Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Backwards and in High Heels

"Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels."

I did not go to Barnard and so I did not get voice mail messages telling me I was a "strong, beautiful Barnard woman" nor am I well-versed in gender theory.

And though perhaps I don't scream it out in the things I do or wear or say, I would like to think that at least in some ways I am an "empowered/liberated/modern woman." Whatever that means.

I went to an Ivy League college. I intend to get a higher degree someday. I intend to always have a profession, even when I have a family. I intend to do my share of cooking and cleaning when I have a family--but my share implies half, not all.

And all of those things are really important to me. I will be defined, I hope, as a mother, a wife, and also a professional. (Which is part of the reason it is so important to me to find a job I am passionate about.) I do not think my place is solely in the home.

All these things probably seem either obvious to you or like heresy, depending on what you believe. And I've been having a sort of hard time reconciling.

When I date, I still want to fit into gender roles. I still want to be the girl in the relationship. I expect the boy to pay, expect the boy to call, expect the boy to take the initiative and say whether he wants to go out again. And none of this is really fair.

I've been known to say that the boy should pay since he doesn't have to spend two hours before a date straightening his hair and applying makeup. But that's just falling into gender roles again, isn't it?

I cringe when I read articles about Hillary Clinton's wardrobe, or her cleavage, knowing that the male candidates do not get so much attention to their sartorial decisions. But I also cringe when Clinton points at sexism to explain her losses.

I worry that I will reach a glass ceiling (like when thinking about the fact that a woman has never held the top editorial position at a major daily newspaper--I think. This fact has not been verified, so I might be overlooking someone really obvious), but I have never knowingly encountered sexism in any form.

Essentially, I don't know what gender means to me. It does not mean that I fit into specific societal roles, except when I do. It means that I can be whoever I want to be, maybe. And what does that mean?


At 5/22/08, 6:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Eli7, sorry I haven't commented in so long. Your post is an interesting one. Admittedly, I too think that the guy should pay.. its called being a mentsch.

As per gender roles, and all of what "that" means, I think that you would might enjoy seeing two nekudahs: (1) Gur Aryeh on Shemos 35:17 and (2) the subtle machloches between the Gur Aryeh and Divrei Dovid (Taz's peirush on Chumash) on the same pasuk.

If you don't have easy access to either let me know ( Cheers.

At 5/22/08, 6:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

btw sorry, d'h harei chatzer karui kan in the Gur Aryeh and d'h es amudav v'es adaneha in Divrei Dovid


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