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Myths women grow up with August 31, 2009

Posted by wethewomen in announcement, definitions.
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As young women, the 77 storytellers or the women elders in BC who agreed to be interviewed for “Mythogyny”, the book that Women Elders in Action (WE*ACT) is due to launch, they stepped into womanhood in a mist of myths.

What is a myth? According to the Random House Encyclopedic Dictionary, it is “an unproved collective belief that is accepted uncritically and is used to justify a social institution. “One of these would be “marriage as the only end for women, or wife and mother as her only role in life.”

In the book under the chapter on marrriage, the women unravel the myth further as  “the illusion that Prince Charming would inevitably appear to rescue women from uncertain futures and the need to provide for themselves; that marriage and motherhood were the only valid choices.”

On closer view, other facets of the myth reveal quite sinister sides that solidify as barriers such as, ” education was wasted on females who would never have to work outside the home because their biology was destiny; that the work of homemaking was so intrinsic to women that it could never be considered honest labour with any real value; and, most harmful of all to our storytellers who are struggling with limited incomes today, that following the prescribed path would  ensure that they were taken care of for the rest of their lives.”

In surviving shattered illusions, the women emerged almost with superhuman abilities as they grappled with the unexpected. Yet having moved on, their voices carry no hint of bitterness or regret. Having debunked the myths, their stories in effect turned out as “mythogenesis” not so much as “to create” but to unearth and lay bare “lives more mythical in more ways than ever imagined.”

Consider these:

                *I watched my mother be abused, psychologically, and saw her lack of choices in life and how everything was based on my father’s life. I was conscious of that but I didn’t really see it in my life – I lived it – and while I was living it, feminism arose. And so the words started being there…—Marjorie Drayton

               * I’ve had everything done to me imaginable and I’m not an abuser and I’m not an alcoholic and I’m not a drug addict. You don’t have to be what social workers tell you you’re going to be.—Sheila Baxter 

                *I walked out of the marriage with nothing, he owned everything. But I didn’t have to write him out a cheque at the end of every month.—Colleen Carroll

                *We imported some stuff from Germany. I was going across the country to stores to sell these. He stayed home while I went around the Lower Mainland. When I came home in the evening, he was sitting in the chair and asking me what I sold that day. I hated that chair. I did that for about twelve years…Leticia

               More than the relevance of their voices in women’s lives today, their stories also prove how much or how little Canadian women have gained in terms of rights and equality. 



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