Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A blog for International Women's Day

There is more to say on this topic, but it will wait. This is just a small personal celebration.

The positive aspects of feminism are nicely illustrated by the lives of two strong women: my mother, born in 1916, and my daughter, born in 1974.

My mother did not fully come into her own until after the kids were mostly grown. She made up for lost time in her fifties and sixties, and enjoyed a brilliant late career. But as her oldest child (b. 1943) I was raised by a deeply frustrated and conflicted woman who did not fit the mold of the fifties.

Dad was the more laid-back of the two. The code of honour of the times demanded that he be the sole breadwinner. He went to work with pleasure, but lacked Mom's driving ambition and need for status. My parents had a good marriage. But I often wonder what our lives would have been like if the liberalization of the sixties had happened earlier.

My daughter the PhD has always known that she wanted to be a scientist. Her life partner, the father of her son, is every bit as brilliant as she is, but lacks her laser focus. No one who knows D. rules out the possibility of future career surprises. But meanwhile he has been happy to play a supportive role. In other words, N. has enjoyed the benefits of having a wife. Never underestimate the importance of that wind beneath your wings! 

This is what I see when we visit: the daily work of a household getting done by whoever is there to do it, a total lack of wrangling over status and roles, a lot of shared laughter.

And I think: "Mission Accomplished. This is what feminism made possible."

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