So this was written for Just4Me for the Fandom Gives Back auctions passed on the prompt she give me which was:
Inspired by a quote from Betty Friedan: "When she stopped conforming to the conventional picture of femininity she finally began to enjoy being a woman."
Alice convinces Rosalie and Esme to join the womens liberation movement. They join a womens group, burn their bras and start holding meetings in their home. Carlisle and Jasper are a little uncomfortable with this. Although they support it in theory, in reality they are very old-fashioned and like having their wives' lives revolve around them. Carlisle, of course, would greatly struggle with the fact that he is not the "perfect" husband he thought he was.
The first thing that caught my attention was the scent of burning wood. It was a scent that always reminded me of the first time Carlisle had said he loved me. However, I did not have the time for reminiscing, because, while my children always seemed to be causing some sort of ruckus, they'd never managed to set anything on fire before. So it was with some trepidation I followed the burning scent.
What I found in my backyard was a sight I never imagined I would see. There are plenty of things I thought I would never see in my lifetime (even though it was an elongated one) and I had already been proved wrong about some of them, why just a few months ago Neil Armstrong proved to me that apparently you can get a man to the moon, despite my scorn, but this was one sight I truly never thought would ever happen.
"Alice, honey, what are you doing?" I asked my youngest daughter. Her and Jasper had been with us for nineteen years now, and her joyful, energetic view on life never failed to put a smile on my face.
"Freeing myself from male oppression," was her reply. She sounded like the women you saw on the telly. What did they call themselves? Oh yes, feminists.
That was our Alice for you. Her lack of knowledge about her human life caused her to latch onto human trends, in the hope of living out some of her lost humanity. She had only recently exited her 'hippy' phrase, when she had begged Carlisle and I to be allowed to go to Woodstock. She even tried to use Edward's love of music to get him to want to come with her.
"Alice, nobody's repressing you. And why are you taking it out on your undergarments?" I asked as she threw yet another of her bras into the bonfire.
"It is sign of male oppression." I looked on at her in my confusion.
"They're not really that 'oppressing', Alice. In fact, in comparisons to the corsets of my youth, they're rather liberating."
Alice sighed. "You're missing the point, Esme. We wear bras because society dictates we most. You used to wear corsets because it's what society insisted on." This caused me to pause for a moment; she did have somewhat of a point. I was saved the hassle of formulating a reply by a shout from my oldest daughter.
"Alice? What the hell are you doing?"
"Freeing myself from male oppression," she replied again.
"OK. You need to stop watching so much telly, Alice. You're like a sponge. Crazy people on the telly. Crazy Alice."
"Rosalie," I scolded.
"It's not crazy," Alice defended. "There's going to be a women's meeting in the town tonight. Why don't you both come with me? Please?" She did the puppy dog eyes. It is impossible to say no to Alice when she does the puppy dog eyes.
"Fine," I agreed. I was slightly intrigued by the whole concept, though the women on the TV always seemed a little radical for my tastes.
"Fine," Rosalie agreed reluctantly. "But I'm not burning any of my bras anytime soon."
"Me neither," I added.
Alice threw the last on the bras onto the fire and both her and Rosalie disappeared into the house. I followed them, planning to get a bucket of water from the kitchen with which to put out the fire, preferably before Carlisle got home.
"Esme?" My husband's voice shouted from the backyard. I hurried quickly outside; knowing the scent of fire would have panicked him.
"Why is there a bonfire in our backyard?" he asked, worried. He gave the object in question a doubtful look.
"It's not what you think. Alice decided to burn some, um… 'Signs of male oppression.'" I dumped the bucket of water on the fire, causing it to hiss and then die out.
Carlisle laughed. "Our Alice," he muttered. I pulled him close and kissed him.
"I missed you. How was your day?"
"Fine. Yours? Aside from Alice burning things obviously."
"Fine. Emmett and Jasper got into an argument over the TV, how they can do that when there's only three channels to watch I don't know."
He laughed again. "That's Emmett and Jasper for you. Shall we go inside? Unless you're suddenly feeling oppressed." His hands crept under my top and to the back of my own bra.
"Carlisle," I whispered. "We're in the backyard. And I have a women's meeting to go to soon."
One hand slide back to down to my waist, while the other returned to his side. Together, we began to walk back towards the house.
"Women's meeting? Should I be worried?" he asked jokingly.
"I promised Alice I'd go. And no, you don't have anything to worry about. I love you,"
"I love you too." Our lips meet once more, however we had to separate far to soon for my liking as a loud voice interrupted us.
"Woah, break it up there," Emmett's booming voice shouted.
"Like you're not ten times worse," Carlisle joked.
"Yeah, but I'm not your father."
"Come on, Esme. You need to get changed," Alice said to me, beginning to drag me out of the room. "And no, there isn't time and we can't all leave the house for a short while," she shouted back at Carlisle. I smiled knowingly.
"Tough luck, pops," I heard Emmett say.
"Alice, why do I need to get changed? We're only going to a women's meeting."
"You need something less … housewife-y and motherly."
"Alice, I don't think I own anything less 'housewife-y' and motherly. I am a housewife and mother."
We walked into the room I shared with Carlisle. Spread out on the bed was several items of clothing I had never seen before, no doubt put there by my psychic daughter.
"Alice-" I began.
"Esme, plenty of women wear trousers in public nowadays."
"I just wouldn't be comfortable," I protested. Though I occasionally borrowed Carlisle's clothes to paint in, I always wore skirts and dresses in public. It would feel terribly improper to walk around in male clothing outside the house.
"Look, Esme. I'm wearing some. Rosalie's wearing some. Most of the women there will be wearing them. If you go dressed as you are now, you'll stick out like a sore thumb. Which is even more uncomfortable for you, trust me."
"Fine," I conceded.
Rosalie drove down from our secluded property and into the town.
"Alice, where is this meeting?" I asked.
"At Julie's house."
"And who's Julie?"
"The head of the women's organization here. Take the next left, Rosalie."
Once we'd arrived, Alice introduced us to everyone, and then she and Rosalie drifted off, leaving me uncertain what to do next.
"So what do you do for a living, Miss. Cullen?" one of the women asked me.
"Mrs. Cullen," I corrected her automatically. I didn't miss the way her eyebrows shot up in surprise. "I … erm…" I had a feeling the answer 'stay at home and look after my children' would have not gone down well here.
"Oh, hey Esme," Alice came to my rescue. "You have to come and listen to this."
"Alice, why have you brought me here?" I asked under my breath. Rosalie, with her love of mechanics and other masculine pursuits, and her attitudes towards men as a whole, fit in here perfectly. I, on the other hand, was the married stay-at-home mother of five.
"Julie was just about to start talking about equal rights," Alice said, ignoring my question. I sat down next to my daughter and listened to Julie talk. I actually found myself agreeing with what she was saying.
"Equal rights is the only way forward. All women need to work together, or men will continue to think they are above us. It is not just about legal rights; it's about men and their attitudes. Look at 1920; we had the right to vote and yet it made no difference. Why? Because society as a whole did not change, men still saw themselves as the better sex."
They was no denying what she said was true. I was the only person in this room who was actually able to remember 1920, and legally having the right to vote made no difference to my dreadful life back then. What differences did having some theoretical right make, when my husband saw me as his property to be beaten at his whim? Of course, my life was different now. Carlisle and I are equals.
Once Julie had finished her speech I went over to speak to her.
"That was a good speech you gave," I told her.
"Thanks. You're Esme, right? You came with Alice? I haven't seen you around town before."
"Oh no, I spend most of my time at home."
"Don't you work?" she asked incredulously. Drat, this again.
"Oh … um … no," I admitted.
"I can see why Alice brought you here then. Trust me, Esme, your sister has your best intentions at heart."
"My sister?" I asked, perplexed.
"Alice," she stated.
I laughed then. "Oh no, Alice is my daughter." I saw the shock on the face.
"And the other girl? Is she your daughter too?"
"Rosalie? Yes." She looked very confused.
"How do you support them if you haven't got a job?"
"My husband's a doctor," I explained.
"Your husband? So you're a housewife, basically?" I didn't miss the scorn in her voice.
"I guess so," I admitted.
"How can you talk about supporting equality then? You and your husband aren't equal."
"Of course we are," I said defensively.
"How is it equal for you to stay at home and watch the two children, while he goes to work?"
"Five children," I corrected automatically. She looked at me in horror.
"You have five children?" she all but shouted. A sort of silence settled over the group.
"That's why we need them to repeal those dratted Cornstock Laws," a different woman said. "So women like you aren't forced into giving birth five times."
"Actually all my children are adopted," I explained defensively. "So I did choose to have them."
"And you and your husband made that choice, equally?"
"Of course." It was too quiet for any of the humans to hear it, but I was able to make out Rosalie's 'yeah right'.
We had, hadn't we? I suppose with Rosalie he made the decision himself, but we decided on Emmett, Alice, and Jasper together. Or did he decide and I just agreed?
"I think it's best we go now, girls," I announced. Alice and Rosalie followed me out of the house. "Why did you drag me along to this, Alice?" I asked her as we climbed into the car.
"You agreed, didn't you? When Julie was talking about equality?"
"Perhaps she was hoping you'll stop letting Carlisle treat you like a doormat," Rosalie said from up front.
"Your father doesn't treat me like a doormat, girls," I said defensively.
"Oh please. The minute he says anything you always agree. If he clicks his fingers, you run, Esme," Rosalie snapped back.
"I don't," I mumbled. But my daughter's harsh words had got me thinking.
Carlisle saw me as an equal, didn't he?
Any thoughts? I'd love a review :)