These are women who aren’t afraid to speak their mind. They scare the heck out of some men but that is hardly of concern to them. They’re focused, determined and seem to know exactly what they want out of life. While not all of them were affected by the enormous societal and sexual shifts that affected women in the sixties, a lot of them were the product of those seismic changes.
I’ll probably keep writing about those types of women because they’ve infiltrated my imagination. But if I intend to keep a balance in my writing and reflect the real world then I’ve also got to include another other type of woman.
These are the quiet ones who struggle with their place in a male-dominated world and who unfortunately still cling to the ancient notions of a woman’s place in our society. As a writer and student of such things esoteric, my inquiring mind wants to explore that aspect of the human psychological geography.
It’s that other type of woman who garners a greater part of my curiosity. Not because I find them attractive. It’s more a case of pity than analytical examination. If I do include a dutiful wife as one of my characters, it won’t be a flattering portrait. It’s the kind of woman Don Draper would want to date.
Unfortunately, many of these women haven’t yet realized that the modern world has evolved and changed and their role as ‘the little woman’ shouldn’t exist anymore. I’m talking about those dutiful wives whose lives seem to evolve around their husband’s daily activities and existence. At social gatherings or in the company of other men, they simply become wallpaper. They’re an accessory or a detachable add-on. Their absence isn’t noticed and their presence is taken for granted by their spouse and others in the room. Their deference to their husband’s wishes is almost palatable.
Yet it doesn’t seem to be that way because they’ve got a real catch on their hands. But rather because their husband/partners own shadow seem to block out any light reflecting back on them. And they’re either OK with that or can’t or won’t do anything about it. Perhaps they once had something in that relationship but not anymore. Now it’s more a fear of the unknown and never asking themselves if there isn’t something better out there.
Some past generations have told women that once they made their bed, they had to sleep in it. Perhaps it’s Catholic guilt, (pick your own religion here, if you want), fear of the unknown, complacency or not believing there could be something better out there for them. If they do try to be assertive, they’re often called feisty or fierce or worse yet, bossy.
I’m certainly not advocating they leave or divorce their spouse because times have changed and so has their relationship with the old man. Instead, I’m pondering if there isn’t something else in their lives that could take the place of the duties they feel encumbered upon to perform as the dutiful one.
Life is too fleeting for these women to short-change themselves because of some antiquated notion that their man is entitled to be waited upon. That’s about as meaningless as dumb blond jokes and man caves. No woman should be ‘grateful’ to have a man in her life.
So while I’m stuck with my infatuation with strong women, I’ll continue to examine the drab life of the dutiful significant other. Perhaps with some quick key strokes and my imagination running rampant, I’ll invite more of them into my fictional worlds and see if I can’t make it better for them.