After I complained in my last post about the way women have been written almost entirely out of recorded history by generations of androcentric scholars, Certified Herstorian DrTiff recommended some books to me. First I read some of A History of their Own, by Bonnie S. Anderson and Judith P. Zinsser, in which the authors explicitly reject the ways that history is typically divided up (by the events of men) and instead present the history of the women of Europe, across hundreds of years, divided by geographic and economic circumstances. As they explain at the outset, the things that so captivated (mostly male) historians had little relevance to the lives of women. My favorite quote: “For women, there was no renaissance, at least not during the Renaissance.” It’s a fascinating glimpse into the past and it made me feel—validated, or relieved, maybe—to know that someone is dealing with this problem of the world’s women going missing for millennia on end.
Then I opened The Creation of Patriarchy, by Gerda Lerner, who traces the process by which men came to dominate women in nearly every society, apparently with women’s consent or at least without their active opposition. The central point: patriarchal structures are now so thoroughly entrenched and propped up by tradition, policy, religion, and other pillars of culture that they have come to be viewed as natural, inevitable, or “right.” But in fact, history is still happening, every minute of every day, and that something has occurred in no way means it must continue; as conditions change, so do cultures. A second book, The Creation of Feminist Consciousness, presumably will tell me how we’re going to undo it. Stay tuned for that lesson, friends.
I did a little checking on Gerda Lerner’s background and learned that she earned her PhD at age 46, which happens to be my age. This sent me into a thought process I’ve traipsed through many times now, the why-don’t-I-go-back-to-school trip.
Reasons why I should:
· There’s a gigantic university nearby with multiple departments and faculty members conducting research in exactly the sort of gender issues that occupy me.
· Going to school would be awesome.
· And don’t I have Women’s Studies Professor written all over me already?
Reasons why I shouldn’t:
· I’m forty-freaking-six, and would be well into my fifties before I had a PhD in my hot little male-hegemony-busting hands.
· Grad students earn money via TA and RA jobs, but it’s very, very little money.
· I’m just now, after years spent fighting my way out of the employability wasteland of SAHMing, earning something resembling a living wage. Would it make any kind of sense to jump off that path now?
· Who would hire a fifty-something with a brand-new PhD, anyway?
So there you have it; another dream dies. I’ll just have to do my patriarchy unraveling right here on the pages of Xanga. Lucky you, dear readers, lucky you.