separate spheres

i was 7 the first time someone told me i would change the world. every year i age, that potential seems to fade. every choice i’ve made, i feel the doors shut. if only i’d done more, if only i’d not wasted my time, maybe those doors could have stayed open and i could turn around. maybe they'd still be unlocked. the feminists of the 70s rejected the housewife caricature; women of power were women at work. and in the 80s, they went to work. developed nations today face the intersection of separate spheres and women in the workforce, where our mothers could have been raised to reproduce and repeat or get educated and earn. efforts of equality are the basis for our options today, the option to earn is only ours because of women who bushwacked. women to whom i apologize to for taking it for granted. expectations of effort and achievement on the basis of sex no longer restrict women to kitchens. girls and boys alike are taking career quizzes in elementary school. i want to be a mother, the girl sitting next to me said. you don’t get paid to be a mother, someone responded. it’s always been hard; to be a person. it’s harder to take care of ourselves and others, and without fair compensation too. then the housewife became the mother’s second shift after their 9 to 5. women get educated, and earn, and reproduce, and repeat; however not without sacrificing something for the other. i want to be a mother, she said. i wanted to be a writer, become a doctor, a lawyer, become the first female president; i wanted to change the world. it’s always been hard; to be a person. it’s harder to take care of yourself and others, and change the world too. if i sacrifice what is nuclear, i forfeit what i’m told is the greatest love. we are told you are not complete without children. you are unproductive for society as a woman if you choose a career, however you are wasted potential if you choose children. as women and girls we stare directly in the face of this dilemma when we see our mothers, we see the girls they once were, who we cannot save from the strcutural forces that contain them. we see our futures restricted by these same constraints. we wonder how to do both. if i forfeit the career, succumb to the second sphere, be a mother to children, i’ll pretend that this isn’t some relief; an option i never got to exercise. we wonder where our potential is better wasted.

the yellow bathroom
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