Memories and reflections – On women

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Nina on King Street, 1990. This photo was taken by Deb Troell for a Gazette Packet feature on the development of the King
Street metro area. Nina was then President of KSMET, the King Street Underground Corporate Team.

Alexandria, VA – My mother had three brothers, no sisters. Between them were nine children, my cousins ​​— seven girls and two boys. Three of us girls, one older and one younger than me, were divorced. I think it was more than a coincidence.

I know I want to write about the changing status of women over my lifetime. It’s such a vast subject that I would either have to start researching it a quarter of a century ago or live much longer than expected. Still, I want to put some of my thoughts on paper.

It is possible, even probable, that I will come back to this subject at least once, maybe more.

I grew up thinking that I wanted someone to watch over me. According to Wikipedia, the song with this title was composed by George Gershwin with lyrics by Ira Gershwin to commemorate Ira’s marriage to Leonore in 1926, a dozen years before I was born. Somehow, that song, those lyrics, were still on the radio that I listened to as a young girl. I still remember the words:

I am a little lamb lost in the woods.

I know I could always be good

To him who will watch over me…

I changed.

By the mid-1970s, I had been divorced twice and had absorbed many messages from Women’s Lib. I traveled frequently for the association I worked for. I was less than polite to the waiters in the restaurant who offered the cork of wine to the men at the table to sniff and approve. I was angry when tickets were automatically offered to men at the table. I wanted equal job opportunities and equal pay.

But in the 50s and 60s, I was caught like a fly in the spider’s web of love, marriage and the pram. As a teenager, I dreamed of the boy who would choose me for his. Note, he would choose me. I wanted the little gold band. I wanted to take his name. After the second divorce, I wanted my own name, a name unrelated to any man. When I created the name Tisara in honor of my grandmother Sarah, I swore never to change it again.

In the 1960s, my husband and I bought a new house in Temple Hills, Maryland. It was finished to our specifications. I remember the excitement of choosing the style of the house and the land it would sit on. We chose the color of the appliances and sanitary facilities. Consumerism. We were all, myself included, consumed by consumerism.

As I reflect on what has changed me, I remember a former high school creative writing teacher who said while reviewing one of my stories that people don’t just decide to change, that life forced them to change. He was right. I was forced to change, from the girl who got married at 18 and had four children in six years to the woman responsible for their day-to-day care who worked outside the home to take on financial responsibility. shared for them.

It wasn’t just the crucible of my personal reality. The 1960s and 1970s were times of massive social change. It was the era of “the pill”. According to history.com, the FDA approved the pill on May 9, 1960. It is estimated that more than 10 million women are now using the pill (www.verywellhealth.com).

It was the start of the women’s liberation movement with the message that there was more to a woman’s life than being a homemaker. (The name had changed from housewife. According to Google, “Housewife” had pretty much replaced housewife by the 1970s, but it already sounded old-fashioned in the ’80s.) The message was that women not only had the right but the responsibility to fulfill itself, both inside and outside of marriage.

The very ground we were standing on was shaken. Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in April l968. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in November of the same year. The killing of Kent State University students by the National Guard happened in May 1970. Heartbreaking photographs from the Vietnam War appeared on the front pages daily. The war ended with the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975.

In 1942, the Westinghouse Company’s War Production Coordinating Committee hired artist J. Howard Miller to create posters for the war effort, including the famous “We Can Do It!” image commonly referred to as Rosie the Riveter. Rosie lives on as an iconic image of working women. (nationalWWIImuseum.org)

As I said at the beginning of this column, it would take me a long life to research and understand what I mean. What I want to suggest now is that people, men and women, make choices and choices have consequences. Now, I think women can have a lot, but we can’t have everything, whatever the “everything” is.

I would be grateful to hear from you, my readers, about your experiences and thoughts from these times. Write to me at [email protected]

Nina Tisara is the founder of Living Legends of Alexandria

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