Friday, September 5

CHANGE


I was born the year of Sputnik.

My name was going to be 'Christina' until the world's first sex-change operation made his/her preparations public.
1957 was also the infamous year of the Little Rock Nine. "West Side Story" opened on Broadway, The Everly Brothers hit #1 with "Wake Up Little Susie", and some very classic t.v. shows made their long-running debut: Perry Mason, Maverick and Leave it to Beaver. (Cindi & Danny 1959)

Growing up in the historic '60's was almost idyllic; we were too young to be afraid of the Cold War and having way too much fun with the explosion of rock
music and pop fashions to be aware of the cultural whirl-wind we were all carried away in. I was a child of the white suburbs; riding a bicycle to the Van Nuys Airport just to watch the single prop planes come in, building back yard forts, making mud pies and longing for braces for good reason. (I could fit a nickle between those front teeth-1964)

Change was happening, and it was exciting; but some things were still etched in stone. It didn't matter how fast I could run, how dead-eye my dirt clod aim - when the neighborhood boys played "Army" I was ALWAYS the nurse. They had the power. I hated the automatic relegation.

At school, we learned what we could be when we grew up. The boy's list of possibilities was always much longer than ours. We were never encouraged to be strong. A girl voicing ideas was often negatively labeled "independent", or "aggressive". Social boundaries were clearly defined 24/7. We girls had to stick-up for one another. I had a pink bedroom and a picture of a ballerina on the wall, but I was not interested in girly things. Our playground buzz about the space-race against communist Russia was thrilling to the core - but little girls could not dream of becoming an astronaut; so we quietly dreamed about being boys.

I begged to go hunting with my dad, or - just to learn how to shoot - but he said, "Nah. You're a girl." I watched exhaustive preparations for wilderness 50 mile, week long Boy Scout hikes my brother would go on with my dad. I knew they would be washing in streams and cooking trout over an open fire, pitching tents and telling stories under the stars. I wanted to go!

The now mythical bra-burning feminist movement frightened me with rapid-fire images of really angry women. I did, after all, want to be a wife and mother some day. I looked forward to it as a natural and magical part of my future self. Their message was not for me.

As a young married, I was not prepared for job interviews in the '70's where predominately LDS employers asked me how soon I was planning on getting pregnant. So-called psychological profiles popularly accompanied the application, asking literally pages of personal questions such as, "what is your relationship with your father?" and "if you came into a lot of money, would you a) pay your tithing b) go on a cruise or c) put it in savings." One office told me I would have to answer to a different name, since they already had a Cindy working there. It was insulting.

The workplace was filled with either arrogant, sexist employers or catty female co-workers who didn't want me to forget how my family of 5 mormon kids was robbing the planet of valuable resources. They, mothers of an only child or 2 at the most - frequently sought opportunity to comment on my poor "planning". It didn't matter that my kids could cook, wash their own laundry, excel at school, teach younger siblings music lessons and complete long chore lists while I was at work. Enlightened career women of the 90's explained to me how I had cheated my first two children out of an inheritance, since they would have to share it now with 3 other siblings. It had never occurred to me that anyone would have a child based on the assumed disbursement of what a projected inheritance might be.

These women were quite vocal about my "harsh" parenting methods


I have been accused of being "aggressive" by some women. Case in point: I worked part-time once as a teacher's aide at the local elementary school. I was disgusted to hear over the classroom intercom one day that the annual school carnival would be canceled because "...your parents have not volunteered to help us with the cake walk...", among other crimes. Fed-up with an aloof administration that was more concerned about federal funding than real children, I got on the phone.

The school carnival was poorly attended because they required 2 hour time slots for parents to man booths too expensive for families to visit. Nothing was ever FREE at school. Maybe they didn't need a cake walk. Maybe they needed a boost in planning more creatively. In a few minutes, I found a grocery store manager who offered to fill a shopping cart to the brim with whatever the school wanted to choose from their toy isle - for free. He just wanted a receipt on the school letterhead for tax credit. When I called the president of the PTA and let her know she could send someone to go pick up their lucky cart-load of goodies with the receipt the school secretary had waiting for her, she hit the roof.

"Who are you?! I don't recall seeing you at any of our meetings!" she screamed. Next she called the Principal and railed against my butting-in on their fine-tuned organization. I had to call her back and apologize (for -?), but I also asked her if this meant she wasn't interested in the square dance caller I had found who would come and call dances for free with his own sound equipment? I couldn't bring myself to tell her about the folklorico dance troupe that was willing to come, too. They never did go get that cart load of free stuff. In a very small pond was this little fish who felt so self-important that unconventional assets could only be perceived as a personal threat. I had just bumped into one of many "strong" women in various positions of "power" who happen to also be stupid.

Suddenly, unbelievably, at long last ~ is a smart woman who is also really pretty! AND she has long hair. Not the Cindy McHeiress-do long hair, but real woman long hair.
I wanted her to wear it in a pony-tail for her debut speech, as the ultimate "one of us" signatures a busy woman with long hair does first thing. Half my wish came true.

I know it shouldn't matter, but I love her feminine skirts and suits! Finally, a woman who will wear a DRESS just as easily as most women wear pants. (Michelle Obama's dresses at the DNC were absolutely stunning, btw!)

She has a hottie sports champion, working-man husband who is part Eskimo; a big plus with me any day.
Her sense of humor is welcomely wry. She has a recognizable speech pattern of one who is simply speaking instead of carefully pontificating. She is outrageously cheerful. She is gracious to reporters dogging her heels while she shops with her family. She has affectionate exchanges with an original husband she seems to like a lot.

Finally, a woman in power who doesn't move as if that power must be constantly acknowledged. Unconventionality obviously doesn't make her feel threatened.

Her dad took her hiking AND hunting.
She has FIVE kids.
Her little Piper giving baby brother a hair-lick-slicking was pure magic.
Change sneaked up on us, after all! While we recognize this wonderfully historic time in American election history for successes on both sides of the isle, this is the first time I feel like my time has come. And, similar to some of my experiences in the world, Sarah Palin has more critics that are sexist women than anyone else. And ~
. . . she wears super cute shoes without apology.

So there.






2 comments:

Cynthia said...

It sure is a different time than when we were kids. Remember when Geraldine Ferraro was a running mate? Sadly, I don't think anyone was ready for that yet. This year seems like the right time and the right people to break some barriers.
Love the pictures from your youth. One looks a lot like Rachel.

Yaj said...

Be careful - NOW and the Stalinist party and the press (generally but particularly the female press) must destroy that "woman..."

Must destroy that "woman..."

Must destroy that "woman..."

Never mind the fact that she is everything they have been touting for 30+ years - except she is inherently smart, happily married, smart, pretty, family oriented, smart, stylish, didn't tie herself to a man to "make it", smart, can speak extemporaneously, a down-to-earth-regular-and-proud American, smart, looks good in a dress, probably looks good in a pants suit, smart, conservative,can shoot a gun, smart, popular, comfortable with who she is, smart and oh, yeah, worst of all - disgustingly Republican.

Must destroy that "woman..."