Monday, May 18, 2015

When I feel powerful it is because.....

As an undergrad, I was a research assistant on a project studying the then-new Carol Gilligan theory of gender differences in development.  Mainly what I did was code data and mainly what I remember are the answers to the survey question "When I feel powerful it is because _______."  I was 19 or 20 and found it both sad and funny that many of the middle-aged women answering the survey filled in things like:  "The house is clean;" "The children are in bed;" or "I have lost weight."  O! sad housewives!  O! what a limited worldview!

Last night, nearly 30 years later, I was feeling powerful.  Yes, I was.  I was clean, the sheets were clean.  The boys were in bed asleep.  And the floor was clean enough that I didn't end up with impromptu crumb slippers.  As a younger person I assumed those other women felt powerful because they'd conquered some challenge that had been foisted upon them.  Maybe they experienced power because they no longer feared judgement--the house was clean!

Now I know the feeling from the other side.  My domain is under my control.  I have decorated, cleaned, organized, clothed, and fed.  Yes, this is in service of others and yes, Carol Gilligan, it reveals my prioritizing of relationships.  I'm okay with that.