Tell us about a time when you fought authority and took a stand against “the man.” Did you win?
No, never did! I’m currently in an all-out paper-war with Medicare, but I don’t think that counts, and I don’t think I’m winning. I’m somewhat passive, but I do “speak my mind”, but have rarely gotten in someone’s face. I’ve never marched for or against anything. I’ve never carried a sign at a rally. I’ve never hugged a tree in front of an oncoming bulldozer. Am I boring or what? I think partly that’s just not my style. I do monetarily support causes that I feel are worthy, and often wish I had more money — because there are so many worthy causes.
I suppose my most formative years were in the 60’s — 12-22 years old. That was also the decade that the women’s revolution was heating up. A number of actions were taken during the ’60’s: President Kennedy created the President’s Commission on the Status of Women in 1961, aware the women rights issues were coming to the fore; and The Equal Pay Act of 1963 was enacted that stipulated equal pay for women. During the Johnson administration, The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed to prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on gender and the EEOC was created. It wasn’t very effective in enforcing the law, though. Because of rising demands for equality, the National Organization of Women was formed in 1966 and Betty Friedan, author of the thought-provoking The Feminine Mystique was the first president. The organization grew rapidly. The introduction of contraception pill in 1961 capped by the Roe vs. Wade decision in 1971, were further inducements to women to “take control” of their lives and decisions.
The point of this brief history lesson is that a lot of pressure was inadvertently put on women to enter the workforce, to be not merely unfulfilled “homemakers” (the underlying theme of The Feminine Mystique). About the time this wave was building, my husband and I were starting a family. Our first was born in 1978, and I willingly left my good job at a D.C. trade association to be a full-time mother because I felt it was more important. This flew in the face of prevailing opinion among many women, and some of my friends definitely thought I was anti-feminist or crazy. I believe I was not.
This takes me to another belief I hold: raising children and helping build a cohesive, loving family is the best thing parents can do to pass on values. To create responsible, loving, well-educated, and emotionally strong children is the best way to affect the future. The time spent with one’s children is never wasted, and can be quite rewarding. This does not mean that I think less of women who choose a different path than I did; I’ve seen wonderful children come from families where both parents work — what counts the most is putting the children first, making them feel that they are loved and cared for, and that what they do matters.