My first therapist was a leftist Black social worker with a 'fro out to here. She looked like Angela Davis: Initially I suspected she might even be Angela inexplicably gone to ground in the South. I mention all that not because race per se is the important thing here but to demonstrate the power of social expectations of women to seize hold even of someone like her.
I knew a little about her: The VietNam war was raging at the time, and when her boyfriend's II-S wasn't enough to keep him out of the war any more, she married him to give him a higher deferment. When they started drafting married men, she got pregnant to get him his III-A. I knew that she was not happy being married, and she was not happy being a mother, either: She did it because she didn't want another Black man to die in some godforsaken jungle on the other side of the planet. That's a hell of a personal sacrifice to make for a man, and I have often wondered what she would have done to keep him out of that war if they'd started drafting married men with babies. What else of herself could she give up?
She did me a lot of good. Looking back, I know it must have been hard for her to listen to my middle-class white-chick whine for 45 minutes every week, but listen she did. Unfortunately, she laughed when I told her I intended to keep my own name when I married. She worried that I was emasculating my husband when I dreamed of living in a home that belonged to my family and having a house full of foster kids instead of going to live with him in his house and having his babies. In short, she'd swallowed the gender paradigm hook, line, and sinker--she would wrench her entire life off course to save a man the inconvenience of serving a little jail time or going to Canada. And she would worry more in my sessions about a boyfriend/fiancé/husband I didn't even have yet than about the real (female) me sitting right in front of her.
I don't know why exactly I have been thinking about her today, but I have. And I'm not sure exactly what I'm trying to say here, either. But there it is.