This post is now at my new website:
Mother to Daughter: A Questionable Legacy – Part 2
This post resonates with my own understanding and experiences. I spent the bulk of my career as a female executive working for the state I live in. I used to comment quite a lot that women fought over their positions and projects as viciously as previous generations used to fight over their husband-prey. While they would tend to become subordinate to a male in a power position, the fangs and claws came about quickly if the opponent was another female. I’ve tended to see this behavior as a form of philosophical conditioning from years of female subjugation where “my man/livelihood” has been upgraded to “my career/livelihood”. But even if I am wrong in my assessment, the one thing that I know for certain is women in a corporate environment do not support and encourage each other. Instead they go to extreme lengths to make sure the other one is not successful.
I agree completely with your statement, “It has become increasingly clear in the women’s movement during the past few years that the greatest obstacle to equality of the sexes exists in women themselves.”
Thanks for the comment! And it saddens me that your experiences a generation after mine reflected a failure of women in the workplace to support each other. My experience was a bit different, in that I was in a predominantly male profession, biomedical sciences. Most of the (few) women I knew in the profession tended to be helpful and supportive. It was the males who seemed threatened.
But I have heard from many other women that, when there are a lot of women workers and a male boss, the women snipe about each other continuously. There may be some harem complex going on in that setting.
However, when it came to trying to pass the ERA, hostile women (comfortably married and insecure about change?) seemed to want to torpedo the effort.
I am happy to report that my mother didn’t pass on any of those thoughts to me. Or to my sister. I have authority. I am adept with tools and computers and logic and machinery and anything else I need to be adept with. I am divorced and happily single because while I am single I can fully be myself with no one questioning my choices. I will defend myself, my position, my children (the daughter and the son equally) with strength and conviction. My house is my own special kind of ‘neat’ – and is a reflection of my comfort within its walls. The last one is a toughie. I do care how I look. But not for any man. For myself. For my peers. For my children. It’s not about beauty or attractiveness but about confidence.
I am fortunate to be the CFO in an organization where 60% of the senior management team are women, including the CEO. It’s not perfect, but I don’t see women undermining women.
I am passing all of this and more on to my daughter. And teaching my son the right way to treat women. His father certainly can’t.
Thanks, Julie, for an independent woman’s credo! I’m feeling pretty much that way, myself these days, but it took awhile. My mother was her own person in many ways, but she gave in to my father’s wishes and judgement more than she probably should have. These reflections were written years ago, around the time my youngest daughter was born, and she’s now 37 years old. It’s sort of a “mea culpa.”
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