all of the selves we Have ever been
You might have guessed by now.
I got a new calendar for 2021. I never knew there were so many holidays. There seems to be a special occasion every day of the year. If it weren’t for all of the COVID-19 restrictions, life would be nothing but party, party, party.
The month of March is Women’s History Month, yesterday was International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Sounds auspicious, but I didn’t hear much about it. Instead, the news was filled with stories about women being sexually harassed in the work place by the governor of New York. The top story was Meghan Markle’s depressed mental state while serving as a royal duchess. Lawyers were appointed to investigate the Cuomo allegations and Markle left The Firm. Buried in the back pages was a blurb about the two million American women that departed the work force due to the changes wrought by the pandemic. I guess all of that news put a damper on the International Women’s Day festivities.
Looking ahead on my calendar for a better day, I notice that International Women’s Day is one week before National Napping Day that occurs on March 15th this year. Is that merely a coincidence? I think not. After all of those hard won and lost achievements, women are tired. A nap is in order, but why is napping only given a day and not a month? Why not an entire year? And why isn’t the holiday international?
After further research, I discover that National Napping Day is a day to raise awareness of the positive benefits of napping and to catch up on that lost hour of sleep due to “springing forward” for Daylight Savings Time. A holiday inaugurated by a lost hour of sleep? For real? Women are so chronically sleep deprived that the only springing forward left in them is to lunge for the throat of the next person who says women running households “don’t work.”
I swallow the lump it my own throat, it is my beef with the women’s movement, a movement that elevated everything that men do– opportunities that come with a pay check, but it did nothing to elevate what it is that women do. Why can’t it work both ways?
The world has long ignored the contributions of women, especially their contributions in the home—the numerous social welfare functions provided by women for free: watchful eyes in the neighborhood that add to public safety, the socialization and discipline of children, education, homework help, before and after school care, health checks and medication dispensing, meals, summer programs, transportation, help for elderly and ill neighbors and extended family members, orderly homes, healthy meals, intimacy and social connection...Those burdens have been passed along to schools, social service organizations, and government. Many of the services continue to be provided largely by an underclass of “working” women for whom we show our regard through substandard wages.
Ironically, it is women in the home who add to the life expectancy of men. Studies show that married men live longer than their unmarried counterparts. The same does not hold true for women. Why? Because it is women who remind their husbands to take their medicine and go to the doctor, to eat right, and get some exercise. Men call that nagging. The nagging wife has become the derogatory social stereotype for smart women. But science doesn’t call it nagging. Science calls it conscientiousness. The conscientious live longer, even if vicariously. Unfortunately, for women, due to lower wages throughout life, the ladies live longer but too many end their lives in poverty.
Women are expected to be virtuous, not acknowledged or compensated. The symbols of virtue, all of virtue’s heavy-hitters, are women. Lady Justice tramples the snakes and does it blindfolded for not a single billable hour. Lady Liberty stands on her feet night and day for hundreds of years holding a lamp beside the golden door. She gets a crown and a good view, but no one wants to admit that what she does is hard work. Instead, all folks can do is complain about the people she lets in. And poor Mother Earth—she’s having hot flashes and begging for someone to turn down the heat, but can she get an ounce of cooperation? Perhaps Edna St. Vincent Millay was right: “It's not true that life is one damn thing after another; it's one damn thing over and over.”
Giving birth to civilization has taken a lot out of women even if none of the effort was considered “work.” Taming the flames and keeping the home fires burning is what women do. Even if unrecognized and unpaid, it is not without value. So, if the International Women’s Day festivities were a bust in your house too, grab your superhero cape, claim your worth and your place on the couch. Monday, March 15th is National Napping Day. This one’s for you, tired sisters.