Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Woman's Place

What is a woman's place? At home? Or on the soccer field!

There were no women athletes in my high school!  None.  Not one. And no place for such things either.

In the south in the 50's, women were in a bind.  Perhaps as we recovered from the war years, many women tried to recapture their former roles as wife/ mother/ homemaker.  As a culture, we seemed to have an idealistic norm for femininity.  Reality took decades to reshape our thinking.

Holy cow, I remember seeing dress patterns like these on the table beside the sewing machine.

Church and school, community and the media, all reflected a narrow view of a woman's place.  She was to be feminine, somewhat fragile, elegant, home-oriented, and ... in many ways, sequestered (protected?) from the world in which men lived.

From a teenaged guy point of view, girls spent most of their self-expression efforts on their hair.  It was mind-numbing to hear them talk about it, and visually painful sometimes, especially when the big-hair thing was in full swing.
My college years in the 60's saw stereotypes crumbling as anti-establishment thinking challenged pretty much all of our social norms.  Conservatives and liberals (radicals?) were at each other's throats.

It helped my own thinking when I married a Texas girl.  She'd been fortunate to grow up in a practical, middle-class family that paid only minimal attention to social trends.  Tough-minded, adventurous, ... and a gymnast!  Scuba and skydiving were prenuptial conditions to our marriage upon which she insisted. 

We left home and country and lived overseas for most of my military career.  When we came home, much of what we had known had crumbled to dust.  Holy cow, what is this feminism stuff?
So, here we are five decades later.  Women in sports are everywhere!  Competitive, impressive athletes.  How great it is to see their world open up.  Women think, women teach, women decide, women tackle the business and political worlds.... It's not complete, this coming of age for our culture, but it's a great improvement, and my daughter (who has more backbone than a linebacker) gets to live in it without the artificial restrictions of the previous generation.  I'm so strongly in favor of the changes I see.  Does that make me a feminist?

The above was occasioned by pictures of my friend's youngest daughter.  A pretty young lady, she has beautiful coloration, physique, and natural beauty... and she plays field hockey, soccer, and football.  Well!  She's a powerhouse.  She would have been SO out of place in the 50's.  :)  And check out Women@NASA   There weren't any of those when I was a kid either!

(Just one more reason I love change!)