So Tell Me ... What's The Weather Like on YOUR Planet?

17 May, 2007

I'm just not brave enough

Okay, I'm having a hell of a day, so this isn't going to be as poised and well-written as the usual incoherent mumbling.

I wrote a bit ago, in my comments to a post a little bit down from here:

It was generally assumed that I would go forth and do something worthwhile and 'powerful' by my family; because my family's progressive attitudes framed that partially in terms of egalitarianism, and because of the professional-class feminist attitudes I encountered, I picked up -- again, from the way people expressed their assumptions -- that it was my obligation to do such things. The negative terms that people (largely outside my family) used to frame professional-class women who did not pursue powerful roles made it clear that these were not acceptable paths.

I just spent about half an hour trying to figure out how to reply to someone who was saying that the feminisms that lead some women to not considering themselves feminists weren't things he saw outside the blogs. And eventually I decided I couldn't -- especially not given that today is a different sort of flailing emotional hell without opening myself up to the sort of savageing that ever admitting to this stuff tends to do.

There's this little incoherent flailing voice in me that says look, the blogs weren't around when I was a kid. I grew up steeped in this form of feminism that means that if I embrace it I have to embrace the fact that from its perspective I'm at best a complete failure.

And by the time I got to be a teenager, I met more than the professional-class feminism that was concerned with women in the corporate boardroom and in the high-level science and engineering classes and pennies on the dollar -- I met the stuff that was hostile to the secret sexual expressions that I hadn't told anyone about and said that it was anti-woman and should never be allowed to happen.

Other sexual discussion? Where I grew up the generalised state of discussion of sexual violence was, "Is date rape a real concern? Is it really rape?"


Somewhere in The Price of Motherhood, Ann Crittenden mentioned that she knew she had to write the book when, after she'd taken some time from her professional-class job to have her children, someone greeted her with, "Oh, didn't you used to be Ann Crittenden?" Her motherhood rendered her a nonentity: only the professional-class job counted to make her a person with a name.

When I read that, I almost cried: someone, some Big Name Someone, knew what I was talking about. Knew where I had come from. Wouldn't call me a liar or deluded for having been from there, or demand that I pull up cites of the appropriate Big Names with tidy little quotes making flat-out statements that only professional women doing professional woman stuff qualified as enlightened human beings.

But I'm not brave enough to go say this to someone who questions it. Not anymore.

At least not today.

No comments: