Never Again – What a topic!
What to write about?
What is it about my life that I have no real regrets and I am struggling to recall something that I would never repeat?
Over the past month I have wracked my brain trying to recall something to put on paper. Nothing sprang to mind.
But just yesterday I saw the light and I knew exactly what I wanted to write about.
Recently I began reading a novel with the title “The Group”. Written by American author, Mary McCarthy. Published in 1963, and set in 1933, this is the story of eight young women who graduated together at Vassar College, New York. Vassar was a prestigious college that, in the main, attracted students from middle – upper class America.
As the story unfolds the reader learns about the women’s views on contraception, love, sex, socialism and psychoanalysis.
It was chapter two that stirred me. This was a chapter that touched on contraception as it was, or more importantly was not, back in 1933. Time and space does not permit me to reiterate the chapter word for word, however, it is suffice to say that it is largely about the first sexual experience of one of the central characters, Dottie. At 23 Dottie is still a virgin, whilst she is not too perturbed about this fact, she is however certainly concerned with the fact that to date no man has really attempted to ‘deflower’ (a common descriptive of that era) her.
At the wedding of Kay, another Vassar graduate, & Harald, Dottie meets the statuesque, very handsome and recently divorced Dick. They engage in conversation and arrange to meet for dinner at a later date. Of course at this date the inevitable occurs. Dottie spends the night in Dick’s apartment and her virginity is no longer, thanks to the very experienced Dick. Nothing unusual about any of this, it’s been happening since time began. However, as Dottie was preparing to leave that morning Dick suggested that if she intended repeating the previous night’s activities she may consider organising birth control for herself and when she had done this she should call him.
Remember it’s 1933 and it wasn’t until 1938 that birth control was legalised in the United States and the contraceptive pill was a long way off, thirty years in fact.
What stirred me about this chapter?
Firstly I had no idea until I read this book that contraception was illegal. An American nurse and birth control activist, Margaret Sanger, established a clinic for women in 1918 to educate and advise women of the few options that were available to them in those times. Margaret spent many days and weeks in jail because of what she was attempting to do and it wasn’t until 20 years later in 1938 that a male judge decided to lift the federal ban on birth control.
What right did the male species have to implement these rules in the first place?
What right did anyone have to turn women into baby making factories?
And it was men who were making these decisions because women barely had a voice in those times, they had only had the right to vote for less than 20 years.
Keep in mind that whilst deciding what women’s responsibilities were in the bedroom, these same males were insistent on their conjugal rights.
That was 1933.
Last night I watched an Australian movie titled “Hawke” which of course was about our former Prime Minister Bob Hawke.
Again I was horrified at the treatment of women by a high profile, intelligent man. Not only did he repeatedly cheat on his supportive and very faithful wife, Hazel he didn’t think twice about discarding the mistress Blanche.
In 1979 when the opportunity presented for him to enter politics he quickly realised that the Australian public would not be too receptive to a divorced politician. Blanche, the mistress, had already broken up her home on the premise that she and Bob would be setting up house and eventually marry. Not to be! Mr. Hawke did not hesitate in calling off the affair, not out of a sense of loyalty to his wife, but simply because he was not willing to compromise his own political ambitions.
The big question in all of this is why oh why did two intelligent women allow this man to treat them so appallingly? I believe the answer is – that is what women did, or thought they had to do, back then.
All of the above left me feeling angry, it also left me with many questions about why men felt they had the right to dominate the female species to this extent. As wives and mothers we deserve better.
My own personal experiences differ greatly from what I have written. Throughout my life I have been surrounded by good men; men who saw themselves as carers and protectors and treated and continue to treat their female counterparts with love, loyalty and respect.
In the 21st century women believe they have made huge steps forward and perhaps when it comes to breaking through glass ceilings in the corporate and professional world they have; but what about in their personal relationships?
The rising rate of domestic violence would state otherwise and would suggest that in the areas that matter most we have made very little progress.
Never again should women allow themselves to be dominated and mistreated – neither physically or emotionally!