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March 12, 2010

I lived in the 1930’s and 1940’s as a preteen and teen. Lived there. To the point that I thought communism was still illegal in the States. Do you understand? Thought McCarthyism had won or something, if I really even knew what McCarthyism was.

Don’t be fooled by the title of the post. It isn’t that I was obsessed with the women’s rights movement or anything of the sort. No, I was just obsessed with the time period. The dresses. The movies. The shoes (chunky heels? Come on! Nothing better!). The romanticism that Hollywood sold in the movies….. I bought into all of it. I still do when I sit down and get a minute to indulge in one of my favorite Black and White movie. I hate cigarettes and yet Betty Davis can still make me crave one. See what I mean? I totally buy into it.

That is my dreamers side.

The less I see movies from the 40s the more of a realist I am. In everyday life I am more of a realist, which is odd considering I have an imagination that can literally see things that aren’t there. And dream them. Things I’ve never seen but become real.

Wait. Hold on. Let me get back to my point.

Feminism. Are you a feminist?

See, as a teenager I thought that I was. Now, don’t forget that I was lopsidedly influenced by the ideas of 60 years before I was born. I thought being a feminist meant that I believed in a woman’s right to have the same access to anything in life that a man did. Same chances, same rights. Kind of like civil rights. We are all created equal.

That being said, I don’t believe in changing the rules for men and for women. Would you change the rules for blacks, Hispanics and whites? Is there a difference? No? Then why change the rules?

If a woman can’t do the job the same as a man, than she shouldn’t get the job. End of story. I believe that. Same with a man. If he can’t do it, then he shouldn’t get the job. If we are all so equal, that is what life would be life. There would be no favoritism to women because they have a vagina and the company needs to keep a scorecard.


Spanish women are still pretty fierce about something in the feminism department. Probably because it all came a bit later than in the States what with Franco and all. This is where I see it mostly.

I like to cook. Mostly bake. I like it. Not only do I like to eat the finished product and watch other people enjoy said finished product as well, I like the process of it. Finding new recipes, thinking of new things to do, I just like it. I don’t look down on you if you don’t. I don’t really care if you do or don’t except that if you do I may ask for a new recipe or advice. Otherwise, I could care less. But Spanish women of my generation like to look down on me for it. They laugh a smuggish laugh and say things like, “Well, you have time, being at home and all.”

Interesting. Two jabs in one little statement.

See, I am less of a woman to many of my Spanish comrades because I do not work outside of the home. I stay home. And what is worse….(dum, dum ,dummmmmmm) I CHOSE to stay at home! (gasp!) It isn’t that I was fired (although I was fired right as I got pregnant leading to me becoming a SAHM-to-be. Really the worst sin in the minds of working Spanish women everywhere) it is that I choose to stay home. Now, considering that I am now living in a country where I do not speak the language very well (or that Spain has an unemployment rate of 19% were we living there) I am graced with a bit of leeway. But only a bit.

I also like to sew. I don’t have much time to do it, but I like it. I was taught by my grandmother during my summer stays with her and my grandpa. But the very fact that I even know how to sew makes female heads start to shake in disgust and fawned amazement as they look at each other and giggle.

Now, I don’t like to iron. But I iron Principe’s shirts. I don’t make him do it. They would never get ironed otherwise and he would end up going to work in the same two ‘wrinkle-free’ shirts that he owns,  as he did when he lived in New York City without me. Being a SAHM I see it as part of my job. Just as cleaning the bathroom is and making dinner. Not that Principe doesn’t help, but why wouldn’t it fall on me to do?

I also like to scrapbook, or do ‘those little crafts projects’ as my SIL calls them. She pretends to look impressed while complaining to me about how hard it is to be pregnant and working and then come home to a toddler. At least I get to take naps. Yes, I think to myself, and at least you can afford a housecleaner……But I never say that.

Because I guess it doesn’t matter. I shrug it off. I actually feel a bit sorry for my fellow Spanish women. It is a shame that they have leaned so far into the idea of feminism being the opposite of who your mother was that they actually look down on those who do “womanly things”. Which basically they look down on their own mothers and the life that they had. It is interesting to note the pride in a Spanish woman’s voice when she gets to say, “MY mother worked….” during a conversation. They don’t realize it, I’m sure, but by belittling the things that are deemed ‘womanly’ and therefore ‘old-fashioned’ they are belittling their mothers and their grandmothers. And me. And the rest of us who choose to stay home for a little while. Or maybe a long while. Or simply those of us who like to cook simply because we enjoy it. We don’t know why. Just as you aren’t sure why you like being an accountant. It is just in your blood. You simply LIKE it.

But in France, see, the women seem to have come full circle. Or perhaps they never leaned so far away as the Spanish women are now. Toulouse is full of merceries (a store to buy thread, ribbon, etc) and fabric stores. This is the home of COUTURE, you know. They also have scrapbooking stores and supplies, though not in the quantity that we have in the States, but as in all things, the States just has to have one of everything on every corner…..!

Women here go to the market with a basket. They seem to be able to meld both being a mother, a woman and a worker into something that is flexible and equally spaced. Now, notice this is observance without being too involved in the French culture as I don’t as yet have any friends here in Toulouse, but this is what I see from the outside.

As much as Spain is my second home and I don’t think France will every get to set up camp in that place in my heart, it is nice not to feel the pressure or see the nods or hear the giggles between two other ‘working’ women. Just a bit of a rest from the Spanish feminist movement. Just to catch my breath.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 12, 2010 5:56 pm

    I really liked this particular post. 🙂

    • wideopenworld permalink*
      March 12, 2010 9:04 pm

      Thanks! I read that you all are doing well. Glad to know it!

  2. March 12, 2010 6:06 pm

    I think you are right. French women do manage to strike the balance quite well. I don’t know where it comes from. It could be the 35 hours week, or the food culture, or our history, I don’t know, it’s hard to pinpoint. I’m glad you like Toulouse. It is a wonderful city. X

    • wideopenworld permalink*
      March 12, 2010 9:04 pm

      It really is a wonderful city!

  3. Ciara permalink
    March 12, 2010 10:32 pm

    You seem to have hit the nail on the head of “my france” – today was one of those wonderful days that i got the balence 100% right – having worked a full day, gone to the market at lunchtime, prepared and served a ‘diner aperetif’ during the rugby match for 10 (drinks and nibbles watching Brive/Stade Français), sent them all home about an hour ago before taking out my sewing machine and finishing a sewing project for my daughter!!

    Mind you i couldn’t have done it all if hubby hadn’t picked the kids up from school and given them their baths!
    Sewing, cooking, working, mothering – I do try to do it all – but if you do try to do it all – you really do have to do it all and thats a lot of stuff when no matter what, there are still only 24 hours in the day.

    I’m not a perfectionist – i couldn’t be… and thats what i don’t get about my similar french mothers – they are perfectionists and still manage to get it all done.

    Maybe after another 10 years here i’ll get it!

    • wideopenworld permalink*
      March 13, 2010 10:07 pm

      It must be in their genes!
      Congrats on the day! Those days feel so good and fulfiling!

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