Now that I've been stuck mostly at home with this bronchitis deal for a month, I have taken to recording one of my favorite late night TV shows to watch in the mornings again. Odd as it may seem, "I have always enjoyed "The Colbert Report."
Stephen Colbert possesses such a tongue-in-cheek comedy style. I love to watch people walk into his character's clutches and fall prey to his humor.
Best of all, though are his nightly interviews, mostly with writers. I watched one with Stephanie Coontz this morning, and learned about her new book, Strange Stirring, which re-visits the feminist awakening of the 1960s. The title derives from Betty Friedan's The feminine Mystique.
Hearing her describe the "problem that has no name," which was the malaise of the housewife of that era, brought back both memories of my childhood and my relationship with my mother, and also of my own young adulthood. We may have to really think hard to remember it sometimes, but it was as though there was a whole part of a woman's personality that had to remain unexpressed in that lifestyle.
Then, we got "liberated." Instead of having the issues of stir-craziness and domestic drudgery, we got overworked and underpaid outside the household, and then got to come home and do it all on the second shift anyway. We got sold the myth that we could "have it all." I think we can, just not all at the same time.
I think it all has to to with finding the right balance, and that is very, VERY hard to do. I guess I am more conscious of it right now because I am shifting gears and steering back towards more time at home, after a year or so of constantly running to classes. It is so hard for me to get the pendulum to stay inside an arc that isn't too extreme in its sweep in either direction.
The grass always looks greener on the other side of almost any fence. I'm kind of straddling one right now, and am confused because of it.
If you could write a perfect description for yourself as a female to have a life of bliss, what would it be?
I am happy where I am in life (although more money would help with the peace of mind). I have reinvented myself a couple of times. Now I am happy doing volunteer work, Farm Bureau County Women's Leader and working with our county tourism council to bring in more tourist dollars in the future. I am also working with the county Ecomonic Development Board. I am spending time to help my grandchildren have better futures by filling in where their mom doesn't have the interest or background.
I have always felt that I was born five years too soon or too late. Women before me were housewifes or teachers or nurses. Women born five years after me had all the choices the the 60's gave them. Remember the bra burners?
We must be the same age, or at least at the same point in life when the changes of feminist thinking finally hit our territory. I remember the last semester of college, in 1975, when teaching jobs were scarcer than hen's teeth.
I was not but 20, but was already married to Mike for about eighteen months, and the world around us was in upheaval in many ways. Nixon had not long ago resigned the White House, I'd sat in gas lines on odd-numbered days to fill up for my commute to college, and we were the first crop of voters to vote at 18. Mike had missed the draft by the skin of his teeth, coming up #18 the year the US withdrew from Vietnam. Talk about winning the lottery....
One of my strangest professors gave us a speech one day that started like this" "Girls, girls, GIRLS! If all these MAMAs would stay home with their BABIES, you would all have plenty fo jobs to choose from!' He was dressed like Colonel Sanders from the Kentucky Fried Chicken ads when he said it...other days, he dressed like Dracula, cape and all. (This was in a very conservative women's college in Virginia, so I always wondered who he had the dirt on....)
Women of our vintage got the message at a point where we almost felt obligated to do something "more" than traditiional female things with our lives. Unfortunately, the message arrived at a point where our surrrounding social fabric had not made adjustments necessary for us to be assimilated in any radically different manner.
Over the years, I have come to realize exactly what you said, that we were the in-between girls, born so that we came of age on the cusp of the feminist revolution. It changed expectations for women, but I am not su sure that the "more" our younger sisters inherited was "better," just "different."