On February 28, highlights from Lisa Unger Baskin’s nearly 9,000-piece collection of rare books, ephemera, and other artifacts created and produced by women over the course of five hundred years went on display at Duke University, which acquired the collection in 2015 and incorporated it into its Sallie Bingham […]
I decided to have fun with the A to Z challenge this year. So as I was searching for the perfect Icon to discuss for my The Iconic Feminine, entry D, the only iconic female, real or mythic, that I found interesting was Delilah. Sampson’s downfall. Blame the woman, cast her as the harlot, a personal saboteur. Well at least this Old Testament villain is interesting… but I just was not excited to write about her.
So I went to bed and slept on it. I awoke wanting to steer clear of Biblical icons. Religion and politics are not fun. But what had decided to embed itself in my brain for the letter D was the word diapers. The iconic femininity of diapers? Yep. I had to think about that one a while.
Diapers. Poop. Children.’s butts. Wash or dispose. Train. Health. Sanitation. Yes, these are components of the, pardon my language, the traditional shit to which women are culturally assigned and which compose some of the less glamorous iconic elements of femininity. Taking care of
So far we have looked at individual meaning and societal roles of two women both named Audrey at birth. A doll that was drawn from the upscale, retail, American, 20th Century ideas of femininity. An early European Goddess concept of age, wisdom, and dark mystery. And the “motherly” aspect of dealing with life’s shit makes up a part of the Iconic Feminine too. Diapers are the perfect icon for this.
Here is a scholarly article on the History of Diapers.
And here is an article about gendered unpaid work done by women around the globe.
So no matter whether it is changing a diaper, being sandwiched between aging parents and nearly grown children, bandaging a scraped knee at a soccer game, or doing the dishes that no one else thought to do, take comfort if you can in your iconic role, and if you can’t, keep on working to change culture and teach the next generation better.