A Garden of Her Own

Photography by Barbara Mattio

I confess the title is a twist on Virginia Woolf’s A Room of Her Own. However, times have changed a lot since the days when Woolf was writing. In Woolf’s time, there was still the concept of a woman having a room where she took care of no one else and could peruse the few things in life considered appropriate for young ladies and women.  It as also a world where we were wearing corsets and breathing was a skill and swooning was the inability of the lungs to acquire the proper amount of oxygen. This also made physical exercise beyond a sedate walk quite an impossibility. So times have changed and we have changed.

The media has, of course, changed much of what happened in the 1970’s. A time came when we, who were feminists were called FemiNazis because we were expected to line up and get in our places. Being a feminist became something that some no longer wanted to admit. We had made a difference, so it was no big deal. Many people spoke up that we can accomplish everything we needed as women.

It is now the twenty-first century.  With the signing of President Obama’s equal pay law, women now will make $0.77 for every dollar a man makes for equal work. In the 1970”’s, we made $0.67 for every dollar a man made.

We worked to give women choices in the 1970’s. Many women stayed home with the children then. Many thought they were slowly losing their minds. A book called The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan came out and changed the prospects of American women. It was, for me an” aha! ” moment. Women were capable and many wanted choices. To stay home with your children, to go into the workplace, or to do both. Over the years, big business has made it almost an impossibility not to have two family incomes. So we don’t really now have the choices we worked for.

The grassroots movement against Domestic Violence began in the 1970’s and many women were able to seek legal recourse, to receive counseling, have a support system that let her start again where she and her children would be safe. We used educational programs and training for educating local police departments on how to safely answer a Domestic Violence call. Historically, more officers are injured answering a Domestic call that any other type of call.
In the twenty-first century, Domestic Violence is on the rise. FBI stats document this fact. Young women don’t understand Domestic Violence and don’t realize that when they are pushed, shoved, kicked, slapped, humiliated or even called demeaning names they are victims of Domestic Violence.

We are once again fighting for the ability to control our own bodies. They are after all, ours. We and our bodies have become a pawn in national politics and this fact is so distressing. Congress wants to be able to tell us when we can go to a doctor and when we can have procedures. They even want to be able to tell us when to have procedures.

So, we all need a room or a garden of our own. I think of my daughters and I know that they are not wearing corsets but between the demands of running a home, having a career (for those who have chosen this path), and children and husbands, they need some space for themselves. I believe that we all need the room and a garden of one’s own can be a fragrant, colorful, non-political place to breathe, be true to yourself, make decisions, and give hurried, pressured lives a time of rest and relaxation. I encourage you to try it. It also is a soothing balm for the soul.

Photography by Barbara MattioPhotography by Barbara Mattio