Monday, August 27, 2007

A room of one's own

Sneak peak at the completed Lucy!

During the 70's, in my idealistic youth, I subscribed to the feminist literary publication, A room of one's own. The title, I believe, came from Virginia Woolf's assertion that in order to write successfully, a woman needed a room of her own (and money - critical!). The review featured unknown authors - it gave women a venue for their writing which did not previously exist. I was reminded this morning of what I read during that era, and why I read it, during an interview I was listening to on CBC. Connie Watson, of The Current, was interviewing Katie Roiphe, Cathi Hanauer, and Leanne Delap on the topic of "mommy lit", which has evolved from the genre "chick lit". Roiphe is scathing in her assessment of this genre; she believes that the romanticization of the 'stay-at-home-mum' harbours a political agenda of a return to the values of the 50s, wherein women would be financially dependent, once again, upon their husbands. Hanauer was critical more of the quality of the writing than of the content of the genre, and Delap felt that the portrayals of the difficulties of parenthood were not overdrawn. Bear in mind, while reading my thoughts, that I have not actually read a novel of this genre.

I must say that my initial reaction to Roiphe's comments was anger and indignation. This was not due to the suggested political agenda, but because of the subtext of her arguments; that is, that for a woman to be of value, she must be employed outside the home. Recently, I have been reflecting on our society's values, and what the measure of success is. Most equate success with financial success, or fame. There is little room in this schema for a woman who chooses to stay at home with her children and participate fully in their childhood. One can argue, of course, that a life lived vicariously through one's children is the reflection of the children's success, rather than the parent's own success. However, I don't believe that. I believe that our children are a very precious resource, and we value far too little the caregivers that are raising them, be they mothers, fathers, or childcare workers. That being said, I have never had the financial independence to allow me to stay at home with my own child. I don't feel guilty for that; it was a financial neccessity. I also would have stayed home with him if it had been possible. But here's the rub. Those women who do have the financial independence to make the choice to stay home with their children almost all experience that financial independence at a cost, being financially dependent on a spouse. And yes, here we are, back at Roiphe's concern over the political agenda.

Once I had done my oh, so circular reasoning and concluded that Roiphe is right on target, I began to think about that romanticized vision, the Cinderella story, the Pretty Woman story. I have become increasingly concerned over the last few years about the number of young female colleagues who continue to embrace that vision in both subtle and blatant ways. Did the 70s actually happen? I sometimes find myself wondering. Maybe it's time to start raising a few consciousnesses again. Maybe it's time to start reading 'A Room of one's own' again.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled blog...

Here is the completed view of the Lucy sweater. The colours on this one are so vibrant! I chose some little iridescent buttons that pick up the pink beautifully. The finishing took longer than planned. I had some repairs to do once I discovered I had put the buttonhole band on the wrong side - see! I am prejudging that this should definitely be a girl sweater!!! I had also picked up too many stitches and the band went all wobbly. This was because though the tension on the machine was almost spot on, I had not actually knitted enough rows in the body of the sweater. It's all right, though, as I simply made the button bands a little smaller and it looks fine.

And here's a peek at what is on the needles right now. I am knitting an old pattern I have done before in cotton. The first time I did it, though, I used navy blue, hot pink, bright jade green and purple. This one, though the purple is very dark, seems somewhat bland in comparison. I don't think there is enough contrast in the colours to make it jump out at you. However, it is an easy knit and the colours work well enough together to make a nice looking sweater.

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