“I’m Cleaning My Oven!” #MondayBlogs #women

Growing up in industrial America during the 60’s and 70’s left controversial impressions on the minds of young girls. They were at the mercy of liberal, alternative student teachers coming fresh out of college. They attended open-concept schools and were bombarded by the never ending stream of cable TV. Women’s role in society stood before a revolution—the fight against conservative, traditional duties and the even bigger fight towards independence and equality.

Young girls tended to look up to the young adults of that age. They said things like Question Authority and Think and What, Me Worry? Young girls were forced to choose between conflicting doctrines, ones that either their parents forced on them or ones that they found they could best rebel with. I had a friend in the third grade that painted a peace sign in art class and took it home. Her father, who was in the military, took it away from her and ripped it up. They moved away after that year, so I never saw her again.

Not only did the young girls have to choose. Women were fed conflicting ideals, too. New expressions like Permanent Press and I Don’t Do Windows showed women that if they wanted it, they could exchange oppressive drudgery for a fulfilling life. An example: the commercial for EZ-Off oven cleaner showing women sitting and sipping tea saying, “I’m cleaning my oven.” (I love that, by the way, but I couldn’t find a video.)

But what if sipping tea was not a woman’s goal? What if she wanted more? Some women embraced this new-found freedom and believed that a woman could be all she could be, or at least earn equal pay for an equal job.

The biggest culture shock that hit me after coming to Germany was probably the role that women take on. Women sweeping the sidewalks. Women washing the front stoop on Saturday mornings. Women ironing, women washing their windows once a week. Women earning 20% less for doing the same job as a man.

German women clean their windows like every week. Voluntarily. Happily. I used to tell the women in my aerobic classes that before they give in to the urge to wash windows, they should get down and do 20 (pushups, that is). If the urge was still there, then do 20 more. The only problem is there are men behind these women also urging them on. I have a neighbor who has white tiles all throughout the ground floor. The first time I saw that, I heard my mother in the back of my head: one does not put anything white on the floor. Along those lines, I don’t even wear white clothes.

Yes, there are more women in politics in Germany than in America. They must have someone to care for their kids or none at all. But for normal mortals, the communities are only slowly, slowly, developing decent day-care. Slowly, schools are turning into whole-day schools or developing afternoon programs. (When my kids were small, children were standing at home on the doorstep at 1:00 p.m., elementary school children–11:00 a.m. sometimes–and either the mother was there…or not.)

The roles women play seem to be a continuing theme throughout my blog posts. It is a preoccupation I never consciously knew I had. Women still face many conflicting dogmas and often have to choose in order to define themselves. Am I a woman or a mother? Am I a wife or a lover? To have a career together with a family and make life function is possible but the price women pay for this is definitely higher than for a man. How many supermoms have burnt out and given up their careers to save their health, putting their dreams on a back burner? Or chosen not to have a family in order to maintain a desired lifestyle.

What choices have you had to make?

The Birth of Venus–Sandro Botticelli
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7 thoughts on ““I’m Cleaning My Oven!” #MondayBlogs #women

  1. Betsy

    Oh they have this paper towel commercial here that makes me scream….the hubby and kids make all the mess and mom with one paper towel comes in and cleans it!!!!!!!!!!!Never buy that product!

    Higher price for women?? maybe? maybe not? more men die of heart attacks, how does that relate?

    And are we happy with institutions raising our kids? daycares starting at 6 months….full day kindergarten? I would rather see mothers and fathers involved in their childrens upbringing instead of the government. Maybe just maybe we aren't meant to have it ALL..

    I do think we have come along way and should not go back, however I also think in doing so we have feminized men(is that a word). How about a blog piece on the poor men who live with overbearing women who can't stick up for themselves, because then it may be considered abuse.
    Ok I am done rambling…this lady is going to knit. cause I want to.

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  2. Anonymous

    Oven Cleaning is an awful job. Due to Age and Arthritis I can no longer manage this task. It doesn't help because my oven is low down at the floor.

    A few years ago I was informed by a long distance relation that I could hire an oven cleaning service, once I got off the phone off I went to trusty old Google and searched things like “Oven Cleaner Sheffield“. Sheffield being the city where I live. I easily found a company and I have been using them since. Prices are great, and I no longer have a dirty and smelly oven. I highly recommend you try a service if like myself you can't manage it yourself.

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  3. jennifersilverwood

    I’ve been lucky to live out both my dream and have a family. I waited a while, which is a new theme among my generation. I never quite finished the big degree I wanted once upon a time, and I’m not rich. I worked in childcare for five years and saw plenty of different types of mothers both amazing and struggling, so I knew I wanted to make it all about my kid. I don’t presume to say what’s best, but I’m happy with love and working from home. And I’m thankful to live in this time when I do have a choice, where a woman can run for president, or be as traditional as she wants. I don’t consider myself a feminist or a traditionalist. I like to think we’re all hybrids of a kind. I consider myself a mother/wife/lover/homemaker/writer and that’s my happiness.

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