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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Sisters, are you free to choose?

“It's my choice,” I heard a young woman say recently and it made me wonder how much choice we really have in our lives as women and how much is socially dictated by gender roles. 

Often when  a woman falls in love she'll do anything for her man hence the song, Stand By Your Man. But dispite similar song lyrics for the men's perspective in, When a Man Loves a Woman, I have rarely seen men make the same degree of sacrifice that women seem to typically make in a relationship. 

As I sit here and think about past relationships, past sacrifices, I feel disheartened when I see, what I think is, someone making those same mistakes.  I want to take women shake them, yell and tell them to run towards their own dreams rather than sacrifice them for love. Often those sacrifices seem to be justified by monologues we run in our heads convincing ourselves that love is worth the sacrifice. We make the choice to make the sacrifice but often it seems to be the only choice that will allow us to maintain the relationship. 

But this is a mistake that we, as women, make all too frequently. We think we have a choice when really we know we don't. When there is a conflict between a couple as to where they should live due to employment availability- it always seems that the man wins the argument. Further down the road, when it comes to kids and whose career should take the hit that automatically comes with the pressures of child rearing, it is inevitably the women who CHOOSE to stay home with the children. It's their choice, but it is not a choice their husbands would have made, leaving women with no choice at all, just an illusion of choice that disappears like a dessert mirage the closer one approaches.

How far have we really come? There isn't equality in pay or expectations for women. Women still sacrifice their careers, dreams and the ability to make the best choices for themselves when they commit themselves to a man, to children. A wedding ring is still a slave collar hidden beneath the gold; only now it is wrapped in the false pretense of choice. 


  1. What a GOOD point Lois. I see this so much in the circles I move (on the Internet, not in real life so much). Women telling themselves they CHOSE to be where they are. Some of them are truly happier and do love their new roles so much better, but many of them just say they are, when really they aren't.

    I for one made a "forced" choice. Let's call it ignorance rather. I immigrated to America and got pregnant super fast. Combined with no work permit, a downturn in the economy and an American education system that does not recognize my qualifications and experience, I am CHOOSING to stay home and raise my child.

    Don't get me wrong, it is fun in its own way, but there is a huge gap in my life that I'm struggling to fill right now. Not to mention the depression I went through when I realized I wasn't employable here and that there is no money in our household to get educated and become employable again.

    Sigh, so yes, this struck a nerve for me. I just hope her choice was really her choice.

    My choice wasn't really mine. I love my husband and I chose to come and live here with him. I knew he had children from a previous marriage and that I will have to live where he lives. That was my choice and something I really thought about a lot.

    It was not my choice not to work here once I got here. I'm still figuring all that out. The depression surely didn't help matters along.

  2. I want to add another note here... I think if I am ever in a position to earn as much or more than Eddie, he would stop working in a heartbeat and be the stay-at-home dad. He'd be good at it too...

    So, in our relationship the non-choice I have is due to economic circumstances and not because Eddie subscribes to a traditional role of what a man does in a relationship.

    Having said that: I did stop my career and my continuing education for a man. I was a single career person for 20 years before I decided to settle down and start a family.

    If I could make different choices, I'd have chosen to finish my education first and perhaps married and became a mom a little later so that I could have had better career choices.

    It isn't a good place for any woman to be, completely depended on a man, like I am now. Even if I am completely safe with him.

  3. I'm going to paste comment from FB on this post here as some people are unable to comment in this forum and I want their opinions on this to be heard as well as my own.

    A-I think love conquers all.

    Lois Ann Dort -maybe, but being conquered requires that there be a loser. Been there, done that. Done with doing that.

    B-I don't necessarily agree with you, Lois, though I won't dispute that that may be the case for many women. In our case, my husband really wanted to stay home with the kids, but since he was still relatively happy with his job, while I'd been thinking about quitting anyway, it made the choice fairly simple

    A-I see no loser in my own life or in the woman's life that you are talking about. in a relationship sacrifices are to be made. it goes to show the the woman you are speaking of has sacrificed her dream to better the dream of her fiance. Not all relationship are as black and white as you make them seem Lois. This is my opinion, coming from someone who is in a similar position as the one in your blog. I feel you are giving this opinion because you have not experienced the pull that love can have, and the POSITIVE results it has.

    C- I will concede there are exceptions but I'm with you Lois on this one.

    D-I commented on your blog with my story Lois. I agree with you because I think with her degree, she may have a better chance to make good money and take care of them. He could be the "lesser" if he does not have the same earning power as her. It "should" be who can have the more lucrative career really. However, life isn't about what it "should" be, it is often about what it is.

    E- In the is her choice & that is what she has chosen. What if you took every women with a degree out of Guysborough County?

    Lois Ann Dort-I know there are two sides- I know people will agree and disagree with me. That's how I felt about the situation. I don't think it is a bad thing to get people thinking and women talking. And A-I would have to say that no I have not experienced much on the positive side of a relationship. I do hope that things aren't as black and white-but I have seen a lot of examples where it is.

    Lois Ann Dort-All a matter of personal opinion. Some people will agree and some people won't. I don't mind either.

    F-That is not opinion at all. This is called the life of Lois not someone else life. All i have to say is you should remove the post, as you might want to life your own life before giving opinion on someone else!

    Lois Ann Dort-It was an example that set up my opinion on what I see as a general trend. You are free to disagree with it and with my writing it.

  4. Considering the fact that I have received numerous messages and phone calls alerting me that this post was clearly about me, I suddenly felt obligated to reply! Not to defend myself, and not to stoop to the author’s levels, but to notify her of some minor corrections needing to be made.
    First of all, the Cottonelle bathroom tissue I’ve been using seems to be working just fine, which means that my degree I’ve worked so hard for is still able to aid my daily routines with skill and knowledge that I have gathered along the road.
    Next, I find it necessary to point out that I have not “given up” a damn thing! It’s very simple logic must first have a career in order to give it up! And while a “career” may not be something I currently possess, who is to say that I won’t in the future? You know nothing about me, or the choices I have made Lois, so I’m taking the time to fill you in.
    The horrible man you have made my fiancé out to be is actually not at all the controlling type you’ve assumed him to be. He in fact, is the person who has held my heart and my hand since high school. The person who sacrificed his very own career as a pipefitter in Grande Prairie, Alberta to be with me while I completed my degree here in NS. Those 4 years that I spent studying, he spent searching for something...anything that could make both of us happy. (A bit reversed to what you’re having others believe eh?) He’s the man that has supported and continues to support every decision I make. He’s the man who still, even after 10 years, gives me butterflies, and the man I can’t wait to marry and raise children with.
    As for wanting to scream and shake me, I wish you had of! It would have been much less hurtful! Being such an expert on rural Nova Scotia, surely you knew that everyone around would determine exactly who you were talking about sooner or later.
    In the end, I don’t have to explain my choices to anyone, however, why not take the opportunity to let everyone know the REAL truth. I grew up in New Harbour and couldn’t wait to leave, but somehow I found myself coming home to be with my parents and siblings every single weekend through university. (And I was only an hour away). I grew up a lot at St.FX. I realized what was important, that life was short, and that the popular judgemental girl I was in high school was not who I wanted to be. By my 3rd year at X, I had decided that what truly made me happy was family, and my family is HERE! So many of us associate success with dollar signs, and the few of us who believe success is demonstrated via the heart are subject to discrimination and slander such as the posting above.
    Tomorrow, when I wake up I’ll be smiling. I’ll spend the entire day with 3 brilliant children, learning from them as they learn from me, and regardless of what you may think, I’ll be happy about it. I wish you well in your future writing endeavours Lois, but please, next time consider the feelings you may be hurting before you post!

    Jessica Simms (Guysborough County’s Most Educated Babysitter)

  5. I am sincerely sorry. Those words I heard from you triggered those thoughts that I wrote. And no, I had no idea of your situation-I really don't know you at all except to think that you were a very friendly, bubbly person. It was naive of me to think that I could put any description of the person that triggered those thoughts into the piece and not have the person recognized. I could have chosen many examples, from things I have seen all over the world, but I didn't, I chose the thing that triggered the thought. It does make me feel ill to think that I hurt you in any way. And I will certainly take lessons away from this experience. And I will amend the post- not that that will fix my mistake but hopefully will demonstrate my sincere apology.