'My profession is . . . my only fit wife.'
( I. K. Brunei, in Rolt, 1961.)
'A woman has three security valves, a man, a child, a job; in my code it stands in that order, yet in my real life the order is reversed. Also, I believe that only a man with whom I would like to make a couple should be able to calm my anguishes, my distresses; but in real life it's my work that does that. I hate to admit all these contradictions in myself. . . .'
( C. Deneuve, Life, Feb. 2, 1969, p. 52.)
The two quotations above show crucial differences in sex roles in relation to career and family life. Men, nowadays nearly as much as in Brunel's day, may admit that their career brings them their primary satisfactions without necessarily jeopardizing their family life. Brunel, the pioneering railway engineer, was passionately dedicated to his work, admitted it publicly and was praised for it while at the same time maintaining family life. For women, as illustrated by Miss Deneuve's statement, family relationships are supposed to be paramount, with career integrated with the rest of their lives in a secondary way or not at all. Where the woman in fact derives primary satisfactions from her career, she may experience conflict and have difficulty in integrating her family relationships into this pattern. Miss Deneuve, even with the enormous financial and other helping resources available to a successful film star, has experienced these strains and has in fact divorced her husband and restricted her contacts with her child so as to pursue her career--despite her wish to 'manage all--have a great career, a happy family life with a man, children and all'.
Alice Rossi notes that the 'helpmeet' conception of the woman's familial role is not compatible with a committed career as a responsible professional, such as a scientist, engineer or doctor, 'except for those rare Amazons among us who live two lifetimes in one' ( Rossi, 1965, p. 53); Jessie Barnard in her study of women in academic careers says that 'unless your husband--if you have one--is with you all the way, the going will be rough. In fact, you might do well not to encumber yourself with any other kind of husband but your work' ( Barnard, 1963). The male helpmeet to back up the dedicated professional woman (as Brunel's wife backed him up) is an even rarer bird than Rossi's Amazon.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Sex, Career and Family:Including an International Review of Women's Roles. Contributors: Michael P. Fogarty - Author, Rhona Rapoport - Author, Robert N. Rapoport - Author. Publisher: Allen & Unwin. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1971. Page number: 186.
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