Monday, 16 September 2013
Heading back to Stepford...
I chat a lot to the ladies that I work out with about their motivations for dedicating themselves to a program, and for non-exercisers, however kind we try to be, it always starts with dedication before the enjoyment kicks in.
There is a common thread that runs through the ladies that have newly given up work and are approaching health and fitness as their new project. But it is largely unspoken and only the brave who are prepared to be completely honest about why they have decided now to start working on their bodies.
There are always easy excuses about why they didn't before; no time, children, the commute etc, but that doesn't really answer the question 'Why have you started now'?
This morning one of my ladies was brave enough to voice the unspoken truth, and as we all took a deep intake of breath, in one statement, she threw us back to the 1950s as if feminism never happened.
This lady is an Oxford graduate, who had a very senior role in a male dominated company, she worked full-time even with 3 children under 7, but when the 4th arrived, it was too much and something had to give. Ie she is not someone who would have taken what she said lightly and she knew full well the 'betrayal' that her words invoked.
So here it is, (paraphrased), 'When I worked, I was the boss, I earned more than most people that I knew and my role gave me power and prestige. I didn't 'need' any body in the true sense, (other than perhaps my nanny!). For the first time in my life I am not defined by doing something successful, be it in my education or my career.
I feel vulnerable, I know that my husband has more backbone than to disappear with the first hot blonde that crosses his path. But I need him for the survival of myself and my children and I feel it in a visceral way that is difficult to rationalise. Aside from looking after him in a way that I never did when I was working, I feel that I need to look the best I can. When he comes home, there is always something freshly cooked on the table and I brush my hair and put on some lip gloss. And trust me, as I say it, I know how tragic that sounds.'
But here is the kicker, it is the opportunities that feminism gave us that means she feels this so keenly. Precisely because she broke the glass ceiling, she knows how difficult, demanding and relentless working to pay for the mortgage and support the family is, so ironically she is MORE grateful/vulnerable than the spouse who has never worked or just worked for self-fulfillment and shoe money. I now fall firmly into the latter category, so what she said hit a chord with me. I used to be net contributor to the household funds, now I'm a withdrawer.
So have we gone full circle, where we are choosing to become Stepford Wives again for survival?
Have you worked to keep food on the table and then scaled back or not worked at all? Did anything change with the two different lifestyles? Can we say that we believe in the ideals of feminism and behave like this?
Is this too controversial for a blog about exercise and clothes!?! I would love to hear your thoughts...