I became aware of International Women’s Day only this morning, on Evelina’s blog.
I’ve got to admit, at least at MY house, every day is Women’s day! lol We’ve always joked that my husband is a “king” in our “Queendom”. Of COURSE I’m the Queen and we’ve had 4 little princesses. Most of them grew up to be queens in their own “dom’s” . Seriously, can you imagine 1 man floating in a sea of estrogen? As women, we understand that when females live in close confines with other females, we all start “cycling” together. NOT fun at all. Lots of tears, lots of rage, lots of EMOTION. I’m really not sure how any of us are still living! lol You’d think at least ONE of us should be dead. I was probably the worst but not by much. My girls were BAD little bags of hormones too. You know the saying, right? “The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree”. Nope. It sure does not. lol
Evelina’s blog got me thinking. I’ve always been sort of a feminist. I was born the only girl with 2 brothers and an EXTREMELY Chauvinistic father. My mother despised feminists. She believed a woman’s place was in the home and behind her man. Even as a small girl, I walked around my house angry that I didn’t have the rights that my brothers or my dad did.
I remember one time, when my brother broke his leg, my dad AND mom told me that I had to wash his feet. You know how your toes hang out of the cast? They get really nasty and grimy. My brother was EXACTLY, to the day and hour, 1 year younger than me and was perfectly capable of figuring out how to wash his own nasty feet. Of course I protested but I was told that I’m a girl and I needed to learn to take care of a man! Okay, I’m fuming even now, as I type this. I loved my brother. He was my best friend. BUT…. because I was forced to do this for him, and because he laughed all the way through me trying to wash his nasty feet, AND because he was kind of immobile, I took one of his toes and bent it backwards until he begged mom and dad not to ever make me do it again. lmbo GOOD times, good times! Okay, now I’m showing my twisted and warped mind. If that was the ONLY incident, it wouldn’t have been so bad but every day was a day my mother and I would serve the men in our house. My dad’s meals had to be put on the table when he walked through the door (and he NEVER walked through the door at the same time ANY day). My dad’s meals were steak dinners while my mother and I ate economical meals. My brothers also ate steak because they were “growing boys” and needed to develop muscle. My dad tells me now that it was my mother’s idea to feed us differently and that he felt we should ALL eat steak. If my dad was thirsty and his glass was out of reach, he’d call me or my mom in from another room to bring him his glass because he was too lazy to get out of his recliner. When he’d get home from work, many times I’d have to rub his feet or scratch his back. I’d also have to rub my brothers feet (both brothers) and make their beds and do their laundry. I was taught to do all the chores around the house (mop the floors NOT with a mop but on my knees, do the dishes and we didn’t have a dish washer, empty the trash, rake the yard, vacuum, dust all rooms and clean all 3 bathrooms) but my brothers were not because they would one day grow up to marry women who would be responsible for those chores. My dad had been a military man and he learned to expect his clothes pressed, even his underwear and handkerchiefs. I had to do this. He demanded that when he got out of bed, his bed would be made and it wasn’t done right unless he could “bounce a dime” off the bed covering. He learned this in the navy and he expected the women to do this for him. Ummm…. I’m pretty sure the military doesn’t have women coming in to do these things for their male soldiers??? Anyway, you get the picture. I was a bitter, bitter child. You see, I was my father’s daughter. VERY strong and as opinionated as he was about the role of a woman, I was JUST as opinionated about the role I would NOT play once I got out of that house.
I did what I could do to protest my family’s twisted beliefs about women. I absolutely knew that I’d grow up and change the way I allowed men to treat me. As a child of the 80’s, I believed women could have it all. I could have children and I didn’t need a man. I didn’t believe marriage was important and neither were father’s. I had my girls and I believed that as long as they had ME, that was all they needed. I’ve always been tough and demanded that I be respected by a man, but didn’t necessarily GIVE respect. Okay, almost never did I give respect. In other words, I took it to the extreme in my attempt to right the wrong of the way I was raised.
What I have learned in the nearly half century that I’ve walked on this earth? I’ve learned that I was just as wrong as my parents were. My daughters DID need their fathers. As good as I was, I would never be able to play BOTH roles, mother and father. I learned that women CAN’T really have it all and if I have to work all the time to support my daughter’s, who would be actually RAISING and guiding them? I’ve learned that women who choose to stay home and raise their children are the one’s who deserve respect. I worked out of necessity because SOMEONE had to support my children and their fathers were NOT. Back then, I felt like I deserved kudos because I was able to do that. As a result of me working all the time, my oldest daughter was forced to take care of her younger sisters after school and during the summer months when there was no school. She was 9 years older than my middle daughter and 14 years older than my youngest so I felt she was old enough. Other babysitters raised my children as well. When I talked to my girls, I always told them “you are NOT statistics”. I felt I needed to drill this into their heads because 2 of them were illegitimate the one who WASN’T illegitimate, was a child of divorce. They ALL have different fathers. Most kids born the way they were born are children who are welfare recipients. WE were not. As long as I was able to work and provide, we would NEVER be on government assistance. My girls had material possessions, nice clothes, a TV in their rooms, music, nice bikes, etc… They had nicer things than many children did who HAD fathers. I thought this was important.
What was important, in reality, was that they had a family. A mother AND father. If I had to go back and do it over again, I would have stayed married. I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to have those kids out of wedlock just to prove something to society. I always told my girls that they weren’t accidents. They really weren’t. Aside from my oldest daughter, who really wasn’t planned, I took NO precautions to prevent any of them and neither did their fathers. I always told them that God had a reason for each and every one of them to be on this earth. I still believe that, however, NOW I know that God will make good out of our bad decisions and he never intended us to be irresponsible with another little life.
I’m not so much of a feminist now. I know that respect goes both ways and women play MANY roles. Men should too and I’ll never change my views on that. I believe that women have HAD to play many roles because so much of the time, men don’t step up to the plate and do what THEY’RE supposed to do. Thankfully though, my girls haven’t taken things to the extreme the way I did and they try to treat the men in their lives with respect. I guess they learned from my mistakes and they were able to recognize that what I did wasn’t what THEY should do. NONE of them have had illegitimate children and equally important, none of them have felt the need to be married at a young age. They’re independent women who know that there’s a time and a place for marriage and children. They’re not in a hurry to start a family. For THAT, I’m so thankful. My stepdaughter is married and she’s only 21. She’s lived with me full time since she was 9 years old. I believe her ideals were formed before she came to me. Ahhh well… so far, and I hope forever, she and her husband are happy.
What are your thoughts on feminism and the role that you feel a woman should play? Just curious. There are really no right and wrong opinions and answers 🙂