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Friday, March 28, 2008

Remembering Mom...and Feminism

My mother died in March of 1996. It's been 12 years now, and the pain has mostly gone away. But I've found myself thinking even more about her than usual this year.

Perhaps it has to do with the possibility of the election of the first woman President of the United States, but in any case, Mom - this one's for you.

My mother was a free-thinker. For example, she was an atheist whose father was blacklisted for Communism in the 50's. (He really was a Communist, unlike some who were just caught in McCarthy's sick web, but of course, he was just a typical Jewish screenwriter of the times, not an eeeevil spy for the Russians.) Politically, she was quite liberal - an original Beatnik, in fact. She was, sometimes embarrassingly so for my Virgoan sensibilities, open about sex.

Oddly enough, she was also somewhat anti-feminist.

Let me explain that a bit. She had nothing against the goals of the feminist movement, but she felt that women being "free" to join the workforce was the wrong focus. Instead, she would have preferred that women get paid for raising the children and taking care of the household. "This whole 'women working full-time' thing is the biggest rip-off men ever perpetrated on women," she once told me in a conversation I will never forget. "We already work full-time! Now we've got the possibility of two full-time jobs with pay for only one of them. Doesn't sound like a good deal to me!" She also thought that bra-burning was stupid. "Hurts us more than it hurts them," she said, in her typical blunt manner. And what about equality with men? "We are not physically equal to men. It makes us look stupid to suggest that we are, or that we can and should do a lot of the things men do. We should be celebrating our differences, not pretending they don't exist!"

Interesting perspective, eh?

Here's to you, my Mamacita. I miss your original brain, your empathy and your loving heart every day. I hope that somewhere, somehow, I am making you proud.

6 comments:

Timmy B said...

Sorry for your loss. Just from what I've read I'm sure you make her proud.

Very interesting perspective. By circumstance and choice I do most of the housework,shopping,etc. I really hadn't thought of it but it really is work, at times very hard work. I agree, women should celebrate your difference. I've often wondered what it would be like if we were a matriarchal society. Each time I've come to the conclusion we'd be better off.

(Pssst,I'm a Virgo too.)

madamab said...

Thanks, Timmy B!

You should DEFINITELY get paid for all that work you're doing! House-husband or House-wife, we should all be honored and rewarded for taking care of our home and family.

Heh. Another Virgo. I should have known. Virgos Unite! :-)

Dirk Gently said...

i like your mom. not a surprising discovery, if i'd thought about it i would have known based on the only thing i knew about her before - you.

bra burning doesn't hurt anyone - as long as it is removed first.

madamab said...

hee! thanks, dirk. I'm sure you and my mom would have gotten along famously. she had a very offbeat sense of humor and was a big flirt.

not that I'm implying anything about you with that last remark...:-)

Southern Beale said...

Your mom sounds like she was an amazing woman, I wish I had met her! She's right on that getting paid for housework stuff, too.

Of course, if I had to be a stay at home mom who cleaned and cooked for the family all the time, I'd have slit my wrists. Not all women are cut out for that line of work! People forget that the stereotypical 1950s housewife had "staff" -- nannies, housekeepers and cooks. So they could go "eat lunch."

Funny to see when you watch old moies ...

madamab said...

Yes, my mom sort of glossed over that part about women WANTING to work. She was not really cut out for the office life herself and didn't really understand why any woman would be.

The way she was raised was more in line with those old movies - the nanny, the cook, etc. etc. I think she was reacting against that and wanted to do everything herself, but then got frustrated sometimes at how much work it was. :-)