ROCK THE PROs!!!
It is difficult to believe that there are adult women that have no memory of a time when the terms, woman doctor, woman lawyer, woman engineer, woman veterinarian, woman politician, women's N.B.A., woman military... , or woman any-profession, were oxymoron(s) -- contradictions in terms.
"What about Teachers? Secretaries? Nurses?"
They were not considered Professions. They were "positions suitable for women until they married." And also for those "not chosen" (old maids) or widows. These "service" positions offered little respect and even less payment for services rendered and were always supervised by male professionals.
Hold on. There was one Profession that women have always been allowed to enter -- "The World's Oldest Profession -- PROSTITUTION!
It is a Profession for women that is enthusiastically supported by men covertly, but declared illegal by men overtly. Prostitutes have always been harassed, jailed, fined to the limits of the law and beyond (with few exceptions.) Their *clients,* however, *men* or *Johns,* are usually never punished for breaking their own laws regarding prostitution.
John-Paul Sartre wrote in The Words:
Culture doesn't save anything or anyone, it doesn't justify. But it's a product of man: He projects himself into it, he recognizes himself in it; that critical mirror alone offers him his image.
Culture never used to be a product of women. It does not save anything or anywoman, it does not justify us. We may now have projected ourselves into it if we recognize ourselves in it; that critical mirror alone now offers us, also, our image.
Professional women are contributing new and greater dimensions to the culture. But do we yet recognize HER self as a stable feature of it? Are we women *permanently* imaged in that critical mirror or is this image eroding?
One has only to look at the effect the backlash has already had on woman's new-found employment and educational status for some answers:
Everyday, there is more pressure to repeal the Affirmative Action Laws. If the government no longer supports equal education and employment, women will most certainly lose ground here.
Recently, a survey of women doctors has revealed that a third of them had experienced sexual harassment. And many more had experienced what is called, "hands off" harassment -- a hostile work environment. There continues to be reports of harassment of women in the other professions also.
Vicki Schultz, Yale law professor writes in the April Law Review, "Harassment has the form and function of denigrating women's competence for the purpose of keeping them away from male-dominated jobs or incorporating them as inferior, less capable workers."
This is what many women in the workplace have been saying: harassment is more about power used to keep women down than it is about lust or desire.
Yet, the media lovingly featured a woman named, Rosalie Osias. She has given $10,000 to Monica Lewinski for legal fees. Osias was highly critical of women's groups who complained of sexual harassment in the workplace, stating that sex was "a natural occurrence in the 'real world.' " Because "in the real world, women use sex to move up to higher positions, money and power."
Women's Clinics and staff are under constant threat of violence.
Everyday, there are both overt and covert attacks made on single, working-outside-the-home women, wives and especially mothers, in so-called women's magazines and Web pages, on TV and radio.
And everyday, there are media and cultural pressures which define women as homemaker, mother, wife. Women are being told how badly they are harmed by the stress of working outside the home and that they must be guilty for leaving their children.
New, glitzy sites spring up on the Web offering instant gratification to the "conforming woman" -- forever *girl*!
Who will be left to stand in the trenches of woman's struggle for parity when the old guard falls? Fortunately, there are many stalwart young women who already realize that rights and choice are not passed down like photographs from generation to generation, but must be constantly struggled for. These women are actively engaged in building the future, inspired by the inequities of the past.
But it is sad that girl-women crawl the Web for endless chats about blue fingernail polish and sex.
Man's culture has promised them so much more excitement, so many rewards and all they have to do is cultivate their appearance and their body while they dull their mind with trivia.
It is possible that in the future, they will no longer need to plan and prepare for their Professional career. They won't even have to choose it as it could be again the only Profession allowed for women, by default -- the world's oldest Profession.
Copyright 1998 Renee T. Louise and Ruth M. Sprague, Ph.D. These articles may be republished for noncommercial use only, provided that they are copied intact, and that this copyright notice is attached. Address all queries to: email@example.com.
G e n d e r G a p p e r s T M
[liznote: those who forget HISTORY are doomed to repeat it. . . ]