On barbies, bulldozers, roles and expectations
An alert reader sent me a few articles, you'll note the last two were posted in a comment on the most recent entry here.
This first one has some great lines in it that I love, like the following universal truism:
But when my head finally hits the pillow, I remember that I didn't finish loading the dishwasher and I forgot to transfer laundry from the washer to the dryer.
Does your life, too, seem to straddle two different worlds, one at work and one at home? Does it feel like there aren't enough hours in the day or days in the week to split between them and give them both their due?
But I think the most important insight in this article is that there are three major areas, the balancing of which creates tension for most of us:
Ain't that the truth?
I think it's that last one that bothers me the most, and it's why I'm becoming more of a raging feminist the older I get.
I really believe we need to rethink family structure and gender roles completely. The old ways make no sense to me, and they never did.
But the older I get, the more they are applied to me whether I like them or not.
It was clear when I was a child. Things are very sexist around very young kids. Pink and blue. Barbie and bulldozers. This is still true, 30-ish years later.
I realize that there must have been some kind of protective bubble for a few years in the middle. Being a teenager, I guess you're too horny to mind, and everyone is awkward and experimenting, and no one is really going to hold you to any decisions you make about how you dress or what you do, so long as you don't get pregnant. Most every stupid decision is reversible, or at least mostly repairable, at that age.
College was also a lovely bubble of idealistic, academic liberal forward thinking and women's studies classes... but clearly I did a great job of denying the significance of the fact that I had to call an escort to get home safely from lab every night.
God, how did I miss that??!
It wasn't just my campus, it was most people and most places.
I think I'm finally getting it.
Looking back, even grad school was not so bad, at least for me, since most of us wore more or less the same clothes (baggy sweatshirts and ratty jeans, anyone?) regardless of gender, age, religion, country of origin, or orientation. This uniform, and the relatively even distribution of male:female students, made for a very equitable environment in my grad program, even if we didn't receive such equitable treatment in each individual lab.
But now, as we approach the end of the Female of Childbearing Age, I for one am getting clobbered by the gender roles again. I'm struggling far too much with what to wear, and how to handle the awkward professional social settings like getting drinks or lunch with people from work. The women want to talk about their kids, mostly, which I mostly try to avoid.
And if I'm not talking about work with men, they want to dissect me because they can't figure out where I fit, when there are only the two boxes labeled "Us" and "Them". I think one of the things I'm constantly doing is trying to stretch between these two worlds: the one where I am shopping in the women's section or annoyed if my Ipex bras aren't clean... and the one where I am trying to convince the guys to take me seriously.
Am I sure I take myself seriously? And is it better to take yourself too seriously, or not seriously enough?
So now I've gone on a long tangent. I'll have to pick this up some other time if we want to discuss the other article, too.
This article also lists various sources of trouble, the top two of which are the Glass Ceiling and the Workload/Role Overload.
Maybe I've said this here before, but lately I think the Glass Ceiling is a misleading misnomer. I don't see any women doing what I want to do. I don't see them being what I want to be. Isn't the total lack of role models a problem for that whole analogy? Aren't you supposed to be able to see where it is you want to be, even if you can't get there? If you can't see through it, it's not really made of glass anymore, is it?
How much ground have we lost since the '70s, when things were supposedly improving at a rapid rate? Doesn't it seem like things are going backwards when spike heels are in again??
But the Role Overload is definitely a problem. I am tired of running a one-woman show. I am my own director, producer, lighting technican, stage manager, librettist, orchestra, costume designer... It's definitely too many hats for too little applause.