Monday, December 17, 2012

The Canadian Chronicles: Women's Studies Classes and Pre Christmas Hoopla 2012

This holiday post begins with a little un-related holiday back story.  When I was studying for my undergrad degree at the University of Michigan, I met with my college counselor.  I only met with a counselor once in my whole undergrad history.  He was a basic, old, overweight white guy.  He looked at my transcript and questioned the number of Women's Studies courses that I was taking.

I told him that I intended to double major in Communications and Women's Studies.  There was nothing more interesting to me in all of the classes at Michigan that I was taking as a fired up discussion in one of my Women's Studies classes.  Everyone in the class was super smart, passionate and involved.  I learned all kinds of things.  My horizons were broadening.

He shook his head and stared at my transcript.  He looked up over his reading glasses, his tired eyes met mine and he said, "You definitely should not major in Women's Studies.  Anyone seeing that as your major will assume that you're a lesbian and then they will not hire you."

I left our meeting confused.  What did he mean by people thinking I was a lesbian?  Was that bad?  I went to my next class, Women in Art, and looked around at my awesome classmates.  It's true, there were a lot of comfortable shoes.  I guess I knew a couple of them to be lesbians, but were they all lesbians?  And, so what if they were?  I didn't care.  I just like the class and its content.

In the late 80's, his remarks did give me pause.  I did want to get a job, so even though I took a hefty load of Women's Studies Department classes, I never declared it as my major.  It's amazing how one little comment, can shade your thinking.  I didn't even care if someone did think I was a lesbian, but I did need that post grad job.

Flash forward to a ride in the car with my 14 year old daughter.  We were talking about education and opportunities.  She was questioning why I chose to be a stay at home mom.  I mean, if I was preaching quality education and equating it to choice, why didn't I have some super high powered career?  Why had I failed my own mantra?  How can I even begin to give advice on women's choice?

Well, baby, I made the "mother" of choices.  I was a junior high teacher and a preschool teacher...I believe in education so much that I've been a crusader for the excellent private programs that we sacrifice much financially to send our kids to.  I always thought I would live in a trailer park, and I was fine with that.  I really didn't need much.  I didn't have dreams of wealth and riches.  It's not what I'm about--there's a lot about that here where I live, but that's not my story.

We are making our way to a remote cottage in the woods for Christmas.  It is hours away from actual stores that you could buy presents from.  I am bringing Christmas with me in duffel bags.  As I work on orchestrating what we need for the holiday, I realize I am challenged.  I realize there are people that depend on me.  I realize that I teach every single day in all kinds of different ways.  I love being a stay at home mom.  I am lucky to be doing the job that I chose!

I also totally support the women who work outside of the home.  Sometimes it's a choice, sometimes it is not.  Life is a funny path, and you sometimes end up somewhere you didn't even know you were going.  I consider myself very fortunate to be somewhere that I like being, and if I didn't like it, I would try to be doing something else.

I do believe education can give you choice in your life.  I also want to wish holiday peace to the old white guy if he's still out there.  Mister Counselor, how many things in your life didn't you do because of what somebody said or what you were afraid of someone thinking?  I am going to make it my mission to make sure my kids know, lesbian or not, go for it, don't be afraid.  If they don't want to hire you because of something like that, keep looking!

Now, time to pack more stuff into the duffel bags.  We are off to a Canadian adventure, and I'm going to take you all with me!  Stay tuned!

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