bet you've all read the book "don't sweat the small stuff". if you haven't, give it a go. i started off enjoying it, but by the end i was finding the advice pretty insufferable. the phrase "insufferable, sanctimonious do-gooder" kept coming to mind, and i think i never managed to finish the book.
the only piece of advice that i can remember was "would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?". this was in the context that you should give up arguing even though you know you're right, and compromise to reach a position where you'll actually be happy. if i recall correctly, the author gives nice little anecdotes to illustrate his various points. in this case, it was something along the lines of quarelling relatives who hadn't seen each other in years, but then one of them decides that they would rather be happy than right, so rings up & starts the relationship afresh.
yes, i do have a point, i'm getting to it! i was thinking about life as a feminist and an activist. i find that it involves a lot of angst and a lot of arguments, certianly a lot of energy. i've always tried to speak out against things that are wrong, both in my personal life and in the wider community. i try to challenge the status quo, and the responses can vary from positive to rather nasty.
the nastiness tends to be more in the personal sphere than the public one. i read of the experiences of other women who fight for their rights to not have to do all the housework after having to do a full day's paid employment, some who fight for the right to have paid employment, or who argue about names for themselves and their children, or so many other battles as they try to achieve fairness in their relationships. of those, i think the arguments over housework are often the most common and the most frustrating.
in the public sphere, there is still quite a bit of nastiness for the women who dare to speak out. we now have wonderful words like "feminazi" and "sisterhood" along with other put downs (hairy-legged, ugly etc etc), to marginalise such women. and the marginalisation is often just as strong from other women as it is from men. this is something i really struggle with, the notion that such women think of us activitsts as lesser persons than themselves, and the changes we're trying to make as detrimental to their own happiness.
i know in my heart that what we try to achieve is right. i know it's important to take up the fight, to brave the consequences, hold our heads high and keep working on those incremental changes that move us towards our goals. this is what the great women before us have done, so that we can enjoy a better life than they had.
i don't regret my own choices for a minute. i couldn't have lived any other way, i could not have submitted to expectations that were unfair and in the end, too burdensome for me to bear. i'm quite prepared to keep on keeping on & not particularly fussed about the consequences.
but when it comes to my daughters, i come a little unstuck. i want to bring them up to be strong women who speak their minds, are mindful of their rights and keep working for justice. that would be right. but i don't know that it would make them happy. when i look around me, the happier women are the ones who conform, who accept the injustices in their lives as just the way things are and don't waste their time worrying about it. that's not really surprising, as society is set up in such a way that the women who conform are rewarded and valued much more than those who assert themselves.
knowing that, i do wonder if the best thing i can do for my daughters is to give them room to be conformers. after all, if the choice is being right or being happy, for them i'd much rather the latter. so why is it that i can't reconcile myself to sending them down that path?