When my mother was growing up, a woman’s role was pretty much cut in stone. She graduated from high school, got married, had kids, and took care of her home and family. If her family was wealthy enough, she went to college after high school, then the rest followed. It was relatively rare that a woman had a career. If she didn’t get married, she worked as a secretary, telephone operator, maybe a nurse or teacher. If her family/husband were well-to-do, she had Junior League and her volunteer work. Her life was planned out for her.
During World War II, women were told to step up. Remember Rosie the Riveter? What about A League of Their Own about women’s professional baseball? Women had to do “men’s” work because the guys were off fighting a war. When the men returned, it was “get back to the kitchen, ladies, you’re not needed anymore.” I often wondered how those women felt. They’d gotten independence, earned a good living, then—wham!—back to the old ways. I would've resented the heck out of it.
Television in the 1950s showed what life was like for a woman. Father Knows Best, June Cleaver, Harriet Nelson. Mom wore an apron and high heels while keeping an immaculate home.
Everything changed in the 1960s. Women decided to plan their own lives. Many of those who came of age in the 60s were torn, confused. We’d been taught (by our mother’s example, television, etc.) a certain way of life then expected by our peers to raise our sights higher. As if raising a family wasn’t enough. As if that job had no value.
I certainly don’t want to return to the days of my mother. Where women had no choices. What is great about these days is choice. Our careers are unlimited. Want to be an astronaut? Go for it. Want to be a teacher? It’s your decision. If you want to be a stay-at-home mom, your choice.
When my daughter was growing up, I taught her she could be anything she wants. As my granddaughters grow up, I hope their opportunities will be even greater.
Diane Burton writes romantic adventure . . . stories that take place on Earth and beyond. She blogs here on the 8th and 30th of each month and on Mondays on her own site: http://dianeburton.blogspot.com/