Friday, March 7, 2008

Whitney Goodstone Interview

Second Wave Feminism, which occurred from the late 1960’s through the early 90’s, had a large concentration on the discontent of a housewife. The movement was about the empowerment of women to overcome this discontent and to be strong leaders in the workforce. Growing up in this environment, Whitney Goodstone always believed this was what a women should be. All she wanted out of life was to be a strong and independent woman. She defined herself as a feminist saying that she promoted women’s freedoms and liberties. As her life changed, however, her views changed. Today Whitney remains a feminist, but through the interview, she emphasizes that a woman can do it all, and have it all, and that some points of feminism seem somewhat irrational. Whitney’s background and her life story are what makes her views on feminism and her thoughts on some of the hot topics right now intriguing. She was born and raised in Athens, Georgia, and graduated from the University of Georgia. Always working, she held jobs in Washington, D.C., Nantucket,. Upon her graduation from college, she moved to Australia to work. Children, Whitney told me, were never on her mind. Finding a man was not either. From her perspective, being a strong independent woman with a great career was her primary focus. This theory probably materialized from growing up during the second wave of feminism. Her insight changed, however, when she fell in love while living and working in Australia. After attending law school in Sydney, she and her now husband moved back to the United States. After her father died she realized how important family was, and that she really wanted to start one of her own. She now has two children and works part-time. Because her perspective changed, it seemed appropriate to explore her opinions on the discontented housewife. I thought it would be interesting to talk about the discontent housewife. When I explained to Whitney Betty Friedan’s theory of the discontent house wife, I asked her what she thought about the idea. The answer was interesting since Whitney was once so driven to become a working women. She said, “You can do both. Its hard to balance it, but it can be done. It is important for me to be there for my kids and steer them in the right direction. I don’t focus on work as much but that doesn’t take away from who I am. I am still a capable and well qualified part-time business woman.” Her response intrigued me, because there were similar responses in the debate on this subject in class. It made me reflect that in today’s society, a woman feels compelled to balance both a career and family. This led me to wonder how she raised her children, since feminists are often conscious of binaries, and I had previously been informed that she has both a son and daughter. On the issue of raising children, Whitney has a very good approach in what she teaches her son and daughter. I told her about the Child X article and asked how she felt about the social experiment, and whether she thought it could ever work in society. Whitney stated that in today’s society it would be very hard to have no sex. She did however say that as a parent she feels it extremely important to expose her children to a variety of experiences. She explains that although her children like the somewhat “opposite sex hobbies,” it is a natural inclination for the boy to enjoy things related to the male sex and the girl to enjoy things related to the female sex. She told me that her son did musical theater for two years and although he enjoyed it, his true love is sports. She also told me that her daughter has participated in many sports in the past, but her true love is dance. The only explanation she give as to why this is, is because it’s natural. Along the same lines of sex and gender, I informed Whitney a little bit about bitch magazine. She had never heard of it but found it interesting. I told her about the article on gender pronouns and asked her whether or not she thought the feminists were taking everything overboard. Whitney said, “Its interesting that you ask that. When I was studying in Australia I never even thought about the issue. He/she was always used in writing, it was just understood that that was the way to write. I understand why feminists are so absorbed with the issue, however its not my battle to fight.” I found it intriguing that over seas the people seem not to care as much because it is normal to include all when speaking. Since Whitney is so passionate about everything she does, I really wanted to know how she felt about the Radical Lesbians, since they are very passionate feminists. I gave her details of the idea to set up a community of “lesbians,” and coining the term as non-derogatory. Although, as I stated before, Whitney considers herself a feminist she was appalled by this theory, just like much of the class was. Her exact words were, “That’s just silly. If you think about it the whole theory is actually demeaning. They are forcing ideas on someone who might not necessarily believe in it just to make a point.” Somewhat on the same issue, we conversed about the theory of taking back derogatory terms and using them as terms of empowerment. It took her a while to answer but when she finally did she stated that it all boiled down to political correctness. A bad word is a bad word, which is how many people in class felt about the issue. She decided that changing the meaning of a word would ultimately take too much time and effort. The most interesting part of the conversation was her opinions on third wave feminism. I asked her if she was familiar with the Pussycat dolls group. She knew it well due to the fact that she has a young daughter and spends a lot of time at the sorority house on campus. We started discussing how the article that we read for class states that girls can start looking up to the group, because they are feminists. As a mother of a young child, this subject really disturbed Whitney. I asked her if she would want her daughter to look up to women like this. Absolutely not was her response. She said young women can feel comfortable about their sexuality, but when it comes down to it, there is a level of being a lady that all girls should abide by. The show undoubtedly promotes being sexy, which is fine, but not something a ten year old should be trying to portray in her everyday attire. She said, “As bad as this sounds it all boils down to the fear of teen pregnancy which is something that I don’t want to deal with, and my daughter shouldn’t have to deal with.” The conversation escalated from here since Whitney can relate to these topics. I asked her if she thought that the media is bad for young girls in this age. Whitney told me that the TV is the most influential factor on young girls lives. “Young girls in this time think it is acceptable to prance around in skimpy clothes because that is what they see. The generation growing up now has no good role models. Look at Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, and don’t even get me started on Lindsay Lohan. I do not want my daughter to think it is okay to act like them. It is not.’’ We both agreed that the generation coming up has much more pressure to deal with than my generation or the one before, and there really is not a good role model in the media for the girls to turn to. This ultimately led to a discussion about abortion. She had a very pro-choice view point on the whole issue. I feel that many feminists would like her ideas about abortion. She stated that no one has the right to tell a woman what she can and can not do with her body. She explained, “Either way the woman will have to deal with the consequences. The fact of the matter is that some people can just not be mothers. Imagine a thirteen year old walking down the hall pregnant at school, and then raising a child. Or a rape victim having a child after being attacked. She would have to look at the child differently. There is no way she could not.” On the more political side, I asked her if she thought that conservatives were more pro-life because they have always been know to be older wealthy men, and they clearly don’t know what its like for a woman to be pregnant, or if it is strictly based on morals. I had thought it was a mixture, so the answer I got really surprised me. Whitney said, “On this issue, it always boils down to religion and morals. Demographics have nothing to do with it.” In accordance with our class discussion I wanted to know if Whitney felt that there could ever be a day where pro-life and pro-choice advocates could just put all the feelings and emotions aside, and accept each other’s views. Just as I view the topic, she said that there was no way it could be done. There are too many emotions and other factors involved. Whitney’s insights the feminists views were very insightful. Though identifying herself as a feminist, she did disagree with much of what the feminists said in the many articles we have read in class. To me this proved to me through this interview that women can do and have it all. More importantly, she illuminated through out the conversation that a woman does not have to agree with everything the feminists say to consider herself one.

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