PUBLISHER’S COLUMN: A WOMAN’S PLACE IS WHEREVER
I don’t know whether to chuckle or cringe at two nuggets of “wisdom” published in the Freeman Courier 100 years ago this week; both are printed in the History section on page 6A but should also be shared here.
The first, from an exchange:
There is a type of girl that everybody likes. She is the girl who is sweet and womanly to look at and listen to; the girl who appreciates the fact that she cannot always have the first choice of everything in the world; who is not “too bright and good” to be able to give joy and pleasure everywhere. She is the girl who, whether it is warm or cold, clear or stormy, finds no fault with the weather; who when you invite her anywhere, compliments you by looking her best; who makes this world so pleasant herself, and who has tact enough not to say the very thing that will cause the skeleton in her friend’s cupboard to rattle its bones.
The second, whose author is not identified:
The best graduating course a girl can take after receiving a common school education, is a thorough course in roastology, boilology, stitchology, darnology, patchology, and generaldomesticology.
Both are clearly a sign of the times. The fact that “a type of girl that everybody likes” needs to be identified in such plain terms, like sweet and womanly, and “complements you by looking her best” is outdated, and I don’t even know what “not too bright and good” even means. And what about the type of guy everybody likes? Why shouldn’t he be identified, too?
As for the second item — yikes! Clearly this is making a case that a woman’s place is in the home, which was certainly part of the “children should be seen and not heard” era. While it’s true you only know the reality of the times in which you are living, Stacey and I would not have done very well in 1902. Gender roles are anything but black and white in our household, and I suspect in many households anymore, for that matter. I don’t know too many women who would be happy with being tasked with “roastology, boilology, stitchology, darnology, patchology, and generaldomesticology” without any assistance from their spouse, in the same way a husband shouldn’t be painted into his own corner of bread winning.
In fact, in our home, I’m perfectly happy and capable of taking care of most of the cooking while Stacey is happy and capable of doing much of the heavy lifting. I often joke that Stacey is twice the man I’ll ever be.
Anyway, do what works best in your household, but Stacey and I are happy to teach our children not to be defined by gender roles and expectations, but rather by their skills, passions and wants. We especially emphasise to Ella that a woman’s place isn’t necessarily in the kitchen; it’s wherever she wants it to be.
Jeremy Waltner is a husband to Stacey, Dad to Ella & Oliver, who is perfectly happy cooking tasty food for his family — in fact he insists.