International Women – a Bit of a Rant

March 10, 2011 at 8:13 pm (news, people) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I was sorry to be waylaid by snow (and MORE and more and even MORE snow), here in New England, and be unable to post ANYTHING about International Women’s Day — IWD marked its 100th anniversary on Tuesday, March 8th.

See IWD’s website:

I am fairly apolitical, but certainly “dream” of a world of decency towards all, equality of the sexes, equal wages, equal opportunity — and am smart enough to know I’ll never live to see such things. (“Dreamers” see solutions to world problems, but no one listens.)

At the same time, it really annoys me when people, discussing Austen’s era, disparage the idea of women of the “leisure class” having nothing to do and how boring their lives must have been because they couldn’t go out and work, must marry and have children, must be under the thumb of father, husband or brother.

My Smiths and Goslings of course would be included here. And they were people not under anyone’s thumb (you’ve never seen anyone more formidable than Mamma Smith!); they also had money enough to live without marrying — but the girls chose to do so. Choice is something many today don’t have: we must work, even at jobs we hate, just to pay the bills. So who’s to say that “today” is better than “yesterday”? It really all depends on the individual.

I adore the arts. Lament that my parents were not encouraging when, in grade 5 or 6, I wanted to take up the drums (you can guess why they were not encouraging! however: I never learned to read music…). I grew up in a small Vermont city with no one in my life who was interested in plays, theater, concerts (which were as active then as today). I found those things, later, on my own. I enjoy working for hours and days and months on a writing assignment; it fills my mind when I write. I cannot imagine a house devoid of books (even Andy Rooney, last Sunday, spoke of Kindles and real books!).

In short, I would KILL for a life as lived by young Emma Smith and Mary Gosling: drawing lessons from artists; trips away from a country home (quiet!!!) to the bustle of London for the ‘season’; concerts and operas and plays enjoyed and understood; time to read; time to learn foreign languages — and money enough to go on trips to those foreign lands!

Now, I recognize that not everyone would have talent for, or even like, pursuits like drawing, music, travel, reading, learning. But some also don’t care to spend time in an office. Some people are Career-minded; Career with a capital C. Some are nurturers and want a homelife and children. Some work to live rather than live to work. Some are artistic — and just wish artists didn’t traditionally ‘starve to death’.

I’m sure there were women in the 19th century who wanted to “work” for a living (and were disparaged for it, if they did it), just as there are women today who would rather be home (and are disparaged for it). Every individual tries to do what brings them enjoyment; some are less successful than others; some just never have the opportunity to rise to their particular potential. Roadblocks exist, have existed, and will exist. I don’t fit into my “world,” but have tried and am trying to carve a new niche. None of us represent an era, a generation, or women in general. We are each only ourself.

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