I will have to say very decisively that I am not a “Rotary Ann.” You may never have heard of that term before and maybe it has been done away with as it surely should have been. But long ago my husband, Brad, belonged to the Rotary Club and the spouses of these stupendous men were referred to as their “Rotary Anns”.
I know the Rotary Club does many good works and it offers a great place to schmooze and network, but this practice of referring to their wives as Rotary Anns to me was grating and de-grading. Being a Rotary Ann meant to me that I wasn’t good enough or equal enough to be a Rotarian. It meant that I obviously didn’t have any dreams or ambitions of my own so I could use all that un-used time being a side-kick to my husband as he performed great deeds and reached the pinnacle of his ambition.
My father in law belonged to a Barbershop Quartet Chorus. It was fun to hear them sing and they were very good. Their spouses also were organized as a support group to the men. I’m sure they had a name but I can’t recall it at the moment. Their help was needed and they were kind to offer it. But as I watched them in action, I wondered if this was all they did or if they had goals of their own they were pursuing. Maybe they were destined to always hang around in the great shadow of their collective husbands’ glory.
I would feel differently if I thought it worked both ways. But would our husbands really like to be referred to as Relief Society Ralphs? Or is there a support group for the Sweet Adelines made up of adoring husbands? I think not. Those husbands are pursuing their own careers and their own interests. They don’t have time to tag along with their women-folk as those women trudge up their female ladders of accomplishment.
I know it is important to be supportive. But how can I do all the things I want to do if I fill up all my time being only the supporter and not the do-er? How will I have the time to practice the guitar and sing and write and speak and improve my photography skills and garden and bike and scrapbook and organize if I’m always supporting Brad’s career, sports, dogs, fishing and old cars? This is sounding a bit whiny. I didn’t mean for it to. Actually, Brad is very supportive of my activities and once in awhile might not mind being called Relief Society Ralph. But I can’t imagine him traipsing around with me carrying my camera equipment any more than I would follow him around tying his fishing flies. Once in awhile, though, our interests cohabit—I can take pictures of the beauty while he fly fishes. I like those times.
I just wanted to say that I need my own interests and time to pursue them. They make me feel accomplished and useful and worthy of my place here on earth. I don’t need to belong to organizations made up of subordinates.
To those who enjoy the role of Rotary Ann, however, I apologize.