Anne, Eight in the Morning

Don’t Rock the Pedestal, Woman!

A lot of traffic has been streaming through my mind in the last week since we began the Vintage Wife series here on the blog. There’s a lot that’s been bothering me, and it started I think when I was writing out my responses to one part of the Marital Test.

I found I wasn’t entirely comfortable.

There was a nagging thought at the back of my mind while I was laughing at a lot of the questions. And, it was that the quiz wasn’t so dated after all, and that people back then were not the only ones so downright ridiculous in their thinking. I mulled it around in my head, tried voicing it to a few. Oddly, I found I wasn’t really able to say what I wanted to.

Then Chan’s post appeared soon after, and she said something which hammered on the disarray striving for clarity in my head.

She said:

As much as i would like to laugh about this it’s still prevalent today. We may not measure the same way but the opinion of what makes a good wife and mother are still very similar. No matter what role you have to play be it breadwinner, home maker, career woman, super mom.. there is a label waiting to pin itself on you and judge you.

Labels, I thought. Yes, that’s what had been bothering me so much. – The word alone speaks a thousand truths, and it tells us something I think many of us don’t really want to hear.

We haven’t changed all that much from those people in the 30s. In many ways (too many ways) I think women are pretty much the same suppressed creatures we were back then. The only difference is, what we consider outrageous and ridiculous from back in the 30s, is really just in some ways our normal now.

Hear me out. – I’m not saying there hasn’t been progress, because there has been. Women can vote, women can work, etc. And, that’s all great. However, if we really think about it, how far have women really come?

Do we still have women rushing home at the end of a work day just so dinner can be ready on time for the family?

Are there stay at home mothers determined to finish the day’s work before 6pm so they have a few minutes to “freshen up” and “look presentable” for the hubby on his return?

Do we unconsciously get our daughters to assist us in the kitchen and with laying the table more than we do with our sons?

Are we the ones who hope and cheer for a happily ever after in books, TV, movies where there is abuse in a relationship which is cured by a few simple R’s such as Realization, Regret, Repentance and Romance?

Sadly, the answer to all of the above is still usually yes.

In 2014.

So, did women really change?

Not so much.

Society, and our own collective efforts have just contributed to causing us a boatload of confusion so far, and so much so that we’re going nuts trying to walk a tightrope between one extreme and another while ignoring the truth which in itself is not OK.

That women require definition.

And, please don’t tell me that is not a requirement in this day and age. Because it is. Wrong, but it’s the truth.

Let’s take a look at what we as women have been taught (and what young girls today continue to be taught.) be it from books and fairytales, television shows and movies, music and art, or right inside our very homes.

That it was all wrong before. But, that we need to keep trying to find some perfect end result so we can be whole.

Excuse me, what?

But, it’s the truth isn’t it? We’re a confused lot looking desperately to find a balance between two unhealthy extremes.

The reality is, today while we shout from the rafters about independence and rights, feminism and what not, we’re really nothing but a mess of comparisons or contradictions trying to fit into the perfect mold, and one much better and broader than the women of bygone years.

Welcome to Mindfuckery 101.

To be strong, a woman must first suffer. However, that is only if we are first not “saved” by a strong and capable man.

For our goodness to shine, there must be a vamp trying to sabotage it. Unless of course we are the vamp who by a man’s love and attention turns over a new leaf to live a good, wholesome life with him.

To celebrate our “plus” bodies, we must severely attack “zero” as pathetic and weak. But, if we’re zero, then let’s point at the fat and call it lazy. To be inbetween is to choose a side and stick to it come hell or high water.

Beautiful on the outside = bimbo, and bimbos are fickle. True beauty is only skin deep. And, now let’s rush out and buy that fairness cream, or anti-ageing anti-wrinkle cream, or burgundy tinged hair colour, because hey “we’re worth it.”

Women can choose career over home and family, it’s perfectly acceptable, this is the twenty first century and not the 1930s where mindless homemakers were glorified in cute ads. But, also… Motherhood is a choice. if you stay home and tend to the flock you get paid in love, people! That’s priceless and more rewarding than a career. No, no, no! No! Women can balance home and career, bitches! We can do it all. In fact we must. Just to show them we can. So, let’s. Eeeee * happy dance *

Embracing your sexuality does not make you a slut. You’re a woman. You’re strong, capable, and beautiful inside out (and also outside in) Just a sec though… You do know you have to save all that sexuality (see: virginity) for only your husband right? Otherwise you’re just a common slut. Oh nonsense! If you’re not a virgin it’s no big deal… Just be sure you give what’s left of your virtue to someone you love, and who loves and respects (and accepts) you for who you are. Checkered past and all.

Education is important and every girl’s right. Women can be masters of their own destiny. A good education will give them that advantage in this cutthroat world. – Oh and an MBA will also give them an advantage over a lesser BA girl in the marital destiny arena. Just saying.

OK, just writing that gave me a killer headache. So much confusion is enough to fry braincells into charred and clotted lumps.

But, it’s what we’re taught isn’t it? This is the reality for us women today. This is what we’re forced to see, read, watch, experience, try to fit in no matter what. Accept as normal.

It’s what our kids are hearing, seeing, and sadly trying to figure out with all the mixed messages we’re sending them. This is the truth we’re living.We’re normalizing bullshit and messing with our own heads.

We’re confused, and horribly so. Which way is right? Which one is wrong? Can we do just one? Can we do all? Should we?

It’s a mess, but that doesn’t seem to be bothering us. We’ve created a world of titles. So much to choose from.

Yippeee! Let’s forget everything and just find one which fits us best (but hurry up and choose… there’s a rat race to be won, a non existent finish line to cross, and a fight to the death over everything in the process.)

Choose your label.

Career Woman 1

I am strong. I am independent. I have ambition and goals. I am something and not nothing! Fuck homebodies and their sobfest fueled online chat clubs.

Career Woman 2

I am strong. I am independent. I have ambition and goals. – But, they say there’s something lacking. Are they right? OMG is cooking in high heels a real option and not just for wussies?

SuperMom 1

Well, it’s not just television and eating fucking bon bons all day, is it? This is the hardest job in the worrrrrld. I’m a MOM and this is my Mommy blog! So suck on my 24/7 no time for coffee breaks schedule Career bitch!

SuperMom 2

I need more purpose than just emptying the diaper pail and blogging about it. Maybe I should write fiction to curb my depression induced insomnia.

SuperMom 3 (Limited Edition)

Life with a maid to do everything for me is not a bed of roses, you know? I mean, she asked for a day off this month. Can you imagine that?!? I’ll actually have to stay home and miss the “Complain About Your Maid’s Laziness Luncheon” – Ohhh I nearly died from the stress of that thought.

Single Woman 1

I’m loving it!! So, if you like it just put a ten carat diamond ring on it, asshole. If not, there are plenty of fish. Marriage is for insecure whiney birds anyway. Toodles!

Single Woman 2

Please put a ring on it? A zircon will do.

Wife Supreme

Commander in Fucking Chief!! Dickwads!

Wife Suppressed

Wash, Iron, Fuck, Etc. (in that order)

Career Woman 1 and 2/Wife 1 and 2/Super Mom 1 and 2 (not 3) /Daughter/Vampire Slayer/Layer

Hear me roar, bitches!

Yes, we’ve come a long way from the 1930s woman. We really have. She was allowed just one title. Even here on this blog sadly, and by one of us who is currently raising her daughter in a world of contradictions and superficial label grabbing.

As a woman am I really much better off than she was?

I could say yes. Because we have progressed to more than a single title.

I could say ‘poor her’ because it’s a simple matter of finding a “label” which “defines” the “real” me.

But, can I really and truly celebrate that as some kind of glorious, modern day victory over age-old female suppression?

Can any of us?

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21 thoughts on “Don’t Rock the Pedestal, Woman!”

  1. God I do so love you.
    And Chani, I apologize for not answering you first, but I did agree with what you said, but will tell you that on your VW post.
    Okay, so what do we have here…confusion over what we women are? Huh? What was that you said? Wife, mother, career woman, none of the above? All of them above?
    Yes, in some ways we’re probably worse off than the 30s woman. She had well-defined lines to fall within, well most of the time anyway. Things got a little tricky with my generation when parents like mine encouraged us to think and be independent. They scrimped and saved so their daughters could get the best education possible. And the choice was ours whether we wanted to work or just get married and (try to) live happily ever after. There were hardly any eyebrows raised for either choice.
    Now, when I see my 22-year-old daughter struggling I wonder what the hell’s happening. She’s not at all interested in a high-powered corporate career that would make her oodles of money. She’s happy with a low-key job in a stream that interests her. But she is definitely not focused on finding a “man” and certainly doesn’t want to get married right now either. Does that make her unambitious? A failure in the rat race of life? Why does she have to have one label or the other? Career woman or homemaker? Why can’t she just BE?

    Your Mindfuckery 101 is perfect… that IS what we’re taught and sometimes what we inadvertently end up teaching, if we’re honest with ourselves.

    I love SuperMom 3. I wish I were one :):) Oh to be able to grow your nails LONG and have the nail polish stay on for more than 30 minutes without smudging because you had to (gasp) make yourself a cup of tea or, worse, bathe the kids!

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  2. This is quite interesting…giving a definition of women…how could you? It’s really toughest job in the world….We ‘the women ‘are privileged…although one remained inactivated, yet we should be happy for having an extra cross (XX)…. we can easily be tagged with above mentioned designations….Your choice of topic always amazed me….Loved each & every description….thanx a lot for writing this piece…

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  3. I have been very lucky to be born in a family which always had strong women . So , to live for myself and not be bogged down by society expectations and demands were one of the firsts imparted thoughts. Quoting my lovely Grandma, always stressed that-” you would subconsciously or with full awareness will be judged all your life”, in the midst of it all don’t ever loose focus on who you are and that is an individual in your own right. Make your choices for yourself and be selfish even if the world expects you to be “the superwoman”.

    It is interesting to note how much emphasis is given to a woman’s labels like a mother, wife and a daughter. She is expected to “perform” her role.

    Now, we do enjoy the freedom of selecting our role but the justification and the need to prove it , makes even the best of us unsure. The thought of having it all still cloud our mind. Every step out of conventional choices is considered as “path-breaking” or rebellious.

    When will be a time when our choices and actions won’t be questioned. We ourselves be comfortable in being who we are and not seek this universal approval.

    Sure we have moved from 1930s, but , has the modern times brought bigger tags and bigger expectations to cage us? I don’t know, when we will truly be free but I am sure , I want to be peaceful with the choices I make and stop moral questioning myself for my wants.

    Thought provoking , Anne!!

    Much love to every woman out there!!

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  4. It’s just plain frustrating, innit? To believe you have an answer one minute, and then put that finger right back on the seam of your lips and wonder, “Did I really?”

    I have to be tough outside, but inside, I would appreciate being girly, and cuddled. I love wearing jeans, and boots, and tatoos, and at the same time love baking and crochet. I bussed all over Karachi when my brother fell into the murky world of substance abuse, and yet, while on those buses, I still dreamt of a peaceful married life. Don’t know what label that is. Don’t know where I fit in. But you’re right. There is a label. There always is, and I suppose, that doesn’t make us any better than back then. Perhaps it makes them better. They knew there was one problem, one solution, and one way to defy. How are we to defy what we ourselves can’t identify?

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  5. Oh, what a wonderful post!

    The people (women) that ive come across in my life- most are just busy being, fitting into the labels you mentioned. Hardly have the time to stop and think about themselves. So how can the change happen. The vicious cycle forever continues.

    Then comes along someone who challenges it all…almost makes it but …this zaalim duniya can’t let her be.

    Alas, c’est la vie!

    I do feel, if you can stop and think about YOURSELF, be selfish even for something as little as wearing a dress you want to but isnt approved of by your family/society, in this and age…consider yourself lucky. Lucky to dare… to think.

    In the end, I am ME. I am my own definition. My own label.

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  6. i give somewhat of a similar rant to my associates daily. theyve branded me as ‘dabang’.
    me, im a woman who has been abandoned because she dared to ask for self-respect, but there is one thing that is noteworthy in this entire scenario. our plight is largely attributable to our mothers (women again) who by their words and deeds create these labels for us. somehow, the dinner is always sth the men in the family prefer. we teach our sons that wives are not to be respected – we are to blame ourselves for this

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    1. I’m not entirely in agreement with the part about teaching sons to respect their wives. Children learn by example, not instruction only. I personally think it’s the duty of the father to show his sons what respecting a woman means. If you respect your wife, your son will respect her too, and in turn respect his own someday. A mother can teach her son only so much about respecting a woman if his father is doing the opposite of it himself. – Absenting the males from blame is what weakens women in my opinion.

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  7. You are so right!

    And the saddest aspect is… who gives these labels to women? WOMEN! And they are the ones who nurture these notions and goes to heroic lengths to keep them alive.

    The popular ones, rich ones, poor ones, pretty ones, thin ones, fat ones, ugly ones, cheap ones, haughty ones.These labels did not materialize out of thin air it was created by us.. so lets accept that. It’s not only the men who came up with these.

    And let me not even start on the virginity issue. Sometime back i was writing a story where the heroine ( so to say) has sex with another man and i could hear the collective sigh of disappointment from all the readers. It was as if she had soiled herself and now everyone was hoping he will accept her although the couple had parted ways. And my readership was 100% female. She was already labeled and bundled off in the name of love and all that crap but when it comes down to it , it was just another label. Given and endorsed by women. This is what we do.. we label. It’s easy to treat it as something others do.. but if we are really honest we must start by accepting we do it consciously or unconsciously.

    The idea is to recognize that we do it and be aware when we are doing it and also not hide behind it or flaunt it in other’s faces. It takes a lot of courage to be ‘undefined’ and it’s not easy but unless we start un-branding ourselves nothing will change.

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  8. Absolutely correct !
    And with reading the above post , I have my mind in overdrive . Thinking , Churning , Reasoning the words which were so very true.
    Puts the real matter forward and you give us to think about the ‘real’ matter at hand . A totally correct perspective and couldn’t deny the constant itch that is present regarding feminism and its progresses (or lack of )

    Thanks for sharing ! [:)]

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  9. Just love the passion with which you write!
    My mother was one of those women in the 60’s and 70’s who had a well-defined role to fit into, she excelled in it in every way. Things got a little complicated with me when my parents encouraged me to think and be independent. They did not bring me up differently when compared to my brothers.They worked and saved so their children could get the best education possible…which culminated in me becoming a physician and both my brothers, computer scientists….

    I am now wife to a physician and mother to 2 little boys. I am torn within myself – between being a good DOC and a good MOM on an everyday basis! And I know this is entirely my own doing ..wanting to be the MOM that my mother was to me and at the same time compete with the best in my field of expertise and excel in it.
    I work limited hours and try to pick up the kids right after school and drive them to all their piano and tennis lessons. Despite my husband’s multiple attempts to coax me into hiring a Nanny /household help – I haven’t yielded…because I want to be the one taking care of my children. He is willing to help when he is available – outside of his extremely demanding work schedule!
    This is care I received growing up. My MOM is still my best friend! Therefore this is the standard I have set for myself – not cutting myself any slack for the career I so love! Spreading myself very thin in the process…
    Yes we have progressed from the 1930s…come away from that single title to multiple titles but like you asked…’As a woman am I really much better off than she was?’
    I don’t know if I could say yes just because we have progressed to more than a single title. I think I will be able to say yes the day I find ‘my’ title and feel entirely satisfied with it.

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  10. This was very thought provoking and I must say there were quite a few lines that caused me to do a double take …..god….like looking into a mirror of life.

    We women love to judge and label each other. The yardstick to measure ourselves is always another woman and somehow her real or perceived shortcomings translate into my being taller. Who wrote these rules…real or perceived…? Who is following them?

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  11. Though can you fight the nature?
    Can we ever be considered “equals”?
    Nope.
    So I choose to be whatever and whoever I wish to be. I guess it is a matter of accepting yourself, and then you hope for everything else to follow.
    Labels and what not- they’ll always be there to bring us down. but its up to the individual too, to be whatever, and however tey wish to lead their lives.

    Gotta be selfish!

    And, about kids! Good lord, it scares the bleep out of me. But then parents can only teach a child how, and not what to think. How that child will turn out, or choose to be- that should remain independent of everything else, shouldn’t it?

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  12. I would say we are better far better than 30’s. Yes most of us still have to b that supper wife who wakes up early, makes breakfast give lunch to her husband and in addition to dat she has some times a job to attend to n then come back n make dinner etc but still even being tht supper wife we have freedom of choice all we need is not to put a permanent POOR ME tag on ourselves and see the brighter sides as well.

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  13. I don’t know what to say.. It’s all so confusing – I don’t care about others giving me any of those titles, but the harsh judgement coming from myself screws me up..wannabe career woman? check ..wannabe super mom? check.. wannabe nice cuddly wife? check.. Am I succeeding in any?- not sure..leaving home to work right after school bus leaves, working 8-4, coming home to make dinner ready before the child gets off from school bus, waiting for the workaholic hubby to reach home and take his dinner before he sits again in front of his precious machine.. driving the kid to various activities on different days, again working after the kid goes of to sleep – this is my normal routine.. Instead of being proud of all that I have achieved, I always worry about – how I missed reminding my husband about taking his medicines that day, or yelling at my son for disturbing me while I was on call or not organizing the house well..aargh!.. sometimes I wonder if I can go back to being single and be just lazy and just get by without a care in the world; but then single woman1 and single woman2 would probably come and torture me.

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  14. What i said is totally true… Its saddening to acknowledge this bt it is d truth…
    Though there have been changes bt we still have a long way…

    I think that one should make their own choices based on what they want n not what others want them to choose n then should stick by the decision n face its
    consequences head n, come what may…

    Though i myself not completely sure that i would be able to stick to my own funda… 😦
    Bt i will surely try to…

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