I never thought much about why women were an underprivileged class of humans for such a long time. I mean if you asked me, I probably could have thought up something... less physical strength made us seem less important? Less testosterone meant we weren't motivated to compete for equality until we were really pissed off? Luck of the draw?
Fuck people... baby-having! Nothing eats up a year of your life like it... first there's baby-growing, which can cause sickness and definitely causes some physical difficulties those last 2-3 months. Then there's baby-having, which takes a good two months to recover from. Then there's baby-nursing, where you're tied to the kid for months or years. No one was looking out for women's rights because we were really busy.
In 2010, I'm did my baby-growing with the help of maternity stores and online support groups. My baby-having was aided by a hospital, dissolvable stitches and 800mg ibuprofen tablets. My baby-nursing has been easier because I have a breastpump and freezer storage bags, not to mention formula for if I really wanted an out. But even with all that, my 2010 has been eaten alive by baby in ways that no man's life ever can be. I seriously needed that six weeks off from work to recover and heal from the birth, and mine was easy and uncomplicated. There's been no travel since the baby, no nights away. And for that matter no travel during May or June either... I was too pregnant, had to stay close to home and medical care.
Can you imagine what my 20s & 30s would be like if I did this every year?
I remember celebrating the new year in 2000, talking to my family about the most important things that had happened in the last millenium, especially inventions. I mean, just in the last 100 years we'd invented airplanes, silicon transistors, microcomputers, so we were talking about what made the most difference. My mom said the most important invention ever was birth control. Since I love computers I was surprised at her answer. But you know what? She was totally right.
Until recently, most women were busy contributing to society by having babies... and it was almost impossible to do much else. Technology, tolerance, and The Good Fight have all helped us get a little more involved. But I'm suddenly very aware of the fact that baby having was a show-stopper back in the day. I think of famous accomplished women from history classes... Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, Jane Addams, Amelia Earhart, Helen Keller. What'd they all have in common? NO BABY HAVING. Back in the day, that was the only way to get shit done!
Baby-having is rewarding. It's a miracle. It's a blessing that only women get, and I'm thankful for it. But another real miracle is that over the past 50 years or so, we've gotten opportunities to do other things as well. Talk about a huge cultural shift! I'm actually amazed we've come this far.