Because for the first thirty plus years of my life I thought I was fat and I wasn’t.
Because my mother was so intelligent and talented but her dreams were sublimated to being my father’s secretary and finally she never played the piano again.
Because after watching what my mother had to do, raising five children, running my father’s medical practice, and doing practically everything except making ‘money’, I decided when I was very young that I would never make the mistake of marrying a doctor, but I ended up doing just that.
Because I was afraid learning to type would doom me to a life of typing for someone else.
Because my mother had so many burdensome responsibilities no one human being could ever manage to keep up with them. However, she felt it was her personal failure and meant that ‘she was not good enough’.
Because I was raised to be a wife and a mother and a caregiver, first and foremost, and to earn a college degree doing something like law or medicine just in case my future husband might die, or get sick, or leave me.
Because I wanted to be an artist or an architect. The first was outrageously impractical and the latter, I was told that ‘girl’ architecture students were treated horribly by fellow male students and all the professors would make my life hell. I ‘chickened out’ and majored in Interior Design/ Housing which was in the College of Home Economics, where there was not a single male student nor professor.
Because I was so inculcated to be a ‘people pleaser’, it took me half a lifetime to stop being a morphing chameleon in order to satisfy men.
Because when my employer, an acquaintance of my parents, grabbed my ass in the back room of the store as I was closing up, and told me he knew how much I wanted it.
Because every time I had to walk alone at night I was afraid and still am.
Because guys can hike a trail or backpack or go out to a bar alone and when women do things alone, if she is attacked by a man or group of men, there is this insidious attitude that she was either stupid or asking for it.
Because the court system slants its rulings in favor of the successful, professional white male. Frequently.
Because even now, when we should all know better, the jobs that are most often taken on by women, such as child rearing, care giving, home making, teaching, are consistently undervalued and grossly underpaid if paid at all.
Because when I became a professional artist, other artists, both men and women, said, well, she is just a doctor’s wife.
Because an art professor told me that if I got married and had children there was no way I would or could ever be a serious or successful artist.
Because things have changed in the last fifty years, but for the most part, the insidious presence of male domination is a vicious force around the globe.
Because when I was a forty something divorcee with a child, young and disabled, and moved into a new neighbourhood only one of the many married women in the neighbourhood welcomed me. I might as well have been wearing a huge scarlet letter across my bosom.
Because while I was married my husband expressly did not want me working ‘outside of the home’ and almost all my male friends disparage the alimony I was awarded after twenty two years of marriage as never having been earned.
Because I am almost sixty and youth and beauty in women is still worshipped, even by women themselves, who undergo invasive and sometimes damaging surgical procedures to do so, only now at younger ages and more frequently.
Because women who set aside careers to be homemakers and raise their children are considered to have it easy. Indeed, now, most women are expected, by themselves and others, to do both. Well.
Because the inequality of the feminine and male roles are so inculcated into our cultures, religions, education, etc…that I still surprise myself with an ever expanding awareness of my own unquestioned biases.
Because this conversation is far from being over.
Because my mother was a painter and a beauty when artists had patrons and a woman like that needed a man to take care of her, so she married a money man.
Because my mother’s mother was a beauty and her mother was, too, and that’s what people said: “She was a beautiful woman,” as if that was the only remarkable thing.
Because I was born in 1966, the year Betty Friedan and others started the National Organization of Women and challenged an industry which required flight attendants to quit if they got married, pregnant, or reached the age of 32.
Because when my mother had me, she stopped painting and started cleaning house and throwing dinner parties and smoking too many cigarettes and crying in the mirror.
Because my mother never told me that I looked pretty because she did not want me to grow…
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