Mary Marcus: Women’s Roles

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I used to know a very wise older woman (a mother substitute, no doubt) who
used to say if all the women suddenly left the planet, men would be back in
the cave within a week. Universal chaos would ensue.
I thought of this often as I watched my son and my husband through the
years, who are strictly speaking liberal males who correspond in many ways
to the tenants of the politically correct—never mind the far less enlightened
males who run the world in many cases: the US, the Former Soviet Union,
China, Korea, the list of male bullies goes on and on. One need only point to
Angela Merkell to see not just the best leader in the free world—but what
the world would look like if we had more women running things. Perhaps
that should be our role: to look after the world.
And to keep order among men. And in fact, Mother’s Day, that ultimate
greeting card holiday, was originally an anti-war day dreamed up by some
peace-nik mothers who didn’t like that their sons were going off to war. And
on that same subject, in Israel if you are the mother of an only son, you have
the last word about whether or not your son can join the army. And why?
Because in a lot of cases, Medea notwithstanding, mothers know best.
Woman’s roles. Why did so many of us love Michelle Obama so much and
either feel sorry for or scorn 45’s high-heeled wife? Because we all knew
Obama paid attention to her, listened to her, and while the other one with her
long hair and her high heels, is one who walks in back of him, and
certainly not by his side.
When I wrote my novel Lavina, about the Jim Crow South, I deliberately set
the book in a house where a white supremacist ruled the roost, where no
mother was paying attention. And what that rule looked like to his dying
wife who had no influence, and his two daughters, and ultimately what the
world looked like when men like that were given a free hand without the
softening hand of a woman.
I’d say then the role of woman has traditionally been to mitigate the damage
done by men. As we break through more glass ceilings, that will happen
more and more. At least I pray so.
Because I like to cook and bake though I don’t do the latter anymore, I
wondered how a woman’s roll would look and taste, as opposed to a man’s
My kind of roll would be made from a sourdough starter, whole grain, have
some seeds in it, molasses instead of white sugar, and be sort of chewy. I’d
eat mine with apple butter, olive oil, or plain. The absolute opposite of say,
a Parker House roll with butter. My husband grew up on Parker House rolls,
just like I grew up on biscuits. His were fresh baked by a lady named Ruby
who worked for his mother. Every so often, he tries to get me to make some
Parker House rolls just like Ruby used to make. Short of that, to go back to
making biscuits like I used to.
My role is to say, “Bake the damn rolls yourself, white man” and hand him
the rolling pin!
He never has.
Mary Marcus is the author of two novels, The New Me and Lavina, both
published by The Story Plant.
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On September 22, 2017

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