A MinD in MoTown

Women’s Writes — But it’s not the 1950s…
April 5, 2010, 1:21 pm
Filed under: Getting my RANT on, Women's Writes

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?

17 Comments so far
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to answer your question, I think that women of older generations view us as having everything handed to us and not really putting forth much effort.

For my grandma, she doesn’t understand that since women my age and/or a little bit older don’t feel like using all of the appliances at our disposal. She feels that since there are so many modern conveniences and appliances that everyone (especially a woman) should want to come home and use all of those conveniences to put a warm, homemade meal on the dinner table.

Comment by thatShortChick

Oooo, that’s an interesting way to look at it… I know older generations see us as spoiled and going after our own pursuits as somewhat selfish, but I just don’t get why they can’t understand things are different. Ya know?

Comment by amindinmotown

I think a large part of that is working women. Our grandmothers’ didn’t expect to have jobs; they were never taught to want them. On the other hand, they were taught that they needed to have a man to provide for them. They put up with all sorts of nonsense because of that, whereas now, women expect to work.

Respect comes from doing well. Unfortunately, doing well seems to be starting a family and raising children not being promoted in your company at a young age. The attitude come across as: “Who cares? You’ll have to leave that job to be a stay-at-home mom in the end.”

Comment by Alianna

Good point. My grandmother didn’t work ’til my mom was around 14 years old, and she’s the youngest. But I’ve also never heard my grandmother mention this outright. She’s never said that my grandfather was the provider or said that my mom should stay home rather than work when raising my brother and I, so I wonder how much of this actually applies…

Though my situation is a bit different. My grandmother was never “bred” to be a housewife or stay-at-home mom. She was supposed to become a nun, then she met my grandpa, ha.

Comment by amindinmotown

We really can’t change their minds as much as we’d like to because it is so ingrained in their beliefs and thoughts.

But I think it’s all sorts of awesome that YOU are going after what YOU want and not letting any sort of talk stop you. This is your life, yes you are woman, but you can be and do whatever is you want to do.

Thanks so much for posting about this!

Comment by Marie

I was trying very hard to come up with a topic a little different than the normal things I expected to see as part of this series, and then the conversation emerged on Easter about this and I just *had* to write about it.

Comment by amindinmotown

[…] But it’s not the 1950s… This entry was posted by shine on 04/05/2010 at 8:00 am, and is filled under Women's Writes. […]

Pingback by Women’s Writes – We all know that no means no… « shine out loud

[…] Read more stories here: Shine (We All Know That No Means No), Alice (Clinic Escorting), DJ (Baby I Got Your Money), Hannah, just breathe (Women’s Writes), Lblucca (Let’s talk about sex education), Liebchen (Speaking Up), A Jersey Kid (Let’s give ‘em something to talk about), Rachel, Rachel (Birth On Our Own Terms), IITGI (How the ideal woman makes me feel), Rachel Smiles (Women’s Writes), MissRandell (Teaching in 2010), Single Grrl (I am woman, I emote), Mind in Motown (But it’s not the 1950s) […]

Pingback by Women’s Writes-Pushing Back « Marie's Blog Cafe

Last year, I was visiting my Grandmother in Tennessee. She’s had a job and she’s very independent in some ways, but of course, I always get asked about boyfriends and when I’m getting married and all that.

She said, “I just don’t know how you do it. I don’t know what I would have done without Granddaddy to take care of me.”

That statement makes me so sad. But I do realize that we’re in charge now. We get to choose. We have a say. And if a woman chooses to stay home and cook and clean and raise babies, I respect her choice to do so. It’s about choices. I’m very glad we have them.

Comment by shine

As am I. It’s also amazing to see how different out generation is from our own grandmothers, who we likely look up to and admire. It’s crazy how much things can change in just a few decades.

Comment by amindinmotown

I think my grandmother is finally coming around. While she does seem to think I haven’t made many advancements no the family front… she is constantly saying how amazed she is at the fact that everyone my age works… she’s still pretty old fashioned but I think finding out one of her daughters was a lesbian really helped her advance in the modern times.

Comment by carissa

I bet it was. My grandmother can understand some things that have changed, like my NEED to work and get an education, but when it comes to the reasoning behind not starting a family yet, I think she’s still a little old-fashioned. Don’t even get me started on the sex before marriage thing! Ha.

Comment by amindinmotown

I doubt whatever I say can make my grandmother a bit more openminded too. Sometimes I think she’s as stubborn as I am, in her own way.

Comment by andhari

I hate the explanations I have to give when I tell people I have no interest in marrying my boyfriend and having babies. I mentioned my desire to have my tubes tied in one of my classes in uni (I was 23 at the time), and people nearly had heart attacks.

Comment by Meg

Hahaha. Tubes tied, huh? Not a horrible idea if you don’t want kids.

I’d like to get married some day, just not this day or any time soon. I explain this time and time again, but people sometimes still don’t get it.

Comment by amindinmotown

Times have definitely changed.

Happy blogoversary 🙂

Comment by Teena in Toronto

[…] Mindy’s But it’s not the 1950s… […]

Pingback by First Installment of Femme Writes – April 5, 2010 « Femme Writes

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