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.  Whose children go to her for comfort and wisdom and whose 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.