Feminism, choices and options

Wow. Wow. Wowwhhoaaaa. That is how the inside of my head sounded as I read this article in which a writer, Amy Glass explains why she looks down on  women who marry young and/or stay at home to raise children.  She also  said she wants to vomit when she hears someone say the point of feminism is to support women’s choices regardless of if they want to have a career or not.

Well I want to vomit when I  read that statement of hers. Seriously feminism and social justice absolutely are about giving more options to those who have been marginalized.  So, yes, that means supporting women who want to work their way up to the top of their career ladders or women  who want to stay home and raise children or women who chose and attempt both.  Because like I said in this post, institutional sexism and other oppressions are traumatizing.  And any form of limiting the options of people who have been oppressed and traumatized is  counterproductive to social change.  Men have been telling women forever what to do and look how well that worked out (sarcasm).  And even if I’m telling them to do the opposite of what they’ve traditionally been told to do, I’m still telling them what they should do and what they should want and I’m not hopping on that bandwagon. Women – and all people – can and should do whatever they want as long as they’re not harming others.

Mind you, I am someone who, in her early 30s, is still unsure if I want kids. I’m like 90% sure that I do but I still don’t want them now.  But more on that another time, maybe.  I am also a woman who has found herself occasionally being judgmental of stay at home moms or brides under  the age of 25.  But I do challenge that judgment and reign it in.  Because it’s unfair of me to do so and also, how disempowering does it feel to be judged or criticized?  Why would I willingly do that to  someone else?  And more importantly, I only know what is best for me, I  am in no position to tell others what is best for them.  Is it  unfortunate that women are socialized to be more likely to take on low-pay or no pay roles, like  teachers or stay-at-home-moms?  Yes, definitely.  But it’s more  unfortunate that women have been designated and forced into this role  for centuries.  That’s not an issue that can be overcome in a night so suddenly judging the option for women to stay home is going to cause far more harm than good.  Plus some women really do want to do this role. So you educate women on their choices and give them choices and then value their choices no matter what.  Because no one is going to feel empowered when they feel pressured or forced to take on a role they didn’t really want, no matter what that role is.

In this article, Amy Glass also labels housework and raising children as “stupid.”  But then in another article she says she doesn’t want to be a wife  because it’s so much work and in fact, she says she wishes she could get married to a man and have a wife to do all the work around the house.   So what is housework?  “Stupid” work that women exaggerate to feel more  important or actual work that no one wants to do?  Not to mention that  working in the DV field, I know that when she argues that housework is  stupid and worthless, that she is regurgitating an oppressive myth that men  have historically made up and that batterers continue to tell, which is that work women do is not work, is not valued and can be disrespected,  as can the people (women) who do this work.  But raising a child, a human being, is monumental.  To say anything otherwise, even if its the last thing you want to do (which is okay – for you!) is is to demean the invaluable and unpaid work that if done successfully, led all of us to survive and hopefully thrive during our childhoods and become self-sufficient adults with the ability to form all sorts of opinions and make all sorts of choices.  Plus, what about women who directed organizations or were  CEOs and then became moms only to say that being a mom is the hardest job  they’ve had?  Are they lying or exaggerating?  And why don’t we just trust them?

I do trust them.  I expect that if/when I become a mom, I will find it to be an exhausting and taxing experience, even after the many painstakingly hard jobs I’ve had.   And if for some reason, I’m pleasantly surprised and it’s not as difficult as I’d imagined, I’ll consider myself lucky and recognize that the experience  is different for everyone.  As a culture, we need to recognize that  housework and especially raising children are very difficult and value  them so that we value the people that do this work.

I agree with some of the things she writes in the first article, like when she says she wants to throw a shower for women who backpack through Asia on their own.  When I finished grad  school, I was sad that people were not very excited for me.  I felt  like they belittled my accomplishment as college part two, when for me, it  was a huge accomplishment and I’d never worked harder or given up so much of my free time.  I mean only like 2% of the  population gets a grad degree or higher.  But like 90% of people get married, many of them more than once.  So why do people get  multiple parties when they get married but most of my friends couldn’t  be bothered to send me a congratulatory card when I got my masters?

Yeah it’s annoying that no one seemed to care.  But come on, if I keep going down that rabbit hole, I  feel more and more petty and self-involved.  Plus if you suggest someone get a shower for accomplishing anything isn’t that just buying (pun intended) into the idea that the way to show congratulations is to buy people stuff?!  I think the real issue here is that as a culture it’d be great if we were excited and encouraging of all people’s milestones, not just the mainstream ones.  So we can celebrate a wedding, a birth or the completion of a PhD dissertation in the same fashion, whatever that may be.  But to belittle a wedding, something your friend is thrilled about, is bratty.  And judging people is not only petty but when it  comes to injustice, it is also demeaning, degrading and contributing to  oppression.

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