We Are Looking For

A clue!

A clue!

Normally, I use this neatogroovycool magnifying glass to examine the minuscule creepy crawlies in the tank.  Today, I’m using it to examine context clues.

I have a Twitter account (@MrsFringe).  I don’t use it much, but I hop on semi-regularly to see what’s trending, and sporadically I’ll spend quite a bit of time for a couple of days having fun with one-liners. Some of those I follow are friends, some are Fringelings, some are people I admire, others are agents/editors who are sharp, or funny, or interesting.  Quite a few publishing professionals will tweet tips–what to do/what not to do, why they’re requesting or rejecting queries, and query trends.

Recently I logged on and happened to catch a tweet at the top of my news feed that’s stayed with me.  While it probably isn’t politic, I’m going to address it.  Since I’m 40,000 years old and not twitter savvy (read: a blabberfingers), I’ll respond here on the blog.  Someone (agent? I think, maybe) tweeted something to the effect of:  Two spaces after a period and I know you’re over 40, don’t do it.


Well I suppose it’s true, those of us who learned to type on typewriters did learn to put two spaces after a period.  If you learned in typing class and/or did a lot of typing for any reason, it’s kind of ingrained–and if you do think about it, one space often looks “wrong” to us ancients.  Despite my advanced age and inherent slowed mental faculties, I actually understand that things change.  The world changes, advances are made, things that were once acceptable are now either extraneous or completely unacceptable.  Language evolves.

A friend of Nerd Child’s is staying with us for a few days.  He hasn’t been here before, and when he first walked in he said, “This apartment is sick.”  Hard to believe, but I didn’t go running for the Lysol, nor did I tell him to get off my lawn.  I thanked him.  Context clues.

I promise you, Fringelings, I am not what anyone would consider a delicate flower.

I checked. Nope, this is not a self portrait, but I may add it to my salad tonight.

I checked. Nope, this is not a self portrait, but I may add it to my salad tonight.

I also understand publishing professionals are inundated with queries, and there are many reasons to reject manuscripts.  What I don’t understand is why someone would think it’s ok, on a public venue like Twitter, to make this type of blanket, ageist statement.  True, I (and others like me) should probably try to break this wasteful habit of two spaces after each period.  All that white space left to rot by the end of a manuscript, shameful.  Also true, there are practicalities and logistics, reasons someone might not want to take on a debut author who’s 90 years old.  You wouldn’t have to dig too deep through my archives to find I’m quite open about not loving some of the facets of aging–oh, those saggy bits!  But these are query letters for manuscripts, not applications for centerfold models.

I had dinner with my journalist friend the other night.  She is (gasp) older than I am.  Not only still writing, but people still pay to read what she has to say, because she’s good at what she does.  If I checked the list of current best selling novelists, I’m certain a significant percentage would include authors over forty.  If I checked tweets of those I follow on Twitter, I’m certain all would include tweets (from men and women) about being feminists, supporting feminism.  You cannot separate feminism from ageism.  I’d like to see that placard carried at a women’s rights march, “Equal Pay for the Perky Now!”  It doesn’t bother me to be told to break an outdated habit, but the implication that my words hold no value because I’m a woman of a certain age?  That bothers the hell out of me.

I think I’ve posted this video before, but you can just go ahead and blame senility for the repeat.  Or, yanno, trust I felt it was appropriate for this piece.

*And yes, I made sure to add two spaces after each period for this post, ’cause that’s how I roll.

And, Have an Orgasm!

Atomic Housewife. 19/52

Atomic Housewife. 19/52 (Photo credit: Sarahnaut)

Does anyone else know/remember that old joke, poking fun at Women’s Lib? Something like this: Before women’s lib, a woman would get up, make coffee and breakfast for husband and children, make lunches for them to take with them, iron, see them off, clean the house, do laundry, grocery shop, make dinner, supervise homework, feed everyone dinner, kids off to bed, sex with husband. After women’s lib, a woman has to get up, make coffee and breakfast for husband and children, make lunches for them to take with them, iron, see them off, go out to work, come home and clean the house, do laundry, grocery shop, make dinner, supervise homework, feed everyone dinner, kids off to bed, sex with husband, AND have an orgasm.

Mmm hmm, very liberating indeed.

Is life better for the average woman than it used to be? I think so.  There are more choices, more acknowledgement of compromises–hey, I can now be a feminist and still shave my underarms.

Underarm Hair

Underarm Hair (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are women who choose not to have children, women who choose to have children and stay home, women who choose not to define themselves by their marital or maternal status at all.  Still far from true social justice, because these choices aren’t accepted without question, but analyzed, judged, and whispered about. Being a woman who is a mom, I’m going to focus on that choice.

I don’t know who first coined the term Supermom, or exactly how long it’s been around, but I think it’s fair to say easily 20 years.  Conservatively, 20 years. Twenty years of cartoons, jokes, analyzing, and disclaimers.  We know better. Supermom is bullshit. Every bit the work of fiction that Superman is.  So how come we’re still weighing ourselves against this curvy little lie?

No one human being can fill all roles, be all things to all people. Not even the little people we bring into our lives, or the one person we vow to stay with forever (whether or not forever ends after 7 years or 37). We all wear many hats, juggle different roles and obligations–true for men as well as women.  But somehow, we women expect and are often expected to do just that.  Especially those of us who have limited budgets, so hiring others to take care of some of those roles isn’t an option.

Even little things.  Like unexpected company. I am not a fabulous housekeeper.  I’d like to be, but ultimately, once we get beyond the basics of a reasonably clean bathroom and kitchen, it just isn’t that high on my list of priorities.  We’re in a small space.  There just isn’t a place for everything. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to do some extra cleaning and organizing if company is coming. I don’t like surprise guests for this reason.  What does this have to do with feminism and supermoms? Well, let’s face it, no one is going to leave my messy apartment and whisper to her girlfriend, “Wow, that Husband is a pig.  When was the last time he dusted?” No, the judgement would be more like, “Ugh, did you see that laundry hamper? I wonder when Mrs Fringe last found her way to the laundry room.”

If a mother works outside the home, somehow she’s still magically supposed to take care of all the hearth and home stuff, and be awake, alert, competent, and presentable on the job.  And her kids are never supposed to get sick, or have any other needs that would involve taking time off. If a mother is a SAHM, she isn’t supposed to just take care of hearth and home, she had better be Supermom squared, to compensate for her lack of brain cells…err…value…err…income. She’s supposed to do it all perfectly, naturally, organic dinners that are gastronomic delights to children and adults alike, sandwiches on bread baked that morning, tastefully decorated home, never a stray sock left behind on laundry day, homemade and prizewinning Halloween costumes, and of course, oodles of time to volunteer at the children’s schools.  Because, yanno, if you’re a SAHM, what do you do all day?  You must be bored. *Do not confuse intellectual boredom with free time* Only, if you are bored, don’t ever say it out loud, because well, you could get a job and really do something. Never mind the mind numbing fatigue, and the fact you spend every single day being looked down upon and devalued, and there’s no such thing as a day off or quitting time.

So no, I’m not Supermom, and I don’t know one woman who is.  Those who come closest are those whose annual income allows for quality, long term nannies/babysitters, full time housekeepers, and spouses who are also big earners and highly educated–socially progressive. We all know this, all make fun of the term, we judge ourselves and judge each other–but we all still beat ourselves up for not being this fictional character.

Delany wrote issue#203 of Wonder Woman, the wo...

Delany wrote issue#203 of Wonder Woman, the women’s lib issue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)