Tuesday, November 9, 2010
A homegirl of mind had a profound thought recently. She observed that most of the women she knew her age had very strained or nonexistent relationships with their mothers. My friend theorized why women of our generation (Generation X) didn't get along so well with our mothers. She said that she believes that the older generation resents our freedom.
That was undeniably one of the most thought provoking things I'd ever heard. How right she was. My friend remarked how when our mothers were younger, females were expected to be docile and to go along with the flow. They were not allowed to ask questions.They took what was handed to them and were taught to be thankful, whether it was gentle or brutal. Our mothers were raised at a time when young girls were expected to be seen and not heard. They couldn't complain if they wanted to. Their mothers weren't Claire Huxtable or Carol Brady. Our grandmothers raised our mothers with the same harsh reality that they too had faced as children.
Our mother's generation was the first where women were beginning to practice any freedom. For those women that were single mothers, unless the husband died, the woman was seen as something was wrong with her. In the 60's and 70's women didn't leave their husbands. It simply wasn't heard of. It didn't matter if he beat her, cheated on her and had children all over the place, women were expected to stay put. And if a man left her with children, well then it was her fault for being loose to begin with. If she'd cooked and cleaned and shut her mouth the way a woman was expected to, he'd be there to pay the bills and beat her and the kids, just the way a man was expected to. Women that left or resisted abusive men were nagging and selfish. Women that fought against the system were labeled and outcast.
Women slowly came into their own. They began to actively get more involved in their own educations and get into the workforce, either out of necessity or sheer desire to do so. Women that were single and/or working mothers dealt with the stigma of being judged and being ridiculed, but they did it regardless. Along with their freedom, came changes for girls of our generation. We were the first generation of latch key kids. We raised ourselves on microwave dinners and MTV.
Eventually our generation came to resist the same pressures that our mothers gave way to. We wore what we want. We only allowed our mothers so much input, because truthfully, we'd done it largely on our long for so long. Our mothers didn't (or don't) understand us. We're loud, brash, proud, and independent. We have options they never had. Birth control can come in the form of a shot, implant, or pill and no one would be the wiser. Abortions were only a few hundred dollars and a clinic visit away. If you didn't want to visit your family, you had legitimate reasons. You hear words like "slut" and "bitch" so often that the labels denote little more than a shrug from most of us. Who gives a damn if your mom is mad because she doesn't like your boyfriend, your major in college, the way you dress, or your career choice?
Truthfully, she cares. When she was your age she couldn't just dodge the bulleted questions by her mother. If she chose to do as she wanted, she had to at least listen to the nagging, questions, and insinuations. Women our age tune it out. We raised ourselves for so long, who wants to listen to the older generation, which has now slowed and is now able to dole out advice?
They're surprised to find that we're outgoing and free. They want us to humble ourselves and lower our heads to them. They resent that we can collectively live the lives that they've always wanted, but they don't understand that they raised us this way. They raised us to be the women they'd always dreamed of being. And now they resent us for it.