My Choice

I’ve been reading a lot lately from some comment forums that the whole point of feminism was to bring to women the gift of choice.  Their choice to work or not, vote, get an education, own property, etc.

The Education Gap since 1880’s. I’m not sure when women weren’t allowed to go to school in the West? (H/T)

A lot of women have been writing how their choice has been to be a mom, and that is why they are anti-feminist. One of the first comments on these threads is usually something along the lines of, well congratulations on your dream.  Feminists made it possible.

Women aren’t feeling like being a mom isn’t acceptable for nothing.

Every time I hear someone say that feminism is about validating every choice a woman makes I have to fight back vomit.

Do people really think that a stay at home mom is really on equal footing with a woman who works and takes care of herself? There’s no way those two things are the same. . . .

Having kids and getting married are considered life milestones. We have baby showers and wedding parties as if it’s a huge accomplishment and cause for celebration to be able to get knocked up or find someone to walk down the aisle with. These aren’t accomplishments, they are actually super easy tasks, literally anyone can do them. They are the most common thing, ever, in the history of the world. They are, by definition, average. And here’s the thing, why on earth are we settling for average?

If women can do anything, why are we still content with applauding them for doing nothing? . . .

Now, I actually agree with her about the part that it’s not a huge accomplishment to have kids.  Most women can and it is what our bodies are made to do.

You will never have the time, energy, freedom or mobility to be exceptional if you have a husband and kids. . . .

 

It’s because women secretly like to talk about how hard managing a household is so they don’t have to explain their lack of real accomplishments . . .

 

Women will be equal with men when we stop demanding that it be considered equally important to do housework and real work. They are not equal. Doing laundry will never be as important as being a doctor or an engineer or building a business. This word play is holding us back.

Now, I’m not terribly interested in dissecting this article.  It’s pretty obvious.  Many feminist will come back and say, well this is just one women and most feminists just don’t feel this way.  This is not what real feminism is about!

But some very well known old school feminists felt the same way.

A parasite sucking out the living strength of another organism…the [housewife's] labor does not even tend toward the creation of anything durable…. [W]oman’s work within the home [is] not directly useful to society, produces nothing. [The housewife] is subordinate, secondary, parasitic. It is for their common welfare that the situation must be altered by prohibiting marriage as a ‘career’ for woman.” ~ Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, 1949.

No woman should be authorized to stay at home and raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.” – “Sex, Society, and the Female Dilemma,” Simone de Beauvoir Saturday Review, June 14, 1975.

 

[Housewives] are mindless and thing-hungry…not people. [Housework] is peculiarly suited to the capacities of feeble-minded girls. [It] arrests their development at an infantile level, short of personal identity with an inevitably weak core of self…. [Housewives] are in as much danger as the millions who walked to their own death in the concentration camps. [The] conditions which destroyed the human identity of so many prisoners were not the torture and brutality, but conditions similar to those which destroy the identity of the American housewife.” ~ Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique, 1963.

 

[Housewives] are dependent creatures who are still children…parasites.” ~ Gloria Steinem, “What It Would Be Like If Women Win,” Time, August 31, 1970

 

“Feminism was profoundly opposed to traditional conceptions of how families should be organized, [since] the very existence of full-time homemakers was incompatible with the women’s movement…. [I]f even 10 percent of American women remain full-time homemakers, this will reinforce traditional views of what women ought to do and encourage other women to become full-time homemakers at least while their children are very young…. If women disproportionately take time off from their careers to have children, or if they work less hard than men at their careers while their children are young, this will put them at a competitive disadvantage vis-a-vis men, particularly men whose wives do all the homemaking and child care…. This means that no matter how any individual feminist might feel about child care and housework, the movement as a whole had reasons to discourage full-time homemaking.” ~ Jane J. Mansbridge, Why We Lost the ERA, 1986.

 

“[The] housewife is a nobody, and [housework] is a dead-end job. It may actually have a deteriorating effect on her mind…rendering her incapable of prolonged concentration on any single task. [She] comes to seem dumb as well as dull. [B]eing a housewife makes women sick.” ~ Sociologist Jessie Bernard in The Future of Marriage, 1982.

There are more (and here. The first link does an excellent job of dissecting how feminism is not about choice).

Growing up, I always wanted to be a stay at home mom.  My mother was for several years and I wanted to give this to my kids as well.  I went to college because I was taught that I needed a degree to fall back on just in case my husband and I were to divorce. So, I did that and also came away with my MRS.  But, I always knew I wanted to stay home.  This desire has evolved as I’ve aged and it’s become a bit of a dream of mine to become that Matriarch one reads about.  The strong woman who helps to guide those around her, who loves tremendously but firmly, who isn’t afraid but is at the same time, soft.  Who’s children go to her for comfort and wisdom and who’s grandchildren run to her for hugs and cookies.  Now, I have a very long way to go in achieving this dream and it’s one I plan on spending a lifetime reaching for.

Do I work at this because I think it’s the hardest job in the world?  No, because it’s not.  Do I do it because I think there is some kind of glory in it?  No.  I do it because it’s mine.  I do it because it’s my dream and this is what I want. I want to give this to my kids, to my family, and to my husband.  I used to worry what other people thought about this at times (though I’ve been lucky in that no one has ever said anything to me), but no more.  This is my choice, my dream and I’m going to do it for me and mine.

**Does this mean I expect other woman to follow suit?  No.  My point here is that there are a lot of women who are afraid of this choice and who find themselves thinking there is something wrong with them for wanting it.  Being a wife and mother can be an incredibly noble pursuit if you work at it.  If it’s what you want, then make it yours.

Changes in the Wind?

Elspeth had a post up the other day that had two great picture in it:

I have seen evidence that more women might be waking up, or simply not caring what feminism is telling them.  Or, in this case, they listen but still show a yearning for what could be.

At first glance, Naomi and Stacie and Stephanie and Liz appear to be members of the species known as the “Hipster Mommy Blogger,” though perhaps a bit more cheerful and wholesome than most. They have bangs like Zooey Deschanel and closets full of cool vintage dresses. Their houses look like Anthropologie catalogs. Their kids look like Baby Gap models. Their husbands look like young graphic designers, all cute lumberjack shirts and square-framed glasses. They spend their days doing fun craft projects (vintage-y owl throw pillow! Recycled button earrings! Hand-stamped linen napkins!). They spend their weekends throwing big, whimsical dinner parties for their friends, all of whom have equally adorable kids and husbands . . .

Their lives are nothing like mine — I’m your standard-issue late-20-something childless overeducated atheist feminist — yet I’m completely obsessed with their blogs. On an average day, I’ll skim through a half-dozen Mormon blogs, looking at Polaroids of dogs in raincoats or kids in bow ties, reading gratitude lists, admiring sewing projects.

So why, exactly, are these blogs so fascinating to women like us — secular, childless women who may have never so much as baked a cupcake, let alone reupholstered our own ottomans with thrifted fabric and vintage grosgrain ribbon? It’s not as though we’re sniffing around the dark side of the faith, à la “Big Love.” And it’s not about religion. As someone married to a former Saint (my husband left the church as a teenager), I certainly have no illusions about what life as a Mormon would be like, and I’m sure it’s not for me, which makes my obsession with these blogs all the more startling.

Well, to use a word that makes me cringe, these blogs are weirdly “uplifting.” To read Mormon lifestyle blogs is to peer into a strange and fascinating world where the most fraught issues of modern living — marriage and child rearing — appear completely unproblematic. This seems practically subversive to someone like me, weaned on an endless media parade of fretful stories about “work-life balance” and soaring divorce rates and the perils of marrying too young/too old/too whatever. And don’t even get me started on the Mommy Blogs, which make parenthood seem like a vale of judgment and anxiety, full of words like “guilt” and “chaos” and “BPA-free” and “episiotomy.” Read enough of these, and you’ll be ready to remove your own ovaries with a butter knife.

“It seems that a lot of popular culture wants to portray marriage and motherhood as demeaning, restrictive or simple, but in the LDS church, motherhood is a very important job, and it’s treated with a lot of respect,” says Natalie Holbrook, the New York-based author of the popular blog Nat the Fat Rat. “Most of my readers are non-LDS women in their late 20s and early 30s, college educated, many earning secondary degrees on the postgraduate level, and a comment I often get is, ‘You are making me want kids, and I’ve never wanted kids!’”

Indeed, Mormon bloggers like Holbrook make marriage and motherhood seem, well, fun. Easy. Joyful. These women seem relaxed and untouched by cynicism. They throw elaborate astronaut-themed birthday parties for their kids and go on Sunday family drives to see the fall leaves change and get mani-pedis with their friends. They often have close, large extended families; moms and sisters are always dropping in to watch the kids or help out with cake decorating. Their lives seem adorable and old-fashioned and comforting.

Fun. Easy. Joyful.

While I have no illusions that marriage and motherhood are easy, these choices can be simple.  Life as a mother and wife can be incredibly rewarding and feminine.  It seems women might be waking up to this fact, that we don’t have to compete with men or with each other to find our own happiness and to make those around us happy as well.

Side Note:  The linked picture with the girls showing their wedding rings has these comments below it:

~ We All Have Goals- why is an engagement more worth than a college degree?

~ I completely agree. This picture is very disappointing and depicts the future generations of this country. Its a shame to see how much perceptions about success and whats important have changed.

Success should be in the eye of the person achieving it (H/T  Margery).  Why should an engagement and marriage be worth less and who is being hurt by those women’s choice to be married young?

Learning about Women Against Feminism

It’s been months since my last post.  I actually have those old butterflies that I would get when I first started blogging.  Getting back into it, is almost like starting from scratch again.  I sympathize with Martel.  I never really intended to take that long of a break.  I got burned out and just couldn’t find the inspiration to write.  Then life stepped in and I was mostly off the internet for more than a month (I did read for maybe 5-10 minutes a day things like Drudge and Vox Populi, but that was about it.)

During this time, I had a vague knowing that some new thing was going on called Women Against Feminism, but I had no idea what is was (I basically still don’t as I have read little on it yet).  In just hearing about it and reading a couple of the signs the girls were holding I had opposing feelings about it.

Joy.  Finally.  It’s happening.  I knew it was coming.  Women stating their feelings about what feminism has become.  I don’t think most women hate men.  Rather, I think most women actually very much like men.  Many simply won’t admit it to themselves as they don’t know how to not follow the herd.  Today’s feminism is hogwash and I think that most women today have definite cognitive dissonance about what they are reading, and that many outright rejected it, but just didn’t have the courage or even the knowhow in how to combat this.  Now that there is a new herd, a new rebel crowd in which to go to for safety in their feelings, they can comfortably voice their opinions.

Wary.  Wary because, well, Women Against Feminism is comprised of women.  Being against feminism isn’t going to change what women as a whole want.  It will just be a different way of going about getting it.  This doesn’t have to necessarily be a bad thing.  But there is always great potential for it to turn so.

I tend to agree very much with what Martel has written on this.  These women, right now, are an ally.  I won’t agree with everything they stand for and as I come across these things I will write on them.  But, this is a start.  A new herd, or place for women who have had reservation or even flat out disagreed with feminism to find likeminded people.  More than that, it growing so quickly and with such popularity, it will bring in many, many women who are simply drawn to power.  Who are drawn to the mere popularity of this.  Even if these women are changing because of reasons they don’t even understand, if they go so far as to begin to learn what men want, to learn to begin to not see men as the enemy, to learn to care and nurture their husbands and families, it is a step in the right direction.

As ar10308 says:

although many of these WAFs are very Egalitarian, this will probably cause a number of them to look even further into anti-Feminism and possibly consider more traditional roles for themselves.

Most women are going to always find themselves pretty much in the middle ground of this battle.  But as more and more women are slightly shifting sides, more will find themselves wanting to move further and further in the opposite direction.  These numbers will be relatively small, but the more we find moving that way, the more the balance shifts.

And the balance is shifting more and more in our favor.

 

** I also left this comment at Martel’s yesterday.  I don’t really have time to try to incorporate it as I would like into this post, but it further describes my thoughts and reservations about this movement (Edited for silly typing mistakes).

Women Against Feminism, the Red Pill Women’s reddit, and so forth are a new herd. The rebels. They are demonstrating a new power dynamic and that growth in power will attract more and more women in and of itself, regardless of the message. This is just the fact of the matter. As you’ve demonstrated, there are pluses and minus to this.

The plus being, that it is a demonstrable shift in thought and its popularity is only going to grab more women’s attention. As it becomes popular to love men again, more women will love them and support them. The problem being, as you said, they’re still women. This love and support for men will be through the realm of womanhood. What this means today and that this support will come from a bunch of women who grew up entrenched in feminism.

Let me see if I can coherently explain. There has always been a female imperative (there always will be). However many years ago you wish to go back (to the 1950’s or the 1850’s) there was an imperative there. But it was different than today’s. The women were brought up in a patriarchal society and their imperative reflected that. These women today, there imperative was developed in a matriarchal, men bad/women good, society. And while they may want to learn to support men, their ability to to this is far more hampered than women of the past.

I’m not explaining it as well as I would like, but hopefully you get the picture. I support these women, I applaud the courage of those who began it. I will support them in their efforts but will always do my best to point out their flaws as they grow in popularity and their message flows back toward feminism. As ar10308 said, many will hopefully look even further into antifeminism. It will be a minority, but the more numbers we can add to this minority, the better chance we have. Men, I think, can have an enormous impact on the size of these numbers.

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