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Saturday, August 20, 2005

Feminist Lab Rat

As I was watering the lawn the other day, I was thinking about what it means to be a retro housewife and the roles of women and how they have drastically changed during my lifetime. I am officially part of what they called "Generation X" or gen-x, having missed the baby boomer bunch by a year. Mine is the first generation of women who actually grew up with the expectation that women would be more than housewives and mothers, that we would "have it all". The successful career, the perfect house in the suburbs, the kids that play little league, soccer, and belong to their local girlscout or boyscout troop.

In short, I am a lab rat of feminisim, and this rat would like to squeal a bit. I want to say up front that I am not ungrateful for the efforts of Gloria Steinem et all, but I am wondering if they thought this thing through. I can actually say I have done it all, the career women with the job in investment banking thing, the stay at home mom thing, the trying to have a career while raising two kids thing, and then finally, the saying what in the hell were we thinking and becoming a "retro housewife" thing.

Did Anyone Think This Through?

This lab rat wonders if anyone had thought about how a woman is supposed to have that career, raise the children and keep some semblance of a home life together. Just how are we supposed to do this in a 24 hour day? Maybe women really are from Venus, at least those of the Feminist variety. The Venus day has 2802 hours in it, and I suspect that this is enough time to fairly devote enough time to each of the feats we are supposed to accomplish each day. What I want to know is... Did their plan involve relocating to Venus? If so, someone forgot to include the directions to Venus in the Feminist Handbook.

The Results Are IN!

I think it is fair that the lab rats get to report in from the field, and maybe pose a question or two. My first question is, What Did We Gain? and by "We" I mean society. The collective WE. On the plus side, women have more rights, more choice, and more say in determining the course of their lives. We are better educated, more involved, and have a voice. We have respect and have shown that we can be doctors, lawyers and indian chiefs! Gone is the "little woman" who shouldn't bother her pretty little head about trivial things like finances and politics. We are taken seriously now. That is always a good thing in my book and it is good for society. So Hooray for that!

What did we Lose? is my second question, and that is easy for me to answer. We lost peace and serenity in our lives. We lost our children, and the lazy days of summer. Every day we shove off ill mannered, hyperactive, demanding children on daycare workers and teachers and expect them to raise our children. We wonder why we seem to have less time, why our schools are failing, and why half the kids are on ritalin or prozac for kids (reminds me of Gap and Baby Gap), and that no one really seems any happier.

We also damaged and demeaned our male counterparts and left them bewildered and slightly afraid of us. We created an entire new industry of infertility specialists to try and do what nature did not intend.

That is why I became a retro housewife. At least in spirit, if not always in practise as the financial burdens of today's world no longer permit this. We need to really look at the role of women in our society, from the perspective of those who lived and are living the experiment.

"They" have always said that Generation X, in contrast to the Baby Boomers, had nothing to say. Well I would like to respond with that by saying, we have plenty to say, just no time to say it because we are too busy trying to survive all of the social changes started in the 60's!

The Retro Housewife


Anonymous said...

Yeah, we recently moved to the middle of nowhere and were able to take our child off the baby Prozac that had been prescribed. We concluded that our child didn't actually have issues -- the issue was that the yuppy elementary school in nameless suburb of large urban area didn't actually like children, so therefore the actual children who chose to attend the elementary school were actually being ged into submission. Welcome to America!

Anonymous said...

"We lost peace and serenity in our lives. We lost our children, and the lazy days of summer."

You also lost going on welfare or begging on the streets. After all, it's even more traditionally manly and macho for an older man to chase younger, more nubile women than to be sensitive and emotional enough to accept and support the wrinkled older woman his wife has become. Remember the tradition of "boys will be boys!"

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous:

I guess that women initiate 70% of all divorce that proves that "feminist girls will be feminist girls to the end."

Forget women, stay single!

Anonymous said...

Women could become doctors and lawyers and were involved in politics long before 1960s. Just read the book by Graglia, "Domestic Tranquility". She studied to be a lawyer in the 1950s, and according to her testimony, experienced no discrimination. Medical training was available for women already in the second half on the 19th century. I have housekeeping books from the end of the 1950s and they mention women doctors and even women in the military. Women have always had a choice. Even in the Middle Ages they could choose to enter a convent instead of marrying. It's radical feminists who have been trying to take this choice away from women, to work or to stay home, since they want everybody stuck in the office or at the factory.

Kristina said...

I feel like a lab rat too--tho I'm on this side of the Baby Boomer border. The early U.S. feminists didn't think it all through--that is why so much of what they argued about was so impractical. In some ways they helped advance women's opportunities, but in others they just helped cover up the hard questions. How to do three jobs at once? How to raise children who are responsible citizens, ethical people, and pleasant company without spending any time or effort on them? How to be a professional worker on no sleep? How to have a civilized house or home on no time? It does not add up. A good life has to have some sleep in it, and the American workplace has been running in the wrong direction for years. Men suffer from the same issues. I don't have it all figured out, but it is wonderful to meet someone else who is thinking, "Wait a minute..."

Anonymous said...

You guys are all a bunch of whiners. What the fuck do you mean "Feminist lab Rat"? If you don't want to work and want to spend the rest of your days living up to some male-created fantasy of submission, be my guest.
Nobody is taking that choice from you, idiots.

Retro Housewife said...

Please try to avoid potty mouth. Since you are so smart, I am sure you can think of many appropriate words to replace the naughty ones.

Many thanks,