Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rant #527: Women Taking Off

Women were once relegated to the chores of homemaker. They cooked, they cleaned, they reared the children.

And for most of them, that was it.

If they worked out of the home, it was a part time job or a job they took until they got married. Then, they became the dutiful wife, doing what her husband wanted.

Remember, even Lucy Ricardo on "I Love Lucy" used to say "Yes sir" to her husband Ricky when he barked out an order (which she usually didn't follow, but that's another story).

In the 1960s, many women started to feel that being a homemaker wasn't what they wanted. They wanted to go into careers like men, they wanted to hold higher positions than secretary or girl Friday.

And things changed. While there is nothing wrong with being a homemaker, women have more choices today.

One of the pioneers of that movement skyward did something extraordinary today, and certainly extraordinary since she did it way back in 1963, when the women's movement was just beginning.

And no, she wasn't from this country.

Today is the 48th anniversary of Valentina Tereshkova's launch into space. She was the first woman to go into orbit.

Yes, she was Russian, and the Soviet Union was in a space race with the U.S. at this time.

They bested us several times, being the first to send a human being into space and later sending a woman into space.

Of course, we were the first--and still the only--country to put men on the moon, so we ultimately won the race, but Tereshkova's feat did more than that. It gave women another foothold on what they could do, rather than what they couldn't do.

In fact, Tereshkova has been able to do it all during her lifetime. The now 74 year old married at least twice--once to a fellow cosmonaut--had a daughter, who became the first person be parented by two astronauts, and became a political figure in the Soviet Union.

Of course, there have been many changes since 1963. Women are in all echelons of business, and yes, many women do choose to be stay at home moms, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.

But they have choices now that they didn't have in 1963, and Tereshkova's feat opened the door for a lot of this.

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