Monday, May 18, 2009

"The (Ladies) Women's Room"

The author of this book recently died. Marilyn French was labeled a man-hater because of her books and didn't do too much to change any minds about it. The (Ladies) Women's Room came out in 1977. I was a single, working "girl" at that point, still wondering what had happened to the life plan I had anticipated. By then, according to the plan, I should have been married for a few years -- right out of college -- with at least two kids under my belt. My husband would be the sole bread-winner and I would be the faithful full time mom and homemaker. The equal rights movement basically nullified the plan for many in my generation. Rather than accepting the stereotype our mothers had endured, we were now free to chart our own course. We had little guidance to help with this, but books such as Marilyn's gave us the courage to try. I've always been shy. I do not dress provocatively because I don't want to draw attention to myself. However, from the time I was about 15 I have been subjected to catcalls and whistles -- "nice headlights" - "great nokkers" - "ooo baby I'd like to get it on with you" -- you get the picture. It was humiliating and infuriating. Having been raised to be a Lady, I didn't know how to handle it. Marilyn's book gave me the courage to hold my head high and keep walking with dignity. Reverberations of the women's movement are hardly noticeable anymore. Girls and young women have virtually the same opportunities as their male counterparts. Like Women's Suffrage, the Equal Rights Amendment is just something they've read about in history books. The women's liberation movement caused a paradigm shift that has enabled more freedom of choice for both men and women. Fathers are now staying home happily and effectively parenting their children while mothers bring home the bacon. During my childhood, this would have been scandalous. Marilyn French was no Susan B. Anthony but she helped to illustrate the need for women to change the ways we think about our lives and personal goals. Thanks, Marilyn.

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