A few days ago I shared on social media a clip from the Cher Show, wherein Cher and Raquel Welch performed a song titled I’m A Woman. Here are the lyrics to this song:
I can wash out forty four pairs of socksAnd have ’em on the line I can starch and iron two dozen shirts ‘Fore you can count from one to nine I can slip up a great big dip up of lard From a drippings can Throw it in the skillet, do my shopping Be back before it melts in the pan ‘Cause I’m a woman W O M A N I’ll say it again I can rub and scrub ‘Til this house shinin’ like a dime Feed the baby, grease the car Powder my face at the same time Get all dressed up Go out swing ’til 4 a.m. and then Lay down at 5, jump up at 6 And start all over again ‘Cause I’m a woman W O M A N I’ll say it again If you come to me sickly You know I’m gonna make you well If you come to me all hexed up You know I’m gonna break the spell If you come to me hungry You know I’m gonna fill you full of grits If it’s lovin you’re likin’ I’ll kiss you and give you the shiverin’ fits ‘Cause I’m a woman W O M A N I’ll say it again I got a twenty dollar gold piece Says there ain’t nothing I can’t do I can make a dress out of a feed bag And I can make a man out of you ‘Cause I’m a woman W O M A N I’ll say it again ‘Cause I’m a woman W O M A N And that’s all
Songwriters: Jerry Leiber / Mike Stoller
You can also check out the link below for the actual performance. They did a wonderful job of it.
I remember this song well because my sisters used to sing it when I was a kid. It became a bit of a Feminism Anthem in its day. Seeing it performed again I could hear my sisters’ voices sing it around the house. But I then looked at the actual lyrics, which is why I shared them here. I have questions.
1. If this was an anthem for Feminism, then why did it have mostly domestic housework mentioned in the lyrics?
2. It is obvious that men wrote this song, so what were they actually trying to say?
3. Why is it that a woman is expected to do all that and more and a man was not? This is still true today. As a woman you might have the ability to book off from work if your child is sick…but only for a limited time. After that, back to work. And if you don’t come back to work your dedication to your job is questioned.
4. Why are women celebrating lyrics that puts them in a position to have no self-time, no free time, no rest and still expected to party?
5. Why are women expected to do all this stuff on a budget that is the result of a wage that is less than that of their male counterparts?
6. This is more of a comment than a question…it is NOT HER JOB TO MAKE A MAN OUT OF HIM. That is HIS JOB.
I used to say that my mom was actually Wonder Woman…because it was a wonder that she could do so much as she did with 5 kids, and it was a wonder that she chose to stay with my father when he was most often an ass. This song is one that celebrates that mentality that women have to do it all. Women do NOT HAVE TO DO IT ALL. Women should not expect that of themselves and men should not expect it of them.
In some traditions there is this thing called a “Burden Basket.” This basket is small. It is worn by women so that they can gather things from nature…berries, sticks for fire and such…and bring them back to camp to do constructive things with them. It is small for a reason. Women were HONORED. They were not expected to carry anything that did not fit in the Burden Basket and if something was too big or too heavy for the Burden Basket, then MEN STEPPED UP and carried it for them. This is not because men thought women were weak. It is because men honored women and would not allow them to over burden themselves when they, themselves, were perfectly capable, being bigger and stronger by nature, to do that task themselves. After all, women would push humans out of their bodies! Seriously…NEED SHE DO MORE THAN THAT??
The Burden Basket was also hung outside the door of the dwelling. This was a reminder to visitors to not bring their emotional burdens into the dwelling when they visited. They left that stuff at the door and had a pleasant visit, thus enriching the woman’s life and uplifting her spirits.
Now, I am well aware of the fact that this song was written back in the ’70’s. I know that its intent was to celebrate women as the remarkable beings that they are. However, when the commentary about it says that the song “withstands the test of time” I must take exception. It does not. It is just as sexist as the ’50’s generation was from which Feminism grew. I am also aware that evolution takes a long, Long, LONG time. I hope that we can evolve away from songs like this that basically give lip service to women’s capabilities, rights and freedoms while at the same time putting them back into the kitchen, barefoot, pregnant, and on a strict budget.
This is one of those times that I am reminded that we can stray from our path of personal authenticity. I am often reminded that when we are straying off of our personal path of authenticity we will experience pain and incongruency. These are signals to slow down, or even stop, and just reassess. We can so easily get caught up in what others, or even what society, thinks we should do or be. But what is it that feels RIGHT? What warms our hearts? What makes us smile? What feels like our own personal “home”? THAT is what we need to go for in our lives and let all others’ opinions and expectations just blow away like unneeded dust.
My sisters, it is completely alright to REST. It is completely alright to take time off for a mental health day. You go through enough as it is…on a MONTHLY basis. Take what you need for time. Allow yourself to rejuvenate. I am hoping that one day there will be actual equality of wages. I know men and women are different and so equality of physical stuff is never going to happen. But honoring of those differences can.
I remember when I was a father of young children being referred to as a “babysitter” when I was left caring for my kids. I was absolutely insulted by that and called them on it anytime that came up. I was not a babysitter. I was a father and I was taking care of my kids, not paying some teenager to do that for me. And at the same time I would cook, clean, do laundry and so on BECAUSE THAT WAS WHAT A GROWN ASS MAN DOES. I did not need my mommy to come and help me to change a diaper on my kid, or to mend my clothes or cook for me. Being the youngest of 5 I knew how to do all of that by the time I was 6 years old. I am also the type of person who does not expect anyone to do anything for me that I can do for myself. I might hire out some jobs because I am not any good at those, such as sewing. I might take my car to get an oil change or tire rotations etc because my time doing other things is more valuable than the time it would take me to do that myself, sure. But I could if I was inclined to. That does not make me lazy or “not a man” because I get someone else to do mechanical things. It makes me smart for deligating tasks so that I can do what is more important to me and my work. Besides, I do like to support the local economy, of which my mechanic is a part. Someone once said to me, “Oh, you don’t like to get your hands dirty,” to which I laughed and replied, “You have obvioiusly never seen me in a field or in a garden.” I am not afraid of dirt. I choose which dirt I get into and for how long. And if I can make clear choices on this, then so can my sisters.