It Can Happen To You, Too!

As a wife and woman of the world, I have responsibilities galore. I am here to share them with you and hope to get a glimmer of recognition and understanding from my readers. We are all in it together, ladies. Stuff happens to me and it can happen to you, too. Here is my most recent story. I am sure it has happened to someone else out there.

My husband was a hapless victim of identity theft. What a nightmare. Just notifying all the credit card companies was a chore. We had to be sure that all the charges on the stolen cards were eliminated and that new cards were to be sent. Then there is the matter of all those online passwords to personal accounts. It goes on and on. Someone can watch Netflix under your name – what nerve, order coffee for their office on Amazon, buy whatnot on eBay, and heavens knows what else. The digital world is their oyster once they are you. If you have good credit, that is. Then they can take advantage of your good name and go hog wild. Suddenly, you are a spendthrift and seeker of endless commodities.

I had to help my husband clean up this electronic mess and stop further action right out of the box. Once we though, we had everything under control, we had to establish a new reputation for him. It isn’t easy if the hacker has had a wide swath online. Plus, the thief can use your credit card to flee the country if they like. No joke! Catching these people is impossible since there are so many of them. Internet scams abound and stolen identities are among the first crimes of the new digital age. It often comes from distant lands that are not subject to US law.

Let me tell you, we became super paranoid. We would amass all our documents – anything with our names on it like bills and invoices – and shred them into tiny unidentifiable bits with one of these heavy duty shredders: https://www.shredderlab.com/best-heavy-duty-paper-shredder-reviews/. Anyone going through are trash is going to be disappointed. Important documents like passports and social security cards are locked away in our home safe along with birth certificates and our marriage license. These are sacred. But, frankly, these days people have access to everything through Facebook and other social media platforms. No amount of apologies from the company can assuage our fear when they get hacked. The banks are often victims as well. Yikes! All your data is in someone’s hands.

A victim of identity theft feels as violated as someone who has been mugged. It is that personal and in your face. You are angry and want revenge. Alas, none is forthcoming. The only thing to do is get a symbolic catharsis by shredding your stuff to prevent further assault on your character – and pocketbook.

The Next Best Thing?

We are all so busy running around to accomplish work and home tasks—projects, meetings, errands, children, etc. Sometimes, we don’t have time to sit and talk to our spouses. No one just has coffee together anymore. You get up, get dressed, grab a cup, and go. Then you wake up one day and realize that time is slipping away and you need to give attention to your key relationship.

There are several solutions but let me tell you about mine. I know a couple who reads in bed together and I tried it, but I always fall asleep and no conversation takes place. A better idea was for my husband and I to give each other foot massages at night, sometime after dinner (possibly while watching TV), at least once a week. We have gotten into the habit of using this time for some much-needed personal communication. There is a catch. I have gotten used to this ritual and now that my husband is gone on a business trip for an extended period of time, I miss my foot massage!

My husband is a very thoughtful person and I can prove it. Just before he left, I received a package in the mail from an online retailer. I was amazed at the contents: a brand new state-of-the-art foot massager like the ones here. There was a sweet note inside, “I will call you on Facebook every night at the usual time.” Yes, he’s a gem. He promised me that this device is the next best thing so I couldn’t wait to try it out. While I prefer my husband’s hands, the gadget didn’t disappoint.

A good massager has several settings and must be easy to use. This means light weight and easy to store. I love the soft silicone pad that comes with it. There are also several other attachments, some with textures and soft spikes. Someone did their product engineering research and designed this baby to adhere nicely to the contours of the foot. You place in under the toes, on the ball, the underarch, and the heel. There I s a small cylindrical attachment for between the toes. Heaven! When I have been standing a lot or exercising at the gym, this massager is the perfect finish. I have to add that tight shoes make such a machine a must in your life. I wear comfortable styles as a rule, but occasionally go for slim and pointy as the style dictates. If you are a slave to footwear fashion, get yourself a foot massager right away.

Feet can be tender and you don’t want a massager that is too vigorous or intense. Thus, changing settings is ideal. You can start slow and work your way up. Whatever it takes to unwind and soothe those doggies is fine. I like the hand-held model but you can also buy larger units that you stand on. Multiple rotating heads do a superior job. The best massagers come with optional heat. Think about this one for your ski lodge!

The Wife Part of My Life

Women have good memories. I can attest to this from my own experience. I never forget a birthday or other milestone in a loved one’s life. I bring gifts every time. Sometimes they are homemade such as a cake, cookies, or pie and sometimes I buy just the right thing. Take my husband, for example. For his special day I knew just what to do. I bought an outdoor kegerator for the covered patio off his man cave.  He had been hinting for a while and I wanted to surprise him so I kept it very quiet. I even had it delivered to the neighbor’s house who helped me carry it over and install it. It is no big deal—just plug it in.

What is life for a guy without a man cave? I hear that they are getting more elaborate these days. It has gone way beyond a TV and a lounge chair. Now we hear about lavish home theater equipment of the state-of-the-art kind. There are refrigerators, wine colors, mini kitchens, an adjacent bathroom, and assorted other male accoutrements.

Women are not part of this world so I can only imagine what goes on. Football games! Ha. They talk, eat, compare favorite team stats and drink beer – hence the kegerator. It will take my husband and his friends a long time to run out. There was never enough room in the fridge. I couldn’t wait to see his face. On the day of the “reveal” he was ecstatic. I took photos to prove it. Just check out my Facebook page. He immediately called his closest friends to come over and try it out. I got out the beer glasses although they are a big fancy he says for a man cave. Well you have to use something.

The guys all gave their stamp of approval and they practically emptied the kegerator that night. It was a gorgeous evening, balmy and warm, so they enjoyed sitting on the patio right next to the new appliance. It got me to thinking about what I would want for a “she shed.” It wouldn’t be a kegerator. I would have a wine cooler and mini fridge for sure. No oven because this is time off from baking. Someone would have to bring the food when they come over. The furniture would be shabby chic and ever so comfortable. It would not be dark and gloomy like the typical man cave but light and bright. Ideally there would be a window for fresh air. I would put my friends’ artwork on the walls instead of sports memorabilia. It would reflect my particular taste. I told my friends about my fantasy and they laughed. They knew that my husband had already appropriated all the available space including the basement level patio. What really got my attention was the enumeration of their preferences. Each had a special need. What threw me the most was the request of one friend. “Let’s have a kegerator.” Ha.

Water Shouldn’t be that Color

The water in my taps is an orangey red. In plain terms, it is the color of what is probably in the pipes: rust. I am grossed out to say the least. I rush to the store to buy more bottled drinking water. I don’t even want to wash dishes in this dark brew. There is no making it a pretty picture and giving the hue a picturesque name. Obviously I have a problem. I imagine myself drinking and bathing in corrosion. No matter what it costs, I am going to make a change. It is time to install a new whole house water filter and nip this problem in the bud. Although I have better things to do in my role as wife, career woman, and mother, I start reading the various online reviews. What the heck is a whole house unit anyway?

In the simplest terms, a whole house water filter system is intended to reduce contaminants. The purpose is to correct any impurities, improve taste, and eliminate lingering odors. There is a unit for every kind of home so you better call in the pros to help you decide what is best for your needs. There is much variety in installation options and overall cost. Take a look at the fine print that describes NSF certification. There are certain standards that every system must live up to in terms of chlorine taste, particulates, and odor.

Then ask details on ongoing maintenance expenses and read the testimonials of users who have something to say about manufacturers living up to their claims. If you read between the lines, you can learn whether people like the design of the system. For example, it seems to be optimal to combine multiple media into one tank. The result is called channeling, which means that water finds the path of least resistance. When it flows through this path, it minimizes contact time with media and effectiveness is reduced. The answer seems to be a multiple tank system. The best use an upflow design that reduces channeling, making the system efficient. Wow. I can’t believe how much I have learned. It pays to read the reviews.

Your installer where select a place where your water source enters your home. It can be inside or out as long as it is protected from extreme temperature changes. Direct sunlight is also its enemy. Whole house water filter systems are usually placed near the hot water heater, that is, the garage, basement, or attic. Let the pro select the form, shape and size and make sure that there is adequate drainage and an electrical connection. If the right options are chosen, the filtering process will service the entire home for many years to come, avoiding costly repair and replacement parts.

Find out about longevity and cost of repair at the time of installation. Learn how to service your tank by removing old, wet, and contaminated media (which starts to look like wet sand). You then have to refill the tank and flush it out. As about “back flushing.” You will then be as well informed as I am.

Show’s Over!

As a woman, the entire world is open to you. Never sell yourself short for lack of confidence and experience. Don’t be intimidated by a hostile environment. Do whatever you want in life. If you are a wife and mother and are happy with this role, so be it. If you have a professional career as a doctor or lawyer and can compete without stress, so be it. We all must fight some degree of misogyny from time to time, but we can prevail. I say, let’s stick together. That is one of the themes of this blog. I hope you enjoy my stories.

I am a set designer and for the most part, the theater is a safe world for women. Men are helpful and seldom envious. Everyone gets along. The environment is creative, dynamic, and challenging. I love my work. I have fostered many close friendships. We have something in common and bond during rehearsals and up to the last performance. We all hope to work together again someday. As a set designer, I hire the usual crew to erect the backdrops. They know what they are doing and can execute just what I need in any theater. Their reliability is invaluable and they know who is boss.

I have also become acquainted with a wonderful costume designer whose work I have admired for a long time. Here is one person I want to work with again on new projects. A few months ago, after the production was over, it was no problem to convince her to give me the top rated business backpack that was used as a prop during the show. It was donated by the manufacturer after we contacted them on Facebook. I loved it during the preparation of the play and throughout the individual performances. Now it could be mine. “Of course,” she purred. “You deserve it.”

I took the bag with glee and invited her to dinner. It was fun to discuss our various theatrical experiences and the directors and actors with whom we had worked. There was some overlap in our lives. The world of the theater is a close-knit group when you ply your trade in a community. Local talent is recruited which keeps people like me in business. I have traveled out of state to work on sets, but there are times when I prefer to stay close to home. The costume designer felt the same way. I admired her for her versatility and ability to work on so many time periods with ease. She gave me the same compliment.

I couldn’t resist pulling out my mobile phone and showing her my Instagram account. She immediately joined my Facebook page as a friend. I did likewise. We both had tons of photos. Hers included some memorabilia from past plays including period props that were irreplaceable. She had kept many in her personal collection. I wondered if she would regret the backpack. She read my mind and offered a sincere “no.” This was good news. I picked it up from the floor under our table, slung it over my shoulder, and hugged her goodbye.

Get a Better Night’s Sleep (Even if Your Husband is an Early Bird)

Women who frequent my blog are seeking affirmation and support. I want to be known as a writer who confirms and enhances the female experience with a focus on empowerment and strength. Women who stick together find that they can cope better with the ups and downs of daily life, especially those who live and work is a misogynist world. Take a look inside any traditional, conservative corporation. I like to relate real life success stories. I rely mostly on my own, but I will have more credibility if I express the views of a multitude. Having a blog gives me resources. This means that I want to hear from you. Recently, I had a question about how to select the right alarm clock when you have a husband who is an early riser. This is a common concern and has been covered elsewhere online, such as in this blog post that I found on Facebook. You don’t want to house two alarms in the bedroom. It might breed chaos and some nasty fights. There is a solution.

If the first alarm goes off too early, it will wake up the other spouse. That means the wife in this particular case. Let’s say the husband likes lights to go on when he rises. It is a simple fix. She can wear a sleep mask. They are light weight and comfortable and don’t look too bad. This has solved many a household problem. It frees the wife from having to conform to her husband’s schedule. Ear plugs are also recommended by readers who don’t want to hear the radio at a ridiculous hour or even a simple buzzing sound. You have to try some common tricks to survive a difference in schedule. I would set my mate’s clock to soft sounds. Compromise is the name of the game in marriage. You don’t have to lose sleep and go through your day fatigued because of a silly choice of a wake-up alarm.

Men and women fight over too many silly things like the toilet seat left up, the cap missing from the toothpaste, or a coffee mug left in the sink. Couples squabble over who takes out the trash, feeds and walks the dog, and makes the bed. Many a good marriage has succumbed to this kind of nonsense. Setting ground rules, including the alarm, is part of daily life. Rather than investing in two clocks, you can both use the same one if it is an advanced model. You can program it to go off at six in the morning, for example, and then again at nine. Each person can choose the best way to be roused. If you have kids, you can ignore everything. They will be up at the crack of dawn! For the rest of us, be wise about your wakeup methods and avoid unnecessary conflict.

I hope my little words of wisdom help you and your husband come to terms with differences in one’s morning routine. Don’t sing the early bird blues.

Women in Basketball

When you look at women’s roles, you automatically think of wife, mother, and career woman. Since the last century, women have made great strides in the workplace and are getting closer to parity in salaries. They have literally invaded all the traditional male bastions like medicine, law, engineering, construction. You find them in the armed forces, fighting beside men and flying missions. It is a far better world today than ever before. The sky is the limit, including male-dominated sports like basketball and boxing. Of course, they have their own teams, but they are attracting fans and supporters. Being professional is a definite woman’s choice. It does take training and dedication, but women have always been equals to men in this regard.

You will find women working out in the local gym with basketballs in hand. Like the male version of the sport, the taller members of the female population are drawn to this area as opposed to track and field or tennis. Players now abound on college and pro teams. It is a viable option for someone with athletic talent. Women have the same prowess as men when playing hoops. Their success in soccer and volleyball has led the way for sure. It is a welcome sight indeed to see the tall amazons racing across the court. People now care about rankings. The news no longer omits women’s basketball in their reporting. Their games are aired on TV. You see the fans filling the stands for the playoffs. It is an exciting era indeed: women can jump.

Did you know that the greatest women’s basketball dynasty is the University of Connecticut? They have eclipses the legendary Boston Celtics (in the fifties) and UCLA’s championship run in the sixties and seventies. Women have made mincemeat out of the old dynasties. We are living in the greatest era for basketball—and it is because of talented women! Go Huskies!

Given these facts, I should mention that there are a few distinctions between men’s and women’s basketball – which I discovered at https://www.ballersguide.net. The rules and style of play are not exactly the same. Of particular note is the ball size. The women’s basketball is a bit smaller in circumference at 28 ½ to 29 inches compared to 29 ½ to 30. Of course, it is because of the size of women’s hands. Measurements also vary for the three-point basket (distance from the rim). Consult the WNBA for more rules such as the backcourt one. Women’s college basketball, for example, doesn’t include the 10-second rule. Both men’s and women’s games adheres to the 30-second shot clock. In the NBA, they use a 24-second clock by contrast.

No doubt about it, men’s basketball, both college and professional, has been an American mainstream sport since about the 1940s. Women have hung in there all this time; it is now a matter of visibility and popularity. The Lady Volunteers of Tennessee regularly sell out as do the Lady Huskies. If you haven’t attended a game, by all means witness these remarkable sportswomen.

Girls Rule at Power Tools

Women are on the rise. They are invading, in a good way, every profession—especially those once barred to them like construction. In fact, they can wield a power tool as well as any guy. They are strong, well-trained, careful, and skilled. They often have a better eye. Give them a table saw and they will go to town on any project. As a set designer, you can bet that I have lifted many a tool. I have many women in my crew, one more talented than the other. We recently used a table saw to cut a large piece of wood for a new set. It saved us time and energy. When you know the tools, you can cut corners on the manual labor.

So, here’s to the empowerment of women. I am tired of all-male staff in the theater from set decoration and construction to lighting and costuming. Let me rant and rave. I am also tired of all the misogyny on the Internet and the job postings that specify men only. I relish putting up an ad for female construction workers wanted. The men at the theater worry about safety when it comes to power tools and right they should, but why aren’t women capable to taking care. It is just a false assumption that has no basis in reality. Women are electricians, glass installers, layers of tile and flooring, and much more. If a man can learn a trade, so can a woman. Women are just as dexterous and mindful of exacting details. I want to do a shout out to all the employed females out there who are honing their craft. I love the autonomy and creativity that has become associated with the new “women’s work.” It is not in the kitchen any more. I love to see a strong woman wield a power tool to build a set. And it could be me alongside her.

Recently, one the male workers cut himself with a power saw and we were all devastated. The director wanted to reassign his job to another man. I was livid because there was a woman standing by who had just finished her work and was available. I gave him such a look and he acquiesced. She took over in a flash and finished the assignment safely and quickly. It couldn’t have been any better. I think we all learned a lesson that day, and mostly the men. They don’t hesitate anymore to include women in the roster of the set building crew. We have a new level of teamwork that we never had before. I admire the boss for coming around on a touchy subject. Pretty soon we may have an all-female staff. Women have certainly proved their worth in my world, and I know they are doing it elsewhere. Don’t let discrimination get you down, ladies. I can testify to the changes afoot. It is a new climate out there in the working world. If you have a yen to use power tools, then go for it.

Redefine the Way You See Yourself

When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Do you see yourself, or do you see the labels or titles you have earned or have been bestowed upon you, whether you like them or not? Men are often defined by their successes and failures. Women, on the other hand, tend to be defined (and define themselves) by the roles they play for others. We are often labeled as someone’s wife or so-and-so’s mother. We are frequently defined on the subjective basis of how pretty others think we are. We stop seeing ourselves as individuals and seeing ourselves as objects. We lose the things that make us ourselves and start seeing who we are through the worth others place upon us.

It starts so slowly that sometimes we are unaware. At first we might be flattered by attention. But then we realize that it doesn’t matter how smart we are or how talented we may be, we often are not taken seriously simply because we are women. We may beat a man out for a position and automatically it becomes a question not of our capabilities, but who we must be sleeping with in order to have gotten the job. Other times, there is an even larger loss of self. We give up things that men are never asked to do. For instance, when we get married, we are often culturally expected to take our husband’s name. I believe that this is a personal preference and would never look down on a woman who took her husband’s last name, I think it should be a decision each woman makes based on what she wants to do and not what she feels is an obligation or  The more widespread and frequent these instances are, the more women can start to accept that they are not a person in their own right.

I am here to tell you that you can be those things—the wife, the mother, any of these other roles that you have for yourself—and still be YOU. The roles that you fill are part of who you are, but they are not the sum total of who you are. You have never only been one thing. Just because you get married or have a child does not mean that any parts of you not associated with those functions has died off. You are a separate person from the one you married, from the parents you have, and the children you have borne. You are not an object put on this earth only to please or fulfil the needs of others. No matter what other names you go by, craft your identity in a way that is meaningful to you. Do not shed your old self like a skin just because your life situation has changed. Add these new roles to your persona as if they are new threads in the gloriously beautiful tapestry that is your identity. Redefine the way you see yourself so that you recognize the person in the mirror when you see her as the person you are, not as a reflection of the roles you play in the lives of others.

Art as a Therapeutic Outlet

I think that expression is important for all people, but especially for women. For so much of our lives, we learn to be quiet, to take up as little space as possible, to call less attention to ourselves. Women are much more likely to apologize when they bump into something, to the point that women will apologize to inanimate objects; men are more likely to believe that something got in their way. This constant apologizing, basically for existing, takes a toll on the way we express ourselves. We are afraid to dress how we want because we don’t want to be judged. We don’t want to speak up at a meeting with an idea because we are intimidated by our much more vocal male colleagues.

We are intimidated. We are hesitant. We forget how to use our voices. But, ladies, our voices are important. Our opinions and ideas matter. It has taken me a long time to realize this.

Do you want to know what helped me find my voice again? Art therapy.

Sure, art therapy isn’t for everyone. But we can use art to express ourselves in a healthy way. If you are angry about something, instead of yelling or throwing things, you can sit down and paint that anger. I like to find pretty tiles and smash them to make mosaics. The smashing part definitely helps channel my anger, and by activating the creative part of my brain instead of the emotional one, I find the focus soothing. It helps me to separate the emotion from the situation and enables me to see things more clearly—sometimes I can even see the other side of the situation and I see that I am actually in the wrong. I am able to gain perspective that I would not have otherwise.

Doing something creatively helps you express even deeply rooted emotions. It is a way to communicate emotions and feelings that we might never have found the right words to speak. Women can use art to find their own voices again, to find a way to speak for themselves in a way that is healthy and beneficial. It promotes emotional well-being. The best part is that you don’t necessarily need to work with a therapist to reap some of the benefits of art therapy, although it can and does help to work with someone if you feel overwhelmed or unsure.

All you have to do is be willing to tap into your creative mind, to stimulate yourself and provide yourself with a healthy outlet. You don’t have to spend hours or a lot of money. I have seen people do everything from sculpting to simply coloring. You only have to show people your creation(s) if you want to, if you think it will help in your healing process, or if you think they should hear what you have to say about it. Putting your art on display is not a requirement to achieving the benefits of art therapy, nor is it necessary to be blessed artistically.

If you find yourself feeling voiceless, sit down with a piece of paper and some paint, or even a crayon or two. Try giving art a try and see what happens. I would love to hear about your results.

Finding Time for Yourself

Women are natural-born caregivers. It is part of our genetic makeup to nurture those we care about. Unfortunately, that often comes at our own expense. We pull up buckets of energy from the well of ourselves to give to others. Only when everyone else has had their fill do we attempt to draw some of that energy for ourselves. More likely than not, we only have enough left to partially fill the bucket for our own use. Oftentimes, there isn’t anything left at all.

I was once in this rut myself. While I get to be creative in my job, it is not always the outlet I need. Sometimes I need to create something for myself, to listen to my inner voice and enact on my own passions and interests. But after giving so much energy to work, I would come home and there would be another mountain to climb. My husband also works, but I was the one who shopped for all the food we ate. I cooked the meals and cleared the dishes. I cleaned the place that we both lived in. I washed all of our clothes. Some nights, after the dishes were cleaned and the laundry folded, I found myself up until one or two in the morning just to have some time to myself. I would wake up the next day exhausted. I began to grow resentful of my husband, who got to come home and read the paper while I cooked. He got to watch his favorite shows after dinner while I did the dishes. He went to bed at a decent time so that he could be well rested for the next day. I did not realize just how badly this was affecting me until I lost it over something completely trivial. My husband, rather innocently, asked if there was any more milk left for his coffee one night. “Oh my god, you are a grown man, you can go shopping once in awhile!” I had screamed. He had seemed so taken aback. Finally, he told me that he had no problem going grocery shopping but that since I did the cooking, he never knew what to buy. We sat down together and divided up the household chores. I still do the cooking, but now I get to sit down for a little while after dinner while he loads the dishwasher. We each fold our own laundry.

I also decided to be more conscious of what I was spending my time on. I found myself staring at my computer and phone screens less and reading more. I started keeping a notebook open on my desk and every time I got distracted by something, I would write it down. At first, there were lots of things that distracted me, but the number shrank every day. I began to menu plan so that my husband had a grocery list, but it also stopped me from standing in front of the pantry every night wondering what I should make for dinner. I made a laundry and cleaning schedule for us both to stick to so that the chores didn’t overwhelm my entire weekends. By simply changes like these, I have managed to carve “sacred time” for myself that I can do the things that make me feel fulfilled.

Not all of these strategies will work for everyone, I am sure. But if you take a few days and log what you do with your time, you may find things that you can eliminate throughout the day to carve your own sacred time. Maybe you unconsciously spend time getting lost in internet wormholes and then find yourself up long past everyone else has gone to bed, catching up on household chores instead of doing something meaningful. Maybe there are chores that others in your household would gladly take over if they knew it would make you feel more appreciated and loved. Maybe your family members just need to know that you need time to yourself and then they will go look for their own shoes (or whatever it is that you are always asked about). If you want that time for yourself, you will have to look for it in the scope of your day. You might be surprised where you actually find it. Good luck, and if you have any strategies that have worked for you, I would love to hear about them!

Why Would Anything Change?

One of the things I love about my job is that I get to be both creative AND handy. One day, I can be working with fabrics and painting gorgeous backdrops, and the next day, I can be cutting wood and hammering things together. You acquire some really diverse skills in this job and I really enjoy it. I started as crew in theater way back in high school. I went to university at a school known for its theater program and had an amazing time. My job is a significant part of who I am and I am actually proud of that. I love what I do.

However, as soon as my husband and I got married, people started asking me if I was going to quit my job. Sure, there’s travel involved in what I do, and that could impact our married life, but that’s not why they were asking. They were asking because my husband makes more than I do. They also wanted to know when we were going to start having kids. While I know some women who have done that—and I love and respect them for their choices—it’s not part of our plan. We weren’t even thinking of having kids for a few more years.

I talked to some of the people I work with and it seems this is fairly common. Fertility isn’t exactly something that gets better with age for women, and so there is a ticking clock. Of course, your best child-bearing years are also the years you will get the lead roles. So the female performers, especially, seem to feel pressure in this regard. You can only work for so long when you’re pregnant, or you’d need roles where you could be noticeably pregnant. There aren’t many of those. Then you would have to take time off and hope that you could land roles afterward. Assuming you could afford the childcare. Sure, sometimes the men step up and do the child raising but that’s still on the rare side. And some of the women I spoke with did have kids, and some of those had taken breaks until the kids were in school full time before coming back. But they talked about constantly feeling torn between having to be a mom—packing just the right lunches, going to all the events and sports and activities their kids were required to be in, and all those random off days and early dismissals to keep up with—and doing the job that they loved.

I don’t know about you but I don’t know what I would do without my job. Financially things would be super tight but I am not sure I could cope without being able to build, paint, and see my visions come to life onstage. It fulfills me in a way nothing else has (I’m not saying that being a mom isn’t fulfilling. I just haven’t experienced it). I am not ready to give it up and I shouldn’t be expected to just because I am a woman.

Neither should you.

Female Artist Oppression

I have always found it odd that oftentimes people consider the kitchen to be the woman’s place, yet professional chefs were men. Women could be teachers but it was the men who became professors and taught at the higher levels. We could be seamstresses but actually designing our own clothes was left to men. The same goes for emotions and creativity—those tend to be considered as feminine qualities—yet most of the artistic ‘masters’ were men. In other words, history has routinely taught us that these are our domains but that we cannot be too good at them. That we would never get to the really meaningful levels of the fields that are pressed upon us because of our gender.

We’ve learned that women were the chief artists in prehistoric times, as the majority of cave prints that included handprints have been identified as that of women. If we base art on recorded history, a woman created the first drawing. Her name was Dibutades, and she traced the silhouette of her lover onto the wall back in the 1st century C.E. After that, men seemed to take over and women are glaringly absent from the art history books. You occasionally run across a name, but these women are always categorized as “unusually talented” who were able to overcome the limitations of their gender—as if being female is some sort of creative handicap. On the whole, the idea was that our nude bodies were great for inspiring art or being captured in stone or paints, but if a woman was behind the easel, that was an entirely different story. This went on for years. Women ‘dabbled’ in arts and made ‘crafts’ (as most of the textiles, pottery, and jewelry of prehistoric and early history are considered, potentially to trivialize the female contribution to early forms of art). Men were the artists, known for—and paid—for their work. They created all the schools and styles, lead all the moments. But women know the truth. We have always been there. Our voices were not heard. They were silenced. Underestimated. Disregarded. I am not just talking about female artists being discouraged or prevented from furthering their education. As late as the 18th and 19th centuries, artwork created by women was often attributed to someone else (Marie-Denise Villers, whose work hanging in the Metropolitan Museum of Art—a self-portrait, no less—was mistakenly credited to Jacques-Louis David), to the point where art dealers even altered signatures of artists like Judith Leyster.

To me, it is amazing that artists like Mary Cassatt, Georgia O’Keefe, Frida Kahlo, and Francoise Gilotmade themselves known in an environment like that at all. I am grateful to them, and to all the other women—known and unknown, who have blazed this trail for the women of today. We must continue to hold the torch high and keep the path lit so that the women who come after us can find their way as well. Our voices and our talents deserve recognition.