Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Essay TIme, Part II -- Cookin' and Sewin' and I Might Be Mine

It’s strangely amusing that the talents like cooking and sewing that used to be considered important to a woman, have been completely replaced by sexuality and youth and that the ad world is calling it Feminism. We’re in a world of “Real” Housewives who have married for money and laugh that they eat all their meals in restaurants.

Today, I got out the needle and thread and worked on clothing repair. Last night, I spent an evening chopping and mixing and reducing and blending and sautéing and…well, making a meal from scratch. I’ve always been a good cook since I was forced to start learning at he age eleven when my Mother was forced to get a job and refused to lift a finger in the house.

I did study Germaine Greer and go to college and I did work at a job for forty years and considered myself a Feminist. However, just like my Mother told me I had to clean and cook because I had no worth, I continued to do it for both my husbands while they helped themselves to the money that I had spent forty hours a week earning. Both my husbands were deeply troubled, but both were clever enough to withhold love and remind me that I was lucky that any man would have me around. The second husband also had constant sexual demands and he was very good in bed, but he also offered it to other women, and I later discovered that he had propositioned a gay male friend “just to see what it was like.” Robert, bless him, was appalled and responded with a firm “NO!”, but I lost his respect for me in the process.

I gave up men in 1993, realizing that a.) they were doing me more harm than good and b.) younger men were really lousy lovers as they didn’t study the bedroom arts like Hippie men and were starting to be spoiled by the new generation of women desperately trying to please men. (Come now, did any one ever hear one word about Bill Clinton trying to pleasure Monica Lewinsky?) The business world, realizing women spent billions on unneeded makeup and clothing, continued to push them away from Feminism. And our mothers made it very clear that if they didn’t see the wedding they dreamed of, with the children and the house, they would weep and moan and die till we gave in.

But after I went through a 10 year depression, beginning in 2000 with the MS diagnosis, I discovered that I had spent no money unwisely. And the minute they started raising the credit card charges, I had cancelled them. I was laid off in 2009 and got straight on to Disability, which was a risky venture, but I pulled it off. I had also kept my savings and 401K and now, I am more comfortable than any man who felt superior to me, with the second  husband possibly dead or living in a shack in the Park.

Now, I am alone, but free to cook and sew and write when I choose to. I’m getting used to the quiet and the freedom. I am amused that people thought I was recently willing to sacrifice it all for a man whom I never intended to see again, but was merely concerned that he was alive, which he is, and is prospering, which he is. And he does it all on his own. Good for you, Kid…it’s what I wanted. May you find the girl of your dreams...and may she have health insurance!

As for me, I do not want to support another man who judges me on my fading looks. I do not want to wear an inch of makeup and spike heels and have an unformed and untrained mind to appeal to him. Been there, done that, got bupkis for it. That’s why I can cook and sew and not worry. It’s all for me and that makes it Feminist. And if a crippled old lady can find a friendship with a man who has a philosophy and a mind and accomplishments and a life, I might throw another shrimp on the Barbie for him and sit down to a good meal with fun and laughter…but he’ll have to sew on his buttons for himself.

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