THE FISH ARE THE LAST TO BE AWARE OF THE WATER   6 comments

I’ve been feeling almost guilty lately as I enjoy other folks blogs, but don’t write anything on mine. My excuse? I’m so wrapped up in “My Father’s House.” I just have to finish at least the skeleton of the story. It will end in 1975 when my father died, and right now I’ve made it to 1955 (and over 600 pages — obviously much editing to do).

But I am moved today to reblog something I read this morning. As usual, my first reaction was, “I was teaching this stuff in the 1960s and ’70s. Will people never get it?

My next thought was “This is true not only for women and men, but for all the ‘others.’ who make up this great country of ours.”

Then I was compelled to tell at least one story of the possibility for change.

In the 70s, I taught this truth about the subtle training of boys and girls, women and men, pointing out as we did at the time that the fish are the last to be aware of the water they live in. I also served as department chair. One guy said, “There are 21 chairmen in Liberal Arts and one chairperson.” They thought they were making progress.

But I also learned that both women and men could climb their way out of the water. At meetings where I was the only woman, I witnessed what the data showed — that what women offered in a meeting was ignored. Here’s how it went. I would say something. The men would stop and listen politely as they had been taught to do when a woman is present. Then they would pick up right where they left off. One day I said, “I get the feeling that, if I were looking in a mirror, no one would look back.” Their reaction was “Huh?” I explained to them what was happening. For a period of time it was almost ludicrous how they would stop and ask my opinion, but after a series of such meetings, it began to run smoothly as they (and I) respected my opinion.

6 responses to “THE FISH ARE THE LAST TO BE AWARE OF THE WATER

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  1. Here’s to respect for you, Mona. I’m from a different but related “department” but I know a wise leader when i see her!

  2. How great that must have felt, Mona. And may I say – I think it is wonderful that you prioritize your book- I can feel how much that weigh on your heart. I think that just being with all that material must mean a lot to you. Blessings! Leelah

  3. This post brings back memories from the ’70s and early ’80s when I also was the only woman in some meetings. The men used to complain that they couldn’t tell jokes when I attended. I don’t think I ever directly said anything to them, but remember thinking, “Too bad” (in a sarcastic kind of way) and kept attending.

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