This idea of the whole thing, women being people, it's still so new. Your grandmother didn't have conversations about Family Leave or family planning -- she didn't even have a job, and abortion was a dirty word. It is a tremendously new world, still shivering, that our mothers got for us. Turn on the TV and you've got people straight-facedly talking about birth control as though it were some just-invented witchcraft. Cents on the dollar is still a reality. It's a glycerine bubble is how new it is. And it is beautiful, and it's delicate and precious. But it's not going away, either.
And then you have the old soldiers who know the world they fought in, not the world they made. If a woman of Diane's age and distinction dropped out to be married, you'd probably say she earned it. When Alicia did it, it was in even younger world. She hates herself now, for it, because of what it retroactively said about her but mostly because of what it meant to start at LSG as a forty-something first-year: This, now, is the world she fought in. She has more reason than a first-waver to see this as a betrayal, because she reinvented the wheel three years ago -- she told the feminist narrative for herself, one step at a time. She was a one-woman army, figuring out all the things this means, always running behind, up against Cary, up against Nancy Crozier. Up against technology, that Caitlin swims in like she was born to it.
The reason for this is that Caitlin was born to it. The hardest thing in the world is explaining to your saviors that you get it, because they will never think you get it. You're standing on the shoulders of giants, and you know it; they just feel somebody stepping on them. But didn't you create this world, just for this? Weren't you the heralds of our equity? Didn't you fight so we could change shape, just like this?
Diane: "I tried to tell her. I explained how supportive the firm can be in situations like these. We have a generous maternity leave package, and child care, telecommuting options..."
Caitlin: "I get it. You will never understand this, and it's not your job to understand this, but I get it. I want to be..."
Alicia: "What, Caitlin? You can be anything you want to be."
Caitlin: "A mom. I want to be a mom."
Alicia Cavanaugh pulled down more billable hours in her first year as a first-year than any other attorney in her firm. But she changed her name, and she changed shape, and she left for Highland Park. And fifteen years later, she left Highland Park.