The Future of Women

The Future of Women

The Future of Women

The Future of Women

Excerpt

Earlier this evening I was talking with Rosa, who in addition to being many other kinds of person, is a woman in transition. She is in her late thirties; a mid-level civil servant on her way up to a senior executive position in the U.S. civil service; a widow; a child of immigrants; and a bilingual, bicultural new- middle-class person who jogs, rides horses, and does not know where she is going because she does not know what she "ought to want."

Tomorrow evening, I shall be seeing Rachel. She is twenty-two, the eldest of three lively, intelligent daughters of a mother in transition and a father who is, according to Rachel, "going nowhere." Her mother has just opened a one-woman show off Broadway, but to make her transition she has left home and spouse after long, frustrated years of housewifery and motherhood.

Richard wants an appointment with me. His wife and his sister have both been clients of mine as they have struggled with the role-model-less roles into which they have been cast. Richard's wife is now reading The Women's Room and telling him that he will never understand her nor really be involved in her struggle. He feels abused and alienated. He has been trying to establish a day-care facility in the new high-technology company where he works. The women he meets at work all feel that he is the one man they can talk to because he is not sexist. Why, then, he asks, is he so frustrated in his relationships with his wife and sister?

Ruth is currently enrolled in a course of study that will lead to certification as an engineer. She no longer feels that her value as a person is measured by success in the marriage market or that meeting men in school is the purpose of being there. She is not opposed to dating, but sexuality is not now a means for manipulating relationships. Most important, Ruth is beginning to realize that when important questions are asked, she is likely to know the correct answer because she is intelligent and has "done her homework." Relationships with women friends have taken on new meanings too. She no longer feels threatened or competitive with other women and has stopped thinking of her mother as a tragic, dependent person.

But, then there is Sharyn. Her father and mother "liberated" themselves from each other and decided that, having been parents until they were forty-five years old, they no longer had to perform that role. They were not . . .

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