My mother was a brilliant, intelligent, talented woman, and she lived a traditional housewife lifestyle that almost killed her. It certainly killed her spirit. Everything she did was perfect -- she had a beautifully decorated home, a wonderful garden, she was a wonderful cook, the perfect mother -- and she was dying inside. She always had a far-away look in her eyes. As a child, I watched her and I felt her sadness, and I knew that that life would not be for me. I could not wait to shake the dust of the small town off my feet. I wanted to see the world; I wanted to experience things that I knew would never happen to me if I stayed in that town. I dreaded becoming a traditional "housewife". For some people, if that is the life they choose, and they're happy, that's okay. We all have to walk in our own shoes. It's just that that particular road was not for me.
When my daughter was growing up, I stressed the importance of her getting an education -- not just a university education, but an overall education. Experience everything there is to experience in life -- literature, art, music, travel, excitement, adventure -- especially adventure. We used to laugh at the TV advertisements of women with mops in their hands, the biggest problems in their lives being the yellow waxy buildup on their kitchen floors. Even today, TV advertisements are aimed at women, and always show women doing the "household chores". We all have to do day-to-day things to maintain our homes. Most of us like to live in comfortable surroundings. That's why God in Her wisdom created Swiffer products. Maintaining our homes is a necessary chore, but it is not a vocation or a career.
In the movie "Mona Lisa Smile", university professor Katherine Watson shows slides to her students, similar to the pictures here, and says,
"What will the future scholars see when they study us? A portrait of woman today? There you are ladies. The perfect likeness of a Welesley graduate, Magna Cum Laude doing exactly what she was trained to do. A Rhodes scholar. I wonder if she recited Chaucer while she presses her husband's shirts. Heh, now you physics major's can calculate the mass and volume of every meat loaf you ever make... The smartest women in the country... I didn't realize that by demanding excellence I would be challenging... what did it say? What did it say? um... the roles you were born to fill...?"
We've come a long way, baby...
Women are still stuck in these roles. I work with women doctors, lawyers, researchers -- brilliant women -- and they are still the ones who go home and cook and bake, and scrub the bathroom toilet, and scrub the yellow waxy buildup off their kitchen floors, because it's expected of them. If there are men out there who do those things, I applaud them, but I think they are still few and far between. This is the 21st Century, not the 1950s. It's time for those antiquated "traditional" roles to be laid to rest, once and for all. I'm not a feminist. I think women should be female -- women. But forcing them into the so-called traditional female roles does not make them any more feminine. Rather, it takes away from the exciting people they are meant to be. If the dishes don't get done or the bathroom doesn't get scrubbed for another week, (month, year), is anyone going to die? Probably not. If we fail to experience life, will the adventures still be out there waiting for us? Probably not.
Check out the way the women are portrayed in these Febreze commercials. They're practically orgasmic over fabric freshener.
Come on, ladies, you're smart, educated, funny, intelligent. The yellow waxy buildup can wait.