My office is next to the office of a woman recognized by the White House for, uh doing this thing that grew this gigantic thing which is, I would imagine, making a beat you over the head with a two by four sort of impact on young girls in America today. It’s a bit of a slap in the face to the current feminist movement. Makes us look like a bunch of monotonous, whiney four year olds which has been my point. If you aren’t doing something, then shut the hell up. Where I am loud, this woman is unassuming. I didn’t say quiet. Here’s another… she’s the first *person* to earn a double degree in x and y (fields dominated by men) from z (ivy league) university. Not first woman. First person. Oh, also, she’s not white.
I would say, I’m not worthy but that would undo half her work. I am grateful. I am in awe. I am inspired.
She said something about a close friend who is theoretical physicist with two daughters and her friend admitted to encouraging her girls to stay the hell out of the field of physics OR mathematics because it was just too damn hard to be a woman in those worlds. She’s not new and fresh, this woman, she’s been fighting the good and often very uphill fight for a very long time. The fight which young women and even older women who have never been in the market don’t even admit exist. She said, dance, be a teacher, be a nurse, find a field where you won’t be eaten alive. Live a happy and productive life. She might has well have said, stay home and have babies. What an absolute waste of a beautiful mind.
The woman pictured above is Lisa Randall, the most cited theoretical physisist today, or at least that's what one source states. There's another photograph where Lisa is wearing a suit and that shot is in list of most beautiful scientists. I wanted to gag. I kind of did a little. Notice this is the one I gave you. Maybe I should have used that one in yesterday's post. Too late. From what I can tell Lisa Randall is not married and does not have children. All I know is she has a beautiful mind and it hasn't been wasted. If she doesn't have children I hope it wasn't a hard choice. Anyway, not my business.
So we looked at each other, my neighbor and I, and we looked sad. I told the story about being in Northampton and never getting the check because women don’t work in Northampton. Taking care of baby in a very specific way is so important that unless the man has stayed home, which is still rare, or it’s a lesbian couple (in which case a woman is a woman), it is the woman at home. I can’t really remember the last time I didn’t have to defend my choice. The assumption is that I have to. When it comes down to the fact that even if there was enough money coming from another source, the condemnation is amazing. I. Am. A. Bad. Mother.
I’m not, by the way. I’m pretty sure I’m a good mother, as mothers go. Sometimes great, sometimes brilliant, sometimes not so good and sometimes, what the fuck was that, Alecto?
I have, however, been lobotomized in the nursery as Pataskala likes to put it. I caught myself just last night. Elizabeth came home and said, you are NOT going to believe what happened this time. She and two other members of her dance school are performing in a local company’s production of The Nutcracker. It’s their first full length professional production and they kind of got thrown in at the end so true auditions didn’t actually occur. They have been thrown in with the core based on age and size. Mostly size because all of the other parts have been cast. They are significantly better than the size core they’re with. They need to be patient. They were given two parts. This wasn’t communicated. We all read the email. OK. Poor communication from the director. We’ll handle that. This is *that* sort of world. There is one dancer in our school who, at 10 years old is alarmingly good. She did not get a part because she is too small for that core. Well, that sucks for her but to give her a lot of credit she sucked it up brilliantly. He was unfairly harsh with her during the communication because she didn’t behave exactly as he would have liked (according to Elizabeth, she did pretty damn good given the circumstances). Her mother took him apart. He was in a foul mood going into rehearsal after that. Elizabeth sucked it up but it affected rehearsal performance for everyone. Of course it did.
Elizabeth, if this is still the way it is in the dance world, I would suggest right now that you hang up your pointe shoes and try something else.
Well now. I’m going to have to undo that one.
Apparently, as with the world of mathematics, physics, development, senior management, politics and oh, I don’t know, women’s choices in how children are raised, there is still work to be done.
Elizabeth, if this is still the way it is in the dance world, you will have more work than just learning to dance well in front of you. You are not alone. Also, I will help.
Wendy Whelan just retired from the NYC Ballet at 47. 47, people. Think about that. Not just the years she put on her body or the length of time her body allowed her to dance but what she must have endured and the ceilings and walls she must have walked through. Shit, The Gelesy Kirkland Dancing on My Grave years alone. To have come through that.
Wendy doesn't have children either. I'm only noting this because people are going to ask. I'm coming to this.
I have children. I have children and I work in a male dominated field. It's a lot better than it was but it still needs work. A lot of work. Yesterday I dealt with some of the worst sexism I've had to face in probably 20 years in a meeting. The only person who even saw that there was a problem was one of my male employees. He saw that what someone was doing was 'not helpful'. What he missed was the blatant and outrageous sexism coming from, for the love of god, a woman probably 6 or 8 years my senior who's probably been in the workforce as long or longer in the IT field and she's got children. But she's a project manager. She's not technical. Her assumption is that he is right and I am wrong. It doesn't matter how dangerous his wrongness might be to the company. It doesn't matter how much evidence I have to support my case. I am wrong. I also haven't been spoken to that way since maybe 2003 and then it was a conversation with a man and it was private. He told me not to get uppity.
My point is that it's all still here and sometimes it raises it's head higher and wider than expected. Doesn't mean I don't know what to do with it. It means I need to do it.
THIS is Woman's Work. The Woman's Work of the century.
Ladies, teach your daughters well.
You might want to educate your boys while you're at it but the ultimate ownership and the absolute doing falls to us.
in a million years the story of Lysistrata would never happen if only because it was all about stopping a war and sex was the withhold but that would require a banding together to stop rape... oh but wait...
what would happen if we simply stopped having babies for a generation? a generation being defined as 20 years. I know, heresy.