Kathleen, I hope you listened to the context in which that comment was made, too. It jolted me-- because I recognized the truth of it in myself. I struggled with and resisted gender definitions since a child growing up a religious culture that emphasized the so-callled "traditional" models for males and females (I was and remain a "tomboy"). I recognized the impact on me, and on my brothers, who struggled to meet the unrealistic demands placed on males by this division of emotional roles. Yet, as an adult and mother, I unconsciously played into many of those same expectations. Ah, not only was I a modern mother, I was a successful professional woman and community volunteer-- all the while maintaining my feminist independence. I was trying to be everything our society expects of both men and women. It took a serious life-changing illness to yank me out of that equally unrealistic scenario. I am grateful it did. But in the meantime, I'd managed to pass on the unrealistic role model I'd internalized. Yes, I was participating in patriarchy. Not only by being so fiercely independent that I let the men in my life off the hook, but by not acknowledging that they too were vulnerable and bound by roles they did not choose and felt trapped by. Only by accepting responsibiity for my being, and by willing to step out of my safety zone was I able to finally simply live my life unbound by expectations of perfection. No, life is not perfect. It isn't supposed to be. My children are making the same journey, and are wiser than I in many ways-- perhaps because they struggled through some of life's obstacles early. As for me, I still have the chronic illness, which limits me somewhat physically, yet I live a much more satisfying, productive life and feel much more fulfilled personally, because all I can do is do what I can and let the rest go.
More information about text formats