My mother was a tough cookie. War nurse, mother of five, outspoken opponent of racism, the list goes on. But I believe there was always a confusion about what amount of help a woman should properly expect or ask for in any given situation. She rarely asked for help. She was able-bodied. But the term "weaker sex" is not apparently for nought. As a female now I can note that I feel a huge sphere of dependence on help all around me, that in almost any situation there can come about a margin by mmy routine ways come up short of some objective. This was never apparent when I was a male.
My mother made light of her needs for help. She had a little French phrase she repeated in mock desperation whenever she seemed to be at such a point in her routine as I mention above. It was, "au secours!" I may not be spelling it right. It means, I believe, "oh, help!"
Because she made light of needing help I always thought of this as an indication that she really didn't ever need help. It was a quickly drawn conclusion that I never gave a second thought to.
But the whole matter rests squarely on the commitment of this civilization to a strict division of labor in marriage between husband and wife. If a partner has been raised to keep a certain such division of labor as a good agreement through every up and down, that partner will be able to mind his own part of the marriage without having to speak about unexpected variances of the division, that is, ask for help. I don't believe I can recall a single incident of my mother asking for help from my father. With men it seems to be a llittle different. They are expected to become a part of the industrial world where division of labor is a vast enterprise itself, and one in which innovations, which lead very easily to new divisions of labor, are of the utmost importance at the larger, or outer, levels of that world. So men have evolved an easy familiarity with unexpected needs for help, and know how to ask for it without distracting hesitation. In my family this has led to disaster, as my father expected my mother to adapt to his changing role in the industrial world as political developments led to new feelings in the world about types of people, in particular African Americans, and my mother was hard pressed to jump when he said to on such matters. Instead, she got on a soap box at the dinner table to bolster her defensive position that she knew would not fly with my father, but her need for maintaining a comfortable home environment required this soap boxing to prevent a gradual erosion of that comfort. Perhaps it was wise. What happened instead of gradual erosion was sudden death. My father blew up one day, when family circular paths of political leaning brought everything to a focus, and left the house for good.
But my mother's and father's habits of help both suffered no ill effects and they both lived out the divorce that followed in relative comfort.
But as a trans gender female I have a great amount of groundwork to do to open myself up to the female way with help. I must learn that my immediate impulse in speech, which carries the ease of asking for help without fuss, is in need of repair. The male world has wrecked the achievements of my female impusles, more valuable impulses, for me, than the male ones I trumped up to meet the muster. If I don't listen to voices as crying out for help I can never hear my own doing the same.
Monday, October 24, 2011
What a woman thinks of getting help.
division of labor|females|help|industrial world|male|