During my vacation, I was assigned to read Professions for Women, by Virginia Woolf. Virginia wrote, “. . . she (meaning women) has still many ghost to fight, many prejudices to overcome” (pg 247- The Norton Anthology of Literature By Women, third edition). Further down the page she continues, “even when the path is nominally open — when there is nothing to prevent a women from being a doctor, a lawyer, a civil servant — there are many phantoms and obstacles, as I believe looming in her way.” These words were written in 1942, and although women have progressed, I wonder if we have become our own obstacle.
Ironically at the same time, my mother insisted I read a piece regarding Hillary Clinton in the commentary section of The Press of Altantic City, How Women See Hillary Clinton, by Gina Barreca. My mother was sure the piece swayed her not to elect Hillary Clinton for president. I insisted this was not at all the topic this commentary enlightened the reader about. A debate between us and other family members spun into a tornado of opinions and furies. I was surprised at some of the reactions from other women. Deep inside, I know my mother secretly fears a woman president, and although she wants to be a woman of independence, my mother just can not have ‘grandma’ in the White House. Berreca is right on.
Berreca comments “will women judge Clinton ‘not good enough’ because we think, secretly, we might be’ not good enough’.” Yes, Gina, they will be more critical. And to Virginia, I think women have become their own ghost, their own worst enemy. Women sling their own harsh prejudices at each other with envy, condemnation, and scorn. I am not suggesting either way, vote for Clinton or not. . . but take the gender out of the percentage. In fact, we should admire any women or human being with an obstacle such as race and gender, who manages to climb incredible mountains. And although making mistakes along the way, they tried, and trying is the most important virtue of all, right mom? So Gina, Virginia -thanks for paving the way, opening doors, invigorating my mind and killing the phantoms that block our way. And thank our moms, because they too have paved our path- just wish it didn’t erupt during my ‘once a year’ vacation. (Honestly, my parents did a remarkable job raising three dynamic girls!)