A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!
Some 32 years ago, Marilyn French wrote a powerful and difficult novel, The Women's Room. It was about women whose only purpose was to reproduce and make possible the lives of the men they'd married--the job for which they'd been carefully bred and over-educated.
On the same day we learned that French had died, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published an opinion letter about teen pregnancy and "the woman's responsibility to 'domesticate and civilize' the male. We need to teach girls, Margo Szews said, how to just say "no" to sex, without hurting anyone's feelings.
I'm not sure why not hurting feelings is important. "Hell, no," is a lot clearer to the young men and their "nearly unremitting sexual drives" than any subtler locution.
It's hard to believe we are still having this discussion about the responsibility of women--and only women-- to "manage the sexual nature of a healthy society." French's life goal was "to change the entire social and economic structure of western civiliation, to make a feminist world." But as one wag said of this ambition, "Wow, my current goal in life is to get a job with benefits."
The more things change, the more they stay the same, I guess. Few women have the "lazy" (French's word) and desperate lives of the suburban women in her soap-opera-ish tale. Now, they're in the work place right next to the men. And just as insecure there as they were in the home.
Of course, so are men. That was the point French missed.
Szews has a point. The early sexualization of children, and especially girls, sets them up for trouble. Most young men do have "nearly unremitting sexual drives," though most manage to control them using whatever methods guys have always used. And girls still do say yes or no.
But when they do say no (or better yet, hell no), chances are it's because they have at least the glimmer of a notion that they can change the world, maybe even make it better. Not because they have a duty to subdue the boy-men around them.