Friday, March 26, 2010

Women, the series

A few Mondays ago, we had the pleasure of seeing our dear friend Mel Tibbs featuring in a series entitled Women on BBC4. This episode was titled "Mothers" and was the second of 3 episodes that charted the feminist movement from the 60's into modern day. Mel and her family were one of 8 families to feature in the hour-long segment, and each section covered generally how different families were dealing with the division of labor between men and women and explored whether gender defined how they handled the daily life of raising kids and working in or out of the home.

There were a few extreme cases: a female ear, nose and throat surgeon who was out of the home from 7:00 am-7:00 pm (pretty much the hours that her daughter was awake) and whose husband had been working out of the country for most of the past year (when asked what she needed her husband for, she replied, "Not much"), and a bit of unfair questioning (I felt) to a man who did not ever think to clean the tub after he has a bath and was therefore made to look like a prehistoric caveman who didn't appreciate his Oxford-educated wife's efforts to keep their house running. Matt and I watched the episode together and had a good chat afterwards about who does do more around here (I do more laundry, he probably does more cleaning), but generally it did make me think about how much women these days do sometimes take on in terms of trying to do and be everything to everybody - employers, partners, children, friends. It also made me realize that how we spend our time - whether working outside of the home or leaving our children in childcare, and then what we do in our spare time - is really about how we define our values. I, for one, definitely don't value a clean house all that much! But I do value trying to give my child and family all that I can to give us the best chance at a happy and fulfilling life.
Mel and Alan's brood came across very well and we were proud to see them on screen and be able to call them our friends. And it also made me want to book my next weekend to go visit them in their lovely rural existence! (no pressure, Mel! :)

I then watched later the first and third episodes - Libbers and Activists and enjoyed both of them to a lesser degree, although did find it interesting to consider how far women have come in 40 years and to think about how I feel about women's rights issues and feminism. In the first episode someone defines feminism as not adhering to the belief that men are supreme (to paraphrase), and in that respect I would say I am a feminist. The Activists episode, however, spotlighted a group of female activists in London who march and protest, so it's fair to say I'm pretty far removed from that level of feminist activity. Unless you count trying to force march a toddler to nursery or protest at his not listening to what his mother is saying...!

Each episode had a kind of ending theme song and the first one was Helen Reddy's, "I am woman, hear me roar"....Oh yes I am wise, but it's wisdom born of pain, Yes I've paid the price, but look how much I've gained...I am strong, I am invincible, I am woman. I like to think that yes, I am strong and invincible. And then, Blake nearly falls off the couch this afternoon prompting me to drop the laptop on my foot and nearly cry in pain...

The mothers segment theme song was Sandy Posey's "Born a woman": I was born a woman...a woman's lot is to give and give, and go on giving...yes, I was born a woman, I'm glad it happened that way. That kind of sums up how I'm feeling at the moment - giving and giving, but happy for the chance to do it and be able to experience what being a mother and a wife is like.

So in total contrast to my two televisualistic vices (Glee and Desperate Housewives), Women was a series worth watching. It made me think, it made me question, and it made me appreciate. Now on to arranging that summer weekend in Dorset...

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