371b – A Conversation – Herland

Heather

Mother, knitter, spinner, writer, wife, weaver, host...not necessarily in that order...

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3 Responses

  1. ChristineAS says:

    Very interesting conversation. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Lauren Moore says:

    Loved listening in on this conversation.

    You talked about whether or not women/girls have the same restrictions today that they had when you were thinking about what you wanted to be when you grew up. I wonder how your perspective on this would be different if your children were girls instead of boys. In many ways there are fewer restrictions. But I think the ones that are operating today are more subtle. I remember in 1972 while being interviewed to become a graduate student at MIT being asked, “why should we invest our time and resources in you when you’ll just get married and have children and drop your career?” Today that question can’t even legally be asked. But now I am a clergywoman, and the statistics for my profession are appalling if you’re looking for gender equality. Even if you just look at denominations that freely and gladly ordain women, only about 13% of us are female, and very few of us stick it out all the way to retirement.

    This weekend I went to see the movie “Selma.” I was particularly struck by the scene where the woman tries to register to vote and is asked to name the 67 circuit judges in the state of Alabama. Yes, she had a constitutional right to vote, but that didn’t mean she was actually going to be approved. It’s that difference between theory and practice that you and your Dad kept coming back to. And I think the same kind of dynamic applies to women’s opportunities for career advancement. As you pointed out, the critiques in performance reviews are often not helpful. I remember a meeting with a church group in the 90’s who were discussing a female pastor who had recently been dismissed and it was clear there had been problems from the very beginning. Someone asked why she had been hired if they were so ambivalent about her and the answer was “we didn’t have to pay her as much.” It was appalling, then, but that economic reality is still at work.

    And you don’t have to spend very much time in the company of teenage girls to realize that their world revolves around being attractive to men. Even if they’re not consciously thinking about pleasing a boy, they’re following the lead of their peer group in the way they dress, speak, act, etc. It’s no secret that objectification of women’s bodies is alive and well. And the girls learn very quickly what it takes to get the attention of the people who hold the real power.

    Keep up the good work. Keep asking questions and making us think. And thanks for providing a place where intelligent discussion can take place.

    • Heather says:

      Yow. Za.
      I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard directly about or seen in person something as appalling as, “we didn’t have to pay her as much.” Revolting.

      And as tricky as boys can be, I thank God—frequently—that I don’t have to navigate the waters of raising a girl in this climate. I can’t think of a harder job to do and am constantly amazed by the families that do such a good job.

      And thank YOU, by the way, for always having something to add that makes me think, too.

  3. awesome says:

    highlight of the evening. Thanks for this