K. J. Steele: Women’s Roles: Web-weavers

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If you think about it, who would you pinpoint as the one person in your family that tends to keep
the tribe together? The person who still remembers to send birthday cards and holiday notes.
Who makes the occasional phone call just to catch everyone up on the family going-ons or to
arrange the next family reunion.

More often than not this person will be one of the women in the family. I believe even historically
it was often the women who called the clan together, urging an end to the incessant work day
and insisting on time to relax and mingle over a meal served around her hearty table.

It makes sense to me that women should have assumed this role as web-weavers. Traditionally,
women have kept the home and prepared the food. Her table served as the unifying factor and
non-obligatory conduit for family interactions. After all, no matter how busy one may be,
humankind is infused with a common need: we all must take a moment every once in a while in
order to replenish ourselves. At some point we all must eat.

Even if the family table has become a quaint concept for some in our fast-forward lives, the role
of connector is often still carried out by the women. Perhaps now our hearty table has turned
into a party table. Whereas, a quick chat down at the corner store or over peeling potatoes in
the kitchen could at one time have sufficed to keep the family informed and connected, our
preferred avenue for communication today often seems to be social media. Of course, men and
women both use social media profusely, but often for different purposes. While men seem to
favor it as a business tool, many women enjoy the convenience and reach it affords them to
connect and interact with their extended family and friends.

I suppose it was inevitable for us as women to assume the role as family connector. From the
very beginning of time we were the ones who drew our babies close to our bodies for nurturing.
Traditionally, it was considered the woman’s home and the woman’s table that the family drew
back to at the end of each day, and it seems that this need to weave a connection between
those we love has endured.

Threads of this role also emerged in my novel No Story to Tell. My protagonist Victoria has no
living parents of her own. She is not particularly close to her husband Bobby’s mother, who can
be difficult. However, it is Victoria, not Bobby, who makes the time to chat on the phone or make
occasional visits to the home to set the old woman’s hair and catch her up on the world outside.
Although Victoria tries to encourage Bobby to look in on his elderly mother a little more often, he
remains resistant to doing so. Now, I am not suggesting that all men are like Bobby, (thank
heavens!). But I do think it is fair to say that we women, more often than not, still assume the
role of web-weavers within our family and our communities beyond.

K.J. Steele is the author of the novels No Story to Tell and The Bird Box. The e-book edition of
No Story to Tell is only $2.99 for the entire month of September 2017.

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On September 13, 2017

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