Where do you life?
Isn’t that one of the identifying questions people ask new acquaintances? The four of us—feminists spanning five decades—might answer by describing the physical housing we find for ourselves in each of our generational life cycles. But in a larger sense, a generation views the world from where it “lives” and interacts uniquely with such circumstances as the current economic recession.
Deborah has just turned 40. She and her husband will soon look to buy a home larger than the one-bedroom they own, while trying to have their first child. Marco’s job was recently eliminated; still, at the midpoint of life, they can reasonably assume that investments will regain their worth and better income-earning days lie ahead.
Deborah’s two years older than I was when my youngest graduated from high school.
Elizabeth, 33, is pregnant with her first child, due in April. She and her partner Jessica rented a two-bedroom apartment two years ago because they planned to have children. Next they want to buy a larger place, possibly in suburbia, though the economy gives them pause.
Same sex couples would never have lived together openly, let alone get to experience the joys of children, in 1958. That’s when my Aunt Ida, bless her, died and left me $550 in savings bonds she’d bought from her meager department store clerk salary—exactly what my then-husband and I needed for the down payment on our tract house on Bonham Street in Odessa, Texas. (“Friday Night Lights” fans, that’s a block from Permian High School; yes, my children graduated from the mighty Mojo.)
And Courtney, our 29-year-old millennial, bought her first home last year. Her long-term significant other recently moved in with her, but not until she’d followed her mother’s advice to live alone for some years first.
I’m 67. Like most women from the post-WWII cohort, I was married with three children and keeping house, not building a career, in my twenties. Where Courtney wants work-life balance, I just wanted to work—and not in a “help wanted, women” tagged job. Even women with jobs couldn’t get credit without male co-signers. Buy a house? Laughable. Those injustices made the personal political for me.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Work and Life: An Intergenerational Conversation
Check out our brand new piece, in honor of Women's Day, over at the Women's Media Center. An excerpt from Gloria's wonderful take: