I just finished reading To Believe in Women – What Lesbians Have Done For America – A History by Lillian Faderman.

It was quite an interesting book. The premise is that most of the women who were trailblazers in fighting for women’s rights in various aspects were living lifestyles that would be considered lesbian today. This freed them from having babies and having to take care of husbands so they could do what they needed to do.

Reading books like this that use personal letters as a major aspect always reminds me that if I had one day to live I would have a massive bonfire and burn every personal thing I’ve ever written. Luckily, I’m not famous so I won’t be doing a grave injustice to history. When I helped clean out my grandparents’ house after their deaths we found a few letters. They were nice and sweet and showed an aspect of their lives that we didn’t see normally. Every one of us there had the same reaction – “I’m going home and burning everything!” Maybe I just have a weird family but the thought of other people reading personal stuff just makes me horrified.

The only part I didn’t like about the book was the conclusion chapter. In there it talked about how heterosexual women who have careers and choose to stay home with kids are obviously unable to escape the feminine socialization that their mothers taught them. For a book that was so uplifting about how wonderful women are it seemed a strange way to end with multiple slams on women today. I want to stay home when we get kids but my mother never taught me that I should. She worked outside the house. I don’t think I’m buying into mass brainwashing.

But other than that chapter I highly recommend the book.

3 Replies to “To Believe in Women”

  1. I study family history, and would love to read old letters, but I’m like you, I would like to burn all my diaries and letters and anything else personal before I go.
    Of course, a published blog might not burn so easily.

  2. Now, see….. That’s what I don’t like about the extreme feminist view on things. There is the tendency to go on and on and on about how women should have the ability to do anything they want with their lives, and yet when ANY woman chooses to stay home & be a care-taker in the home, she’s viewed as abdicating her rights. (Then of course there are women from the exteme patriarchal fundamentalist side that view any woman who works OUTSIDE the home as abandoning her core self, her feminine self.) My mom worked outside the home for as long as I can remember, as we were growing up, she & my dad worked opposite shifts so that at least 90% of the time, there was a parent home with us. Didn’t do much for their marriage, but us girls always had somebody home if we needed it.

    I personally did the SAHM for 4-1/2 years when DD was first born, then I got to where I had to find employment for MY sanity. I had become TOO much a hermit. So I started working 10 hours a week, and it was perfect. Now that DD is in school anyway, I’m working 30 hours a week. (And I KNOW that I’m not cut out to be a SAHM any longer, or to home-school.) I’m a firm believer that if another child DID enter my life (my niece or one of my nephews, if something happened and I became their guardian, since I’m now incapable of having any more kids of my own), I’d go back to being a SAHM until that child entered school, then I’d return to the work-place. Simply because I DO think that a child needs the most focus of a parent in those first few years. It’s a sacrifice I’d make for the health & wellbeing of a child in my care, but it’s not one I’m willing to make permanant.

    Why is it that some people just can’t understand that not all women are cut from the same cloth, either feminist or patriarchally-feminine??? Just like men, we also have drives & desires & destinies. Some women’s destiny & drive may be to work in the home, be a prime example of a Domestic Goddess. Some may work OUT of the home, employeed by themselves or by others, while still staying home most days with their children. And others of us are most compelled to work OUTSIDE the home, allowing our children to experience the world in the care of others. (Though, gotta say, I DO love having a day at home every week to be busy baking bread & doing more “traditional women’s work” like baking & sewing.)

    Ahhhh, ok….. You’ve got ME off on a rant now!!!! It’s funny that you’d prefer to burn anything that would lead people to understand that other side of you. I love reading about the every day, little details of the lives of others that give a person just that taste of every-day. Not just about the big things, but about the little things. I’m a bit of a voyeur that way…. I love books (novels, basically) that just have that at-home sense where you read about the little details of breakfast with the newspaper, the walk to the market, the stopping to chat with friends. Life isn’t always big eventful episodes, and something about knowing that there’s that similarity between somebody else’s small goings-on, and my small goings-on…. I love it.

What Do You Think?