Write Your Own Story in Life

The 1950s are often viewed as a period of conformity.  Women might have had the right to vote like men but that was pretty much it in terms of their equality.

Many parents had narrow expectations for their daughters whose destiny was to get married and start a family.   Parenting was solely a woman’s responsibility – preparing meals and having them ready when their husband returned from work, performing all the household duties and caring for the children solely on their own, while their husbands pretty much did whatever they wanted.    In a nutshell, they were compliant.

Women who worked outside of the home, which were few, were paid much less than men and regarded as meekly obedient, sexual objects and inferior beings. Unfortunately, in some parts of the world, even today, this behavior still exists.

In March 1968 a massive revolution by students began in France.  The problems began after male undergraduates were denied access to the floors reserved for their female counterparts by old-fashioned university rules set by a conservative, authoritarian and conformist post-1945 society.

Students who decided to occupy a lecture hall and barricade against the police were beaten.  This incident sparked student anger across other campuses around the world who were already protesting the Vietnam War and in solidarity with workers demanding better pay and work conditions.  Soon a movement formed, and this led to the biggest, most diverse, and longest general strike in Europe since World War II, involving many million people.

Although Paris was at the center of the revolts, they were not limited to the capital or even to France.  They spread to Italy, Germany and the United States.  But the real effects of this is still noticeable in the core of central Europe.

While the revolution failed in a way politically, it succeeded socially and culturally.  The conservative, hierarchical and authoritarian society of the “prim and proper” and “ordre etabli” (established order) was replaced by new forms of participation, the libertarianism of customs and individualism. It was also a replacement of traditional family structures with more flexible sexual arrangements based on the needs of each partner, regardless of religious or traditional boundaries.

The battle-cry was “banning is banned” and “power to the imagination.”  Millions of young men and women protested values, morals, and ethics inherited from former generations.

What occurred in Europe in 68 was a cultural revolution that put liberty as a core principle.  It maximized political freedom and custom autonomy, emphasizing freedom of choice, especially that of women, voluntary association and individual judgement.

Erich Fromm in 1941 in “Fear of Freedom” argued that all of us have the potential to control our own lives but that many of us are too afraid to do so.” 

Croatia was still under communist rule and as such was not part of these revolutionary changes that were occurring in many parts of Europe.  While in Croatia that has changed considerably, what is interesting to note is that in North American public and private life, I believe we give up our freedom and allow our lives to be governed by circumstance, other people and political ideology.

Don’t ask questions, just do as your told.

Someone once said “To get respect, you also have to give it.  And to earn respect, you have to be deserving of it.”

Each one of us has our own purpose, wants desires, goals, reasons. Just as this woman did in 1956, ten+ years earlier than those events that changed the social culture of Europe, around the age of 23 she planned her escape route to freedom.  Not only from a country ruled by communism but a country that still had the 50’s mentality.

Her father would not consider her will and insisted she marry someone whom she was not interested in at all.   She decided for herself against conformity and without a word to her parents or siblings, she crawled out from the 2nd story window of her bedroom, in the middle of the night towards her freedom.

She chose, she said NO in deeds, not words.  She had the confidence in herself to live her life on her terms, not that of others.  She landed in Bari, Italy and after a few years immigrated to Canada.

The most wonderful day in a woman’s life is when she realizes she can do whatever she wants, without permission, and without explanation.  She’s just living. And it’s beautiful.

–Cara Alwill Leyba

While many times people say to forget the events of the past, I believe some events can be useful in understanding our own free will. This woman lived her life according to hers and was a loving and happy woman, always cheerful and available to others.     This woman was my mother.

Not all prisons have bars. Many are much less obvious and are much more difficult to escape from since we do not realize that we are prisoners

–Henri Laborit…. from the novel “In price of flight” 1976

I hope both men and women live their life according to their own free will, thinking for themselves, regardless of social conventions or conformity.

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Suzana Matkovic
SUZANA has a PhD from the School of Hard Knocks. With the guidance of a loving family, she aspired to the best job of Life: Motherhood. People that know her journey will understand how this beautiful and tragic chapter forged her resilience and tenacity to bring her passions to life by being part of the change. Upon graduation in 84, she moved into an extremely successful 30-year career. Nonetheless, she walked away from it in 2014, in order to pursue something more personally meaningful. A School of Life that enabled her to meet people of different nationalities, cultures, races, languages and outlooks, is what she sought. She is an avid advocate and volunteer motivated to help others reach their full potential by raising awareness of numerous social issues affecting many and establishing a legacy for change. Suzana’s training and experience have provided her with a unique foundation from which to produce communication that is Significant, Relevant and Actionable. Her knowledge in sales/business development and marketing started in the early 90’s where she received numerous awards for innovation, customer satisfaction and quality management. She has worked in all business categories: Local Government, Manufacturing and Distribution, Logistics and Lumber Export. Some of the more notable products and services were sold into the Environmental Energy Sector and building products that represented Structural, Civil, Electrical, Mechanical and Architectural Engineering. In addition to Marketing initiatives for various NGOs and causes near and dear to her heart. All this was accomplished by a high school graduate with determination, vision and passion. She attributes her success to many wonderful mentors throughout her personal and professional life and the inner strength God blessed her with.
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Massimo Scalzo

Suzana, your mother did not want to be governed by forces outside her own will. She chose a
commitment to the soul’s logic, a total renewal. She imagined a range of possible options, a rejection of the society solution.
She was different. Hers was a flight but it was not an act of cowardice, but of COURAGE. Society conditioning … conformity aims at controlling every aspect of a person’s life. People who are really able to detach themeselves from the “roles and rituals” imposed by society, restraint inhibitions and social influence are HEROES. They don’t want to live like obedient zombies. They want to write the book of their own lives. For the better and for the worse. Your mother did. She did because she had imagination and courage. It was HER LIFE. Suzana imagination is of those who smile at life … of those who see open spaces and huge green fields populated with endless possibilities … imagination is the voice of daring … imagination is of God because if there is anything godlike about God, it is that. HE dared to imagine everything. Suzana you are her daughter … and I realized you are just like her … and that makes my heart flutter with pride and happiness. Thank you ❤

Massimo Scalzo

Thank you Dennis!

Joel Elveson

Suzana, your mother was a brave and courageous woman who in many ways was a trailblazer. By 1960 I was only four years old so I had no idea nor could I of how women were being treated. My mother (of blessed memory) wanted the traditional role of housewife, mother, caregiver, etc. She made sure my father’s dinner was ready when he came home. We all ate together. It wasn’t until many years later that I became aware of inequality when I started working for NOW (National Organization for Women) during the brief time I lived north of San Francisco. I could not be involved with a woman who was not independent with her own ideas and opinions. In my mind housework is work that has to be done around the house. There is no gender attached to it. As such I do wash the dishes, clean the bathroom, etc. with no complaint. You raised the level of awareness people should have as to how even in this day and age women are not always treated fairly or looked upon as people not as objects to be used to satisfy the hormonal urges of a man or men. You wrote a really terrific article. While I don’t know much about your mother I would be shocked to discover that she is not looking down at you and smiling broadly. Thank you, Suzana.