Did June Cleaver’s generation miss out on emancipation?

My mother belonged to the June Cleaver generation of women. You know, the women who got married, stayed home, raised their kids, cooked, cleaned, and took care of their husbands. It is a pity that most of this generation does not even know who June Cleaver was. That generation is now held in cynical contempt by the emancipated empowered women of today. My mother had seven children and she hardly had time to go to the bathroom let alone think about emancipation. As a matter of fact I do not remember her going to the bathroom. I only remember my mother in three places: the kitchen, at the sewing machine, or at the washing machine. To be truthful, I do not remember her lounging anywhere in the house either, because for starters we made too much noise for relaxation, and secondly she seemed to flit from one chore to the next. Above all: I never ever heard her complain about her role as a mother and wife. She took that very seriously. That was her vocation in life. She was a career wife and mother.

Did my mother and all the June Cleavers of her time miss out on something extraordinary in life? What have women, mothers to be exact, gain in the past 50 years since June Cleaver put away her pearls and wide skirts? Why do women today feel that they are more empowered than their counterparts of yesteryears? I don’t think that our mothers’ generation felt that they were missing out on anything because they did not expect or feel entitled to more than what they had. To this generation that would be grounds for a Hollywood uproar and activist fund raiser; but to my mother it was a chore of love. What this generation of pseudo intellectual women does not understand is that my mother and others of her ilk were proud women who made darn sure that their domain: the house, the kids, and the husband were taken care of as best if not better than any other woman on the block. They had pride in their roles as mothers and wives. They ruled the kitchen, the children, and in a covert way: the husband, with determination.

Why do young women today find the role of “mother” so burdensome? How can they on one hand go out of their way to remember Mother’s Day with all its pomp and circumstance and at the same time regard “motherhood” often as a curse? What has pushed women into a distorted role equally submissive to the ones that the women’s movement ardently and fervently fought against 50 years ago? Are women truly liberated, or have they morphed into another level of entrapment: one misguided by activists who inadvertently put more stress and burden on today’s women? It is true that when we were young most of our ambitions were centered on marriage: finding the right provider and father to our kids. Then entered the women’s movement: deriding women who chose marriage and bringing into the forefront the importance of emancipation and the liberation of women; as they prescribed it. We all jumped on that band wagon because it sure sounded good. We can have it all. Pollyanna? We were told that we could be mothers, wives, career women, and do everything in between that we wanted and desired because we could. We were the new Amazonians. Really? Eventually women evolved into a caricature of themselves. Gone was the pride in the home, and eventually even raising children became a burden. The incongruous message given to women is that motherhood is their right, but heaven forbid anyone telling them that they should be responsible for their own kids and not burden society in the process: then we would be waging a war on women. What a load of rubbish!

This generation of women is supposed to be the most educated, intellectual, self-reliant, and self-efficient. Yet the current cry of female dissent is wanting the tax payers to take care of their life choices. The Sandra Flukes of this world, who are supposedly on their way to becoming the next generation of empowered women, publicly bemoan that they have a right to free contraception. Would you believe the uproar if a man went public asking the government to give him Viagra? Why does this generation of woman demand a pass on behavior that is self-centered and petty? My mother did not expect society to take care of her seven kids. She did not ask for hand outs, and she did not expect to have “it all” either. She and others of her generation had the good sense and without a graduate degree to know that no one regardless of gender can accomplish everything in life simultaneously and do it well. Something or someone will eventually lose out and suffer.

My beef is with the various women activist groups who betray their sisters by propagandizing and glorifying egoistic traits as liberation. I do not enjoy listening to any activist whatever genre of political rhetoric he or she expounds because by definition “activism” is “…support or opposition of to one side of a controversial issue…” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition). The phrase “one side” says it all. To these people there is only one side to their argument, which makes any opposing opinion or view irrelevant. Yet, women activists have attempted to make motherhood, conception, children, and marriage irrelevant. This irrelevancy is now the driving force behind the many children living with a single parent or no parents. These children are missing out on nuclear families that give stability. These children’s only template of an adult life is forged in their own fragmented lives. Young girls are eagerly looking for role models to emulate toward success. If their own mothers are absent how are they going to grow with a sense of who they are or should be as women? Who will be shaping their future? Beyonce? The women activists; who go after inane issues like eradicating the word “bossy” because it stigmatizes little girls? Do these women really have a life? Do they come up with this rubbish for the sake of having something to say or do? Have these groups lost or credence for women? They have for me, because I find them totally detached from reality and brain activity.

My 97 year-old mother lived in a shelter underground during World War II. She managed to raise my oldest sister and survive the Luftwaffe blitz. I doubt that at any time during a bombing she questioned abilities as a woman. She was too worried about having enough food and surviving another air raid. Generally women with guts and fortitude worry substance not fluff. Yes, my mother was the June Cleaver generation, where being a mother meant something special. Where raising the next generation of children was given priority over everything else. My mother was and has remained the best example of women’s strength and tenacity. She has remained true to herself, her faith, her life, our father, and us. Did she miss out on emancipation? I will ask her the next time I visit.

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