"My generation of women," says Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Ellen Goodman, "traded depression for stress." Speaking to 500 women at Kleinhans Music Hall Wednesday night, she pauses to consider this, and gets a laugh when she decides that, on balance, it's "not a bad bargain."
Goodman's keynote address to the Western New York Women's Foundation was filled with laughs. I even got to share one with her beforehand, as you'll see in the photo here.
But amid the laughs was plenty of food for thought. Goodman spoke of the "socially useful myth" of Superwoman, and spins out a day in the life of this non-existent creature: She starts the morning preparing a healthy breakfast for her 2.3 children ("which they eat"), then dons her Armani suit and sets off for her creatively fulfilling and socially useful job, and ends the evening with a multi-orgasmic session with her supportive husband.
Goodman has her comic timing down -- as when she mentions bringing up her own daughter years ago. (Goodman, now 71, is a grandmother these days, though she retains an enviably youthful and elegant look.)
"I wanted to give my daughter a good start in life," she begins, and you can feel the crowd of professional women stiffening a bit, ready for the onslaught of mommy guilt. But it never comes. Instead, she says, after a beat: "So I didn't go back to work until she was six weeks old."
Goodman also spoke of the long road women have ahead, despite the gains they've made. Despite women's apparent advancements in the workplace, the door to true equality is opened only a crack or two, she says. It will open fully when women's authentic values -- respect for caregiving, among them -- are fully recognized in society as a whole.
Here is Buffalo News Reporter Charity Vogel's interview with Goodman. It appeared in last Saturday's Life & Arts section as a preview of her talk here.
The photo above is by Sharon Cantillon of the News staff.