Saturday, March 3, 2012

Betty Friedan. It's Betty Friedan you IDIOT!

Betty Friedan.

Raise your hand if you know who she is.

Well now, that's not so good.

See, I'm imagining that the number of you that raised your hands is the same percentage of people that raised their hands when my Mom and I were in Washington DC, stood in the Portrait Gallery in front of a picture of Betty, and we were the only two out of 15 who knew who she was.

I know that sentence was super long, but I just couldn't shorten it.

The portrait episode happened a few years ago, but it was brought back to mind when I read this blog post: How I Derailed My Career and Discovered My Life by Valerie Latona.

I may be confused, but in the 70's, wasn't the point of fighting for Women's Rights so that women could have the choice about whether to have kids and stay home as a full time mom (a full time job I might add) or to have a full time career - OR BOTH.

I was born at the end of the sixties. Whomever "they" are say that I'm Generation X. But, I don't feel like a Gen Xer, I think more like whatever the "children-born-of-Baby-Boomers-but-not-exactly-Gen-Xers" do. I don't feel entitled to a job; I know I have to work to make my own way. I don't think that everyone should do for me...that kind of thing.

I did get to experience part of Women's Liberation though. I marched with my Mom to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment: Section 1 stated: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." I must tell you, this seemed like a slam dunk idea to me. Why we needed (and apparently still need) to put it in writing baffles me. Evidently, given the fact that it was written in 1923 by Alice Stokes Paul, passed in both houses of Congress in 1972 and was sent to the state legislators for ratification. The deadline to ratify it was June 30, 1982 and it wasn't ratified.

What? Seriously? Not ratified? Why?

Well, now, that's a very interesting question. Why not?

Ask fifty people and you will get fifty answers ranging from male bashing to female bashing (the ONE thing we're equal about in this country is bashing EVERYONE); from who deserves what to no one deserves anything.

I'm nauseous just thinking about the whole thing and that's not good because I'm eating lunch right now.

Why in 2012 are we STILL discussing the fact that women are paid less than men; according to the fine folks at Catalyst "The median annual income for full-time, year-round women workers in 2009 was $36,278 compared to men’s $47,127." (I didn't do a whole lot of research, but this is pretty close even though it's older data than I'd like).

Did you read that right? "...full-time, year-round women workers..." and "...compared to men's..." Not 'men's full-time year round workers'. Sheesh.

O.K. I know I've strayed a bit...and this is not going to be a diatribe about Equal Rights, Women's rights and who has the right to decide what happens to my body or your body for that matter! (Though it should!!! The political scene seems to need a boot, no a pointy-steel-tip boot to the head regarding that! Maybe another day.)

BUT! What I want to get out is this...many women still feel that they have to make a choice about career versus parenthood. It looked to me like Valerie (the blogger who I referenced at the beginning of this post) had a fabulous career in an organization (thankfully I don't know which one) that did NOT embrace the idea that she could be successful in her job AND be a parent. (NB: I do not know what was going on at home with her spouse; if there was one and/or if they discussed the possibility of him/her being a part-time/full-time parent) Every job I've ever had (except my current one which I LOVE) did not leave the door 0pen to the idea of my remaining in my role AND being a part-time parent. Yes, I'd have to augment my role but with a husband who was willing to do that as well, it could have worked. Not only did my former jobs not open the door to the idea, they didn't even HAVE a door, much less a knob with which to open it.

What am I getting at?

Not company bashing, not people bashing and not gender bashing.

This: All that fighting that Betty Friedan, Gloria Stienem, and men and women like my Mother did was to give the girls and women of the coming generations the OPTION, the CHOICE as to what they want to do with their lives. Guess who it also was for? It was for the men and the boys to have the OPTION, the CHOICE as to what THEY wanted to do with their lives too.

What happened to people actually getting the opportunity to have the choice? To make the choice? We were supposed to move forward, to evolve as a being. I would have hoped that 30 years after the ERA failed to be ratified, we as a society would see the errors of our ways and make it so on our own.

From where I sit and watch the Politicians babble, fight and look generally foolish (the men AND the women btw), it would seem to me that we're no closer. I'm really disappointed in us. Really disappointed.

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