Sunday, July 3, 2011

It's so lonely when you don't even know yourself.

We women have lost something along the way.  A clear perspective of what womanhood is all about.  Have we ever had a clear perspective, really?  From the beginning of time our welfare had been dictated by the men in our lives and social mores from the cradle to the grave.  Until the 1960s unleashed Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan and Germaine Greer into our realm and we began asking ourselves, "Is that all there is?"  And as it was in the days of Susan B. Anthony and the Suffragettes, banding together into numbers, legions of women standing together, brought about great change.

Was it good change?  Truly?

Equal rights, equal pay.  The ability to buy a house as a single woman.  Being able to adopt a child.  To have a child out of wedlock and not be condemned for it.  Sexual freedom. 

I'm reading a book right now that's making me wonder about all of this.  It's making me wonder about the women in the 1960s who didn't want the changes, who were frightened and threatened by them.  The ones who didn't embrace them.  The ones who were content being traditional wives and mothers in traditional roles.  Who found fulfillment in caring for a home and a family.  The ones who were made to feel less than  a 'real' woman because they weren't wanting to be 'liberated'.  The ones who didn't feel they needed to be let out of the cage. 

My mother was a woman in her later 30s when the Women's Liberation movement peaked.  She never became a bra-burning feminist but I can remember the bitterness and resentment that seemed to sour her soul and made her lash out at my father.  I remember the upheaval and tension it brought to our home.  In all honesty, in things she said to me, I don't know if she ever should have married in the first place.  A lot of what she said to me shouldn't have been shared with me.  A lot of it was too adult for a young adolescent girl to absorb or understand.  How did that affect me?  How did it color my own thoughts and choices as I reached adulthood?  I can not begin to tell you the times I'd say to myself, "If I ever do get married I won't say or do or be like that."  And I haven't been.

The trouble with trying to change long-time societal traditions is we humans have the tendency to go at it in a too-hurried impulsive way.  Without putting a lot of deep thought and meditation into it.  We jump on the band wagon, we get the world in an uproar, and then it's the next generation...and the generation after that...who have to pick up all the pieces and try to put them all together in a cohesive way that makes sense.  And for those who weren't there and didn't witness the way the original changes came about first hand, they don't have a clear picture as to how those puzzle pieces should go.  They have to try each one first one way, then another.  Some don't ever finish the puzzle because they have no clue how to complete it. 

Some of the changes brought about by my mother's generation, the Equal Rights Amendment for one, were good for women.  But it's been the changes within our inner psyche that have faced more challenges than any other time in history, I think.  Because even tho we get the same pay, we have the same rights, as men do we've also lost something along the way.  We've lost our sense of who we really are.  Not as mothers and wives...but of our true inner selves.  I don't think we really know where we stand sexually.  Sexual freedom doesn't bring sexual fulfillment.  Our basic nature isn't to be 'tough' and you have to be tough to survive in a man's world.  I think it has brought a sense of anxious vulnerability to us.  Do we really know what our role in this world of today is?

No matter how each of us chooses to live our lives, I think we women ought to respect each others choices.  We don't need to condemn or judge or ridicule.  If what we do and how we live brings us inner peace and contentment I do believe that's the ultimate goal of each one of us.  Or maybe, as a daughter of the 60s, I'm bringing too much of my own experience into this.  Maybe I'm assuming my daughter's generation just seems a little lost in the mire of what this world is becoming.  Maybe I'm seeing something that isn't really there.

But I don't think so.  I don't see where the 'liberation' their grandmothers dreamed for them has changed their world for the better.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your last sentence says it all...I so agree!

Rob-bear said...

I guess there are a lot of women who would disagree with your last sentence, Miss Kris. For them, it meant new opportunities, chances to get work other than as a teacher or nurse, to be politically active in democratic government, to think new thoughts.
Not everyone wanted to change. Some didn't, and felt quite comfortable. "Good for them," I say. They had the option, and took as much of that as they chose.
That's the neat thing about life; being able to see all kinds of things, and being able to chose. Even if our choices are very traditional.

MissKris said...

Rob, I think you have to be a woman to understand the emotional implications I was talking about in the last sentence. I have talked with my daughter about this entire subject many times thru the years and I have heard from her, a woman two generations removed, that it has especially changed the male/female relationships. I agree with you...it's opened up the work world to women in ways it never had before but it's left women juggling too many things at once with precious little time left for themselves. It's all relative, all about personal choices, but I don't see where the psyche has improved one bit. But this is just my opinion and I know there are many who would disagree and I respect that. But I also hope they respect thoughts as well.

Anonymous said...

Well Kris,
The "Equal Rights Amendment" to my knowledge, has not passed as of yet and equal pay isn't a reality yet either. I have to say that my daughters lives are much easier than mine has benn and I thank the feminist movement for this. Yes, I am a feminist and very proud of it. As for the bra burning...that is such a cliche and is usually brought up when someone is lashing out at the feminist movement. I love that my generation made such a difference in women's lives. This is my reality, not just an opinion. As Voltaire said many, many years ago " I disagree with what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it"

MissKris said...

Thank you, Anonymous, for your thoughtful comment. Usually I'm up on stuff and I truly thought the Equal Rights Amendment had passed. I'm glad you didn't come and blast me from every angle. Mostly, this was just an emotional observation and, as I said, probably tainted by my own experiences with troublesome times and a lot of emotional baggage from that era when my family was going thru a lot. I do so very much appreciate you saying you will fight to the death for my right to say it, even tho we don't see eye to eye. And bra-burning IS such a cliche but it does resonate when it's brought up because it was such a catch phrase of the beginnings of the feminist movement and catches peoples attention. I hope you could see I wasn't lashing out at the feminists. Just trying to mull over things and putting it out there to see how others feel about it. Thank you for taking the time to 'set me straight' on the amendment and for taking the time to comment.

MissKris said...

I also have to say it's so nice to see there are still people coming by...these past few months I've had so little time or focus to write I didn't know if anyone really came by to read any more.

Betty said...

Women´s rights are still in the middle ages over here. But I think it´s a great post for your country.

Jane Gassner said...

The English have a saying, "what's lost on the roundabouts is made up for on the swings." I think what your voicing here are some of the losses for some women. I also think that we can never really walk in the shoes of those who have gone before us, so it's probably foolhardy to judge what is lost or gained by progress.

Blu-I'd-Blonde said...

Having been born in the mid-forties, I was caught between the traditional woman's world and the new ideas about how women should live in the world. I felt caught in the middle often, and I'm still paying the price for what one would call experimentation. It amazes me that my 45 years of marriage survived all that.

There's a lot of good that came out of the "women's liberation movement," but there were some things too precious to mess with that have really messed up the generation(s) following the movement, primarily our children. Someone forgot to look out for the children who have suffered most after the fall-out. In a desparate need for love and the caring that previous generations of women provided, we had children who became love-children. Oh, yes, those 1960's where children took to the streets and found "free" love, free drugs, music that gave them permission to live life the way they wanted and needed to. We may have made some gains as working women, but out children are still growing up alone or with each other...children trying to nurture children. It's not working. Anyway, this is my two cents worth.