brings to mind...

    http://dreamingaloudnet.blogspot.com/2011/01/radical-homemaking-week-1-beyond.html

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