Sunday, March 13, 2011

timid women need not apply

I apologize in advance to  male readers who find this post irritating.  I do have fine men in my life, some are relatives, and I promise my next post will be about tractors and guns, really big guns.

A hundred years ago during my first marriage my mother-in-law said to me, "I think one of your friends called my house looking for you. She had a very soft and timid voice."  My first thought was, I don't know any quiet, timid women.  My friends are in-your-face rabble rousers  because that's what it takes these days.  We were raised in the 50's by women who had no choices and stayed at home stirring the pots and ironing endless creases in pants and never getting the last piece of pie.

Susan  and I worked together in the 80's and we were getting in an elevator to attend a meeting and an older man with a very red face and very large stomach followed us in.  "My oh my," he whistled, giving us the up and down body scan, "ain't just one of you gals prettier than the next."  I could feel Susan stiffen next to me and I turned my face not wishing to view the slaughterhouse that would be directed his way. I don't remember the exact text, but he left the elevator shaking.

I work with a woman who will be 77 years of age and she is my hero.  Marilyn was secretary to the head of the electric plant  and when she married the rules said she could only be a fill-in for people on vacation.  And when she became pregnant she had to give up the job completely.  As a teenager she took the night train to Chicago once a week and learned classical accordion from a teacher in that town. She played in honky-tonks across the river back when Big Band was major, "up until Elvis and that guitar came along and music was ruined forever,"she will tell you. Marilyn went back to school and received her master's degree in music therapy and now the two of us swap stories across our desks.

 I was sitting on a bus a few years ago in another city and a young girl was talking about what was the big deal this women's movement, she was an engineering student and she experienced no obstacles at all.  Luckily, it was my stop so my courage knew no boundaries and I turned and said, in my day, women weren't allowed in the engineering department. Somebody before you fought the battle and here you are.

Women are just regular guys trying to get along in a world slightly slanted away from them. I don't enjoy being a feminist, it is often embarrassing and feels condescending.  We shouldn't have to keep asking for equal wages and other such things.

Carrie brings a Bishop's chocolate pie for dinner Sunday and by Monday there is just a small wedge left.  A grandson and the cowboy both request rights to that pie and I allow each of them a sliver, but I get the last and biggest piece.

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