December 22nd, 2008

ozarque figure

Eldering; the Ozark variety...

idiotgrrl commented:
"Before reading the comments,may I chime in with something that's been itching my brain since first reading this post? Your Ozark novels reflect a set of values which decrees that any woman, be she eleven years old or a hundred and eleven, should - must - be able to cope with anything and everything and in many cases, without seeming to do so. What happens to those who cannot live up to this ideal is left unsaid."

This is true; and for my generation, it has no exceptions. What happens to those who cannot live up to it is that along with their other burdens they carry a heavy burden of guilt, because they know full well what's expected of them. And that's not fair. The set of values hasn't changed, but the circumstances in the real world are radically different.

Those Ozark values come out of a time when several generations of a family lived under one roof, or they lived all along a single road on their separate farms carved out of the original family farm. That meant that women grew up with role models right at hand; they had years and years to learn what was expected of a competent woman, by watching their mothers and grandmothers and aunts and older sisters. It meant that there was always a more experienced woman there to ask questions of when you didn't know what to do. It meant that, if you happened to make a mess of something, there was always another woman there who would be able to fix it, and who would explain to you where and why things had gone wrong. And it meant that you had many opportunities to observe the way people felt about women who weren't able to cope, and to decide that you'd rather not join that crew.

That's mostly gone now, leaving girls and women all on their own -- but the expectations haven't changed one iota. It's a very different, and very harsh, brand of feminism.