Let me start out by saying that I bought into part of the women’s lib movement when I was much younger and much more impressionable. I’m not an activist at heart so I never burned my bra. Instead, I was a loyal subscriber to Ms. and New Woman magazines, thought the centerfold of Burt Reynolds was great, didn’t change my name when I was previously married and talked part of the talk—until I grew up.
It wasn’t a real issue because I’d worked as a legal secretary for years and negotiated good salaries for myself. I went to law school in the late 70s but never intended to work in a large firm so, at the time, I didn’t feel like I would be stifled by the “glass ceiling.” Heck, I didn’t even know what a “glass ceiling” was. I never bought into the whole “sisterhood” thing or the male-bashing that seems prevalent amongst feminists because I actually like men.
There is one aspect of the movement with which I wholeheartedly agree. Unless someone has lived under a rock his or her entire life, equal pay for equal work should be perfectly reasonable to everyone. I know about the inequities associated with the concept because when I worked for Los Angeles County in the 90s (years after the lib movement), the female attorneys still earned less than the male attorneys. That’s the way it was and an eventual class action lawsuit was filed too late for any recourse. Am I a bitter feminist? Heck, no. It is what it is.
But, on the other hand, where I worked, few female attorneys put in the hours that the male attorneys did. I didn’t have children so I was at my job from 8 to 5 but many of my female colleagues were not. Why? Because they were the ones who had to take the children to school, leave work early to pick them up from daycare, leave in the middle of the day when their kids were sick, and make all the phone calls to deal with the myriad of problems mothers face each day with their children. Which brings me to my point.
I’m married to a man who I call the “bestest husband in the entire universe” and have no problem thinking of him as the “head” of our household because I know that I’m the “heart” of our home. He opens the car door for me and carries in the groceries when I return from the market. He doesn’t do these things because I’m helpless, but rather to show respect and courtesy to me. He thinks of himself as the “suit” and me as the “brains” of our office. I cook and he cleans and he’s proud to boast ownership of six vacuum cleaners, a carpet steamer, a hand-held steamer, a pressure washer, well, you get the picture. It works for us. But not everyone is as lucky as I am.
The liberation movement was intended to equal things out for every woman. Being a “housewife” was frowned upon and still is in some circles. According to the libbers, women had to have real jobs. Being a stay at home mom was not the thing to do. Marriages were going to be 50/50. Chores and responsibilities were going to be 50/50. Child care was going to be 50/50. Men were going to iron, wash floors and cook dinner! Women were going to have it all! Marriage, children, and work! Well, that’s exactly what they got.
Thanks to Gloria Steinem and her ilk, women are up at the crack of dawn, they get the children off to school, clean the house, do the laundry, do the shopping, make all the medical and dental appointments, plan vacations, arrange for the children to be picked up from school, pick up the cleaning, cook dinner, help the children with their homework, get them off to bed, make love to their husbands and, guess what, they get to have full-time jobs outside the home as well. What a deal! If you had a lawyer negotiating this deal, you could sue him or her for malpractice and you’d probably win.
How did women ever buy into this mess? With very few exceptions, which I can probably count on one hand if I was missing a few fingers, I’ve never seen a 50/50 household. I’ve seen lots and lots of women, of all ages, going to work every day plus doing just about everything else that needs to be done in the home.
I see lots of men making the perfunctory bar b que on Sundays when their buddies and wives come over. But I see far more not opening the car door, or any door for that matter, for their wives. I see women, who hold full-time jobs outside the home, returning from grocery shopping and carrying three bags into the house while their husbands sit on the couch. I see those same women unloading the groceries while the husband continues to watch sports on the big screen tv. I see wives carrying every conceivable object in their purses on a family outing while the husband carries a camera. I’ve seen women getting on airplanes carrying car seats while their husbands hold their child’s hand. I even saw a woman coming out of a mall with a child in one hand, her purse, a bag from the store, and a car seat in the other and her husband sitting in the car at the curb yelling why it was taking her so long!
Somewhere along the way, women were convinced that being a homemaker was not important or glamorous enough. Women apparently did not realize for themselves that being the “heart” of their family was the most important job they could do. And, yes, perhaps some did feel under-appreciated in that role which was their husband’s fault, but, then again, a woman chooses the man she’s going to marry not the other way around. In the end if a man is a jerk, making laws, holding protests, male-bashing, and anger isn’t going to change his psyche.
Women never realized how much power they actually have. As the anti-feminist feminist, Camille Paglia, has said, “woman is the dominant sex. Men have to do all sorts of stuff to prove that they are worthy of woman’s attention.” Women have never figured that out. The movement to convince women they needed to be out in the workplace in order to feel worthy, was ill-conceived and a really bad deal. Apparently, women didn’t think this through. The idea of convincing women was the easy part, but no one figured out how to convince men to share 50% of the household responsibilities.
As far as I’m concerned, women bought into this fantasy. I’ve never known a woman who was able to give 100% to her job, her children, her husband and herself. What mortal could? Someone or something — either the woman, her husband, the children or her job — suffers and women continue to spread themselves thin trying to juggle all these different areas of their lives. I don’t get what Gloria Steinem and the rest of the libbers were thinking.
And, if you do, God bless you.