It is my daughters final year of senior education. To say I’m incredibly proud of her would be an understatement, but it’s never been her position to prove anything to me. She is already all-encompassing of everything she has ever needed to be. Her final year has been a heavy weight to endure. It has left me as a parent, quite disillusioned and a somewhat perplexed as to why we are deeming it necessary to place such astronomical amounts of pressure upon these young adults shoulders. Even the most well-balanced adult would have difficulty sustaining the weight of such pressures. Nevertheless she has held her own, in a system that holds very little room for flexibility and individual sentiments. She knows that she has given it her all, and most of all she knows she did it for herself. And that is all that is ever really necessary. For her final media piece she produced a short film focusing on concerning issues still facing women today on a global scale. She chose to use her voice, she chose to be brave and innately powerful in her message. Whats important is she is willing. Willing to be seen, be heard, and is already comfortable in the knowing that what she has to say matters. We can spend our entire lives coming to this realisation, the realisation of our own worth and how much of a role it plays in everything we choose to undertake. If this is the only message that our children take with them as they embark on their journeys, then as parents we will have done enough.
We are learning about space. Imagining whats our there, trying to conceive how big the universe really is, how little we are and really know. The one thing i have noticed the most since coming here, is the stars. Rarely in life, did i look up. Now i can’t help but not. Here in this wide open space, the stillness of night brings a peace i have never known before. The black skies are free from impeding suburban lights and are now dark and mysterious and filled with such a magnitude of stars. It reminds me how small this moment is, how we are just circling around and around again in life. Children love the mystery, they are more open to mystical theories and stories around life, worlds and gods innocently holding notions that anything is plausible. Rationality has yet to taint their thinking. They are yet to be corrupted by the rules of the way things are said to be. I don’t want to play that role in their lives. I want their hearts, minds and souls to remain wide open to the extraordinary mystery of this world, of their lives. I want them to believe the believable truth that anything is possible. Because who has the right to say it’s not. Our children are more awake, than ever before. Old ways of parenting and teaching children will never work on these new generations, they know too much, they won’t be dictated to, just because we believe we are older and wiser, if that really means anything anyway. We need to come to children on the level of respect that we wish them to come to us with. My three-year old will allow nothing to be done for her. She will master everything with her determination even if it means kicking and screaming through the frustration of trying. We all listen, usually horrified at the rage that can erupt in her tiny body, but she is adamant on allowing no help. So we let her go, raging and all and eventually she always succeeds in her endeavours. I cannot imagine her learning way would be seen as socially acceptable in a school environment, yet she is very much learning, in a very loud and often obtrusive way. She has not learnt this from people around her, she hasn’t been role modelled this reactive behaviour, it is simply uniquely her, innately born way. If i was to try to stop or halter her or give her the impression that it is unacceptable to voice her frustration in trying so hard, then i am hindering her voice, her determination, her powerful innate drive to succeed at what ever she sets her mind to. I won’t play that role for my children. I won’t be the one to tell them that they can’t do something because it seems too hard or implausible. And it wont bother me if she kicks and screams her way through life, at least i know she won’t succumb to being silenced easily.
“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.”
― Jane Austen,
When is it acceptable to raise a voice? Be assertive, aggressive in passion, view, thought, idea, belief? Perhaps behind closed doors? Perhaps in the safe confinements of a home? Is there a time and suitable place that such emotions would ever be deemed justifiable and acceptable? Is everyone not made of the same stuff? Is anger never to be expressed? Or is it that some fall into the ambivalent class where expressions as such are permissible. Must we shut down, be equable, behave only in ways others can suffice? Is it appropriate to condemn and belittle when expressions are not kept in the rigidity of nice, or pleasant, or more importantly agreeable? Why must one’s very persona come under attack simply for being angry? Yes, I am not pretty all of the time. I am not going to be pretty in the moment if the moment calls for something other. I will not be told to settle down, or not to raise my voice, i will shout from rooftops without permission, now. It will not serve well to belittle my integrity. I am a pillar of strength, and will not whimper to manoeuvring ways.
In August 1970, a woman named Judy Syfers stood before a crowd gathered in San Francisco and read a humorous essay she wrote entitled ” Why I want a Wife”. The crowd was gathered to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote. In 1971 it was published in an important anthology of feminist works, ‘Notes from the third Year’.
I belong to that classification of people known as wives.I am a wife. And, not altogether incidentally, I am a mother.
Not too long ago a male friend of mine appeared on the scene fresh from a recent divorce. He had one child, who is, of course, with his ex-wife. He is looking for another wife. As I thought about him while I was ironing one evening, it suddenly occurred to me that I too, would like to have a wife. Why do I want a wife?
I would like to go back to schools that I can become economically independent, support myself, and, if need be, support those dependent upon me. I want a wife who will work and send me to school. And while I going to school, I want a wife to take care of my children. I want a wife to keep track of the children’s doctor and dentist appointments. And to keep track of mine, too. I want a wife to make sure my children eat properly and are kept clean. I want a wife who will wash the children’s clothes and keep them mended. I want a wife who is a good nurturant attendant to my children, who arranges for their schooling, makes sure they have adequate social life with their peers, takes them to the park, the zoo, etc. I want a wife who takes care of the children when they are sick, arranges to be around when the children need special care, because, of course, I cannot miss classes at school. My wife must arrange to lose time at work and not lose the job. it may mean a small cut in my wife’s income from time to time, but I guess I can tolerate that. Needless to say, my wife will arrange and pay for the care of the children while my wife is working.
I want a wife who will take care of my physical needs. I want a wife who will keep my house clean. A wife who will pick up after my children, a wife who will pick up after me. I want a wife who will keep my clothes clean, ironed,mended,replaced when need be, and who will see to it that my personal things are kept in their proper place so that I can find what I need the minute I need it. I want a wife who cooks the meals, a wife who is a good cook. I want a wife who will plan the menus, do the necessary grocery shopping, prepare the meals, serve them pleasantly, and then do the cleaning up while I do my studying. i want a wife to go along when our family takes vacation so that someone can continue to care for me and my children when I need a rest and change of scene.
I want a wife who will not bother me rambling complaints about a wife’s duties. But I want a wife who will listen to me when I feel the need to explain a rather difficult point I have come across in my course studies. And I want a wife who will type my papers for me when I have written them.
If, by chance, I find another person more suitable as a wife than the wife I already have, I want the liberty to replace my present wife with another one. Naturally, I will expect a fresh, new life; my wife will take the children and be solely responsible for them so that I am left free.
When i am through with school and have a job, i want my wife to quit working and remain at home so that my wife can more fully and completely take care of a wife’s duties.
My God, who wouldn’t want a wife?
when a daughter of my closest friend gave me this piece to read i did so lightheartedly thinking in the beginning how truthfully funny it was.. however the further i read, the humour was lost to how implicitly relevant this piece is to the women of today. How do we change the story? How do we teach our sons and daughters differently, to expect different and fairer for themselves when all they see are mothers taking care of them, taking care of all that needs to be done for their lives to feel secure and loved as children? How do i show my daughters that their lives are abundantly worth everything and that they need not lose themselves to the children they bear and the husbands they marry, when it is all they have ever witnessed and not by their mother’s choosing? This piece was written in 1970, it could have been written today, i could have written it, for myself.
So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say. But to sacrifice a hair of the head of your vision, a shade of its colour, in deference to some Headmaster with a silver pot in his hand or to some professor with a measuring-rod up his sleeve, is the most abject treachery, and the sacrifice of wealth and charity which used to be said to be the greatest of human disasters, a mere flea-bite in comparison.
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
This book is dedicated to LILLIAN, who lives with nobody
but a colony of New York roaches, whose energy has never failed despite her anxieties and her asthma and her overweight, who is always interested in everybody, often angry, sometimes bitchy, but always involved. Lillian the abundant, the golden, the eloquent, the well and badly loved; Lillian the beautiful who thinks she is ugly, Lillian the indefatigable who thinks she is always tired.
It is dedicated to CAROLINE, who danced,but badly, painted but badly, jumped up from a dinner table in tears, crying that she wanted to be a person, went out and was one, despite her great beauty. Caroline who smarts at every attack, and doubts all praise, who has done great things with gentleness and humility, who assaulted the authorities with valorous love and cannot be defeated.
It is for my fairy godmother, JOY with the green eyes, whose husband decried her commonsence and belittled her mind, because she was more passionately intelligent, and more intelligently passionate than he, until she ran away from him and recovered herself, her insight, and her sense of humour, and never cried again, except in compassion.
It is for KASOUNDRA, who makes magic out of skins and skeins and pens, who is never still, never unaware, riding her strange destiny in the wilderness of New York, loyal and bitter, as strong as a rope of steel and as soft as a sigh.
For MARCIA, whose mind contains everything and destroys nothing, understanding dreams and nightmares, who looks on tempests and is not shaken, who lives among the damned and is not afraid of them, a living soul among the dead.
-words lovingly borrowed from Germain Greer, THE FEMALE EUNUCH