Monday, March 16, 2009


In my Postmodern America class a couple weeks ago, we were talking about the 50s in America, talking broadly about some of the big cultural changes associated with that decade. Someone brought up The Feminine Mystique and "the problem that has no name," and I made an offhand remark about how women were bored because machines were doing all the work they used to spend all day doing, like laundry for instance.

A woman in the class, a graduate media student, said, sharply, "Actually, that's not true." She said that there were some recent books and articles pointing out that that was a myth, that, with automation of housework, expectations of what housewives could accomplish had been raised so high that any benefit of the new appliances was lost.

We left it at that -- we had other things to discuss besides the women's movement -- but the exchange left me feeling a suddenly very specific lack in my life of close women friends. I guess I mean close mainly in terms of proximity, because I do have a few intimate women friends but none of them live within a thousand miles of me. My sister and I are close, but sporadically in touch, and it's only about once a year that we get to have anything like real conversation. But I don't have a woman friend that I just hang out with, have coffee, talk about whatever's on our minds. (Actually I don't have men friends like this either, except J, and I feel that lack, as well. I don't have many friends here, but that's another story.)

I thought about this again while I was reading this article. I have lots of ideas about this. I always have opinions. I wish I had someone to bounce them off of, a woman friend who maybe has had some experience with this stuff, who might forgive my insults born of ignorance -- for instance, when I say, rhetorically, "why is it some women feel it's so important to be able to simultaneously give birth and raise a baby and maintain a career outside the home? if you're going to have kids, have kids. it's not sexism making women unhappy, it's multi-tasking" -- who might be willing to tell me what she thinks I'm right about and wrong about.

It's hard to have these conversations in a classroom, where so often people have a desire to express a strongly-held view instead of listening and examining an issue with an open mind. I'm just as guilty of this as anyone. And there's the whole "sensitivity" issue. Most of the kids in my classes are encountering the expectation of sensitivity for the first time in their lives, I think. Sensitivity to sexism, homophobia, racism, etc. And that's a good thing, especially here in Texas. It's just not where I am with these issues.

Well, last week I made a couple new male friends. Maybe women are next.


ep said...

Where do I start?

Re friendship, I think it's harder and harder as we get older to have that someone or group of someones that you can rely on to go have coffee with, or a chat or whatever, because everyone is just too damn busy trying to keep up with everything they're trying to do. When we were in our 20s, let's face it, we had no obligations or set direction, we were free to do whatever whenever! I hang out with my cousin almost weekly, but rarely am able to get really deep into any conversation because the lure of the child is too great. For her. I will be talking about something and watch her eyes and focus shift to my daughter. I'm not jealous of the kid at all. I actually am more ticked at my cousin! I can actually think deep thoughts and talk and watch the kid do something cute - all at the same time. Others? Not so much. That's the main reason I started the blog, to have somewhere to dump my thoughts.

it's also why I love facebook, etc., because it has helped reconnect me to folks i shared some great times with, and led me to their blogs - all still interesting people and I want to know what they're thinking about. The distance part sucks, but you cope, I guess.

ep said...

Re the breast feeding article - I read the first page and then had to skim, because the subject still pisses me off. There is a ridiculous amount of pressure to breastfeed, both social and from the medical profession. What was annoying about the article, however, was that it was written by a woman who had no real difficulty breastfeeding, which is a huge reality to lots of moms, especially older ones. It is not an easy, natural, automatic thing for a lot of us. I tried it, hated it, and kept it up for about 5 1/2 months - but had to supplement with formula because I was not going to pump (yuk) and my breastmilk from the get-go wasn't enough for my baby to hit her "percentiles." That's a whole other level of pressure that's put on a new parent.

Being a single mom, I probably escaped some backlash, because folks were cutting me some slack because I had fewer resources and was doing it all on my own. But I still had plenty of know-it-alls who had never had a child parrot the "breastmilk is best" mantra. Whatever. You do your best in your life and for your kid. It's all you can do. She's taller than most of the kids in her class (I was too.) She has allergies, breastmilk or not (because I do too, bigtime).

Not sure why this particular article interested you - would like to hear...

Lily's Mommy said...

Ooh the breast feeding thing! I didn't have any milk and I watched my ridiculously large baby (11 pounds +) drop to 9.5lbs. :( I think I said something like "fuck this shit" and got a can of formula. We never looked back.

So yeah, some of the condescending bitches can sit there and judge but as a very cool nurse told me in the hospital, whatever decision I make for MY child, is the right one.

That was an interesting article. Thanks for linking it. :)

I wish I had more people to talk to where I am. I'm a pebble of lazy pagan liberal in a sea of christian conservatism. That's also why I love visiting your blog. Not to blow smoke up your skirt, but you seem like a free thinker who likes to question himself about his own beliefs. It's a refreshing change from the unquestioning herd mentality that surrounds me. :)