Asleep At The Wheel


Back in the early 1960’s when I was a respectable widow and school teacher pretending to be celibate, a Catholic colleague of mine called and whispered, “May I come talk to you?” Turned out, she wanted to borrow birth control pills because she didn’t want her husband to know…

I woke this morning thinking about what it was like before abortion was legal and contraception was easy to obtain. Unwanted pregnancies were a nightmare.

Women of my age have seen many changes and we tend to differ about which are good or bad – that’s fine because we are a diverse nation.  But I believe women are pretty clear on the issue of who’s in charge of our bodies.  I don’t hear women saying things were better back in the days when we had fewer choices.

I think the nation is in for a great awakening as women react to the current crop of conservative candidates for President and the many laws that are being proposed at the state and national level. I think that birth control should be covered by insurance just as Viagra is. I think that women should not be for forced to endure vaginal probing and humiliation when they seek an abortion. I think the Taliban has no place in the USA.

This is a major issue and we should wake up and speak out. Remember the testimony of Anita Hill? This country was rocked back on it’s heels when women came out of their silence and told about what they endured at work. Judge Thomas was confirmed but things definitely changed in the workplace.

Wait till women wake up and start talking about the “good old days” when they were told it all depended on them to say no. In my day, we were told to be good girls and keep our knees closed, at the same time we were trained to believe our total worth came from the men who loved us.

Girls were supposed to be great teasers, advertising the product but not delivering until paid up front with a marriage license. Once obtained, they were supposed to have a few kids, be good cooks, be happy, and be pretty when their husbands came home. If he didn’t come home, they were supposed to cry a little, put on some lipstick and smile as he arrived later and later.

If you lost in the marriage game, you were trash. If you had a brain – you learned to use it by helping your husband behind the scenes. Remember Nancy Reagan?

Women of my day didn’t hate men, they loved them. That’s what caused most of the trouble. Not the loving, but the tight space of the gender role.

In my day, spinsters were a joke. Being an old maid was the true “fate worse than death”. I had a brain but I dropped out of college at 18 and got married. After my husband died, I went back to college under great hardship and neatly avoided marriage for 10 years. But I did love men.

At 78, I don’t remember it all. But I obviously remember enough not to want to go back sixty years.

I realize there is a taboo about New Thought ministers speaking out about political issues but I’m retired from active service. Besides, I consider this a mental health issue for every one of us – male and female.

I am very proud to belong to a denomination that started with as many women leaders as men. We have always had great equality in our leadership because it is the basis of our teaching. If God lives everywhere, including in women, then I have a right to say what I think. And I think we should speak out about women’s rights.

We can help. We can recognize that it is difficult for people to change and that there is always a group of powerful old guys with billions who think they know what other people should do. We can speak up.Let’s not be asleep at the wheel.

Let’s tell the truth about the good old days. Let’s say that sexual activity between consenting adults, married or single, straight or gay, is normal and natural. Let’s say that times have changed and if a few people can’t keep up, we can love them but not let them slow us down. Let’s say that all human beings are Divine and each of us gets to make his or her own choices.

Ask Yourself

Do I resist change? How?

Is there anything I need to speak up about?


12 Comments on “Asleep At The Wheel”

  1. Shirah Penn says:

    Hear, Hear! Jane Claypool! I am so happy to hear you stand up for women as you usually do! I have followed your Wise Women Don’t Worry, Wise Women Don’t Sing the Blues principles for many years now. You have helped empower me to be strong and assertive and stand up for myself. Women do need to take a stand on these issues in particular that affect/effect us! Thanks for this blog! Gramma Shirah ……

  2. Bravo. I posted this on my Facebook page and encouraged others to sing up for your list. Thanks for sharing your perspective. It is important.

  3. liz says:

    I agree with everything you have said. Did notice that both the new Spiritual Leader and President of International Centers for Spiritual Living are Male. Not to say there is not much goddess energy around them…just saying

  4. Mick says:

    Interesting observations. JUst for the record, my insurance doesn’t pay for Viagara.

  5. Amy Aspell says:

    Thank you, Jane!!! Well said. Yes, we need to speak out!

  6. Judith Churchman says:

    Hear, hear, Jane. I was a part of all those days too. People today can’t even imagine the terror around the possibility of unwanted pregnancies that we faced. The young people are so sexually liberal, they can’t even take seriously the things that are being proposed by some of our conservative law-makers. It’s not an issue I can speak to at church, but I am a part of the Clergy Council for Planned Parenthood here in Redding. (And I’m horrified by the supposedly humorous comment about the aspirin between the knees. Who said that? Newt or Ron Paul?)

    • Impower You says:

      I have read enough history to see the good ole days is indeed a relative term. I don’t feel equality for women or non-white skin tones is great, but looking back it seems almost a 360 degree turn from just 40 years ago. When I found out that there was a panel of politicians discussing my reproductive rights I was annoyed, when I found out they were all male I was pissed.
      If women are not even considered smart enough to discuss our own bodies in politics and men are, than what sense does that make.
      I may not have lived through a lot of discrimination, but I do get a dose of harassment almost daily just for being female. It riles me up and keeps me fighting.
      Ignorance may be bliss for some, but like you I won’t back down and stay in my place.

  7. Joe Niemiec says:

    The good old days, when kids could go out and play from dawn to dusk and never worry. Me thinks those days were a figment of our imagination created to keep whatever quo we’d like to defend.

    Being raised in a good northeast “wasp” village I knew exactly where my place was and who I should and should not be with. I knew, instinctively, what family secrets were kept behind closed doors and after my mother died some skeletons came tumbling out of the closet.

    I give three cheers for being able to not only be me but to be able to love me and you.

    • janeclaypool says:

      Hi Rev. Joe,
      Thanks for your comment and it seems as though you and I and are on the same wavelength which is not surprising. Secrets come in all shapes and sizes and they can be very difficult to live with even as they grow in silence. A lot of stuff happened in the “good old days” that no one talked about and I – for one never want to slide backwards into the dark.

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