Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Writer's Almanac

Betty Friedan  wrote:
"The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning that women suffered in the middle of the twentieth century in the United States. Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night - she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question - 'Is this all?'"

6 comments:

  1. My mother went through this before her death; she began asking this question in the mid-60's while I was a child. It's unclear to me whether she read any Friedan, although she was extremely well-read. I recall her expressing these thoughts in arguments with my father. She could be extremely articulate, despite her lack of education. She could see things changing in society all around her, but there was a conflict with her upbringing and the local culture. She was miserable much of the time. She was extremely bright, and a lot of that was squandered in having to fit societal expectations of the day.

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    1. Roadie,
      I lot of us watched our mothers go through this. It seemed worse in educated or at least intelligent women, who could see men, who went lacking in many areas, become much more successful than they simply because things were the way they were.

      There isn't a field of study we could discuss where we couldn't find some lost soul who might have made a larger difference had she only not been born a woman.

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  2. Roadgeek and Mike, you speak the truth, but your focus is too narrow. While those women lay there thinking those thoughts, their husbands lay there beside them them wondering how long they would have to work at the same dead-end job or whether the boss would storm in one day, angry at his wife or children or his own insecurities, and fire him for no apparent reason. What would happen if he got injured on the job and could no longer do the only thing he knew how to do? What would happen if they suddenly shut down the plant?

    Men would look at their wives and think how easy it was to work at home, to watch T.V. and take naps between coffee with the neighbors ten minutes of vacuuming.

    Women would look at their husbands and think how wonderful it would be to conquer the world and move mountains every day.

    Neither of them would truly understand what the other was going through.

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  3. We were living in a one car garage with bunk beds for my sister and I, a foldout couch for our folks, a sink with cold water and an outhouse.
    Through hard work and the booming '50s, Dad built a house, got elected to local office, became a Lion, Mason, Shriner, Jester, and was never home.
    Mom did the scout leader, 4-H, school trips, kid chauffer thing and volunteered some time at a nursing home... but was alone most evenings.
    When I left home she went to school to become an LPN, then worked nights at a hospital to develop her own income and social life.
    Action talks, bullshit walks.

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  4. And then there are those of us who had high-powered, seriously high paying jobs that laid our eyes on this tiny bundle that almost was never born that gave it up to chauffeur Cub and Boy Scouts, eat peanut butter sandwiches and wouldn't change a thing!

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  5. And then there are those of us who had high-powered, seriously high paying jobs that laid our eyes on this tiny bundle that almost was never born that gave it up to chauffeur Cub and Boy Scouts, eat peanut butter sandwiches and wouldn't change a thing!

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