Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Motherscribe Interview Series: the 6th interview...

My 6th interview is with G. She is a 54 year old working woman living in California. She is married with one child in college. She has a blog called Doves Today.

What does the word feminist mean to you?
There are a lot of stereotypes about the word right now – I think that it has been sullied to the point where we need an alternative word to convey what it really is. Look – I came of age during the feminist movement. I was hanging out with artists in the East Village reading Kate Millet, with lesbians editing radical feminist newspapers. The word has been turned into an epithet by some very skilled manipulators who oppose it, but yeah – the idea of wanting equal rights and accommodations for women is what it’s all about.

Has the meaning changed over time? Only by those who have managed to turn it into a “bad” word.

Do you consider yourself a feminist? Yes.

Would others consider you a feminist? Well – those who know my history might. I did struggle to succeed as a woman in a traditional male field, and became sort of a breaker of barriers early on. But I did it because I liked doing that job, not because I was doing something for women in general. I was not an activist. To my shame, I was not focusing on other women early on, but on me.

If you are a feminist, do you feel comfortable owning that title in your everyday life? Yeah. Only I’m not very active right now.

What are some images that come to mind when you think of the women’s movement? Well, I have some very personal images and memories from those days in the ‘70s in the Village. My friend Nikki used to deliver a radical women’s newspaper driving an old postal truck painted pink! Her smiling face and those bundles of newspapers is an enduring image.

What was the greatest gift of the women’s movement? Making it acceptable for women to work in a profession of their own choice – and to do it for the love of it rather than just to supplement the family income. Actually, the greatest gift is making it NORMAL. 40 years ago, it would be thought of as weird that a woman would run for governor, run a business, be a union steward, work as a biologist, a cop, an electrician. No one questions it now. That’s a huge accomplishment.

What was the greatest failure of the women’s movement? I think there are a lot of myths about the women’s movement that emphasize the stridency and political correctness of the ideas and rhetoric. I actually think in most cases those myths are just that – not true. But it’s unfortunate that opponents to feminism have been able to so richly exploit a few stupid ideas and impolitic language to so effectively combat feminism.

Who were your earliest female role models other than your mother? I think my teachers, maybe. My friends’ older sisters, a little. My great-aunts were very interesting to me, because they were single women with rich lives, but I didn’t see them enough everyday to pattern myself on them.

Was your mother a homemaker? Yes

Did your mother work outside the home? Only after I grew up.

How did that affect you growing up? While I didn’t see my mom as a professional role model, I always saw her as someone who was more than a housewife. I always knew she had gone to college, was a scientist, had achieved high grades. She always had interests of her own that were grown-up interests. She wasn’t the kind of mom to enter into a child’s arena, she pretty much let us pursue our own interests safely, and sometimes let us join her in hers.

What impression did that leave with you about women working outside the home? I had no role model at all about working women, except maybe teachers, but I always figured I would DO something, or work.

Did your father respect your mother? Yes

Did your mother respect your father? Yes

Was getting married/partnered a conscious goal or focus early on in your adulthood? I didn’t have very many solid romantic relationships when I was a young woman, so I always saw it as elusive – and in that sense, I thought about it too much, focused on it too much – like “Why can’t I have a boyfriend?” At the same time, the few times I encountered a potential committed relationship, I sabotaged it, ran like hell!

Is there an event(s) that affected you in childhood/adolescence that impacted your identity in a positive or negative way? When I was about 13 or so, a very close group friends suddenly split asunder – the leader of our group suddenly stopped speaking to us, with no explanation. I never knew why – in retrospect I believe that something bad had happened in her family, maybe to her personally, and it affected her deeply. But for the rest of us, it was horrible. I blamed the others – like “oh, well, it’s not ME she doesn’t like anymore, it’s Debbie, so if I just break off from Debbie, Jan will like me again,” – and I think the other girls felt the same, and it was horrible. It was also craven, and shameful for me to think that way, and it deeply affected my confidence in myself and my own judgment.

Did your mother or another caretaker talk to you about sex and what to expect? No. She attended the school-sponsored education thing with me, so she knew I learned about it. She never really talked much about it, on the other hand, when I became sexually active, she knew that I was.

How was your first sexual experience? Well….define sexual experience. My first experience with necking and foreplay was way more fun than my first experience with actual fucking. It took me a few years to achieve orgasm with fucking. With foreplay, it happened a lot more.

Is marriage liberating or inhibiting sexually? Wow. Well. My husband and I married in our 30’s so we had already had lots of time to play the field and get a lot out of our systems. I will say that I feel quite liberated by the fact that I trust him implicitly, and feel completely safe with him.

What makes you feel sexy? Wine, food, humor. Someone who’s smart. A guy’s eyes looking at you all-knowing. Trust.

Do you have the energy/desire for sex at the end of the day? Generally, no. I need the weekend to chill out.

What turns you on? Thinking someone is turned on by me.

What would make your sex life better? More spontaneity, less habit. Only I tend to find refuge in habits, so it’s ambiguous.

Have you ever dieted? Yes, seriously once. Successfully, I might add!

Are you happy and/or comfortable with your weight? Yes and no. I feel perpetually 10 pounds overweight, but my body has settled at this weight comfortably – I can maintain it.

Would you describe yourself as someone with “body issues?” No.

How do you feel about the sexualizing of young women in our society? I have an emotional remove from this issue because I don’t have a daughter – is that bad of me? I disapprove on principle but it isn’t something I “own.”

What do you wish your mother had told you about marriage, life, anything…that you didn’t hear from her? I kind of wish my mom had given me a better “education” in the arts of girliness. She was/is a beautiful woman, but she was shy. And although she was elegant and had great classic style – which she did teach me to appreciate - she never taught me anything about make-up or hair-styling (quite obviously!!!). She wasn’t the kind of woman to have a group of girlfriends, either, so I kind of missed that inculcation or indoctrination, or education, however you would put it. As far as marriage is concerned – my parents appeared like equal partners to me, even though my Dad was the breadwinner. I am grateful to them for that.

What role did your father play in your childhood? My dad was the breadwinner. He worked all week, didn’t play much.

What was your relationship like with your father? I was the oldest child and only girl, and my dad and I had a really special relationship. I always felt he loved me very much. Our tempers are similar, so during adolescence we had horrendous shouting arguments, but he nevertheless supported me in everything I ever did. I’ve written about him on my blog. My mom and dad really didn’t involve themselves deeply in our childhood lives the way I did my son, or parents I know do today – very little intervention at school, no “coaching,” not much participation in our activities. But they talked to us about all kinds of things, had lots of books around the house, introduced us to things. My dad loved comedy, and I remember sharing “Pogo” comics and Mad Magazine with him and my brothers. He introduced us to ethnic foods during a time when most people were not familiar with such things. He learned Asian cooking from chefs at his favorite restaurants. I went to college with his recipe for making sukiyaki in an electric frying pan – it was a big hit.
How do you feel about aging? Um, I’m OK with it. I LOVED turning 40, turning 50….I know so many cool women older than me, I look forward to being like them. But OTOH, I’ve been caring for my Mom lately, and I’ve kind of seen the downside – sort of like getting a warning. It reminds me to stay healthy, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

How do you feel about plastic surgery? Not interested in it for me, but I’m cool with it except in the extreme.

What do you do for a living? I am an entertainment venue manager. I work for an event facility that is owned by a municipality - I am actually a city employee.

What do you love about being a working mom? Being around adults. Being out in the world. On the other hand, I never really considered being otherwise.

What are the challenges of being a working mom? Well, during the critical years, I had a pretty good situation – well-paying part-time work, flexible schedule, not the kind of work you “take home.” But even with that, affordable reliable childcare was a terrible challenge – I hope there are better choices for women today.

Was the decision to work an economic one (e.g., your family requires two incomes)? Yes, but no – I’ve always worked, so it was never even a question.

Do you beat yourself up for not spending enough time with your kids? Not really. It wasn’t perfect but it was good.

Do you feel supported by your partner? Yes.

Do you feel supported by other women? I don’t even think about that. When my son was small? No, it didn’t occur to me to think about that.

Do you see evidence of “The Mommy Wars” in your everyday life? I’m not sure what that is.

Do you feel valued in your workplace? Mostly – and when I’m not it’s not about being a mom.

Do you feel valued at home? Very much so.

Do you believe a happy, fulfilled mom is a better mom whether her choice is to work outside the home or to stay at home with her children? Well of course. Who could say no to that?

Can women do it all? With some Superpowers, yeah. But who’d want to “do it all?” Sounds exhausting.

How old are your children? 1 son, grown – he’s a college junior.

What do you want to do differently with your children than what you received from your parents? My parents did not forge strong communities with other families or with neighbors. I want to make sure that I don’t make this mistake.

What would you like to carry on that your parents established with you? A hunger for scholarship, reading, knowledge, humor.

How has having children changed the relationship with your partner? I think having our son has deepened and strengthened our relationship. But that’s from the vantage point of 20 years.

Do you have dates with your partner? Well, now our son has moved out, every day is a date.

Do you have personal “ME” time scheduled every week/every day? Not enough.

How do you combat stress? Sad to say – drinking and eating.

Do you get out regularly with girlfriends? No – and I really should think about developing stronger relationships, and nurturing older ones. When my friends and I had young kids, we spend a lot of time together, both with the kids and going out. Now our kids are grown…not so much.

Has it been challenging to retain a separate sense of self from your role as mother & wife? No – because in the final analysis I’m probably a pretty selfish person, so it comes naturally to me.

What do you do to facilitate that? Does your partner help make that happen? Hah! He has his hands full helping me temper that!

Do you help create personal space for your partner? Yes, I think.

Does your partner share in household tasks? Yes.

How did you think your life would be when you got married? How do you feel now? I truly didn’t think what it would be like. Isn’t that weird? Now? In addition to being with someone I love - it is such a comfort to have a companion on a day-to-day basis.

What did you dream of being when you were a child? A writer - a novelist or children’s book author. An archeologist or historian.

Are you happy and/or fulfilled with your life? Yes, generally.

What do you yearn for? Time, day to day unstructured freedom; the ability to explore, dream, write.

Thank you, G.


Comments are closed for The Motherscribe Interviews. For more about G, please visit her at Doves Today.

submit to reddit
Copyright © 2007-2014 JCK.

The content on these pages is the sole property of the author and may not be used or reproduced in any manner without consent.

All Rights Reserved.