This week has been a mixed week, though for the most part filled with blank pages, procrastination and a few thousand words. Two chapters were due on Monday just past, and they are still not finished. I am rather embarrassed, but to my great disappointment I do not have a time machine (preferably a TARDIS) so they are, and will be late. It is a rather strange feeling as prior to this year I have never handed anything in late, and though I don't lose marks, I fear I am losing the respect of my supervisor. I need to work on that, so on Monday, I think I will bake her some biscuits. Surely a plate of delicious snickerdoodles or Spanish macaroons will be more interesting than a literature review, and certainly a lot let tedious for all involved. That is my plan, and so long as she doesn't think I am trying to bribe or poison her, all will go well!
Friday night was enjoyably spent with four girls who I went/go to uni with. As we all study history and are at various stages of post grad work, our conversation naturally turns to history. The question was raised; which is worse, to praise a woman because she is displaying traditionally masculine qualities, (political involvement, literary achievement etc) or praise her femininity (motherhood etc)? So many histories only report on women who were seen to step outside the mould and behave like a man, and it is these qualities that have been praised. While at times, the woman who performs what is seen as feminine duties, motherhood, wife, 'private' duties, can be overly read being oppressed or worse dull and not worth being placed on the historical record. Were all women who were not breaking the mould oppressed? Were they, as my friend put it (and does not believe) they all sitting in their gendered towers, unable to articulate, but screaming, 'Let me Out!' Can we, should we, try and look at the past (and perhaps the present) not in gendered terms but in human terms, or is this impossible? Or worse does it deny and strip us of a major part of our identity?
Now, I am a feminist, in the line of SSS's post Where are you Daughters of Germaine and I write history about women. However, I don't want to fall into the trap of only writing about women, forgetting men and their achievements. Worse still, I don't want to ignore the past that was not breaking moulds, but was living, loving and surviving. This is why I think I have moved towards looking at families which will hopefully let me look at 'people'. I however, cannot give up gender, as it was a reality and an experience that people lived, and therefore important and vital to understanding their lives.
I will be interested to know what you all think. I am not sure if I have articulated what I am thinking, but I just thought I would put it out there as it is where my head is at.