Tuesday, May 31, 2005

woman+

My mom is proud of me 'cause I like to cook. I think she's also proud (or perhaps the word is relieved) that I keep a decently straight house. When I'm not stressed over writing papers, that is.

It's such a feminine sort of thing for me to do, and such a feminine sort of thing for my mom to be proud of. I don't know how I feel about that exactly. I do know that I have a fledgling vintage '50s apron collection, which I wear with pride and a distinct sense of deliberate irony (especially when it's the pink and white checkered one, which also sports a little lacy pocket).

Last semester when some other female students and I got together to read some classic feminist texts--we're still working on Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex--I brought my knitting to the discussion and we sat around drinking tea.

My former boss at the shoe store (still my sometime boss since I help out whenever she has need) is single, in her 50's, very liberated and liberal, has worked her way through several high-powered careers and been very successful, and now sells orthopedic shoes to old people with bad feet. And yet she still wears heels when she goes out.

Legally Blonde. She never loses that preoccupation with her appearance, even after undergoing a transformation into a successful and serious law student. Miss Congeniality. The whole point seems to be that a woman must also be feminine in order to be whole.

Over and over it seems like the task being handed to women is to be newer and better women--the old version, plus. Woman+ is cute and sexy, but smart and capable too. She can bake a souffle and entertain like Martha (or whoever Martha's replacement is at this point, I haven't kept up) but she can confront and win an argument when necessary too...only, she doesn't win her points like a man, but with polite finesse that leaves no one's feelings hurt. She can do everything your mother did, and so much more, and she'll never get cellulite or wrinkles, 'cause she takes care of herself, too... And look, we're all falling for it. Is there something wrong here? I don't know.

I like to cook, after all.

3 comments:

MOM said...

I seem to remember a time when all I could manage to do was shove clean laundry in your doorway because it was so nasty in your room, I couldn't bear to go in. So yes, I am relieved that you keep your house clean. However, I consider cleanliness not so much an indicator of a woman+, but as an indicator of paying attention. I am not a good housekeeper...however, I have many other fine qualities. There are many other things I like to do other than clean house. However, I live in the shadow of a mother who spent her days scrubbing floors with toothbrushes...and liking it. Her house was always clean, but I must constantly remind myself, she did not work outside her home, employed a maid, and had her own mother living in residence to help her cook, babysit or whatever needed to be done. I wish I cared that much...about a clean house, I mean, but alas I do not. So, Jen, while you may perceive that I wrung my hands about your cleanliness or lack thereof...it is because I wring my hands over that same thing about myself. But, always remember, "Dull women have immaculate houses." Let's console ourselves with that while we drink our coffee, knit and purl, and read our theology or our Harry Potter.

JTB said...

do I really have to choose between reading my theology and Harry Potter? :)

Little Light said...

I like to cook too.