Re: Woman's Role
To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
Although I cannot claim in good conscience to have ever found a sixpence in any one of my sandals, I take it upon myself, however unworthy, to say a few words over the mangled remains of those of our sisterhood who have departed into the great beond of matrimony.
Your article, "House Beautiful--Search for a Sixpence," Thursday, Nov. 12, acquaints me with two rather startling ideas. First, it would appear that Radcliffe girls, I hesitate to say the Radcliffe girl for fear of becoming entangled in the attendant complexities of flavor, "laugh at the housewife," considering her role "a series of menial chores which society tries to impose" upon her. Come, come, now, surely so many cannot be so saturated with careerist propaganda. Do most Radcliffe students really scorn husband and hearth? I shall not resort to the statistics on Harvard-Radcliffe marriages. Surely we, the paragons of the cranially ovoid female do not deny the effects of home environment. Back in the boondocks of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Brooklyn it is considered impolite to sneer at mommy's handiwork. We who hail from these parts of the frontier learned early on that we would do well to emulate her. Let us face the brutal truth together, we are not all the daughters of math PhDs, senators, professional historians, and queens.
Let me not belabor motherlove and fireside further. Let me turn to the most revealing facet of your article, one not directly connected with the Radcliffe rejection of family life, which you so justifiably abhor. You worry about the pernicious effects of this attitude and its self-perpetuating nature upon young women. Yet in your very sketch of that "magic solution--each woman's recognition of and respect for that graciousness which can adorn her unique role as housewife," is manifested a positively terrifying distortion as damnable as any "Madison Avenue glorification of domestic details." Methinks you have cerebralized too much. A bit of objective rationality, in plain English, horsesense, is in order. Perhaps we intellectuals can afford to conceive of marriage and homelife as a great graduate school in the sky where "important opportunities (lie) open to the housewife," and where we can simply eat up graciousness and creativity.
The plain fact is that real people in the real world beyond the bricks and ivy accept domestic life for what it is--an intriguing conglomerate of dirt, dishes, diapers and love. (Sorry, maybe that last was a bit too strong.) Even I, though not as cranial or artsy-craftsy as might be desireable, am no social outcast and need not make excuses nor intellectualize everyday chores to make them acceptable. Cooking a meal, planning a party, or raising a child do demand ingenuity, skill, an understanding of people, sensitivity, good humor, etc. But put them all together (they tend to group) and you have a well-integrated life which leaves little time to think about its intellectual demands or rewards.
Marriage is not a "career" complete with vocational files and applications. It is not to be accepted or rejected at the close of one's college years like law school, nor evaluated in terms of what advantages it will afford you since hopefully it exists for mutual benefit. Moreover, she who combines home and vocation in comfortably adjusted portions usually ends up with the least neurotic children. Having a family is no intellectual prostitution.
Permit me to advise you and your unwed readers not to conceive of a home as well-manured plot on which to cultivate the fine arts of graciousness and creativity. Most of our mothers, career women or no, cannot be so obtuse as to be taken in by this sort of House Beautiful rubbish and still have given birth to such mental giants as we. Adult women simply do not run about forever selecting bright-colored serapes for wall hangings. As for rejection of husband and home as part of an overgrown suffragette movement, well, even Radcliffe girls have glands. (Mrs.) Maria Revesz Eigerman '65