The world keeps turning

September 30, 2015

We Boomer women on the leading edge of the generation came up at a time when women were just beginning to understand the power of showing men their minds.

Conventional wisdom in the 1950s said that to get a man women had to dumb themselves down. It was considered bad strategy to do better in school or at least to let a boy know you were doing better. I know plenty of smart girls of my generation who pretended they weren’t. Or wished they weren’t, because they believed a man would never go for them. Pretty was much better than smart in the 1950s, as women went to college not for an M.S. but to get their M-R-S.

Well, too bad for them.

As someone who has always led with her brain (although, as I’ve written before, I’m totally clueless about how that works) and who thought it would be refreshing if a guy called out “nice ass” to her, as that girl, the smart girl, I never did find my brains to be a marital deterrent.

I am on my third husband and fourth marriage (since I married my first husband again) and if I’d have married every man who asked I would have had four more. And these were men of quality. Mostly.

Do I sound arrogant? Is it arrogant to know yourself? I don’t think so. I won’t kid you. I know I’m an acquired taste. But I like to think I’m like, say, raw oysters: not for everyone, but for some a most delicious treat.

Men of our generation really do appreciate that kind of treat.

I love that women in the generations that followed the Boomers don’t feel the need to dumb themselves down. They embrace their clever, geeky, accomplished selves in a big way and, it turns out, most men in their generation appreciate a brainy girl.

When I look at the world with dismay I realize that one thing is for certain: the world keeps turning. There’s only one constant, and that’s change. The change in the way women are perceived is one of the better ones.

If only we could get women’s pay equal to men’s, she said, as she reached out to twirl the world a little faster.

19 comments on “The world keeps turning
  1. About 15 years ago we were at a dinner party. When we finished eating the men went out on the terrace to smoke cigars and drink their elegant glasses of scotch. The women cleaned up. I hated that!! It got my dander up so went outside and started to talk. The glares I got should have maimed me!

    I added a thing or two to the conversation. My comments were ignored. My husband pulled on my sleeve and whispered, “I think it’s time to go,” because he felt uncomfortable in this divide as well. We were never invited back. I found other friends in town who were more like-minded. That night I felt like I was drop kicked into the 1950’s. Ha!

    This post brought this all back. Yup. Women deserve equal everything. Let’s get to equal pay together, Carol! Great post.

    • It’s astonishing that we aren’t there yet.

    • I’m with you, ladies! Cathy, I do the same thing when it’s divided that way. I find male conversation much more stimulating than ‘women in the kitchen’ conversation. It’s gotten me a few glares as well, but I simply don’t care. We’ve met some new folks here in Cape May and they tend to fall apart the ’50’s way. I love that my husband will come and join the women if I don’t join the men first. We’ve always been that way.

      • I am a bit older than you ladies so I am still experiencing the scotch for the men bit…but, we do not clean up the dishes. It’s not perfect but it is progress I think.

        Oh, and I don’t like scotch that much so I am fine thank you!


    • What a very strange experience that must have been, Cathy!

      Very nice post, Carol. I’m always glad I was born when I was, somehow I’ve never been particularly focused on relationships (although I stumbled into a really good one that’s…wow, partway into its tenth year now? really?) and if I’d been growing up at a time when women were supposed to focus entirely on that, and encouraged to dumb themselves down to do that, I don’t think I would have done too well.

  2. Great blog, Carol. I had a man once stand up in a session I was doing for the executives and say, “Your strategy stinks. We need a guy in here to do this sales strategy.” I looked at him and said, “You’ve had 13 quarters of flat earnings. If you have a better idea, let me know.” He didn’t, and we went with my idea and they had lift every quarter thereafter.

    Women rock.

  3. My mom always gave my sister and I such strong messages about being strong women. It never occurred to me to dumb myself down. That said, if I played tennis with a boy I liked, I’d think twice about beating him!

  4. We all have similar stories. But the one that is most stunning for me is the divide I experienced within my own family. My sister and I were denied the opportunity to join Girl Scouts because Boy Scouts met on the same night. Family outings were designed around my brothers’ activities. Even educational activities were slanted to the boys. I remember purposely failing in the tryouts for the national spelling bee. I knew that my parents would never get me there if I were to go on to compete in the regional and state competitions.

  5. Jennifer says:

    I’ve never dumbed myself down in my life. And the idea of doing it to get a man seems rather counterproductive. I’d by bored stiff with the idiot I snagged, within a week!

  6. Anita Irlen says:

    I’m not a dumb downer either. And that segregation of the sexes at social events makes me crazy! And don’t talk to me about that time I received an invitation addressed to Mrs. Kevin…

  7. s says:

    I refuse – and always have – to dumb myself down. Even though, I can remember back in the day, when girls were brainwashed into thinking that was the way to be feminine and desirable. Um, no. I’d like to think we have come far, but sometimes I think we are regressing instead.

  8. Tammy says:

    I appreciate the advantage of being under estimated. I always have (been underestimated, that is). I don’t hold back, but somehow men know that I will speak my mind. At times it seems like they are almost afraid of what will come out. They should be. When told that I didn’t belong at an after dinner smoke with the men on the patio, I responded that if I see any men I’d let him know. And I left, with Steven in tow (who was speechless). Lesson learned…for both of us.

  9. We will never get there while we have all of these backward Tea Partiers and conservative Republicans who would like to see women in the kitchen, pregnant with no choices.

  10. There’s still a LONG way to go, but as the mother of three daughters, I’m thankful they never had to even consider dumbing themselves down for a man. They’re proud of their smarts (and my oldest, her football sense that’s better than most men’s) and the men they are with are thankfully proud of that, too.

    Cheers to change for the better!

  11. I have six-older sister-in-laws and they are all the separating from the men type. They are family so we are stuck with them. My husband always hangs out with me and his sisters. I don’t think they separate so much because of the gender thing as much as because of the interest. It still bugs me.

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