The Art of Midlife: Courage and Creative Living for Women

By Linda N. Edelstein | Go to book overview

7
THERE'S STILL SO MUCH I'D LIKE TO SEE" How We Are Formed by Social Forces

It occurred to me when I was 13 and wearing white gloves and Mary Janes and going to dancing school, that no one should have to dance backward all their lives.

-- Jill Ruckelhaus

I became a feminist as an alternative to becoming a masochist. -- Sally Kempton

Once in a cabinet we had to deal with the fact that there had been an outbreak of assaults on women at night. One minister . . . suggested a curfew: women should stay home after dark. I said, "But it's the men who are attacking the women. If there's to be a curfew, let the men stay at home, not the women."

-- Golda Meir

Like their personal lives, women's history is fragmented, interrupted; a shadow history of human beings whose existence has been shaped by the efforts and the demands of others.

-- Elizabeth Janeway

The women interviewed were shaped by more than temperament, parents, and relationships with others. They are women brought up in a country dramatically transformed after World War II by civil rights, Vietnam, and the feminist movement. National movements and events such as these occur in each generation and have great impact. Being part of one generation rather than another has profound results. We struggled to blend freer possibilities with our parents' conventional teachings and spent our first forty years making room in our identities for the conflicting images of Donna Reed, Marilyn Monroe, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and even Madonna. Womanhood has become increasingly complicated with an ever-changing relationship to our environment as we absorbed our culture, experienced national and world events, and responded to society's expectations, if not always immediately or consciously. Didn't we wear bell-bottoms?

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