Tuesday, January 22, 2013
The Value of a Woman
For many years I worked in higher education. Every October, usually during the weekend where the fall foliage was in peak color, the university scheduled their annual Homecoming weekend. I particularly remember a female friend who was a stay at home mom. She was the Head Volleyball coach but hated homecoming. She hated it because of the same questions that were asked again and again when old friends were reacquainted. The question was “So, what do you do for a living”. Irene hated that because her friends that were working for a living didn’t respect her decision to stay at home and raise her children. And so she typically was absent from campus that weekend.
My position within the university was that of a professor. I was a teacher. I taught people ‘stuff’ that I knew. One of my frustrations was the shunning that some faculty had toward the employed staff. You know the maintenance guys, the custodians, the IT department, the dining hall cooks and even some of the students themselves. I couldn’t make sense of that kind of attitude. Some were arrogant. Most not. Yes, the faculty was paid more but they were no more important to the day to day function of the University than anyone else. Yes, they were the ones most directly associated with why students paid to attend that school but without the others, the school couldn’t exist. We all served a necessary role.
I mention this because I sometimes posts that presume that in order for a woman to be viewed as important they need to work in the workforce. They need to get up at 6:30, dress in nice clothes, drive into the city or wherever their employment is and work until 6 pm daily. By doing so they gain importance. Really? Are you kidding me? Are we that shallow in our thinking? Are we that ignorant in the D/s community that is so acutely sensitive to elevating a woman’s status as one that is loved and valued by the man that loves them? I can’t believe the posts I read that equate income with equality. They assume that making money makes a woman more valuable and more valued. They assume that if there were more women working in this field or that profession then women would be viewed more highly. Well, what if they don't want do work? What if that is not their life goal?
It maybe that the writer fails to qualify their real point, which I hope is that there is a need (in their mind) to have more women working, more women in administrative positions, more women running companies, more women in political office. I don't know if I even agree with that since my position is that it depends on the desire of the woman rather than the need of the woman to do 'this' or 'that. But I digress......
A greater income may be a pathway to an easier life with more ‘things’ that make life easier. It may allow one to own a home or a bigger home, or get stainless steel appliances rather than enamel ones; it may allow them to purchase more stuff or more expensive stuff. I would hope that they would feel blessed to be employed but feeling blessed is different than feeling more important. Employment is a job. It's work. It's something to do that leads to a paycheck. It may lead to a purposeful life but so do a million other things.
I understand that women have not, and still do not, have all of the rights and status that men have in many professional fields. But that is a separate point. My friend Irene hated Homecoming because her friends fell into the same trap of so many and looked at Irene as ‘less’ of a woman because she didn’t earn an income. My friend Floyd who was a custodian could tell you stories all day long of how faculty disrespected him because he cleaned the floors rather than taught Sociology or Math.
I get frustrated when we place such importance on something so trivial – work. Irene raised beautiful, well-behaved children who are now adults. They are neat people to be around. They are well mannered, well spoken, and honorable. And, Irene worked to raise those kids. She worked hard. My friend Floyd was a really cool guy. He made a fraction of what I made yet, he was my dear friend. So were Gary and Don, two plumbers that I loved sharing a lunch with. Those guys were real. They laughed and interacted honestly and spoke from their hearts. Compare them with a few hundred faculty members together in a faculty meeting and it won’t take but ten minutes to see real from ‘facade’ - and snobby Profs come in both genders. Snobbery isn't predicated on whether or not the person has a penis. Both men and women can have this demon at times.
I hope that you value your wife or girlfriend for the person that she is (and I know you do) rather than the job she holds. If she is the CEO of a major corporation, a genius with an IQ of 160, a stay at home mom, or an empty nest woman that would rather dig in the garden and get her hands in warm soil, they are all equally important. I hold Katie in the highest regard. I know that you hold your Domme there too. I doubt that you will love her more because she gets a job and now brings home a pay check. I’m sure you’d be proud of her if that was her choice but I would think you’d hurt for her if she had to do it out of necessity rather than choice.
I am not knocking the working woman. I am knocking those that equate employment with status. I once went before the Faculty Review Committee, which all Faculty were required to do every five years. We were required to write some paper on some topic and self-assess our abilities in a few areas. Our peers then asked questions about how we were improving professionally. At the time I had a Master’s degree. I had been assessed by those that I taught as one of the best teachers they’ve ever had, but I only had a Master’s degree even though I taught upper level courses. I remember the Academic Dean looking me in the eye and asking if I had intentions of pursuing a doctorate. I told her I didn’t and explained my reasons why. She told me that I would never be promoted beyond that of an Assistant Professor, nor would I be viewed by my peers with the same respect without that terminal degree. I remember replying without hesitation, how ashamed I would be of THEM, if they treated me that way. Yet I realized that she too viewed importance with ‘the degree’.
I love Katie. I make more money than Katie. I have a higher degree than Katie. I’ve been more successful in athletics than Katie. But you know what. It doesn’t matter one bit when it comes to our relationship. I work because I have to but I happen to work because I love what I am doing. Katie works part-time. She loves what she does as well but the fact that her job pays less than mine has no bearing on the value she holds with me or with anyone else. She has value for one reason only. She is a person. Period. The last thing I would want would be for her to equate self-worth, value, and significance with her job. Although she enjoys what she does, it isn't what defines her. If she were to fall into that pit, I would fear for the day she lost her job, or decided to retire from it for when that day came, so would be the end of her feeling valued and important as a woman. Can you see what I'm driving at?
Let’s get over this pettiness that importance comes with income and ‘worldly’ status and focus our energies on what is really important – caring for and loving the woman in our life - irrespective of what they do during their waking hours.