When the Criminal Homicide and Abortion Amendments bill passed in Utah at the beginning of March, both Shine and Marie reached the end of their rope when it came to women’s rights and issues consistently being pushed backwards rather than moving forwards. They decided to have a day in which any blogger could write about women’s rights and issues and bring them to the forefront so that we could speak up and make all of our voices heard. Here is my story. Know it. Write it. Say it.
Many decades ago, when our parents or grandparents were in their 20s, women had expectations. “Barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen” was commonplace as women catered to the needs of their husbands and children above all else.
But this isn’t 1950, and yet sometimes breaking through those old stereotypes proves difficult. I find this especially true with my own 70-year-old grandmother.
For years now I have been using the phrase “but things are different” with her, and she repeatedly has some trouble understanding that I don’t believe my place in life surrounds being a homemaker. She comes from that generation of women who felt it was their duty to ensure the happiness of their family above themselves, who put their own whims and desires on hold because dinner was due on the table at 5:30 p.m. and cleaning chores awaited. And despite my very best efforts to tell my grandmother that times have indeed changed and those ridiculous expectations are no longer the norm, she seems baffled that I don’t immediately begin cooking supper for my live-in boyfriend once I arrive home from work each evening.
And after each conversation with her about my “tasks” as the woman of our household, I’m left feeling defeated, wishing I could just shake her, almost wake her up from this archaic way of thinking. Is there really any hope in changing the way she views the world? I’m starting to think not.
As a soon-to-be 25-year-old, my future plans surround graduate school rather than wedding bells and the pitter-patter of little feet. But every few weeks, my grandmother insists on asking me if there’s been any talk of “a diamond” from my boyfriend (to which I reply no). I suppose this line of conversation is a bit better than the former living-in-sin chats we’d have, but it’s also growing old. I’m not falling asleep each night dreaming of the perfect proposal or what my wedding day will look like, though I think she expects that my mind should simply surround those notions since she was already wed and caring for two children at this age.
And while I find these stereotypical molds tough to break with my own grandmother, there are countless other women in the world who feel these outdated societal standards seeping into their own lives from various avenues. Perhaps it’s a parent or a coworker or even a religious leader who is placing this undue pressure on someone… Regardless, how exactly do we shatter these old-fashioned models and make those generations understand that in 2010, such measures don’t exist for women?
Marriage doesn’t necessarily appear in the cards for all of us. We aren’t planning on birthing a half-dozen babies. We choose not to cook three meals per day. We have careers. We buy ourselves shiny things. We prefer cats over cribs and dogs over diapers. We like to spend our Friday evenings downing drinks with the boys and our Saturdays recovering in bed, foregoing the mop and broom.
Things are different. We are different.
Yet the minds of those ladies – and even some gents – who came before us remain unchanged. Why is it that as women of the 21st century, we can manage to do so much with our lives, but simply can’t gain the respect of those generations who saw womanhood through different eyes?
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