I'd like to start by saying, there is no debate.
Feminism is the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. When we talk about a "pre-feminist" society, we are referring to a time when women did not have a choice, or a right to accomplish many of the things that men do.
Choosing to stay at home with your kids, is not turning your back on feminism. When people refer to women who choose to stay at home with their children, as mothers returning to some sort of June Cleaver mindset- it infuriates me.
Living in a social climate that does not allow women the opportunities to leave the home and enter the workforce is a very different situation than living in a social climate that allows women to choose to stay home with their kids. Fortunately, here in America, we live in the latter. Now, in no way am I saying that women have the same opportunities, or are paid the same, or are generally totally valued in our workforce. But that is a different argument. The point that seems to come up now, is this:
If you choose to return to work, you are a feminist.
If you choose to stay at home with your children, you are not.
Also, if you choose to return to work you are a bad mother.
If you choose to stay home with your kids, you are not.
The above statements are the biggest crock of shit that we as women, have collectively been sold- ever. Seriously. And they have done more damage to our psyches than all of the Spanx, feminine hygiene sprays, and anti-wrinkle creams ever made.
This whole rant is being inspired by the NYT opinion pages, Room for Debate. Last week, the topic was Motherhood vs. Feminism, with a handful of Mothers giving their two cents on the issue. Some of them were reasonable and some of them were down right infuriating. Well, only one was down right infuriating- an article written called Good Riddance Feminism.
Normally, I would take all of these articles with a grain of salt. But there has never been a more important time for women to have each other's backs. And there certainly has never been a more important time for women to be shouting from the mountaintops, YES, I AM A FEMINIST! All of this divide and conquer anti-feminist and anti-motherhood rhetoric has got to stop. Now.
In this particular article, the author's basic point is that feminism has "marred some of what it means to be a woman." Um, really? No, it hasn't. And I just love this quote:
When we bring children into this world we also agree to sacrifice parts of ourselves. If anything the surge of June Cleaver 2.0s is a great reminder to career-driven mothers who may have forgotten family comes first.
Stop it. Stop it right now. Would you ever make this statement about a man, providing for his family? My guess is no, because for some reason- it's perfectly okay for men to leave the house every day to make a living to support their families. No one ever feels the need to remind them that family comes first. Everyone seems to understand and collectively agree that bills need to be paid. Just not by women. Because when they work, and support their families, the money that they bring in is just a frivolous side effect of their stupid little hobby that takes them away from their kids.
Yes, that argument is totally annoying, but equally annoying is the argument that women are returning to some sort of 1950's mentality if they choose to stay home with their kids. No they are not. For one reason, and one reason only- CHOICE, GODDAMN IT. CHOICE. Women are choosing to stay home. Women are choosing to go to work.
We are making these choices because we can. June Cleaver was home with the kids because she didn't have the choice to leave. Yes, I am aware that June Cleaver is a fictional character- I'm just using her as an example. There were no divorce and alimony laws that would have provided her the opportunity to maintain a separate household from Ward. Their were no fair labor practices that would have assured her a position in the workforce. We need to 1) stop waxing poetic about a time when women were tethered to their homes, and 2) stop accusing women who are choosing to be home of being in this same predicament.
It's a different time, ladies. Yes, we can have it all. That was the whole point of the feminist revolution. Lets all finally agree that we can be moms and feminists, and stop arguing about who's doing it best.
For the sisterhood.