Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Wonder Women

The other day Mr HSBoots remarked that he would soon be doing some price checks on what it would cost to retile the bathroom, because "those old ones are disgusting: so tired and black".

I smiled fondly as I sat in the corner of the couch, knitting, and reflecting that men sometimes just do not know what the hell is going on. Then I thought, "mental note - clean the bathroom."

So today I got to it, unearthed a scrub brush and some scouring cleanser, and got to work on the tub-to-ceiling tile surround. While doing my Cinderella impression it struck me that life as a woman is a constant act of transformation, of both the humblest and most exalted sort. We change dirty to clean, full to empty -- or empty to full if we're talking pump soap or toddler tummies -- old to new, rough to smooth. We change fleece to yarn, yarn to garments, and never tire of the process. We change sod to garden, then plant seeds and watch for their transformation into flower, or food. Eggs, milk, flour, sugar - in the hands of a woman they become cake (if you're lucky).

Infants become children and, if a woman does her job properly, good people - regular, grown-up people. Their mothers work constantly to change ignorance to knowledge, helplessness to competence, self-centredness to responsibility.

All of these things are against nature, whose tendency is to chaos. The natural, left untended, becomes feral. Is that what we do, we women? Are we the constructive, positive, creative force for improvement, always struggling against natural tendency?

Well, it would certainly explain a lot. Why a woman's quest to transform her body never ends; why so many women burn themselves out in an exhausting race to keep everything in their life under some kind of control - keeping the house clean, keeping the files in order, keeping people at work happy, keeping the children quiet; and why we never seem quite happy ourselves. Never quite content. Gotta change just one more thing. Lose 5 pounds? Well, 10 would be better. Someone compliments your knitting? "Yes, but look here - right on this row...see it? That stitch should be blue, not white."

So I guess my point is this. If you are a woman, you are capable of enacting powerful and comprehensive change. Your constant renewal of yourself and your surroundings can be both a source of, and an enormous tax on, your creative energy.

Like any superhero, what matters is whether you use your powers for good, or for evil.

Personally, I'm done scrubbing the tiles, for another couple of months at least. I would rather use my powers for good -- to restore my creative energy -- and yarn is calling me.


Gwen said...

Almost thou persuadest me...

Ginny said...

I just cpommented and lost it when i logged in! Hmmm.

I was saying that I worry a bit about assuming that our roles are sort-of pre-ordained at birth. Can't men do lots of these things (and don't they?) And I'm not sure I do many of them - certainly not the tidying/cleaning..... INteresting post, though.

Thanks for your comment on my sweater - the pattern worked out well, but avoid the Rowan Polar like the plague! for a bulky-ish yarn it doesn't half collapse into nothingness. (It is discontinued, though).

I only got tiszqzh, not nealry so much fun as boobxl

Ames said...

I didn't realize I did all that. I think I deserve to go yarn shopping.

Shan said...

Ginny, I agree with you that one should not assume roles are inborn according to gender. I suspect that if 10 women lived in one house, and 10 men lived in a house across the street, the former may be tidier than the latter, but I think the reasons for that are complicated and various. Certainly no One Factor is ever solely responsible, when we're talking about complicated human behaviour.

And, of course, if I lived in a house with 9 neat, tidy and conscientious women (or men) I would go out of my bloody mind. And so would they, if you know what I mean.

I suppose this post, like others, is based on observations I have made about myself and those I know well. Most of my intimate acquaintance are in a particular demographic, among which these observations are perhaps more true than they would be elsewhere. The "mothers of young children" crowd seem unusually neurotic, disinclined to look after themselves, and prone to giving of their energy without restraint until both It and They are exhausted.


Maybe I ought to have spent a bit more time on that original post, since I obviously had Yet More to say about it!

And Ames, you know I'm right - put that Shmop down and go do something fun and relaxing. What's the point of having a 10-year-old if she can't even get lunch for her sisters?

Kate said...

All right, you've stumped me. I have nothing to add, no witty remarks to make, no tongue in cheek. Are you happy now?
(All kidding aside - 'cause you knew I was kidding right - a very honest, insightful post.)

Lizbon said...

What a cool post this is, and I can attest (from my dayjob, which often involves wading in data on such things), that a lot of women seem to be perpetual change machines.

And by that, I don't mean that they stand on the street corner all day handing out quarters.

Jenny said...

Great post!