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We need more Mrs. Smiths

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the statue of the little girl on Wall Street in New York. Pictures show she has a determined look on her face, and she is “staring down” the rich and powerful. Parents have been photographing their own little girls with her, posting said photos with captions like “Fierce” and “Unstoppable.”

Near as I can tell, the whole thing began because women are supposedly, more downtrodden than they were when they were sold like cattle on colonial waterfronts. The modern era is supposed to be one of the worst times ever for women in America. According to some of the interviews with those who were marching on Washington the other week, America is even worse than countries where women can be stoned to death for driving. There are no opportunities for women, because men are constantly beating them down.

Okay. Sure.

I’ll admit, I am not quite sure where all this is coming from; I suppose it has something to do with electing political leaders who are marginally ore pro-life than pro-abortion, or the fact that Americans elected a male, instead of a female president. I really doubt gender had as much to do with it as the talking heads and shrieking harpies claim, but they have another election in less than four years where they can prove me wrong. To be real truthful, there was a female candidate I liked for president, but she never had a chance since she was a conservative and once ran a company whose computer printers don’t always work.

I am glad that parents are taking time out from their New York visits to have inspirational pictures taken of their girls with the Wall Street Girl. However, I’d really like to see at least one parent whose bright-eyed darling smiles over the caption “I will cure cancer” or even better, “I will own this street one day.”

Considering that I was raised as a gentleman, I reckon I have multiple strikes against me in any place more “civilized” than Southeastern North Carolina. I hold doors for ladies. I open the car door for my wife. Although few men wear hats any more, I at least touch the brim out of respect when I make eye contact with a person of the opposite sex. By the way, that latter term may even be offensive. I was lectured a while back that the word “lady” is an insult and demeaning. For the lady who sent me that message, I am sure that it is.

I was taught that a man walks on the streetside of the sidewalk, if there is a sidewalk, or failing that, he gives a lady the smoother path. It was ingrained in me that one always uses a courtesy title when introduced to a lady using her first name, and that some ladies receive that respect their entire lifetimes (Hence, why I call my bride Miss Rhonda).

I was also taught not to demean or run down women, and that men who do so are not fit to be called such.

Said rules do not necessarily apply to persons of the opposite gender who have proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that they are not ladies (or gentlemen, as the case may be).

As far as I am concerned, the weakest member of the “fairer sex” is probably stronger, in her own way, than the strongest man. For one thing, they have to put up with us. For another – well, there are too many examples that prove my point.

Take Mrs. Smith, for instance.

She couldn’t vote, but then again, neither could her husband at the time of the American Revolution. She helped build their home; if you’re ever near the intersection of U.S. 701 and N.C. 210, look to the northeast corner. Their home was out that way, a couple hundred yards off the road.

In the wake of the Revolution, the Tory Wars burned in Southeastern North Carolina. Neighbors fought a guerilla war against each other; their loyalties, on paper at least, were either to the Continental Congress or King George. In truth, it was little better than the anarchy we see today in some Middle Eastern countries.

Mrs. Jones’ home dominated the crossroads, even though it wasn’t the largest or the finest. People gravitated to her, however, and when Mr. Smith and the other men in the community went hunting the bloodthirsty David Fanning, most of the ladies in the area went to the Smith home.

Naturally, that was where the next band of barnburners and bandits turned up. They wore masks and carried torches, and demanded money, valuables and whatever suited their fancies – or else. It wouldn’t have been the first time a home was burned down with people inside, but it wasn’t happening that August afternoon in 1781.

Mrs. Smith stood the entire gang down with nothing more than a sharp tongue and a large, pointed iron spoon. She shamed them, calling them out by name in some cases. Not one silver coin, not a single bowl of cowpeas, not a dried sassafras root left the Smith farm that day.

In later years, she was reportedly consulted by politicians in the growing republic, as well as businessmen seeking the 18th century equivalent of a credit report. A couple of state senators and representatives can, if they desire, trace their lineage to Mrs. Smith.

I think we need more Mrs. Smiths; I know I’m surrounded by them. Almost every municipal board I cover has at least one lady on said council. Many of the places I do business with are female-founded, if not owned and operated, because they’re better businesses. At the same time, some of the strongest women I know are stay-at-home, single moms, who chose to keep their children when so many other options were available. Women have the choice of staying home and managing the household (as my wife does) or working (which, given the right job, she might). That option ain’t really there for men.

I don’t buy the argument that women are being held back in the USA; nor do I buy the argument that a woman has got to be some kind of warrior princess, or else she’s little more than a stereotype straight out of an Erskine Caldwell novel.

I look forward to the day when a little girl with dimples and a missing tooth stands behind the Girl of Wall Street with an iron spoon in one hand, and a sign in the other, proudly emblazoned with the words, “I will be a Mrs. Smith.”

Not so she will be “in her place” as a homemaker – but because she will realize she can be a warrior, a leader, a mother, a wife and a lady, all at the same time.


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