(If you live Wisconsin you can’t read this until you vote today!)
I read Annie Laurie Gaylor’s bit in The Progressive while eating lunch today. I couldn’t help but recall my own encounter with Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique.
No, I wasn’t reading it as part of some expensive Women’s Studies class that mommy and daddy were buying. I’m not even sure they had Women’s Studies courses when I was in school the first time. I had a scholarship. I paid my own way when I finished a few years ago.
But I read that book. And Chapter 10 did it for me. First, the title is correct – if you let it. But darn it I’m tired of justifying my choice to be a housewife. I’ve done a job most men couldn’t even fathom. I have no problem with working hard for a couple of decades in exchange for early retirement.
I may have brought this concept into discussion before, but as a 50 year old woman, I took the brunt of the backlash from that stupid book. I wasn’t simply able to have it all. I was told to have it all. Sure a career would have been great if I had a stay at home husband. But someone had to raise the children. I wasn’t going to farm them off. (And yes, this would have been my opinion regardless of my socio-economic level.)
So whilst Gaylor waxes poetic on all that Friedan has done for the modern American woman, I’d kind of like to tell Friedan to stuff it for demanding so much from us. I’ve studied being a woman for 50 years now. I’ll do whatever I please, thank you very much. And I refuse to pass the burden of the every-thing-to-every-one Enjoli woman on to my daughter. The era of demanding women to be super human ends with me.
I have a small ceramic plaque that hangs in my kitchen: “I’m not superwoman. Adjust.” It has been a reminder to myself as much as my family all these years.
Life is balance. If Friedan needed her professional work to find that balance, then I congratulate her on finding it. But to tell me I’m less of a woman because I’m only a housewife? Suck it. I do just fine.
So here’s to Betty 50 years later. I’ll raise a glass to you tonight. You did a lot for yourself. For me? Yes, for me, too. I still have the choice to ignore most of what you demanded. You were right about the title to Chapter 10, though. It’s just that some of us were smart enough to do much more than housewifery without ever holding a paying job.