Not Your Mama’s Fiction

We live in a world of confusing messages about what it means to be a woman. Are we supposed to be diamonds, daisies, or snowflakes? Tinsel on a tree? Chasing rainbows?

Then there’s the question, “Who can turn the world on with her smile?” Women in the workplace, beholden to benevolent counterparts for their willingness to allow us onto an equal playing field, just without equal pay, are not a thing of the past. This remains an unfortunate truth.

Now our daughters and sons are out there on their own. The days of ramen noodles and cold pizza are behind us, and yet, we still feel it, that uncertainty that makes us ask what the hell is going on here? This week I experienced one of those moments when I watched a young professional deliver one of the worst presentations I’ve ever had the misfortune to endure. Five minutes into the talk it hit me, I could do a better job than this guy. I felt sick. Why? Because I inquired about the job a year ago and wasn’t even considered.

Throughout my life, it has been necessary for me to be highly flexible and adaptive to change for the benefit of my family. I’ve done double duty and made the best of bad situations. I’m not ungrateful. I just feel cheated. I am not that girl. I’m that other one.

dale-rogerson-pizza
Copyright Dale Rogerson

Women’s Work

Every guy she had encountered eventually became someone she wished she’d never met. Long days, proving herself on the job, enduring endless mansplaining and indecent proposals bled into even longer nights. Instead of waiting by the phone, she studied. A choice she knew would pay off one day. A thousand broken promises had left her with only one to keep, one she made to herself. Then he came along and everything changed. The guy who made her life worth living and gave her a reason to work harder. The one she would love forever. The one who called her Mom.

*****

If you’ve made it to the end of this post, congratulations! I realize my mixing fiction with reality is difficult for some readers. I make no apologies. If you want to read something better, check out the Friday Fictioneers. Thanks, Dale, for another inspiring photo. As always, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields brings it to life with her own take on this week’s prompt.

One more thing. Elinor Burkett’s article, “What Makes A Woman?” in the New York Times is brilliant, articulate, and every single thing I think about the difficulties of presenting a united front for gender equality. Thanks for reading.

37 thoughts on “Not Your Mama’s Fiction

    1. Thanks, Dawn. Friday Fiction is full of heart tuggers and tear jerkers, isn’t it? Not to mention gut busters and rib splitters. I’ve got to break away from stalking the bluebirds long enough to read lasts week’s, and it’s already time for this week’s!

  1. I think most of us have lived these realities, Stephanie, and then that one great love affair (or, in my case 2 😉 ) Still, it follows us all and makes it hard to tell our daughters that they really can reach for the stars. Your work always moves me and nudges me; powerful combination.

  2. Loved every word from start to finish, Honie. And that ending just sealed the deal! Oh, yes, yes! Women have to make hard choices all the time, don’t we?

    1. So glad you stopped by, Amy. I suppose it’s true that everyone is confronted with hard choices, women and men. I don’t know why women have been labeled as emotional/hormonal/delicate creatures.

  3. Loved your mix of reality & fiction, although the entire post seemed very real to me. For a woman to succeed in the business world they have to be tough as nails, work twice as hard, and put their career above everything else in life. I work with some very strong women whom I deeply admire and respect. Great post, Honie.

  4. Now this is a great opening – a real grabber “Every guy she had encountered eventually became someone she wished she’d never met.”
    No need to search for something better to read – this post is grand. – both fact and fiction (And I’ve been in that seat watching another, too wondering why? Well, just keep moving on. It is what it is and it annoys them if you keep your head up and go on to win – even better if it’s at a competitor.

  5. Frustrating to still see people held back by their gender. Luckily I haven’t experienced that (at least not that I was aware of). Sorry to hear you have. Love your flash fiction piece though.

    1. I don’t think I’ve been necessarily held back. I simply have to try harder. It could be that I am deficient in some way that I haven’t figured out yet. Probabaly an attitude problem. 😄

  6. Back when I had aspirations to become a programmer, I worked for a large organisation as PA to the Director setting up their new computing section. He wasn’t a great manager, but I was. I taught myself a relational database program so I could do the timesheets better, faster, easier. I also corrected his poor grammar and double checked the out-goings to make sure we weren’t paying for things we hadn’t received. I guess most PA’s do the unseen, unappreciated backroom stuff, but he knew that I wanted a chance to be trained as a proper programmer. After a year and a half, he hired a young man straight out of university to be trained…as a programmer. I quit a couple of weeks later.

    A few decades on, I’m glad my life turned out the way it did because I might never have found my first story otherwise. But…the anger remains. We still have such a long way to go.

    1. It’s subtle, isn’t it. Almost as though a person feels petty for pointing it out on the spot. Life turns out how it supposed to, how we make it or how we accept it, I suppose. It is what it is. That, too, seems trite and unworthy of a mature assessment of bullshit, and that’s certainly what it is. Male or female, when someone disrespects you, total BS.

    1. I’m a firm believer that we are supposed to leave it all on the field, especially when it comes to parenting. Otherwise, what’s the point? It’s affirming to know our kids expect us to be there for them no matter what. It means we’ve proven we can be trusted. I do understand appreciation is nice. As I’ve learned, though, none of us had the choice to come onto the planet, so, it kind of is on parents to take responsibility.

    1. Faith: the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. I’ll try not to let you down, Allan. Thanks for the confidence boost. You always know just what to say.

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