Wednesday, March 5, 2014

International Women's Day

I have been meaning to write a post about independent women ever since I returned from my trip to Germany last year.  One thing leads to another and I either write about something else or don't write at all.  I am so busy write now preparing my A to Z post and planning a baby shower that it keeps slipping my mind.

But the other day, just out of curiosity, I decided to Google 'women's liberation day' and, lo and behold, I came up with March 8, 2014, International Women's Day.  Yes, celebrations in the UK.  Where are the celebrations here in the USA?

As a college student and worker in the 1960's, I never considered myself a feminist or a 'women's libber'.  I just assumed, wrongly it seems, that women would be treated equally in the workplace if they had equal abilities.  At the time, the profession of laboratory medicine was dominated by female workers.  When I was working for the City of Detroit, we were unionized so that everyone was paid the same salary based on longevity.

During that time, I spent a year working at what was known as 'Women's Hospital'. Workers were not unionized.  It was mainly an OB/GYN facility.  The two main labs of Hematology and Chemistry (where I worked) were headed by two techs who had graduated together.  One man. One woman.  It turns out that the male worker made considerably more than the female.  The reason?  Well, as explained to the female worker, her male counterpart was married with children while she was single and engaged to a doctor.  I think it was this type of discrimination in pay that led me to become president of my union back at the City.

I felt the sting of discrimination again when, in my position as Treasurer here in West Bloomfield, a trustee asked if I didn't think I should take a pay cut because I was married and my predecessor was a single woman with the responsibility of taking care of her mother.  Now, I highly doubt that, if my pay had been decreased, once I was divorced and raising my three sons on my own anyone would have offered to generously increase my salary.

I have always considered myself to be very independent.  And, thus, I often travel alone.  Which brings me to the idea for this post as a result of a woman I met in Germany.  She was also traveling alone.  While she mentioned having a grown son, she implied that she had never married the young man's father.  She explained that she had no interest in being tied down to someone who did not want to participate in activities she enjoyed.  Specifically, traveling around the world.  She was very vocal and sometimes went on much too much, but I knew where she was coming from.

She knew what she wanted to do and did it.  How many times have I heard a woman say that they were vacationing where her husband wanted to go, never where she wanted to go.  Or went to the movie her husband wanted to see or, worse, no movie at all because her husband doesn't like to go.

I once asked a co-worker if she had seen a certain TV show.  She said she had never seen it because her husband watched something else at that time.  I asked, stupidly I guess, if she had another TV.  She said 'yes, but he likes me to sit next to him on the couch while he watches TV.'  Eye roll.  Really?  A man in his 50's can't watch TV alone?  Or he doesn't trust you to be out of his sight in the same house?

Another friend would go shopping on her lunch hour and hide items in her trunk until she could sneak then into the house when her husband wasn't home.  Enough said.

I keep thinking, naively it seems, that things will change and women will be as free as they wish to be.  I doubt that it will ever happen unless all the men are wiped out by some 'Y' specific virus.  The attitudes of women being subservient spans all generations and classes.  And I have often heard women making extremely disparaging remarks against other women who are high achievers, as though somehow their very existence was challenged by them.

I guess that is why we have an annual International Women's Day.  At least in the UK.

1 comment:

  1. I am one of those who doesn't go to movies because hubby doesn't but in my case it's as much through laziness as anything. I do occasionally go with a friend, but I am just as happy to wait until I can watch it on iTunes in the comfort of my own home.

    I was a Fleet Administrator many years ago and was certainly not paid on a par with the males doing the same job.


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