?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
25 November 2014 @ 12:21 pm
LJ Idol Season Nine: "Without A Doubt"  
Without A Doubt
lj idol season nine | week 29 | 777 words
Gauntlet

x-x-x-x-x

While I never wanted to follow in my mother's footsteps of becoming a doctor, I always admired her strength and grit in achieving that for herself. My mother was part of only the second generation of female doctors in the United States, and it was an uphill battle all the way.

There were only a few respectable careers for women in that era: teaching, secretarial work, and nursing were the professional options. My mother knew she wanted to be a doctor rather than a nurse, and timing was the only bit of luck she had: it was a few years after the end of World War II, and so many men had detoured through military service and delayed getting their undergraduate degrees, that the medical school had spots available.

Still, there would always be those among the faculty and other students who firmly believed that women did not belong in medicine.

Read more...Collapse )


If you enjoyed this entry, you can vote for it along with many fine others here.

 
 
 
theun4givablestheun4givables on December 1st, 2014 03:12 pm (UTC)
The fact that your mom feels as though she didn't have it "that rough" says loads about the era, as well. She pushed through a lot of adversity to get where she is, but it's apparent she just sees it as going through the motions! What an inspirational story. :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 1st, 2014 06:15 pm (UTC)
I think she knew the battles that faced her, and was at least prepared for them-- awful and unreasonable as they were.

I can't imagine women of these days confronting such things. My daughter is still stymied by the situation with one of the music professors when I went to college-- he was a complete lech, and all the girls knew not to be alone with him, but complaining to higher authorities did no good. He was regarded as worth keeping despite, and harassment just wasn't taken seriously. Same thing with the creepy TV producer next door to the radio station at my first job-- the management was well aware, but felt the women should just put up with it. My daughter cannot fathom that it was standard operating procedure. It was thirty years ago, but still. It took a long time to get teeth into fighting sexual harassment.
Didn't want to beanyonesghost on December 1st, 2014 06:43 pm (UTC)
It's a powerful story, to be sure, and a remarkable one. (No matter what your mother might think of it.) A lot of women of even my mother's generation were still being brushed aside (or, worse, having their degrees dictated by their own mothers with it's-teaching-or-nothing terms). It takes a strong will to fight that long for what you want.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 1st, 2014 07:32 pm (UTC)
It does-- I think a lot of successful women got where they are by simply not listening to people who tried to steer them toward something lesser. It's sad that the model is not encouragement or even lack of encouragement, but outright DIScouragement. It was certainly true for me back in the high school/college years, but that was 30 years ago. I think it's much better now. :)
lriG rorriMlrig_rorrim on December 1st, 2014 07:31 pm (UTC)
I really loved this - there's so MUCH about your mom here, from her personality (stubborn, clearly!) and drive to her dedication. Thank you for sharing this with us!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 1st, 2014 07:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

I would say that my mother is more persistent than stubborn, but maybe that's because my Dad can sometimes be bullheaded and by contrast, regular stubborn seems... actually smart, sometimes. You can guess which one of them I take after in that department. ;)

I don't know what made her want so much to be a doctor, but she was really good at it. Convincing her that HER dream was not MY dream... that still hasn't finally taken hold. And I'm over 50 now!
MamaCheshirecheshire23 on December 2nd, 2014 02:12 am (UTC)
That woman, my mother would insist, was the one whose journey was impressive enough to be worth telling.


This makes me sad. Both that your mother felt less worthy of admiration, and that we hold up "driving yourself past the point of ordinary human endurance" as the most worthy thing we can possibly do.

And ugh to the quid pro quo. :(
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 2nd, 2014 08:05 am (UTC)
I think that's human nature, though, perhaps? To think that as long as someone else's struggles were worse, you should count your blessings? I don't agree with that, but it's not uncommon thinking.

And ugh to the quid pro quo. :(
It's not even, "I'll give you an A if you sleep with me," it's "I'll fail you if you don't."

The fact that men thought they could get away with that (they got away with the threat at least, though it gained them nothing) is just apalling.
carindaeeyore_grrl on December 2nd, 2014 03:30 am (UTC)
I don't know that I could do it. Thank you to her and the rest of our foremothers.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 2nd, 2014 08:06 am (UTC)
I don't know that I could do it either! But because of those who pushed on through so much, the path is a little easier all the time. :)
penpusher: MD Winged Staffpenpusher on December 2nd, 2014 06:55 am (UTC)
This explains a great deal! Mom was quite the champion.

I think there's a lot to be said for rule-breakers, trailblazers, for people who are determined to make it at all costs. Clearly she fit that bill, and at a time when there really was no respite, no time out and no end of harassment.

I'd like to think we've progressed from those times, and we have made some major strides in some ways, but we are still so far behind where we should be in others.

A wonderful tribute to a brilliant physician.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 2nd, 2014 08:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much-- and what an appropriate icon!

In the early days of my engineering career, there used to be a company usenet discussion group, and one guy was adamant about "Why do we need to work at diversity, we already have women and people of color here?" I spent some probably useless time trying to convey to him that most of the women and people (men) of color were those who did not listen to active discouragement along the way, and that we were missing whole quantities of quieter (more typical engineering-type) people in the field.

I may have finally gotten through to him with the "presumption of competence," argument, by pointing out that he would witness it himself in reverse, if he ever got divorced and wound up in custody arguments for his children.

And that's just the subtle, often-unconscious discrimination!
medleymistymedleymisty on December 2nd, 2014 12:01 pm (UTC)
Wow.

Man, why does half of the species hate the other half? I don't understand at all.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 2nd, 2014 08:34 pm (UTC)
It's better than it was, but a lot of it amounts to feeling threatened.

I can virtually guarantee that large numbers of the white guys who hate Obama know, at some level, that Obama is smarter than they ever could be. And it rankles.
swirlsofblueswirlsofblue on December 2nd, 2014 07:20 pm (UTC)
Such an inspirational story, brilliantly told.

Ugh, it's so horrible that someone could say that in front of a whole class and get away with it.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 2nd, 2014 08:35 pm (UTC)
Ugh, it's so horrible that someone could say that in front of a whole class and get away with it.
That's the part that burns me. I'd heard the story before, but I didn't realize that he said it publicly, where everyone could hear it! And yes, he knew he could get away with it. Ugh.
alycewilsonalycewilson on December 2nd, 2014 07:55 pm (UTC)
I love this and have great admiration for your mother!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 2nd, 2014 08:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you! She did amazing things in a time when it was much, much harder for women to move "outside the box." :)
ArmagedDanhosticle_fifer on December 2nd, 2014 11:15 pm (UTC)
I know there were definitely some bad times, but it still astounds me that someone in what is supposed to be a respected position can make a public fuck-or-flunk ultimatum without censure.

Actually, I suppose I can. My grandmother was a meter maid with the Philadelphia police, who did not receive a raise or promotion for much of her career because of her refusal to sleep with a superior.

Bad times, but a well written story!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 3rd, 2014 12:15 am (UTC)
It amazes me, too. To know that he could get away with that in a room full of witnesses is really unsettling. And presumably, he did. I don't think any of the men reported him for that either.

Your poor grandmother-- as if being a meter maid wasn't a thankless enough job already. It's one the reasons I enjoy Roxie in "Dead Like Me." Tough as nails, in the face of a lot of flack. :)
Elizabethwatching_ships on December 2nd, 2014 11:29 pm (UTC)
Wow. How awesome to have someone like that to look up to in your life. I certainly believe she overcame a lot. I can't imagine some of the things our mothers and grandmothers were going through not so many years ago.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 3rd, 2014 12:16 am (UTC)
I sometimes worry that my daughter's generation takes far too much for granted. She thinks it's an easy, perfect world now, and has no idea what it took to get there or where progress might still be needed.