Judith Lautner (judith) wrote,
Judith Lautner

thinking about women

This morning a friend told me about his step-daughter, who is controlled by and abused by her husband. She doesn't realize it yet. My friend was asking if I knew how to reach the local women's shelter, which I didn't, exactly, although I had suggestions, and I did know where it is and what it is like (actually quite nice). As he told me how he had seen her with bruises on both arms once, how her husband makes her leave food on the table until it is completely cold before putting it away (meaning she has to stay up later and meaning if she forgets she gets blamed), how he controls her coming and going, I started to feel angry.

Tonight, after rehearsal, I talked with another friend, fellow chorale member, who told me about a friend of hers, 67 years old, who, for the past five years, has cloistered herself away from the world. A woman with a doctorate in psychology, who never got over her divorce, never got over "not having a man",who has withdrawn from the world. And I got angrier as I heard this.

As I pushed my cart through the aisle at the supermarket after rehearsal, late, avoiding the stockpeople - men - why always men? - on the sound system came the voice of Karen Carpenter, singing about how wonderful life was, and I couldn't help but remember that her life was over, over because she starved herself and vomited her life away, trying to exert some kind of control. And it all seemed like too much to me. I started to feel, I think, something like Naomi Wolf might have felt as she was writing The Beauty Myth. There is a link among these three women, desperate attempts to be what they set out to be, what they somehow couldn't be.

I am not a man-hater, and I don't have a conspiracy theory about this, but it's clear that the playing field isn't nearly equal and won't be until women are no longer subjected to different rules and absurd expectations. The woman who can do it all who looks like she spent the day at the spa...

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