Wow, so many attitudes have changed over the past few decades. Society has changed in countless ways. Some changes seem beneficial and others don’t. Some changes are perhaps, just changes and neither good nor bad. It seems one change for women is to feel they are able to take greater responsibility for themselves. This is both in terms of providing for themselves financially/ setting goals and also accepting responsibility for their actions.
With many more women in the workforce today than in the 1950s there has been an increase in the number of woman independent of a man’s wage. Some women share financial responsibility for a household with their husband or partner. There are single women who support themselves and single mothers who are responsible for providing financially for themselves plus their children, perhaps with the help of a Centrelink payment or child support from the father.
When we talk in terms of self development and refer to ‘taking responsibility for yourself’ it is not financial responsibility that we have in mind. What do we mean?
Taking responsibility for yourself means doing what you can to make things happen in your life and also accepting responsibility when you make a mistake. However, sometimes things don’t work out as we planned and it’s not our fault because the events actually were beyond our control. If we take responsibility for ourselves we won’t make a big deal out of blaming someone or something else. Instead of waiting for another person to fix things we will see what we can to improve the situation.
When you take responsibility for yourself you have more control of your life and feel better about life. Instead of being passive and playing the role of victim you take an active role. This doesn’t mean everything will always go your way but it does mean you are more likely to achieve your goals. It also means you won’t be one of those people who, although middle aged, are still blaming their parents or school teachers for everything that hasn’t worked out for them.
Those who take responsibility
• Make their own decisions
• Set personal goals
• Don’t blame others
• Have a positive outlook because they believe they are not powerless
• Earn the respect of others
• Acknowledge their weaknesses and strengths
An important aspect of taking responsibility is being willing to take a deep breath and admit, ‘I messed up,’ and then work out how to fix the situation or make amends. If you are honest, people are more likely to forgive you than if you blame others or try to cover up. You will feel better about yourself and this is the most important thing.
I wonder if it was more difficult to take responsibility for yourself and your actions in times gone past when women were expected to marry young and devote themselves to raising a large family. I ask this because it seems society encouraged dependence, first on your father and then on a husband. Women were discouraged from pursuing further education and many were told to leave school once they passed the compulsory age. They were not encouraged to ask questions or have their own opinion on ‘the big issues’.
Married women were often referred to as ‘the little woman’. They were given a limited allowance for running the house and buying groceries. I saw an article about sexist advertisements from the fifties. An ad for electrical goods like toasters and electric jugs suggested a woman tell her husband which appliance she wanted as a present .If he didn’t head off to get it for her straight away it was recommended she ‘cry a little’.
Women, single or married, were sometimes called ‘the weaker sex’ and ads like this support the image. These attitudes did not encourage women to take responsibility for themselves. It doesn't seem the concept would fit with the attitudes or the reality of life in the fifties.