As a little girl, I always listened in on the stories adult women shared. The leitmotif of those stories was the perennial need to put up with things.
“Every Friday my husband gets drunk, beats me and the kids, and throws us out of the house. But I’ve got to put up with this,” Auntie Tanya would sigh.
“Yes, you do,” the female chorus would confirm.
“My husband gave me another STD,” Auntie Katya would share. “This is the third one this year. But I’ve got to put up with this.”
“Yes, you do,” the female chorus agreed.
“I have to get another abortion,” Auntie Alla would say. “This will be abortion #34. The OB-GYN told me not to come back the last time I saw her. But what can I do if my husband hates condoms? I’ve got to put up with this.”
“Yes, you do!” the female chorus sang ecstatically.
“Mommy, why do Auntie Tanya, Auntie Katya, Auntie Alla and all the other aunties put up with all those things?” I would ask.
“Because there are women,” the explanation always was. “That’s what women do. You’ll understand when you grow up.”
“But, Mommy, you never put up with anything.”
“Well, no, but women usually do. Among the Jewish people, there is this tradition where men thank God every day for not making them women.”
“But, Mommy, why don’t women stop putting up with things and then thank God for making them women?”
“This is just how things have always been. You will understand when you grow up.”
I decided then and there never to put up with anything.
[To be continued. . .]