For the Sake of "Women"

I feel a rant coming on

Becky says Linda Hirschman gets it wrong again, and I agree. So much so, I feel a rant coming on and I've ditched today's planned "sermon" in favor of it.

Being a mother, I'm just plain tired in general. But these days I'm especially tired of people like Hirschman and her counterpart, Leslie Bennetts. They can both bite me, and so can the media that keeps setting these tired old arguments up.

I am tired of being told to be a good little feminist and do what's good for "women" instead of what's good for my family and myself. I am tired of being told I'm betraying the sisterhood by staying home. I am tired of listening to academics and pundits, claiming to be feminists, holding on to classist second wave claptrap like that espoused by these two. And I am most tired of the focus being put upon individual women rather than the society that makes it increasingly impossible for families to exist these days.

Why must academic feminists keep buying into the corporatist framework--that the only work worth doing is paid work? The corporatist philosophy leads to the dissolving of both familial and community ties, and everything becomes for sale, everything is a commodity. Motherhood is for sale--for that's what a daycare is, isn't it? Paid motherhood? I am not a commodity. You are not a commodity. Our children and our partners are not commodities.

The fight is not with other women. The fight is with a media, a corporate structure and a government that insist on fracturing our social ties to each other, that make us ever more dependent on corporations and government for every little thing, instead of ourselves, our families and our neighbors. I refuse to participate in that. In fact, I'm doing everything I can to rebuild those ties.

How do we do that? Obviously, political involvement, even if it's as simple as voting, is key. But here's an old chestnut from the Second Wave: "The Personal Is Political." At no time has that been more true than it is today. Today we have to take individual, personal, political acts to fight back against the forces that want to divide us up into solitary consuming units, individuals instead of families and communities.

  • It is a political act to stay home.
  • It is a political act for you and your partner to put family first.
  • It is a political act to support mama-owned home businesses.
  • It is a political act not to shop at WalMart if you can possibly avoid it, and I know in some parts of the world (jennye) you don't have much of a choice.
  • It is a political act, and a patriotic act, to use less energy.
  • It is a political act to make community.
  • It is a political act not just to grow your own food, but increasingly, to COOK your own food--how crazy is THAT, when you're bucking the mainstream by cooking from scratch!
  • And it goes without saying that civic involvement is a political act. Whether you're home or not, find the time to be involved, somehow.

I will never consider myself a consumer first and a person second. I will never consider myself a bad feminist for staying home. I will never stop fighting the corporatist agenda on both the personal level and the community level. And I will never stop yelling at the top of my lungs that traditional women's work has worth, whatever the gender of whoever does it, not as long as I have a breath.


Guest's picture

All I can say is, Amen.

Jilsyt's picture

"In fact, what the AAUW report reveals is that, at almost every step of the way, women could make decisions that would keep them even with their male classmates. But they don't."

No, they don't. They don't because it means putting their families second. It means missing all those wonderful firsts, and being there when your three year old surprises the heck out of you by asking, "Mama, what does 'notice' mean?" I answer, "Where did you hear it?" looking for context to answer him with, and get the reply of, "It's written here on my fold up chair." He can READ?!? Yes. Surprising to me even. I would have missed this moment if I were out chasing a dollar. And can you imagine how a daycare provider would have responded? Would they have even noticed he was reading? I don't get paid to grow a garden, but we could not have the quality of work done in our yard if we were both working, nor would we have the peace we have in our home--I'm almost certain. Then there's the homeschooling issue. We do it because we believe it is best for OUR family.

No feminist should be out there saying that I'm ruining it for other women by living MY BEST LIFE. We should be in this together, allowing women to make the choices they need to in order to feel fulfilled, no matter what road that is. Not making each other feel guilty.

Guest's picture

Bravo, well said. You have beautifully phrased exactly how I feel but may have struggled to articulate. I feel like printing this article to carry around with me to produce next time I feel belittled for putting my family first.

Guest's picture

More and more I come across women that feel the same way that I do.. its very encouraging.

stefanie's picture

:grin: Hear, hear!

kandlwynd's picture

I'm a first wave feminist, an original Haight Ashbury hippie, and you are absolutely right! Our original idea was *Choice!*

It was a shocking idea back in the days of "Help Wanted-Male" and "Help Wanted-Female" that women should be able to choose whether to stay at home or work, have children or not, and earn a living wage so that she was not forced into marriage through monetary need. It was utterly scandalous when we suggested that men should share housework and childraising with working wives. In the mid seventies, we started pushing on wage inequality, and a certain NOW president was elected. It seemed that 10 minutes later, The movement was all about male bashing. I still think she was a corporate plant.

At times in my child raising years, I worked. At others, I stayed home. The choice was dictated by the needs of my children. I felt like a happy feminist either way.

To thine own self be true. The years invested in your children will return joy ten times over in your later years. Our task now is to assure monetary security for older women and men who choose to stay out of the work force, and equal pay for those who choose to enter it.

I love your site! Bookmarked and recommended to my (stay at home with children) daughter in law!

Add new comment