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  (ARCHIVES)Back to Current
Woman’s World (10/07/2007)
By Janet Lewis Burns

"The basic discovery about any people is the discovery of the relationship between its men and women." -Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973)

Most levelheaded women today, secure in their proficiency, don't look at men as competitors. The women's movement has seen its day; women hold their own in business and political arenas. At home she's revered as lady of the house and usually works well with her male counterpart.

When did it all start? Women stepped up to the mirror and flocked together to protest against bird hats in the 1860s! The "Woman Club movement" had emerged with the formation of the Audubon Society. Audubon women made protection of birds and a vision of moral womanhood meaningful. By the 1880s women's clubs had sprouted in every American town.

Cultural critic Jennifer Price's "Flight Maps", c 1999, Chapter II, "When Women Were Women, Men Were Men, And Birds Were Hats", says it all. Audubon women called the hats inartistic, a disgusting sight of dead, mutilated bodies. They maintained, ""¦it was wrong for higher-class women of superior morals to let lower-class men kill mother egrets." Forty species of birds made their way to huge millinery businesses.

Though she pursued motherhood as her most important duty, "at the turn of the century," Price writes, " women's reform efforts paved the way for much of what we enjoy as urban culture and expect of modern government."

Anne Morrow Lindbergh's book "Gift From the Sea" had its 20th anniversary edition published in 1975; her insight on the seasons of a woman's life is as beautiful and relevant today as its first year in print. She writes with candor and grace: "With a new awareness, both painful and humorous, I begin to understand why the saints were rarely married women."

"Woman must come of age by herself," Lindbergh muses, "She must learn not to depend on another, nor to feel she must prove her strength by competing with another." "She must find the true center alone. She must become whole." The author offers advice of a poet, stating that a woman must become "world to oneself for another's sake."

Today, in an ideal scenario, the individual is accepted and respected for his or her personal merits, character, and capabilities, apart from gender. The role of womanhood has been redefined. Housekeeping has become so simplified that even a husband, or a career wife, can do it. Many hands rock the cradle. The element most lacking is time.

Due to modern technology, it's not your grandma's kitchen anymore. I often recall those hearty Sunday dinners after Moravian Church services, when our whole family, along with a couple widowers, would gather at either our home in Lewiston or out on the Wollin farm near Bethany. After wallowing in a creamy fruit dessert, the women and girls would clear away the dirty dishes and head for the kitchen, while the men folks dozed off in the living room or tuned in a ballgame on TV and then dozed off.

As a young girl, I thoroughly enjoyed the kitchen chatter, woman talk. The ladies who had kept the warm food coming during the main course sat at the kitchen dinette to eat their slabs of dessert and sip another cup of coffee, praising the cook and asking for one recipe or another - the ultimate compliment. Hands and mouths kept busy as the washer kept the others drying with embroidered dishtowels used only for company. After a couple games of Rook or 500, it was time to prepare the evening meal (supper), using the old China. Home canned preserves, fruits, pickled beets, and sausages were brought up from the root cellar and served with fresh baked buns, breads, and poppy seed cake or date bars.

Some of these so-called high-tech conveniences are for the birds! Women seem to have less and less time to hang out with other women. As the fast-paced world spins out of control, simple pleasures have become way too complicated.

One of today's most common deceptions just might be, "We'll do lunch soon!" Cheers!



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