May 22, 2018
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I am woman, hear me think

By Carol Lewandowski, Special to the BDN

In her recent BDN column (April 11), Amy Fried asks an important question: “What does a woman want?” and she supplies a brief answer to a huge political question. Kudos to Fried for taking on the task, but the issue must be considered on a different level.

I have been a woman for 51 years; I have been voting for 33 years; I have been a social liberal Democrat for 37 years. Already I can see the eye rolls — “Oh, geesh, another uber-educated chic hippie telling us about the importance of child care and education.” Well, hang on. Do not judge a book by its cover.

First, I am not a hippie. Second, I am not uber-educated. Whew. That was easy.

Yes, I’m a woman. Yes, I have ovaries and am capable of procreating. But — truth be told, I hate children. I avoid them at all costs and find them annoying, grating, smelly and just noisome. My own mother made it quite clear to me that having children was the best way to “screw up your life;” we’re talking about a woman who was born in 1921, the same year that England finally allowed women to own property. Thanks to her admonitions, I never wanted kids, so I never had them.

Still my “nurturing” instincts are strong: I have rescued animals, planted gardens, volunteered for smart efforts and advised students. I never had children, yet I am still invested in universal health care and am still passionate about helping others. Is that because I am a woman or because I care about the race and the planet?

In terms of education: I have been a teacher for 25 years. I have seen sane programs, silly programs, dangerous programs and just plain stupid programs. My goal has been, as E.M. Forster recommended, “Only connect.”

I work hard to connect with students. I advise which courses will help, I write letters to recommend students to programs, I help students navigate the messy waters of transfer and I attend student functions to show support. For me, education is personal — it’s not about a test score or GPA, it’s about engagement and connection. Is my success as a teacher because I am a woman or because I care about the race and the planet?

As for politics: I cannot support dropping bombs on innocent households in foreign countries; I cannot support animal testing; I cannot support racism or ageism or any other sort of “ism” that may occur. Is that because I am a woman or because I care about the race and the planet?

As for skills: I have been a gym rat for 30 years and know that women with muscles are not a shock; smarts and intellect can beat a muscled opponent (e.g., in fencing); a trained professional can save my life regardless of gender (a female EMT is under the same scrutiny as a male EMT). Gender is a not an issue.

Recently on the radio there ran an advertisement for a Bangor event, “What Women Want,” the emphasis on hair care, makeup, massages, a fashion show and other personal hygiene issues. What an insult to my gender. Do you really think all women want is a good set of nails or a soothing facial? These stereotypes are insulting; they do nothing to promote the importance of human connection, regardless of gender.

Bottom line — women are really no different from men in what we want: good education for all, reliable child care and health care, promise for future work (career) and respect for all we do.

If anyone ever wants to know “What a Woman Wants,” I recommend Chaucer’s “Wife of Bath.” Ah, sovereignty.

Carol Lewandowski lives in Verona Island.

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