funny, isn't it?
by jeanne charters
My recent column on feminism elicited some interesting
e-mail comments from readers. Heres one of them
me, the word feminism has become synonymous with lesbian. Not that thats
a terrible thing, but it makes it harder for me to say the word comfortably.
My sex life is no ones business. Recently, Ive been thinking
about the title Ms. and how those two letters have come to be associated
with divorce. Somehow, with women our society seems always to be interested
in our sex lives so we have Miss for virgins and spinsters
and Mrs. for the legally married and now, Ms. for the divorced when
Ms. was created to just mean Im female. Anyway, maybe youd
be willing to write an article on why it is society wants to keep tabs
on our sex lives. I think when Miss and Mrs. are finally discarded from
every application and usage, feminism will have accomplished one of
its primary goals.
that really help? Maybe its a beginning. After all, theres
only one appellation for men and thats Mr. Whether a guy is married,
divorced, gay, straight, axe murderer, philanderer or totally sweet
soul, hes a Mr. Why not us?
in a name? A whole lot, I think. Has the hair on the back of your neck
ever risen when someone called you honey, sweetie,
or babe? So, the problem goes way deeper than just the Ms./Mrs./Miss
reader asks, why it is society wants to keep tabs on our sex lives.
Probably because society is terrified of the power women hold in their
ability to tantalize and procreate. Throughout history, society and
religion have both worked mighty hard to keep us in our places. Look
here, Missy, dont you be getting all huffy with me. Back
in Salem, smart, talented women were burned when someone decided to
call that talent witchery. Women today hit the glass ceiling
because its easy to brand them as a bitch for attempting to fly
so high. And yet, fly we must for the women who will follow us up the
slippery slope of corporate ladders.
weekend, I saw a performance of Lysistrata, adapted from the play by
Aristophanes. Seems the ancient women of Greece were really fed up over
a 20-year war being waged between Athens and Sparta. So the women from
the two provinces banded together and decided to withhold sex until
the male warriors called a truce. The play got a little dopey in the
second half with all the men coming onstage with cucumber-sized erections
poking out of their togas. At first, it was funny; but after a while,
I began to wonder why these Greek guys didnt ummm
into their own hands.
the women were successful and the men called a halt to battle. I began
to wonder if it could work today. Maybe if we got a connection to Mrs.
Bush, Mrs. Cheney and Mrs. Rumsfeld we could discuss Lysistratas
idea with them. Probably not. Their guys dont look particularly
I want to share with you a ray of light. My granddaughter, Hannah, was
visiting last week (along with my 4 daughters and 8 of Hannahs
cousins). Hannah is 11 years old and lives in Maine. She has a good
friend named Henry. Recently, she spent the night at Henrys house
when her mom and dad were out of town. The next day, three boys at her
school started making fun of her, saying, Boy, its a good
thing Henry has a big bed so you could sleep with him.
crack bothered Hannah
a lot! She went to her adviser at school
and explained her discomfort with the boys remarks. The adviser
wisely gave her three alternatives:
She could discuss it with a counselor and let it go.
2. She could confront the boys directly.
3. She could press harassment charges.
chose the second option, had the boys brought to the advisers
office and told them exactly how uncomfortable their remarks had made
her. They apologized to her and promised to watch their mouths in the
a wonderful life lesson for both Hannah and the boys. Would I have had
the guts to choose this option when I was 11 years old? Not a chance.
I think when Hannah grows up, she will choose the title, Miss, Mrs.
or Ms. that she feels comfortable with and wont care what anyone
else thinks about it.
were making progress... at least Hannahs generation is.
Lets go back to the name issue again. I wonder why women
should lose their maiden names? I use Jeanne Charters (which was my
first husbands name) for business and Jeanne Restivo (my present
husbands name) socially. It would have been much simpler had I
stuck with Jeanne Hackett, my maiden name. Three of my four daughters
changed their names upon marrying. I think they sometimes regret it.
I mentioned all this to a dear friend, she said that she has never considered
changing her name except in one of her four marriages. Now, dont
discount her for that. She is one of those honestly romantic people
who truly believe in love. She also said that she doesnt believe
that any man worth his salt who was born in the late 20th Century would
insist on his wife taking his name. Oh, really? Well, I happened to
pick up a Cosmopolitan magazine yesterday. Their research indicates
that 42% of men they interviewed would cancel an engagement if their
future wife insisted on a hyphenated last name. And thats Cosmo
the demographics are surely 18-34!
confounds me! Should we give up our identity when we marry? Do men really
want that or would they just as soon have the woman they choose remain
name and all? Id love to hear from some male readers
isnt it? That old bromide Whats in a name? seems
to be as relevant today as it was back in the days when Romeo was courting
Juliet. Wonder if the Montagues and Capulets would have stayed so angry
at each other if Romeo had just said, Look, mom and dad, Ill
keep my old name and Juliet will keep her old name. Does this make you
happy? Could have saved a lot of grief, but the play wouldnt
have been nearly so popular. A great farce can never compare with a
is a former V.P. of Marketing for Viacom Television. She started her
own award-winning broadcast advertising agency in 1990. Jeanne lives
in Fairview with her husband, Matt Restivo.
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