Offended, Because I Am A Woman

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generations-of-women

 

Today my Facebook news feed has been flooded with the bizarre Bruce (Caitlyn) Jenner photo shoot from the recent Vanity Fair magazine.  The photos have been called “stunning.”  Yeah…I was certainly stunned.  More than that, I was offended.

Bruce Jenner’s claim is that his facial-feminizing surgery is about “who he is as a person.”  WTF?  I’m sorry, but what does that mean?  Has Bruce spent his entire life wishing that he/she had the face of a woman, large breasts, and a penis?  Bruce is now calling himself “she,” and he’s taken the name Caitlyn.  Once again…WTF?

This evening, I read more about Bruce’s transformation.  I wanted to figure out why I was feeling so offended.  I have friends, both men and women, who are gay, and I am not offended by their lives.  I finally figured it out.  What offends me about this is the fact that this man thinks that he can just suddenly become a woman.  A couple of large breasts, long hair, and feminizing facial features do NOT make a woman.  That is what offends me.  Just as I do not know what it means to grow up as a male and grow into a man, Bruce cannot so easily claim entry into womanhood simply by surgical alteration.  Would I be a man if I grew a beard and had something hanging between my legs?  NO!

I am not defined as a woman by my facial features, my hair, or my breasts.  I am not defined as a woman because I have ovaries and a uterus.  These things could be removed, and I would still be a woman.  I am not a woman simply because I have carried my children within my own body and given birth in pain.  Without these things, I would still be a woman.

I am a woman, because of the generations of women who came before me.  They are who guided me and taught me what it means to be a woman on the inside.  I gathered eggs with my ancient great-grandmother as she told me the stories of her life.  I sat on my grandma’s front porch as we shelled peas into a bowl while I soaked in even other lessons.  I learned gentleness and strength from these women.  They prepared me with stories, laughter, and love for what would lay beyond my years of childhood.  They prepared me for the secret, magical, sometimes scary world of womanhood.

I have four children – two boys and two girls.  I love them all immensely and without reservation.  Each one of them is an amazingly unique individual.  Still, I will admit that I have a special kinship with my daughters.  We are able to understand each other in a way that often astonishes me.  We can communicate without words, and we can communicate non-stop with words.  We speak freely of anything and everything, and we’re able to clear the male members of the family quickly from any room when our talk becomes too candid.

My daughters are the new generation in the long, long sisterhood of women.  I share my stories of magic and mystery with them.  Someday, if I am very lucky, I will be an ancient old woman sharing my stories with some yet-to-be little girl.  That is what it means to be a woman, Bruce.

 

Peapod

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Recently, I read an article bemoaning the fact that we have become a “society of shut-ins.”  I suppose the intent of the article was to shed a disparaging light on the trends of online shopping, food delivery services, and cyber friendships.  People don’t ever have to leave their homes if they don’t want.  In fact, most of the people in this article also worked from home.  On the day I was reading this, it all sounded great to me.  I had been away from home for almost a week.  I came home to a messy house, an empty refrigerator, piles of laundry, and a broken dryer.  The idea of sequestering myself away from the world in general sounded wonderful!

To be fair, T had been working crazy hours while I was out of town.  He had prepared meals for the girls and tried to keep up with the laundry.  Emily was back to work, but still recovering from her lengthy illness.  She was sleeping almost every moment she was home.

I spent my Good Friday “holiday” calling around to find someone to repair the dryer, cleaning the house, and fighting traffic and crowds to buy groceries for my family.  That evening I readied the house for company and the holiday.  By the time I sat down late at night, I realized that almost every single moment of my life was claimed every single day.  Work, the responsibilities of running a household, four kids…there was always something I needed to do.

When I finally collapsed in bed, I tossed and turned.  I was back home from Atlanta, and the stress had been patiently waiting for me.  Emily didn’t seem to be getting better, and I was worried about her.  Luke sent me a text at 2:00 a.m. to let me know that his plane had landed in Arizona.  He and Shannon were visiting his former college roommate for the holiday.  At 8:00 a.m., my ringing phone pulled me out of a fitful sleep.  Andrew wanted to know what the password was on our cellphone account.  He was going to upgrade his phone.  Thankfully, he had the sense to quickly tell me that he would be the one paying for the upgrade.

I had been allowed six hours to sleep, but I hadn’t done much sleeping.  My mind had been busy swirling around from one thing to the next.  It seems that the moment my eyes begin to close in sleep, the worries and concerns of the day crept in to wake me up.  I pulled on my robe and shuffled out to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee.  T was already gone.  Although it was Saturday, he had gone to his office to catch up on work.  Work.  Our lives seemed to revolve around work – work at our jobs, work of being parents, work of maintaining our house and household.  I sat down to drink my coffee in the morning quiet of the house.  The girls were still asleep, and the cat curled up on my lap.  I sat listening to the birds outside.  Over the sounds of nature, I could hear traffic, and I remembered a time when our lives were not like this.

Once again, I missed our old home.  I remembered other early mornings from years ago, mornings when I would walk outside and across the dewy grass in my nightgown.  There were no neighbors to worry about.  There was simply us, our home, our family, and nature.  I could look across the fields and see nothing but earth, sun, and clouds.  Of course, I am romanticizing things.  Was it really like I remember?  Yes and no.  There were those perfect moments, but there was also stress and worry.  There is always worry in life, the subject line simply changes.  What I do know was that our focus, our driving force back then, was always the same, and that has changed.  There was a time when we placed family first.  Somehow that has shifted.  Careers, success, material things, have crept up to a higher ranking in our list of priorities, and I don’t like that.  I’m not even sure how it has happened.

We are here now, in this new place, our new home, and honestly I don’t want to leave.  I have made friends here.  In many ways, we are happier now.  I don’t want to look back or try to recreate who we once were years ago.  What we need to do is make adjustments and minor tweaks to our lives so that we can capture moments of happiness again.  We need to look at what is possible to change and make those changes happen.  We need to be proactive instead of reactive.

I can’t do it all.  I can’t work all week and still be a housewife in the evenings and on weekends.  I am NOT superwoman, and I don’t want to be.  No one expects that of me.  I have just kept doing it all, and that’s my own fault.  As I sat there on Saturday morning, and I took my first stab at being a shut-in.  I placed my first grocery order on Peapod.

My order arrived tonight.  I was impressed by how easy and economical it was.  Instead of fighting traffic and shopping for two hours, I spent ten minutes putting away a week’s worth of groceries.  I stood in front of the pantry and marveled at the shelves full of food that I didn’t have to leave my house to buy.  The next step is a cleaning service.

My goal is to reclaim my weekends, myself, and my happiness.

Our Daughters’ Choices

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Strong-New-Pretty-Photo-Project

 

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about feminism.  Until recent years, I had never really thought of myself as a feminist.  I didn’t ever really give it much, if any, thought.  I was just me.  I was who I was, and I didn’t ever try to lump myself into any category.

I was a country girl.  I married young.  I was pregnant seven times.  I have four living children.  For a large portion of my life, my focus was on my family; my children, my husband, and my parents.  The roles of wife, mother, and daughter were something that came naturally to me.  It is aging (YUCK!) that has caused me to look back and really examine the choices I made as a younger woman.

When I went to college, I lied.  I told my dad that I wanted to major in English literature, and he scowled and grumbled, “What are you going to do with a degree in literature?”  Instead, he advised me to get an Associates degree in “Business Management.”  That was a fancy name for secretarial school.  He said that this would be a good skill for me in the event that I would ever find myself alone.  By alone, he meant if I ever found myself widowed or divorced, I would have a skill to fall back on. Continue Reading »

Harassment

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I’ve been out of the office and away from home for the past couple of days.  This has been a productive, busy, and exhausting trip.  I have been at our state capital lobbying for local concerns with a small group of people from our community.  Yesterday we had a series of short meetings with as many senators and representative as we could possibly meet in one day.  This busy day was followed by dinner at the executive mansion.  All in all, it was a productive day. Continue Reading »

Remembering That We Are Women

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About five years ago, I received an email from a woman.  She was someone I knew through work, but not very well.  I still remember the date:  January 2, 2008.  In her email, she told me about a New Year’s resolution that she had made.  She wanted to reach out to the people in her life that she admired and wanted to get to know them on a more personal level.  It seemed that I was part of that resolution.  She and I knew each other professionally.  We were often in meetings together.  Oftentimes, she and I were the only women in attendance.  Her resolution was to reach out to women like me, women she knew in a professional sense, but wanted to get to know on a more personal level.  I’ll admit, I was a little taken aback.  Why did she want to know me?  What was this all about?  I remember briefly wondering if she was going to try to sell me something.  Pampered Chef?  Candles?  I hated those kind of “parties” where women got together and then were forced out of politeness to purchase something that they didn’t want or need. Continue Reading »

How Do They See Me?

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Last spring, I took a day off work to volunteer in Lola’s class for Olympic Day. It was on one of the last days of school. There are games, races, and contests. Well before Lola was born, I spent about five years as PTA president planning Olympic Day events. I knew the drill, but Lola didn’t know that. She became obsessed with what I was going to wear to Olympic Day. For about a week, she quizzed me on what I thought I might wear, and then she would point out that whatever particular outfit I was wearing would be entirely inappropriate for Olympic Day. These conversations would typically occur when I walked in the door still wearing the clothes I had worn to the office that day. What? I shouldn’t wear a skirt and heals to Olympic Day? Day after day, I had a lot of fun teasing Lola. Finally the weekend came, and when I came downstairs wearing a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, she said “There! Wear THAT to Olympic Day!” Continue Reading »