[Guest post by DRJ]
I hate gender and racial issues that unnecessarily divide us and this KnoxNews article by Katie Allison Granju is an example of that kind of unproductive divisiveness. In it, Granju criticizes Sarah Palin for her failure to recognize with sufficient humility the sacrifices of women who came before her and their contribution to her success:
“For the millions of American women in their 50s, 60s and beyond who remember workplaces before second wave feminism, Palin’s attitude toward women’s issues is just plain offensive. These women toiled in work environments where bringing a child to work would have been unthinkable. In fact, they were generally fired as soon as they became pregnant. They remember the days before the law protected female workers against sexual harassment and blatant discrimination. They know that it’s only in the last generation or so that more fathers have, like Todd Palin, begun taking an equal role in childcare and household management so their wives can go out into the world as professionals. These are women who had mothers and grandmothers who told them what it was like to live in a country where women had no political voice, or even the right to vote.”
Unlike Katie, who has to interview past generations of professional women to know what they think and feel, I am that 50-something professional woman with a career, a husband, and children. I managed to do it, successfully I think, without ACLU protests or suing anyone.
Along the way, I had to change one job because my marriage violated a [newly written] nepotism rule. I quit another because of a pregnancy when I decided I couldn’t do my job properly and mother my children the way I wanted. My former employers and I learned from my experiences and we made accommodations that helped us succeed — me as a professional wife and mother and them as employers who need professional wives and mothers in the workforce.
It’s true, Katie, that women who came after me were able to succeed in part because I paved the way, but that’s true of everyone. I succeeded because men and women before me did things that made my life and career easier. Life is not a gender club and no one owes me a thing, including you.
People face challenges in life and that’s part of the deal. Instead of demanding accommodations, I did what people have been doing for generations and what Sarah Palin is doing now: I did my best. I gratefully accepted help from family and friends. I succeeded at times and not at others, and I learned from every experience.