Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Tuesday is Reader Mail Day!

I received a couple of interesting e-mails in the past couple of days related to feminism and work. Frustrated because I don't have comments? Well, if you have views on this subject, send them to me today. I'll post it.

From Toni,

i think you hit on my dislike of feminism. i like to doing many of the
traditional things that feminists poo-pooh. i'm comfortable in traditional
gender roles cooking, ironing, cleaning. heck, i love to clean. do i want to
take out the garbage? no thank you. do i want to mow the lawn? no thanks,
the mower is too heavy. do i want to put on uniform and fight in a stupid
war (that a man got us into)...nut, uh.

I think this is one of the reasons that so few younger women identify themselves as feminist. Perhaps the old definition was too confining. I think you can be a feminist and like to make Halloween costumes. I don't think the two activities have to be mutually exclusive.

From Melissa,
I checked your blog this morning and read the article from the Magazine [Belkin Opting Out], and I must admit, it pissed me off a bit. What about women who like their jobs and who don't want to leave? Or women who would like to leave but can't for financial reasons? Or women who switch off with their husbands the duties of a stay-home mom. Its great that these women are able to chose between work and home and decide to stay home, but there are a lot of women who decide to work and are still good moms. I guess I thought that these articles give those women the short shrift.

Please don't misunderstand me. I am not making judgements about women with children who work. I think one of the best thing about the women's movement is that it gave women options -- some choose to work full time, others part time, others not at all. For me, working part time, at least while the kids are young, is the right thing to do, but I know it's not for everybody.

How much of an option do women really have given economic realities? Some women have to work full-time, because one income is not enough. Some women (like myself) would like more real opportunities to work part time, but are facing huge barriers. Some women can't work, because two people with 60-80 hours a week jobs means needy children and dirty homes and hellish weekends. Women with multiple children may not be able afford childcare.

What I think is great about the Belkin article is that it recognizes that a two career family is very difficult to maintain. Yes, some people can do it, but others find it too hard. Some women have to get off the fast track.

Kids are a lot of work. More work than I ever could have imagined before they arrived. I wish I had chosen a profession that was more accomodating of the child-intensive years. I wish that someone given me career advice back in my twenties. This article was refreshing because it said that it is hard to have it all. I didn't realize that until I got here.

And many women feel like failures for not being able to balance it all. Old school feminists made it out that it was so easy. Not working meant that you were oppressed and stupid and lazy. (Perhaps this is another reason that so few young women call themselves feminists.)

Sure, men can stay home, and I know many. If I had the better paying job, Steve would happily stay home with the kids. At least for us, we need someone around part of the time.

I didn't get from the article that women with kids who worked full time were bad moms, but I'll reread it.

What I did find distasteful about the article was its decidedly upper middle class perspective. Belkin is interviewing women who are home with the kids, but probably have a babysitter and a house cleaner. Some women in the well to do Jersey suburbs are home full time and have a full time babysitter. That sure makes the decision to stay home a little less complicated.

Like Rebel Dad, I had a problem with Belkin making out that opting out is a female character trait. Steve would stay home in a heart beat.

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