Monday, 18 February 2013

A Women's Liberation Movement Woman

Judith Viorst

My Dad gave me a book of poetry called "It's Hard to Be Hip Over Thirty" for my 30th birthday. I thought it was a rather depressing gift (I may have been feeling a little sensitive as it was only 10 days after the arrival of baby number 2!). The other day he told me to have another look and, considering the context is 1960s New York, a lot of it rings true. Here is a very apt poem from the collection.


A WOMEN'S LIBERATION MOVEMENT WOMAN
By JUDITH VIORST

When it's snowing and I put on all the galoshes
While he reads the paper,
Then I want to become a
Women's Liberation Movement woman.
And when it's snowing and he looks for the taxi
While I wait in the lobby,
Then I don't.

And when it's vacation and I'm in charge of mosquito bites
and poison ivy and car sickness
While he's in charge of swimming
Then I want to become a
Women's Liberation Movement woman.
And when it's vacation and he carries the trunk and the
overnight bag and the extra blankets
While I carry the wig case.
Then I don't.

And when it's three in the morning and the baby definitely needs
a glass of water and I have to get up and bring it
While he keeps my place warm.
Then I want to become a
Women's Liberation Movement woman.
And when it's three in the morning and there is definitely a
murderer-rapist in the vestibule and he has to get up and
catch him
While I keep his place warm,
Then I don't.

And after dinner, when he talks to the company
While I clean the broiler
(because I am a victim of capitalism, imperialism, male
chauvinism, and also "Playboy" magazine).
And afternoons, when he invents the telephone and wins the
Dreyfus case and writes "War and Peace"
While I sort the socks
(because I am economically oppressed, physically exploited,
psychologically mutilated, and also very insulted).
And after he tells me that it is genetically determined that the
man makes martinis and the lady makes the beds
(because he sees me as a sex object, an earth mother, a domestic
servant, and also dumber than he is),
Then I want to become a
Women's Liberation Movement woman.

And after I contemplate
No marriage, no family, no shaving under my arms.
And no one to step on a cockroach whenever I need him.
Then I don't.

From "It's Hard to Be Hip over Thirty and Other Tragedies of Married Life" by Judith Viorst (1968)

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