Frederick said, “Haven’t we come a long way?”
“I don’t know. I’m not sure that we have.”
“Frederick’s right. We have come a long way.”
“Frederick is always right.”
“He feels I should spend more time with my boys. He knows what it’s like to have a mother who is never around. He’d tell her now what a bad mother she was. He wants to do it. He wants to hurt her. He loves her but wants to hurt her. It’s all very involved, and I can’t say that I understand it. But we’ve talked about it. He’s quite open. It’s what attracted me to him. He’s such a baby, a crybaby, who make’s his opinions known. He’s not one those people who looks disapprovingly and says absolutely nothing, so he browbeats me for not spending more time with my boys. So what has he done? He’s adopted my sons and says he did it for me. He actually did it for himself, but won’t admit it. Now we know what he really thinks. He believes women have their place and that place is at home. And I thought he was one of us. Just kidding. I don’t know what we’d do without him.”
Frederick said, “There’s a big difference between philosophy and reality. Women can’t escape what they were made for. I look up to women.”
“You better. It’s complicated, especially for women, juggling everything, and too often it’s considered our fault. It’s always been like that. That’s how we’re kept in check. Look at you squirm! The two of you and you’re supposed to be progressive. The two of you should know better. Survey men, even today you’ll find most men feel women are stupid, and I thought you two were an exception. You’re both educated and well to do. You could go anywhere, do anything, but working with me seems to be your choice. Very rich women used to go into social work. It was a pastime for them, and some of them felt that it was there Christian duty, but since then, since the war, it has become a social necessity, which can not be ignored without dire consequences. Some of us are making a career of it. We have enemies, of course. They want to keep us in a box…at home and pregnant. It’s been an education to see how far they’ll go. At this point they’re willing to give us a little room, which they still call “women’s work.” Have you heard of women’s work, gentlemen? Calling it that somehow makes certain tasks acceptable, and it brings women more into the orbit of men, while competition between the sexes is increasing.”
“Frederick is ill-mannered and often loud and disagreeable, not the kind of man you’d think I’d be attracted to. He often looks disheveled and wears socks that don’t match. But he knows how to impress people, and his roughness is an act. He’d like for us to think that he’s promiscuous, and he has only recently become a Marxist. He thinks Marxism will set him free, but Marxism will only take him so far. He doesn’t know we know. He doesn’t know that we can see through him. He’s like that all the time. At least he’s consistent. We’re lucky it’s happening here in Vienna. As you know, it’s not in the rest of Austria. Of course we’re making mistakes. I imagine it’s impossible not to make them. I imagine most workers don’t care, as long as they’re paid. Other than that, most of them don’t know what they want. You saw how quickly Lippert switched sides. I imagine most workers are just as capricious and see which way the wind is blowing before they take off in the morning. Forgive me, Lippert. But it’s true, isn’t it?”
“Maybe I’ve misjudged you. Both of you have the same backgrounds, rich squires, and I’m privileged too. We’ve never had to scrape for food. Vienna is full of young men like you two, intellectuals, and full of ideas. Some of them are Socialist. Frederick had sense enough to drop out of the university and come to work for us. Because of it he has earned a great deal of respect, but it’s hard to know who’s genuine, how to sort the wheat from the chaff.” Then she turned to Herr Lippert and said, “And it’s harder when someone has been a Christian Democrat and has been a disciple of Herr Spann. Now hear me out! You both are welcome, and I shouldn’t be suspicious. You’ve been more reliable than I ever expected. You’ve cultivated a relationship with me. Note that I use the word cultivated. And I have begun to rely on you two, but you have to understand I have to…to keep a cautious eye on you. I don’t want to one day be disappointed. Can’t you see why it seems strange to me that you both are investing your time in women’s work? You see I’m not as liberated as you might think. Appearances are too often deceiving. I was taken aback when you two showed up. Impressed. Even flattered. This wasn’t typical behavior. But to me it showed how far we’ve come, and where we’re headed.
“Now you’re not so sure? “
“No, no, don’t get me wrong. I’m appreciative.