15 Apr


Louise Annarino

April 15, 2012


In high school, every girl knew where to hang out to attract boys. Parents like mine made certain I was not among those girls. Such was the protective net flung over my head. It was a comfort. It allowed me time to seriously assess what my role in life would be without a man to influence my decisions; and what role men would have in that life. My focus was on education, career and independence. Motherhood and marriage seemed a given, and to be delayed until I could be self-sufficient. Only then, could I make the future secure for myself and some future family.


I deliberately wrote motherhood before marriage in the above sentence. Too many of those young women allowed to hang out with boys, became mothers first and married in haste after. A total loss of freedom and self-sufficiency, only one piece of the price they paid. The cost seemed too high then, and life has shown me it still is thus.


I had imagined university to be different. I expected it to be a community of scholars, where men and women were equals. It was not. Despite living in a coed dorm, rules differed for men and women. Women, but not men, were restricted to their floors after midnight, and had to be in dorm by that time. No late-night runs for pizza. Not even a chance to meet the pizza guy in the lobby to accept delivery. If a women left the dormitory in the evening, she had to write where she was going, with whom, a contact phone number, and expected time of return. The men were treated as adults; women were not.


I wrote a Declaration of Independence for the Women of Lincoln Tower. A group of us detached the sign-out books from the lobby counter, carried them outside and burned them in a bonfire for freedom. Today, we would be arrested. In the 60’s, we had a stern dressing-down from the Dean of Women and the Dean of Men.


It was unlikely that the books could be reordered and delivered before the year was out, so the sign-out system was suspended for the remainder of the year, and never reinstated. While all women students cheered this stand for our freedom, it did not truly reflect the underlying motivation of each woman.Too many were at university simply to find a well-educated husband who could support them. Too many had no interest in maintaining freedom through self-sufficiency. Too many were willing to sublimate their own identity as free women for the ease of being cared for by another.


As graduation approached these women panicked. “The best opportunity to find a rich husband is now! What will I do if I leave here and I am not engaged?” was an increasingly desperate question for them, and for their mothers, whose phone calls became more frequent. This was a new phenomenon to me. My Mother’s instructions were to get as much education as I could so I would never need to depend upon anyone; theirs was to find a rich husband so they would always have someone else to depend upon. This differing world view may explain a current quandary of mine.


That quandary is why any woman would vote for a Republican. But, I think I see how they could. They are the women I knew at university who believe a man will take care of them. Democratic women are those, like myself, who stand independently on their own feet, believe self-reliance brings true freedom, and form relationships with the men in their lives which are free and among equals. Perhaps, I cannot really know, Republican women are simply those women satisfied to be taken care of by a man. To each her own.


It is a free woman who decries anyone’s efforts to replace her decision-making with their own, be they a husband, bishop or a politician. It is a free woman who insists on joint discussion and decision making with her spouse, be their agreement or disagreement. Only when women are free to be themselves, are they free to love and free to share their lives with another. And all women Democratic or Republican seek freedom, even those who avoid expressing it in their relationships with the men in their lives. Even those who listened to their mothers and married up for financial security.


It is ironic that the very women willing to rely on men to take care of them, vote for men who say government has no, or very limited, role in taking care of the poor, the elderly, our health, our job security, our environment. Those men they trust to  care for them, cannot be trusted to care for us. They promise to end ObamaCare.They promise to close the Departments of Education, Environment, Labor, Health and Human Services. They get very confused over which agencies exist and whether they should be closed, but they know they must be gone! They oppose Affirmative Action, an effort to assure African-Americans, and all people of color can stand on their own, and be independent of white largesse oblige.


And these are good men. These are men who take care of their women and children, and believe they deserve respect and loyalty for so doing, for their largesse oblige. They fail to see what is right before their eyes: women and children and people of color who are their equals. By caring for them they deserve no special rank, nor praise. We are all equals, we men and women and children of every color and nationality. We are in this together. We care  for one another. We are our government. Our government is us. That is what it means to live in a democratic republic. Of course government will care for us, since we care for one another as equals entitled to the same opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.


When we Democratic women challenge Republican men, Republican women will of course defend them upon whom the fortunes of their families rely. But, even Republican women now understand that such a paternalistic relationship can go and has gone, too far. Olympia Snowe(R) ME and Susan Collins (R)ME have supported President Obama’s efforts to assure insurance carriers provide women contraception coverage. “The women,” says Maria Cantwell, “are mad.” you don’t feel this is an attack, you need to go home and talk to your wife and your daughters.”1 And Republican women are also speaking out, asking for support for their own contraceptive needs.2  We may be Democratic women. We may be Republican women. We are all sisters. It is time for women to take a second look at the men who would rule our lives. Ask Michelle Obama. She who is an equal among equals, one of us.


1. www.oregonlive.comDavid SarasohnColumns

Apr 7, 2012 – “The women,” says Maria Cantwell, “are mad.” you don’t feel this is an attack, you need to go home and talk to your wife and your daughters.”










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