Something happened yesterday. It jolted me. And like a lancet pierced my emotional cloak to dig up the feeling I sometimes experience–that as a woman male society expects me to be invisible, my needs non existent. ( For example, give up your birth name upon marriage). In that moment I connected to the truth that most of our mothers and grandmothers have been marginalized over the centuries–their work and consciousness debased. And it sickened me. My stomach recoiled. We’ve been “just housewives”, just “mothers”, “just quilters”, “just nurses”, etc, As long as our efforts have been seen as detached from bringing home the bacon and relegated to just frying it, our careers are viewed as unimportant up against the man’s career who is the one earning the money in the family.
What happened was this: Bob and I applied for a line of credit using our house as collateral. A safety net. Just in case. Or if we ever get serious and remodel the room above the garage in order to rent it out. I was checking over the papers since we were to sign them with a notary later that afternoon. The form listed my husband, Bob, as signer, with his occupation and number of years, and me as co-signer- with no occupation or employment listed next to it. Granted, the loan was based on his salary, but i bristled at the alleged non-existence of my career, my work. Why should I be any different from a man who wants and gets recognition for his career or profession? I still consider myself an attorney even if retired, and certainly still a writer even if I make hardly any money at all at it. It’s not a hobby for me. It’s an occupation.
So I filled it in with a pen– Attorney/writer, 42 years, and initialed it. And I felt better for it. Move over Quicken Loans. I’m a woman and I’m here. Get used to it.
Right on, Elaine! You go, girlfriend. Keep speaking up and writing it out!
Thanks Marlene, It is somehow healing to write what I’m thinking. And the editing process always makes my thoughts clearer to myself, so I can own them, instead of having just a vague feeling. Thanks for the kudos. Elaine
“Move over Quicken Loans. I’m a woman and I’m here. Get used to it.” …at this point I am on my feet, clapping my hands, –oh screw that, I’m climbing on top of my kitchen table, giving you a standing ovation from Gardena. Your postings always seem to strike a chord with me, but this one is a gong sounding.
It’s relevant on so many fronts. The categories we fit (or don’t fit) into too often become a measuring stick of worth/integrity/prowess regardless of validity. …and sometimes it’s so slight–in fact the more blatant offenses, it seems to me, often hold less weight.
Angie, Thanks for the bravo claps. I especially like your last statement- the little slights are often soooo insidious, and unnoticeable until they somehow corrupt our female souls. You gave me an idea for another post. Thank you for being you, a strong feminine woman.
It’s tough being marginalized. You could also be one of those ‘non-essential’ people, as the government is calling them. It sounds like we could solve the debt crisis by only keeping those ‘essential’ workers!
Years ago, I wanted to get life insurance so in case something happened to me, Edwin could have the money to have someone take care of the house and children while he worked. He didn’t think it was worth it because I wasn’t earning any money at the time. Talk about marginalized! That did not make me feel all that good about myself. Things are different, now. Most of that old 50s mentality has been drummed out of him! He slips up every once in a while, but now I think he realizes that I am ‘essential’!
Annette, Your experience reminds me of another topic I’m passionate about. Meaning to write about it, somewhere I filed away a newspaper article about the true value of a housewife” as determined by an insurance adjuster calculating the amount a husband could collect for her value of “housewifely duties” after she had been wrongfully killed in an accident. Man, you are spurring me on to write about that. By the time you added up all the “value” a wife with children provided the husband it was quite a tidy sum. It’s true most of the 50’s mentality is gone the way of dinosaurs, but still it creeps in every once in a while in this house too.
Another point you bring up which reverberates with me too, and that is that since we’ve been marginalized throughout history, it seems that so many of us women are able to identify with others who have been similarly marginalized because of ethnicity or economic status, and that gives me hope for a better political future- but then traitors to femininity like Palen or Bachman appear and leave me shaking my head.
Have had similar issues when applying @ credit union about 5 years ago for
jointly-owned property loan w/my brother…even though the $ I made was definitely being counted…his name was automatically listed first and our $ withdrawal rights involving the whole business were definitely not equal…I was the add-on and had to demand that specific rights be given me or I would not sign. They complied.