Feb 11, 2011

The old bait and switch...feminism revisited

My impressions of Women's Lib, straight from the front.  I was there, man, just young.

Feminism.  What does that mean?  Good question these days.

I was born in 1965.  I can vaguely remember the women burning their bras on TV.  I just got a glimpse before my mother turned it off.  She shrugged it off as something "the hippies" were doing.  I asked why people would burn bras they had paid money for.  She said that they were protesting because they didn't think they should have to conform the natural shape of their bodies with foreign objects.  Those were not her exact words, of course, I was 7 years old.  I don't remember her exact words, but I do remember a little history lesson that started with corsets, hit girdles somewhere in the middle and ended with bras, burned in a dumpster.

I should mention now that my mother never, to my knowledge, went anywhere but to bed without a bra.  I should probably also mention, because in my opinion, this MATTERS on this subject:  my mom actually had boobs.  Good ones, which get plenty of attention WITH a bra on, thank-you-very-much.  I am pretty sure they must have all been small boobed women, those bra burners.  Or high.  Maybe they were just stuck at home with the kids and would take any opportunity to get out of the house.  I wouldn't really know.  I was at home with my mother, who explained what she could about the movement but never waivered in her conviction of what a woman is.  Or the wearing of her bra, either one.

I wonder who watched the kids while they were burning their bras?  Probably their mother's, who were at home doing what women had always done: raise children and making a home.  I figure those mothers were probably thinking "get real".

Next was the Equal Rights Amendment, that resulted in nothing ,for decades, but a whole lotta arguing and a new name for laudry detergent.  I love the irony there.  It was supposed to make sure women got paid the same as men for doing the same work. The "same" work was never satisfactorily defined.  At the time, my mother "had" to go to work, as was her right after she was left with two small children.  Her husband finally left her to run off with another woman.  I think she was a woman, although a legal definition of "age of consent" may need to be consulted to tell for sure.  Never heard if she wore a bra or not.  Mom got a job at a bank, where she was not allowed to wear anything other than a skirt or a dress.  Of course she wore a bra, too.  I'm pretty sure they would have frowned on liberated sorts who didn't.

I do not remember hearing discussions of who would watch the children if the women went to work, but I'm sure they were going on.  Maybe they were figuring their mothers would do it.  I also do not remember hearing discussions of what would happen when those children got sick, but I'm sure people were discussing it.  Or, they may have just figured that their mother's would do that, too.  Because they always had.  When you decide to change the way things have always been, there are a lot of variablesI suppose it's hard to be prepared for.

What I brought out of the whole experience was that girls were supposed to be equal to men, and get paid the same.  That is pretty general, I know, but I was about 10 at this time.  Honestly, I have to say it sounded good to me.  I already felt I had been somehow devalued, not to mention being defensive about it, which must have been part of their plan, but it was years before that would occur to me.

Flash forward 10 years, say 1985:

We girls are all prepared to have "careers" and make all this money, only we still don't get paid the same amount as men.  We are pissed about this.  A lot of us aren't married because we don't feel that we have been indoctrinated to look down on women who feel they "need" a man.  We are also of childbearing age now, and oddly, the pill did absolutely nothing to decrease unplanned parenthood.  Since we would be working, we would also be sending our children to daycare, where they will get sick, necessitating the missing of work to take said children to the Dr.  We are missing getting paid, but we have to come up with extra money for the Dr.  and the pharmacy. 

It occurs to me that this might have a little bit to do with the fact that we don't make as much as men.  Most of the men have a wife, mother, sister, someone to do this for them.  Free.  I'm pretty sure that's because no women actually trust any men to take care of small, sick children.  In any event, those damn men hardly ever miss work.

Madonna arrives on the scene as a pop culture icon. 

Everybody starts getting boob jobs.

Oh, and anti-depressants are everywhere, and you are not to feel bad about taking them, either.  It's not your fault you're depressed.

I wonder if this was what the bra burners had in mind.  I think they are doing it wrong.  I solidly stand behind their RIGHT to do it wrong, however.  I mull over the fact that boobs have been the biggest source of money coming to females since........there have been women with boobs.  I think some things never change.  I think someone needs to GET REAL, but I am no longer sure whether it's "them" or me.

Instead of the ERA passing, we got something called "affirmative action", which was supposed to be good not just for women, but anyone of "minority" status.  I vividly remember having a discussion of this with grown adult (around 40 years old) at this time.  The adults were against it, because they said it would end up with people having to hire people because of their gender or color of their skin, which would be bad.  I said that that was just silly, it was to keep people from holding any gender or color issues against you.  They said "GET REAL", they are going to tell us who we can and cannot hire!  I said that would be stupid.  NO one would ever hire a people who weren't qualified, that would be stupid!!!  Then, I am pretty sure I stomped away in a rage, as teenagers are wont to do.  They probably rolled their eyes and lamented my lack of vision.

You see, I could not concieve of a time when what I thought of as adults would ever NOT be in charge.  I also, and this is a luxury not available to the youth of today, was sure that common sense and justice would always prevail in America.
So, I would like to take this opportunity as an adult to apologize to the adults of yesteryear because I have to hand it to you:  YOU WERE RIGHT.  You know who you are.

Some kind of war between working women and stay at home moms begins.  Also at issue, oddly I think, is nursing in public. 
I mean, GET REAL, women have been nursing babies since....women have been having babies.  It's what the ever popular and lucrative boobs are actually designed for.

At any rate, now women, instead of being attacked by other groups, feel free to attack each other.  I think they are doing it wrong, and suspect their mother's are saying "I told you so".
Flash forward 20 years:

All the old rules seem to have been thrown out, along with most of what you would recognize as music.

The little girls who were raised not to compare themselves to or aspire to be Barbie dolls have steel in their faces, ink from one end to another and instead of worrying about careers, just make sex tapes or become pop stars.  Which is now the same as porn, by the way, FCC rules for tv having gone through a liberation of  their own.

Thanks, Madonna! (Who wears big caricatures of bra's incidentally.  Coincidentally?)

 I still do not negate their RIGHT to do that, but I'm wondering what kind of parent (mother) they have (Madonna?  No, you may be surprised to know that she is very strict with her children.  They don't even watch TV, probably for obvious reasons), and what kind of life this is going to make.  I conclude that they are nothing but a cash cow to their parents, who must not be able to conceive of the notion of "nurturing" or "protecting innocence".

We have court cases because, of all the firemen who are eligible for promotions, the ones who get hired have to be black, and none of the black ones could pass the test.  What to do???  Thanks affirmative action!

We have women serving in armed forces, despite having children, and soon will have openly gay people there too.  I wonder who is raising their children.  Not just the women's children either.  This being the age of equality, gay people are going to have the right to get a job and leave their children for someone else to raise also.

On the upside, women finally gain a little in the battle to make as much as men.  Woot!  Woot?

Boob jobs and plastic surgery have reached a saturation point, so begins the long and no doubt painful backlash.  Products said to remove tattoos flood the market.

It occurs to me that when you tell kids they can be anything, they believe you.  As proof, transgenderism abounds almost as much as diagnosed cases of ADHD. 

You can get any kind of drug you want as easily as going to your Dr. and requesting whatever the commercial said repeatedly right before the long and horrifying list of side effects.  Except anitbiotics.  There remains no black market for them unless you can get some for your pet from a vet.   At least, as far as I know.  If I hear of any I will be sure to let you know, though (wink wink).

Where does this leave us?

Beats the hell outta me!

All I know for sure, is this:  the children have to be taken care of and it's usually the women who do it.  I do not mean to take away from what a father brings to the equation.  Perish the thought.  Children need both a mother and father, working in tandem.  One of them needs to be with the child constantly when it is small and cannot take care of itself.  Traditionally, this has been the mother, due to the boobs. 

We have the right to do just about anything we can imagine now.  It pains me to see young girls being encouraged to devalue themselves. And being in some gansta's rap video is not something to be proud of. You can blame drugs, tv, hippies, almost anything and be a little bit right about how we got into this mess, but it seems pretty clear to me that nobody has been taking care of the kids for the last several decades.  That cannot and should not be taken lightly.  I think everybody should do whatever makes them happy.  I just always assumed that personal dignity would always be the natural, unanimous choice of women.  I think they're doing it wrong. 

What have we gained? 
What have we lost?
When are we going to get real?

Feel free to comment.  You are anonymous unless you choose not to be.


  1. Wow! You would get along very well with my family =)

    I love that so many women have so many opportunities today that they may not have had several generations ago, but I agree. We may have done things wrong. I think the way to do things might have been to stop, look around, and say WHAT MATTERS HERE? And then approach it. If breastfeeding is, for example, healthier then we need stronger support for women to nurse their children. Support in the office (longer maternity leave? childcare next to the accounting department? shorter work weeks? insurance coverage of breast pumps? separate rooms for pumping and storing milk? did you ever see that picture of the Italian politician who was at work, breastfeeding her baby and wearing the kid in a wrap? the choices are endless here!), in the community (shops that are breastfeeding friendly, with better employee training, larger shops with lounges, etc.), in the medical community (lactation consultants readily available, insurance companies who compile list-serves of local moms because moms with contact with other moms have lower rates of postpartum depression, doctors who advise on the pros AND cons for both mother AND baby before birth occurs and as children grow), at the social level (marketing images of nursing women, women of all sizes and shapes and colors nursing children in public), in the home, so on and so forth. And we should have done that for every issue - equal pay, maternity benefits, child care, marriage rights, etc.

    I wonder if it's too late or if we'll figure it out eventually?

    Thanks for such an insightful commentary. I'll certainly be thinking about this one for awhile =)

  2. I will take that as a compliment. Your's is one of the first blogs I started following. I have told friends how strange it is to have seen a picture of a basic stranger's child every day of their life. I enjoy your's very much and I will never forget the day you let the older lady hold Charlotte. I thanked you for it in the comments. Congratulations on the chickens, too.

  3. It was a compliment!

    I'm not always the best at conveying tone online, but I did mean it as a compliment. I love when people make me think, and your post did just that. Donald and I have been batting some of the ideas back and forth all weekend =)

    Thank you very much for your kind words about my blog. It's always nice to know my dad isn't the only one who enjoys it! I know what you mean - when I first began reading blogs, I thought it was strange to see their kids more often than I saw nieces and nephews. I could see my nieces every week and still not have as many photographs or milestones stored away about them as I did about some bloggers' kids. As time passed, obviously I became more accustomed to it. I have to admit that I've learned more from other mothers on my blog sharing stories and swapping tips than I have from other moms at the park.

    I don't know, though. That might just be another sad commentary on our society these days?!

  4. Sad commentary is about right. :( I have gone back to the ideas in your first comment several times, so you've had me thinking also.
    The key, in my opinion, is for everybody to be able to do whatever they need to do and still accomodate their job. The key to THAT, in my opinion, would be not to have regulations that are supposed to be the same for everyone. I wish that the woman and the company could just work out whatever worked between themselves. It would take an entire restructuring of our system of law, which would be fine with me. Frivilous lawsuits are causing us too much gridlock.

  5. Interesting blog. This topic wanders a little, but the points are well taken. It's kind of like watching Black Swan - I didn't really know if I liked it when it first ended, I had to think on it awhile, then realized it was brilliant, if, perhaps, a little heavy on the look this way, no that way, really, over THERE >.

    Boobism, thank god, is highly slanted towards the female of our species (except for some of those middle aged men whose hormones are a tiny bit out of whack). And the biological use of said boobs are, you accurately pointed out, very useful, both in mechanical and emotional ways. Nothing to be afeared of, but like any part of our body, if we let it go flaccid and droopy, we've lost it and getting it back may not be in the cards.

    As to what moms are about - they're about the best created creature to care for and raise a human baby that has ever been devised. I shudder to think of how some men really seem clueless and unable to do the nurturing thing, and frankly, wouldn't want them to be doing that. They contribute very well just doing what the male is supposed to do, and that includes caring for the family and being a good example of maleness for the young to be able to identify and use as a measuring rod to discriminate accurately between the two sexes.

    Work is work, no matter what you do. I've found that doing work that is highly rewarded by our society is certainly a rush, mentally and emotionally. But I found that it is every bit as difficult to work at a minimum wage job, but you just aren't compensated the same, both financially and emotionally (recognition, respect, etc.). Humans tend to make work...well, work! Whether male or female, a woman who is CEO, or a man who makes jewelry, they need to be compensated in a way that is gender-blind. No victimism, though, please!

    I'll drift back in and read more of your blogs in the next few days or so, because you pique my interest.

    (continue to) Be good.

  6. Thanks! I do tend to wander. It's mostly stream of consciousness when it does happen, I haven't gotten a schedule down yet. I totally forgot Latch Key Kids, and I didn't even want to delve into what the women's movement has done to men. That's another post entirely.
    My point in general is that the simplest solutions are almost always best. I think it may have been wiser to stick to our God given roles, at the very least, where the children were concerned.

  7. When I brought my daughter home, it wasn't a week before I knew that I was the only one who was taking care of her. I was lucky that my husband agreed and we made the financial sacrifices often required when their is only one income stream. I don't regret staying home with my both my kids.

    What I do regret is that now, at 44, I feel like a fish out of water in regards to making a decent income and that my time spent mothering makes, to many employers, a shitty resume. I still wouldn't change it, but I might have taken some time to hone a marketable skill if I had been able to see into the future.

    I also think the idea of feminism (particularly in our current pop/celebrity culture) is whacked. Feminism doesn't represent doing whatever and whoever you want because you are a strong, free woman. I have great respect for those women who fought to give all of us a choice to leave the house if our sanity or economics required it.

    Also, I would have to be high to leave the house without a bra. I'm old school that way.

  8. Oh, Mrs. G. You have gotten me through so many hard times. Specifically, Christmas. I actually skipped it in 2009, pretty much. It was a low point and you helped me feel all right that I let it slide. WELCOME! I think all women know that feeling, when you come home. It shouldn't have to be so lonely. Personally I think we need to bring homemaking back to the pristine place it deserves. Also, we could probably work out a good retirement system trading hours spent taking care of children for hours of caretaking needed at the end of our lives. That's just for starters.

  9. What a thought-inducing post.

    Having chosen the career path of stay at home parent I, like Mrs.G, am left with little to impress a potential employer but I know my children have a solid base on which to enter the more grown-up world of secondary school (=US middle school and beyond).

    I remember 12/15 yrs ago running a law class seminar at university and the other students feeling that Feminism had had its time as men and women were equal now. I had never felt the four years age difference so keenly as during that half an hour. Those girls 18/19) were so unaware of what was waiting for them in the real world.

  10. That last sentence is so true. Scary, isn't it? The older I have gotten the more disturbed I have become at how young women (seem to) see themselves and the world. As far as things being equal in the workplace, there is a big difference in whether you are comparing the work of two accountants, for example, and two firemen. If you are really going to have to depend on someone to drag you out of a burning building, I will take the big guy everytime. And with women being so in the workforce it seems like a betrayal and a denial of how important taking care our future is. What is more important than that??? I am not really comfortable with having women dying if it means they will leave children. Especially small ones. I know how old fashioned that sounds but that's where it is for me.

  11. Wow! you go girl! As for women finally being equal to men. I recently heard a troubling statistic on NPR. Women still only make $.81 to every $1.00 for men. (I'm sure I worded that wrong). Even more troubling, some suggest it is because women don't negotiate their wages...Hmph! I tend to agree with your point of view. Single mothers, supporting children, many without child support, must still be the ones who lose paid time and money to tend to the medical/emotional needs of their children.

    I never really considered myself a feminist, but I can understand the movement. And yeah, I used to be one of those small breasted women who could get away with not wearing a bra, and I also nursed my children until they were old enough to digest cow milk. I might have been a hippie if I had been old enough. ;-)
    Since the 60's era of my childhood through to the millennium, I have seen societal norms for women change with the times; and not necessarily for the better.

    And in case you're wondering, I finally grew boobs and I still rarely wear a bra....when I'm home. Because I like to think of myself as socially conscious, I finally decided to wear one in public because not everyone enjoys the sight of sagging middle aged boobs and nipples.


These are my thoughts, which sometimes drive me crazy and sometimes keep me sane, but are always entertaining. I call this Lace Your Days With Hope because I can't find enough hope to make an entire quilt out of. Stay tuned, and add your own!