Monday, January 17, 2011

Fraught for Girls

editor's note:  I've tweaked this about 12 times since first posting but it's still a jumbled mess.  Only the last paragraph is a jumbled mess on purpose.  I'm just going to step away from the computer now & leave it alone.  Warts 'n all. 

A few months ago I happened to be getting more coffee at the same time as my (much younger) co-worker when out of the cold blue sky she asked if I though of myself as a feminist.  Our conversations up till that point had focused on the weather and once, during an office lunch, the joys of the martini.  I hadn't really thought about it but I guess the answer is no.  Because the mental image I had was of ...angry women.  I am privileged enough to have grown up post-Title IX and all the blood, sweat, and tears my elders shed allowed me to blissfully sally forth, unencumbered by any thought that I couldn't.  And to give credit closer to home, my parents told me repeatedly, ad nauseum, that I could do anything I set my mind to.  Not sure this is exactly what they had in mind, but it suits me. 

[On a side note - I'm not sure why she asked ME.  She's younger by maybe 10-13 years.  Gawd help me, am I the older woman in the office?!?!  Does she think I am so much older as to have a different generational perspective?  Gah.]

And no, I have no intention of going near the working mom/SAHM debate - other than to say, speaking of my elders, that Gigi once told me her MIL was out campaigning for the vote so often that her son, my paternal grandfather, had asked that she (his wife, my Gigi) stay home with the kids, because he'd come home so often to an empty house.  That, my friends, is a monkey knot.  [Gigi, tell me if I got the story wrong.].

But despite avoiding the label, I'm pretty certain I have all the credentials.  I kept my name when I got married.  I worked two summers on a boat in Alaska during school and, for three brief shining seconds, counted myself amongst LA's finest.  I was the primary breadwinner for 5 years (though that was, admittedly, an epic fail).  I also work in a tough business.  Granted there are lots of other women out there doing the same thing but evaluating the value of a below-the-knee amputation or, say, someone's dead mom, isn't for the can't-stand-the-sight-of-blood bimbos. 

Then RNW serendipitously recommended Baxter Sez....(one of) whose author(s) is a "professional feminist".  I'm sure I'm guilty of various cultural insensitivities and/or buying into various patriarchies (nevermind why I think "feminism" requires me to ditch the razor).  I also like skirt suits, heels, and red lipstick - it was a sad, sad day when we went to business casual - but I've also developed a big ol' crush. 

And on this day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I think it an important reminder not to settle.  He didn't.  My great-grandmother didn't.  All the parents 30 years ago who bucked the experts and took their special kids home didn't.  Ms. Baxter Sez still isn't.

Why would any term used to advocate equality become so ....fraught? 

And if I hadn't spent most of my evening finishing the @#$%^&* Classy Bear project, I would have brilliantly tied all these strings together with a comment on how I don't watch the news at all anymore, why I don't, why that might be accepting all the misery in the world as status quo (or apathy, or denial, or depression, or hunker-down survival), why -for the sake of my kids- I shouldn't be settling, tie that into my earlier thoughts on advocacy, what's important as a parent, expectations for both my kids - but, obviously, more complex & fraught, my expectations for my youngest - then, just for the hell of it, I'd throw in a mention of the Chinese dragon mom story that has everyone a-twitter.  But alas, it is not to be.  Instead of pondering the mysteries of (my) universe, I'm going to pour myself a glass of wine and look at pretty dresses from last night's award show (that I didn't even know was going on.  lame.).

And lest this be too fraught (word of the day!) let us now say goodbye to Classy Bear who's going back home to his teacher tomorrow morning.
May your next adventure be grand.
May the next mom posses a straight edge, crafty scissors, & sufficient glue stick.
Stay Classy.

1 comment:

  1. I started reading her blog because she teaches at the college where I got my undergraduate degree (where I minored in Women's Studies) and I read about her in a local paper. I find her very interesting...and intimidating. Half the time I don't know what she's talking about, particularly when it comes to feminism. I consider myself a feminist (but not the angry kind) and I know there are inequities between men and women, but lord, there are inequities all over the place and some get me more worked up than others. I totally agree with you about NOT SETTLING.