Do you know the history of some of the things our mothers and grandmothers went through to get to where we are today? This is a women’s history lesson along with a bit of my own mom’s (Eddie) history – HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY. Kiss your mama or put flowers on her grave, if possible!
I used to think being a rebel meant you had to have a strong cause and to make a lot of noise about it. Or to fight against “the establishment” and do the opposite, loudly, of what was expected. I went through the loud 70’s after all!
You can be a rebel in a unique way. Quietly forge ahead, often taking people off guard. Quietly rebel against everything that stands in the way of success and happiness. You can DO.
I learned from my mom, Eddie, because she did a lot of quiet rebelling. She quietly rebelled against the standard of her day – that women had only one place and it wasn’t in the work force. She taught me through actions, not words. She taught me that being fulfilled in life was simply doing what made you happy and fulfilled, without hurting others.
She taught me “success” isn’t a word, label or specific career that everyone approves of (i.e., being the business owner versus “only being” a secretary). If you like being a secretary – or stay at home mom – or business owner – then you have lived your life on your own terms and you are a success. You succeed in spite of what others may think or say.
I asked her once if she considered herself a feminist. Her reply was adamant, “I am not a feminist. That is a small label. I hate labels. Labels make your world smaller. Labels limit you. I just decided I was going to do whatever I wanted to do. Then I went out and did it.”
Think about what that implies – Mom was born in 1923, the year the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)* was first introduced and three years after the 19th amendment had passed giving women the right to vote. I’ve read that the 1920’s were considered the “age of female enlightenment”.
By the time mom was six, soon after the stock market crash of October 1929, the “great depression” began. Most consider that it didn’t end until 1939 when Mom would have been sixteen (and first met and fell in love with my dad through her sister. He said he ran for 12 years before she caught him for good).
During the depression, she lived her formative years. My grandfather lost his great paying job. My grandmother had to work to help support the family – sometimes two and three jobs, whatever she could get.
1940’s College, St. Louis MO
Think how limited my mom’s life could have been as a woman back then when she was just getting ready to step out into the “real world” after high school. During that time period, support for women’s rights pretty much disappeared. People again began the renewed promotion of the traditional belief that women belonged in the home and never, ever in the workplace.
Most women found enormous obstacles blocking their entry into certain fields. They found work in factory and clerical jobs, but barriers were strongly against women in professional fields.
Instead of “glamorous” professions, a high percentage of working wives entered domestic and personal services (maids, cooks), while others were in apparel (sales people) and canning factories. Those who were in lower-level professions, such as elementary and high school teachers, often found men displacing them and for higher pay.
This is what my mom faced when it was time to start her great adventure in life. Nowadays we think we had it tough when we left home. I don’t think we can really comprehend what those women back then faced when looking for that career that fulfilled them. So many were denied simply because they were women.
In her twenties, my mom got her pilot’s license and owned her own Piper Cub airplane. During one solo trip, her plane’s engine died and she had to force-land in a cornfield. She stayed cool and calm, doing what was needed, which typified how I always thought of my mom growing up.
1944 Army Air Corp
She parlayed her pilot’s knowledge into doing her part during World War II when she joined the Army Air Corps (USAF today). She became a Link Trainer Instructor which was the forerunner to the Flight Simulator of today. She helped train young enlistees to become future pilots.
After marriage, she followed dad (and took my brother and I after we came along). He was in the Army for 22 years, enlisting before they marriage. Along with other professions, she was everything from a 3rd grade teacher, high school basketball coach, to later becoming a research assistant who was a part of a project researching the effects of jogging on mental patients (in mid-1970’s). She eventually became the Director of the Alcohol Safety Program before retirement.
She didn’t talk, she just did.* And she strongly believed that when you can’t go forward, you go around whatever is trying to block your way. I don’t think it ever dawned on my mother that she couldn’t do anything she set her mind to do.
I know mom had set-backs and was sometimes told “No, you can’t do that” simply because she was a woman. She dealt with it, working her magic and often getting a job that she shouldn’t have gotten (being a woman and all!). Sometimes she didn’t get a job and had to just move onward, without whining.
1967 getting out of service
While she may have softly bullied her way into positions she desired to occupy, the most important position she felt was ever entrusted to her was being the love of my dad’s life. By her own words, her greatest accomplishment was her happy marriage. My parents had a very romantic love affair for 56 years.
Reading this, I hope you take these things away from the post: Quietly Rebel against anything that keeps you from living your successful life. Quietly Rebel against those who would try to stop you. Forge ahead! Life is far too short to be doing something you hate – and if you are? Only you can change it. Don’t talk – do.
Live your life fully and wholly, 100 percent. Live joyously, live fulfilled, live completely, live bravely, live totally jumping into the water puddles with both feet, and most important of all?
LOVE with your whole heart, holding nothing back.
*I am not implying that the many wonderful and amazing women who have fought for the rights of women are only talking; I’m thinking more of the women who use the word “feminist” as a weapon against all things male or all things that don’t go right in their lives concerning jobs or men. It’s a catch-all word for so many things that this long-drawn out movement never meant to imply.
Several facts came from this paper: http://www.loyno.edu/~history/journal/1988-9/moran.htm
Some of you remember the 1970’s and the ERA finally being passed and sent to states for ratification in 1972. Or the 1980’s where it was extended. But did you know it was first introduced in 1923? Or that it is still three states short of the 38 required to put it into the Constitution? That the legislation can be repealed and altered? Something started back in 1923, something as simple as the desire to have the same rights as everyone else in the United States.
The Equal Rights Amendment
Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.