Comments on: Do you like riding on the passenger side? http://www.historiann.com/2009/06/24/do-you-like-riding-on-the-passenger-side/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Fri, 26 Sep 2014 15:08:05 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Z http://www.historiann.com/2009/06/24/do-you-like-riding-on-the-passenger-side/comment-page-1/#comment-350011 Mon, 29 Jun 2009 06:03:40 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5899#comment-350011 Or, having pondered more: to disable someone such that they HAVE to stay at home means withholding information about how to operate in the world and also reducing their confidence such that they believe they cannot function in the (outside) world.

That is what you do to girls you are raising for someone to be able to keep at home. It is what was done in my day to women of many social classes, and it’s destructive.

I don’t see it done nearly so much any more and that is how I see there to have been real progress.

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Also – I don’t know who came up with the idea that feminism meant one “should” have a high powered career … I strongly suspect the same patriarchs who claim feminist goals have already been achieved.

A feminist agenda would include so many things we don’t have. It isn’t about individuals making lifestyle choices such that they have both the executive suite and the baby. That is more like … capitalism? (?)

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By: Z http://www.historiann.com/2009/06/24/do-you-like-riding-on-the-passenger-side/comment-page-1/#comment-349304 Sun, 28 Jun 2009 20:20:37 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5899#comment-349304 And – re stay at home parents and so on – I remember that one’s destiny as a housewife (the one I was raised for) didn’t mean you did it as a choice, or that you did it creatively. You might also work, but it would not be interesting work, it would just be work work, to help make ends meet.

Women younger than me think with more freedom and that is what I admire.

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By: Z http://www.historiann.com/2009/06/24/do-you-like-riding-on-the-passenger-side/comment-page-1/#comment-349284 Sun, 28 Jun 2009 19:50:26 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5899#comment-349284 I still think it’s nice that getting pregnant before tenure isn’t an automatic F or a total stigma any more. I also come from the other side of things — rural suburbs in the South where having a family can really help bolster your strength, focus, prestige, and so on. We’re still in patriarchy, so all the options for women have downsides.

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“That I think is a classic Second Wave experience–because the assumption is that feminism has worked and women are in fact all treated exactly the same as men, so if a woman fails it’s her own damned fault and not the fault of anyone else.”

Classic Second Wave experience, hmmm. It does seem to be what *I* have internalized and need to work on. I thought, “It is possible to insist one be seen as a man and treated as one, and I will do it.” Failed, of course, and blamed myself. This is fundamental.

But much actual feminist analysis of the 60s and 70s was a lot less superficial than this. I know it’s said that was the goal of the “second wave” but I think that story parallels the now official version of civil rights, which only emphasizes MLK in his more conservative speeches, claims nonviolence worked, and that everything is solved. These officialized stories obscure history, as we know.

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The main difference I see between myself and women a little younger is that a lot of them thought more about WHAT they would like to do with their lives and WHY. For most people born in the 50s I know the big thing was to escape one’s destiny as a housewife. Most of those of us who escaped had careers more chaotic/distorted/stunted than we might have had with more role models, a chance to think about it or anyone to talk to. This is where I think that second wave had a lot of good effects — just by having been present — on the atmosphere for people a little younger.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t problems. But my insight for the day is that all of my women friends from high school, and all of us went to good universities and so on and had advantages of one kind or another — managed our careers without information or the feeling of room to move, the way first generation college students do, or the way workers manage jobs. The struggle was to work at all, and ideally not to do only kitchen work. This when men in our same situation got to ask themselves more seriously and concretely what sorts of live they would like to lead. That is what I now see women of all classes doing, i.e. assuming they have rights to full personhood.

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As I write this I am having 60s flashbacks. Everyone was claiming personhood then — individuals, groups, whole countries. Black shoeshine “boys” carried placards informing the world, “I am a man!”

I was learning non personhood as child and woman, and I really liked all those liberation movements. I decided my goal must be to become one who could also claim my own rights to personhood. But I notice women now assume rights to personhood more easily than my posse of childhood friends ever has.

That assumption is what I find so admirable about younger women now.

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By: The Rebel Lettriste http://www.historiann.com/2009/06/24/do-you-like-riding-on-the-passenger-side/comment-page-1/#comment-349244 Sun, 28 Jun 2009 18:34:40 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5899#comment-349244 I’d like to chime with Moria, about the Mommy Marxists. SAH parents are doing work, they just aren’t being paid for it. Would that they pointed that out and rabble-roused a bit more to remind us of that fact!

And I agree generally, with people’s ideas here concerning the whole “is this job worth all that” question–which is something that I think really does drives many people’s decisions to stay home with children. The workplace can be odious; and it can make a lot of sense to decide to focus on home and child-life instead. Making a fetish of that life is another thing entirely, though.

I am 33, and have many friends now who have given up (burgeoning) careers in favor of child-rearing. And I have to say I feel some envy. I think that this is partly because both of my grandmothers and my own mother worked. They had to. Being able to focus exclusively on a baby and its needs was a dream only rich and/or lucky people got to live.

I mourned when I finished my diss. and got a tt job, because I knew that whatever fantasy I’d had about staying home with a baby was effectively quashed. Would I trade my job, my intellectual life and my economic independence for being a SAHM married to a rich dickhead, though? No.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2009/06/24/do-you-like-riding-on-the-passenger-side/comment-page-1/#comment-347581 Sat, 27 Jun 2009 13:41:01 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5899#comment-347581 And, great link to Pollitt’s article. There was a recent article in the Journal of Women’s History I think on “de-waving women’s history.” Pollitt makes several of the same points. Portraying catfights among women is a way of selling print, I guess.

But, I take umbrage with the claim that women my age “hung up their Hello Kitty backpacks a long time ago.” I’m 40, and am still all about the HK. I’ve seen a child’s jean jacket with a big HK on the back that I would kill for in my size.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2009/06/24/do-you-like-riding-on-the-passenger-side/comment-page-1/#comment-347565 Sat, 27 Jun 2009 13:33:11 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5899#comment-347565 Z wrote, “All of this is why I think those second wave activists were really smart and brave and that things have improved. Just the fact that you can now show up as a new assistant professor and be married and have a baby and not have people whispering in the halls that you will never make tenure because of this — which really did happen to several people in my second job, in the early 90s — is fantastic.”

Well–few whisper it or say it out loud any more, but having children does dramatically affect a woman’s chances at career success still, whereas having a spouse and children enhances men’s chances for success. It is progress of a sort that prevents people from saying out loud that women with partners/spouses and children are doomed, but if the result is essentially similar, I wonder if that creates a narrative in which individual failures are the fault of the individual rather than the fault of the institutional structure and cultural prejudices. That I think is a classic Second Wave experience–because the assumption is that feminism has worked and women are in fact all treated exactly the same as men, so if a woman fails it’s her own damned fault and not the fault of anyone else. As you suggest, Z, this is the fake “post” world we live in–postracial, postfeminist, etc.

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By: truffula http://www.historiann.com/2009/06/24/do-you-like-riding-on-the-passenger-side/comment-page-1/#comment-347381 Sat, 27 Jun 2009 10:54:03 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5899#comment-347381 So in my experience, when people are talking about ‘having it all’ they’re usually talking about the first waves of women who went back to work and insisted on their right to work as well as be moms (70s?/ early eighties?)

More specifically it means, I think, middle/upper middle class women. Working class women have always had “all” of it. It was a novelty that my mother had the option to stay at home when her children were born. In working while also parenting and keeping the home, I’m just doing what my grandmother did (though I doubt she ever thought of her job as a “career” and therein, perhaps, lies an important distinction).

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By: Z http://www.historiann.com/2009/06/24/do-you-like-riding-on-the-passenger-side/comment-page-1/#comment-346471 Fri, 26 Jun 2009 20:22:28 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5899#comment-346471 P.S. Here’s a useful Pollitt piece on the generational fallacy. http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090615/pollitt

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By: Z http://www.historiann.com/2009/06/24/do-you-like-riding-on-the-passenger-side/comment-page-1/#comment-346438 Fri, 26 Jun 2009 19:43:02 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5899#comment-346438 OK – so I went to high school and college in the 70s and grad school in the 80s.

There were a few married women in graduate school but MOST of them were either (a) doing it as a hobby, not for a career, or (b) doing it as a career but got blocked from that by professors who didn’t take them seriously because they were married. I mean, they could be brilliant and their dissertation directors would refuse to support them for jobs on the idea that they didn’t want to ruin their marriages by helping them work.

In high school I had 5 main friends and we all went to college. One “has it all” — GREAT job and family. Then there’s me, who gave up family for career. Then there are 4 stay at home moms, of whom 2 had their husbands leave and so went to get certified to teach, and are teaching K-12 now.

For me the difference between myself/my friends my age and younger people is the amount of serious advice and different examples people even 5-10 years younger than myself got. My grandmothers and their friends had been suffragettes with educations and careers and families. Women now remind me a lot of this generation.

My sub generation got grimmer news than my grandmothers. We were raised by women who had mostly dropped out of college after the war to get married and who expected the same of us. Although there were important feminist things happening on television, one was not necessarily in a position to be an architect of these. My mother’s big thing was that I should finish college, take advantage of opportunities like junior year abroad, and get an office job for a year or so afterwards, so that rather than marry a college boy I could marry an established executive.

Re careers, the advice from men was either advice that only applied to the situations of men, or was backhanded (bad advice couched as good, meant to trip up silly little girls). The advice from the few women who had serious careers was that you had to be hard as nails (and they were) and sort of mean (and they were).

In my first professor job, in the 80s, all the other new hires college wide were young men with housewives.

All of this is why I think those second wave activists were really smart and brave and that things have improved. Just the fact that you can now show up as a new assistant professor and be married and have a baby and not have people whispering in the halls that you will never make tenure because of this — which really did happen to several people in my second job, in the early 90s — is fantastic.

HOWEVER. I clearly remember the 80s and how everyone forgot how hard it had been to get the degree of non racial discrimination and non gender discrimination that had been attained. We did not need antiracism or feminism any more, it was said, because their goals had been attained, it was said, and everyone agreed with them anyway, it was said.

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By: anon http://www.historiann.com/2009/06/24/do-you-like-riding-on-the-passenger-side/comment-page-1/#comment-346031 Fri, 26 Jun 2009 12:09:18 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5899#comment-346031 I think “having it all” is loosely defined as women who entered the work place, had full-time careers AND children, whether or not the careers were meaningful and whether or not they found this experience excruciating or fulfilling. The “all” in this context is job + children (partner optional). So in my experience, when people are talking about ‘having it all’ they’re usually talking about the first waves of women who went back to work and insisted on their right to work as well as be moms (70s?/ early eighties?). Of course there were plenty of women who still chose to stay at home, or not to have children.

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