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Motherhood and feminism

post #1 of 160
Thread Starter 
I was interested in starting a general discussion about motherhood and feminism.

I personally must admit - as dumb as this sounds to me now - that prior to motherhood, I actually bought into the notion that mothering was somehow less important than a career. Or maybe I thought it was an honorable thing to do on a "temporary" basis. Or something stupid like that. My thoughts weren't entirely conscious, and I doubt I would have expressed them like that, but in all honesty, I saw raising, caring for, feeding, educating, disciplining children as somehow less than going off to work every day.

Now I know that there is nothing more important.

Now I feel that work is just a way to support parenthood

I also have started to think about what feminism has meant to parenting. It has gotten women into the workplace, but also out of the home. I don't think that's a bad thing as PART of the process, but I think that this is not the goal or the end of the process. I think the next thing is for everyone to give parenthood, particularly motherhood, all the respect it deserves. Then, women and men should both have choices about work and parenthood, and should be respected regardless of their working and parenting choices.

By getting women into work, we've started the process for people (men and women both) to see women as capable, smart, etc. And I don't want to promote "getting the women back home." I think having choices is the real goal, and we haven't gotten there yet - we've just changed it so most women HAVE to work, as opposed to the past, where most women COULDN'T work.

I don't know how much sense I made, but welcome feedback to the above, or even entirely different perspectives on motherhood and feminism.
post #2 of 160
I think that having a choice is the key here, as well as aknowledging the fact that all choices are valid. Just because I choose to stay at home, raise my kids, care for my home, etc, does that mean that I am not a strong woman?
I actually have gotten to the point of avoiding the word feminist as it seems to be manipulated by different people to mean what they want. I do sometimes worry about my kids, will my dd's grow up to see me as an anachronism or a model? Will my boys cook meals or expect to be served ?
post #3 of 160
I think that viewing motherhood and career as either/or is a mistake. I also think believing that most people are able to "have it all" is a mistake. It's all about balance. A mother can have a career and be no less a mother, just as a sister can have a career and be no less a sister, but a person who throws her WHOLE self into her career has nothing left for her loved ones. All this is just as true of men as it is of women.

I think that feminism (with the direction it's taken in the U.S. in the past 25 years or so) has failed us by promoting the idea that traditionally male activities are desirable goals for everyone and traditionally female activities are inherently demeaning. There are several problems with that:
1. It's kind of sexist, actually, and very disrespectful of the centuries of hard work done by women whose cooking, cleaning, gathering/shopping, nursing, etc. made the achievements of men possible.
2. It makes life harder for modern women because it adds expectations (earn a degree, make lots of money, get promoted) without changing the reality that SOMEBODY has to do the dishes and that's usually women, because why would men want to start doing these tasks that are so demeaning?
3. It means that people of both sexes are competing for the traditionally male positions in society while many of the traditionally female positions go unfilled. Not only is the competition stressful, but the shortage of nurturers makes the stress feel worse.
4. It makes it acceptable for women in high-powered careers to exploit other women in one of the ways men historically have done: expecting them to do the caring work at low pay and treating them as if they are invisible.
5. It does nothing to widen roles for men. BOTH of the traditional gender roles are narrow and can be harmful. Opening the male role to women without opening the female role to men puts us out of balance.
6. It causes children to be seen as an impediment to their mothers' goals, an insidious temptation to neglect the corporate ladder and be suckered into (ew!) taking care of someone.

What I'd like to see is most people feeling that it's economically possible and socially acceptable (even desirable) for people of both sexes and all family configurations to divide their time and energy roughly equally between family, community, and career. I'd like it to be more feasible in every way for both parents to work half-time, rather than having one earner and one parent.

Laohaire, it's great that you now see childcare as an important and honorable thing to do, but when you say, "Now I know that there is nothing more important," I wonder if you are just falling into the same trap on the other side. Childcare is important; so is firefighting. If you used to think firefighters were better than parents and now you think parents are better than firefighters, have you really made any progress? I believe that childcare and firefighting both are very important, that the same person can do both things within the same day, and that each of her roles will be enriched by her experience in the other. I think it's interesting too that you refer to "raising, caring for, feeding, educating, disciplining children" as "mothering" for short. What do you think is "fathering"? You say feminism "has gotten women into the workplace, but also out of the home." Is your home, where you do all that feeding and educating and disciplining, not a workplace? Does somebody have to be at home all the time to make it a good home? I don't mean to pick on you--I know you are starting this discussion to refine your ideas and haven't necessarily worked them all out and worded them perfectly!--but I think a big part of the problem with our current situation is the tendency to see things in black and white, hiding the complexities under layers of unquestioned assumptions. I'm sure I have some assumptions to work out, too, and I hope for new insights from this discussion. Thanks for starting the thread!
post #4 of 160
Totally read Ann Crittendon's works.

She rocks!!!
post #5 of 160
I don't have a whole lot to say that hasn't already been said. Having a choice is the key, and a goal I think feminists should be working towards, but clearly the movement as a whole is not. I feel very empowered to be able to have a family (and be a sahm) and work outside of the home. I love being able to [help] support my family by supporting and empowering other women and families. But I feel trapped, too. I don't feel like I truly have a choice. I mean, sure, I could choose not to work, but that would literally be choosing not to eat, or not to pay bills, or to live on the street.: Ok, that's a bit extreme, but not at all far from the truth for me, and many, many other mothers.

This is great to talk about, but what are we doing to actually change this situation? Is there anything that we, as busy mothers can do?
post #6 of 160
I believe that what is 'most important' follows Maslowe's hierarchy of needs and that the objective of feminism (or humanism, or that-which-is-unnamed-because-we-don't-like-the-term-'feminism') is to ensure the empowerment of individuals and families to make choices that meet their needs. Without fear of social stigma or financial ruin.

So first off is, families must be able to meet their physical needs for food, shelter, water, clothing, and health insurance.

Secondly, families must be able to be together, and children to be raised by a trusted adult who loves them unconditionally.

Third, every family member should be allowed to pursue his or her own personal fulfillment, whether that be a career, or through artistic expression, developing homemaking skills, gardening, full-time contact with their children, etc. Regardless of whether they are male or female.

To me, parenting is a piece of the puzzle, and it takes varying degrees of energy in relation to the other puzzle pieces, depending on the ages and characteristics of the individuals in the family. It's not static. For example, one may devote the bulk of their time and energy to their children for 10-15 years and then transition to devoting more of their time to other pursuits in addition to parenting their children. Others may devote more energy to their career initially, and then later in life find joy in spending time with their children or grandchildren. It's not either/or. One can enjoy an entire spectrum of activities including but not limited to parenting throughout one's lifetime.

That is why feminism is important. So that we always have options and are able to make choices that feel right for our unique family situations. I also feel strongly that it is important to empower men to play a greater role in the day to day care of children and families; so that they, too, have a choice as to whether to work outside the home or stay inside the home pursuing their own fulfillment.
post #7 of 160
I think envirobecca makes some valid points. But, I don't think feminism has failed us. I think many younger women do not have a good understanding of the history of feminism. I also think the conservative media have done a great job of downplaying feminism and making it seem like it has failed. That takes power away from the movement and from the key players who mostly support a women's rights to abortion. How better to take support away from NOW and other pro-abortion players than to downplay their importance? If women think they don't need feminism, they are not going to pay attention to the agenda, whether they agree with it in full or part. It takes power away from women and puts it back in the hands of men. If a picture is painted that it just too hard to work and be a mom, then that in and of itself decreases the choices and opportunities women have. Do not buy into that argument.

I am 40. I remember the affect Title 9 had on my schools. I was an athlete in school and it changed my high school experience. My babysitters in the 1970s never had as many sports opportunities as I did in the 1980s. Our daughters today will never have limited sports opportunites. They will never be told they cannot become a forklift operator or a contractor because they are girls. They do not have to put up with any playground boys saying that they cannot do something because they are a girl. I experienced all of that as a child in the 1970s. In the 1980s, I worked for my dad's engineering firm as a secretary. I was still in college, working part time. His workers, engineers and construction crew, liked to tease me that I was majoring in becoming a Mrs. since they could not concieve of anyone majoring in anything intellectual like sociology, least of all a woman. It did not matter to them that my SAT scores were higher than theirs, that my University was world class, that I graduated top of my class, that I was planning on going to graduate school. Women, in their opinion, worked at home. This was in 1988.

I have done a great deal of reading about feminism and was a sociology major and studied gender roles as my focus. My specific interests are in the history of art, politics, and the role women play in the media (in it and making it). A few great books to read to really make you understand how far women have come and how important the women's rights movement still is today are Carol Gilligan's In A Different Voice and my current fave, Gail Collins' America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines. I recently found this fabulous website that details more information about women and the history of women's roles in America.

The history of the women's rights movement is never spoken of in today's world. Choice is a key feminist idea but power is the major idea of the women's rights movement. Women have always worked but lacking the power to have any leading roles, women could not get anywhere. The glass ceiling was a popular metaphor for a reason. (anybody see the reissue of the movie 9 to 5?) Power is the key to any kind of equality. Women at first tried very hard to make it seem like women and men were equal in all ways. In order to play the game that men were playing in the work world and in politics, women had to enter their world and prove that women could do what men could to. This, in effect, denigrated the importance of women's traditional roles in the home but it was an important step in establishing that women could work just as well as men in the work place and in politics. In order to become power players, we had to prove we could what men could do.

Now, women are in the process of reclaiming their identity as women again. The reality that women working were still doing the home work and that children in daycare all day long were not necessarily being raised well has hit home and many families today are changing the way they practice home life in order to accomplish not only career goals but family goals. Many men are staying home with children while women work, many couples are choosing not to have children, many families are smaller, many men and women are demanding flexible work time in order to have a family and a work life. The definitions of work and family are very different than they were in my mother's and grandmother's times. For example, I stay at home with out child but my husband does 90% of the cooking.

I see examples all around me of how far feminism has come. I see the mothers as strong examples of all that women can become. My closest mother friends and I are all well-educated, world-travelling women, all of whom chose to have our children after age 30. We have all accomplished a lot and now stay at home with children as a right and a choice. We are not demeaned by our husbands because we married strong, respectful men, men who see themselves and what they do as equal intellectually to our activities. We all do various different degrees of child rearing and household chores depending on what works for our families. Our husbands value us because they respect us. I see women in my MOMS club who work part and full time and who have husbands who do the same and who share the work load. I see men and women working hard all around me to raise children and have families and have good lives, complete with many opportunities.

When I compare my life as a stay at home mom to my mom's or to my grandmothers, I see that I have many more choices and the definition of what I do is more valued by my husband and by society than what they did. This is because of the women's movement. It is dangerous to confuse the conservative tide in America with the denigration of the women's movement. It devalues women everywhere. Women in America have accomplished so much in my 40 years. We need to celebrate our accomplishments, learn from our mistakes, and keep growing stronger and stronger.

I still like that Helen Reddy song from the 1970s:

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an' pretend
'cause I've heard it all before
And I've been down there on the floor
No one's ever gonna keep me down again

CHORUS
Oh yes I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman

source

edited by moderator for copyright violation
post #8 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by EnviroBecca
A mother can have a career and be no less a mother, just as a sister can have a career and be no less a sister, but a person who throws her WHOLE self into her career has nothing left for her loved ones. All this is just as true of men as it is of women.
I don't have much to contribute to this discussion, but I will be following along. I think that Becca makes a very good point. I've been realizing lately that it's just as detrimental for me to be throwing my whole self into mothering as it is for another woman to throw her whole self into her career. There's not much left over for anyone else (including myself.) I've kind of fallen into the trap of thinking of mothering as so important that I've been neglecting other areas. I think Becca really hit the nail on the head when she said the important thing is balance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EnviroBecca
2. It makes life harder for modern women because it adds expectations (earn a degree, make lots of money, get promoted) without changing the reality that SOMEBODY has to do the dishes and that's usually women, because why would men want to start doing these tasks that are so demeaning?
I couldn't agree more. I must admit, as a SAHM who works outside the home in the evenings, I am a little bit resentful that I am expected to do so many things. I work for pay, I take care of my child all day, I do the majority of the housework, and I often feel like I'm not doing enough. I feel like women had it good, then went and fucked it up, because now we are expected to do so much MORE. I feel very undervalued and very unappreciated. And I haven't got any idea what I can do to change it.
post #9 of 160
Well, I am not a feminist, I'm a liberal individualist, and as most academic feminists will be the first to tell you, the philosophies are pretty much mutually incompitable. I could go on and on about the reasons I disagree with the feminist worldview, but as that is not the subject of this thread, I will refrain. So obviously my perspective on the topic is going to be different from someone who self-identifies as a feminist.

I think that it would be very difficult to be a mother, especially an ap mother, and also a feminist. I'm not saying that people don't, just that to me it would be very difficult. I think looking at every interaction through the lenses of power and hierarchy and oppression and mind control would make it difficult to have a close, attached relationship with a child, especially in combination with the view that childcare is degrading work. Personally I don't think that any work that's not forced is degrading--even cleaning toilets is only as degrading as you choose to make it--but I think there is something especially damaging about the idea that childcare is degrading work, although I know not all feminists agree with this.

I also don't agree with the idea espoused by more "moderate" feminists that all choices regarding childcare and child-rearing are equally valid. Yes, people should have the right to live their lives any way they choose, but when you choose to have children, you surrender your freedom because you have an obligation to them. As unpopular as it is, I do think it's irresponsible to have a young child and also a career. Note I said a career, *not* a job. A job is something you do for a set amount of hours. A career is who you are. I think if you have young children, they should be your first loyalty and your first identity. It isn't about whether you have a job, or how many hours you work, but about whether your loyalty to your children and their well-being exceeds all your other earthly loyalties. I have known lawyers who put their children first and were great mothers, and I have known part-time wahm's who put their work before their children.

I guess I don't really think that mothers of young children have "rights." I mean yes obviously they should have all the same legal rights as anyone else. But in terms of having "rights" separate from their children, I don't agree. Someday your kids will be old enough to stay home alone and shortly thereafter they'll be adults and gone and having their own children. You can have your identity then. But I don't think it's healthy for mothers to look for separate identities while their children are small and dependent on them. And to clarify again, I'm talking about emotional detachment, not physical separation.

Just my opinion... go ahead and me if you want!
post #10 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brigianna
I think that it would be very difficult to be a mother, especially an ap mother, and also a feminist.
I am not going to you but I completely disagree. I have not given up anything to be a mother. I am still strong and have ideas and have power in my life and relationships. I knew what I was doing becoming a mother. I do not see I am giving up anything or making any sacrifices. The choices I made for myself, for my family, are the best for us all. I am not alone in being a member of my family and the minute I committed to a long term relationship, my needs stopped being my only interest. As we brought pets and now kids into the picture, nothing has changed in terms of my feminism, my power, my strength, or my beliefs. If anything, I have never felt stronger and more of a woman. The two are not mutually exclusive, although I recognize some would disagree. The secret to all of this for me is that my partner, my husband, recognizes and respects my power and my strength more than ever. My options are not limited just because I choose to have children and take care of them. In order to believe that I would have to regret having kids.

I do understand that some women are in a very different position. I am lucky.
post #11 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brigianna
I think that it would be very difficult to be a mother, especially an ap mother, and also a feminist. I'm not saying that people don't, just that to me it would be very difficult. I think looking at every interaction through the lenses of power and hierarchy and oppression and mind control would make it difficult to have a close, attached relationship with a child, especially in combination with the view that childcare is degrading work.
I think this is a clear illustration of the current and compelling reasons to support feminism. Feminism is not about demonstrating women's capabilities in fields that are dominated by men. We did that in the 80's. The new wave is about supporting and valuing traditional women's work; namely, caretaking.

I'm a SAH-homeschooling mom. I do doula work on the side. The dominant culture does not view any of the things I do as valuable. I know that the roles I fill are actually invaluable--priceless. I'm proud to call myself a feminist.
post #12 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by boongirl
I am not going to you but I completely disagree. I have not given up anything to be a mother. I am still strong and have ideas and have power in my life and relationships. I knew what I was doing becoming a mother. I do not see I am giving up anything or making any sacrifices. The choices I made for myself, for my family, are the best for us all. I am not alone in being a member of my family and the minute I committed to a long term relationship, my needs stopped being my only interest. As we brought pets and now kids into the picture, nothing has changed in terms of my feminism, my power, my strength, or my beliefs. If anything, I have never felt stronger and more of a woman. The two are not mutually exclusive, although I recognize some would disagree. The secret to all of this for me is that my partner, my husband, recognizes and respects my power and my strength more than ever. My options are not limited just because I choose to have children and take care of them. In order to believe that I would have to regret having kids.

I do understand that some women are in a very different position. I am lucky.
I didn't mean that being a mother would take away your strength or abilities, but that I would think, for me, that it would be difficult to form an attached, loving, unconditional relationship with a child while viewing the world from a paradigm that every interaction is a manifestation of power and hierarchy. I'm not criticizing you, just saying that I couldn't do it. I rely very strongly on the assumption that things are what they are, and I don't overanalyze my relationships with my immediate family. Again, I'm not criticizing you, but it seems to me that, in addition to all the more philosophical reasons I disagree with it, having a feminist worldview would be a very stressful way to live, especially with a child. I'm sure it isn't that way for everyone, but just my impression.
post #13 of 160
I'm not sure I have very well formed ideas about this but it is something I think about a lot. What I struggle with most is that even though I have equal opportunities in the workplace (pre-child at least) and even though my husband is a completely equal partner, the biological reality of being a mother means that I am not in the same position to pursue my career that my husband is. Between nursing and an infant's needs for his mother, it is just not possible (nor is it desirable) for me to be away from my babies for more than a few hours at a time. So while I am extremely well educated (currently finishing my PhD) and will probably be able to return to interesting work in or related to my field once my children are older, I won't really be able to develop my career the way my husband will because my baby mothering years are also prime career building years. I am happy with the choice I've made but yes, sometimes it feels unfair that my husband gets to have a full career AND be a great dad. On the other hand, many dads have to miss out on a lot of their children's lives in order to support their families in a way that makes it possible for mom to stay home and that is not ideal either.

For me, the problem is not so much a feminist issue as a family issue. In order for women to have a real opportunity to pursue careers and be mothers, men have to have real opportunities to be fathers. DH and I currently have a situation that is close to ideal so a lot of my ideas are based on what we're currently doing -- unfortunately for me, our current arrangment may not be an option when/if we progress further in our careers. Anyway, I think the following changes to our society's status quo would really improve the situation for moms, dads, and kids:
*universal health coverage -- if health insurance were not tied to employment (and often full time employment is required) families would be better able to come up with creative part time solutions that allow both parents to pursue personal (out of the home) acheivements and be present for their kids.
*flexible hours and telecommuting options -- DH and I are lucky in that neither of us have jobs where we have to be there for a certain number of hours or at certain times of day. If DS and I are sick, DH just doesn't go in. If I have a big project to work on DH can take on more of the childcare and housework to allow me to focus. Other times he'll go in a lot and I'll take on more of a WAHM role. I can do a lot of my work from my home computer while DS is sleeping. Obviously some jobs require more physical presence, but many things can be done anywhere, anytime if employers are open to the idea.
*longer maternity/paternity leave
*more part-time opportunities in "career" positions
*more openness to parents re-entering "career" positions after long term absence to stay home with children

All of this can be summarized by a change in priorities. My field is pretty typical in that success is often defined in terms of who works the most hours and is the most single-minded. I would prefer to live in a world where it's possible for people to contribute what they can when they can. It would be a pretty huge paradigm shift for our culture and I don't have many great ideas about how to bring about these changes globablly. Personally, DH and I are forging ahead with our weird family centered lifestyle in a totally workaholic field -- we'll see how long we can make it happen.
post #14 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamallama
I think this is a clear illustration of the current and compelling reasons to support feminism. Feminism is not about demonstrating women's capabilities in fields that are dominated by men. We did that in the 80's. The new wave is about supporting and valuing traditional women's work; namely, caretaking.

I'm a SAH-homeschooling mom. I do doula work on the side. The dominant culture does not view any of the things I do as valuable. I know that the roles I fill are actually invaluable--priceless. I'm proud to call myself a feminist.
I agree that the work we sahm's do is invaluble, and that mainstream society is messed up not to recognize that. I would love to see more emphasis on the value of caretaking. I hope most of us can agree on that.
post #15 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamallama
I think this is a clear illustration of the current and compelling reasons to support feminism. Feminism is not about demonstrating women's capabilities in fields that are dominated by men. We did that in the 80's. The new wave is about supporting and valuing traditional women's work; namely, caretaking. I'm proud to call myself a feminist.
Yah, mamallama! I love the moniker, btw!
post #16 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brigianna
I didn't mean that being a mother would take away your strength or abilities, but that I would think, for me, that it would be difficult to form an attached, loving, unconditional relationship with a child while viewing the world from a paradigm that every interaction is a manifestation of power and hierarchy.
I don't think all feminists view the world this way.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminism

Quote:
Thus, as with any ideology, political movement or philosophy, there is no single, universal form of feminism that represents all feminists.

Subtypes of feminism

* Amazon feminism
* Anarcha-Feminism
* Anti-racist feminism
* Black Feminism
* Chicana Feminism
* cultural feminism
* ecofeminism
* equity feminism
* existentialist feminism
* French feminism
* gender feminism
* individualist feminism (also known as libertarian feminism)
* lesbian feminism
* liberal feminism
* male feminism or Pro-feminist men
* Marxist feminism (also known as socialist feminism)
* material feminism
* pop feminism
* post-colonial feminism
* postmodern feminism which includes queer theory
* pro-sex feminism (also known as sexually liberal feminism, sex-positive feminism)
* psychoanalytic feminism
* radical feminism
* separatist feminism
* socialist feminism
* spiritual feminism
* standpoint feminism
* third-world feminism
* transnational feminism
* transfeminism
* womanism
* Certain actions, approaches and people can also be described as proto-feminist or post-feminist.

When was in college up to the birth of my child, I ascribed to Postmodern feminism which argues that there is no single cause for a woman's subordination because sociological gender is itself constructed through language. Power is exercised not only through direct coercion, but also through the way in which language shapes and restricts our reality. This makes language a potentially fruitful site of political struggle.

Now that I have a child and see what my biologist hubby has been trying to tell sociologist me all along, I ascribe to Cultural Feminism which states that there are fundamental personality differences between men and women, and that women's differences are special and should be celebrated. Cultural feminism seeks to improve the relationship between the sexes and often the cultures at large by celebrating women's special qualities, ways, and experiences, often believing that the "woman's way" is the better way, or that the culture discussed is overly masculine and requires balance from feminine perspectives.
post #17 of 160
I often wonder why feminism has to be such a loaded word-gun (my new word ). It seems that many times when discussing/debating the merits or failings of "feminism", there is so much conflict between women. Obviously the feminist movement is huge and has many sides but if it all boils down to having choices as men do then shouldnt the focus be on that and not on who can juggle more?
As women, we are in constant competition with each other as well as with men. We need to one up everyone around us in order to "prove" that we are worthy of a voice or a choice. I get tired of trying to keep up with the race. I see myself as a woman, wife and mother. I see myself as a vital part of the human race. I have the toughest job as a mother and i'll be darned if I let any person be it man or woman make me feel inferior for choosing to be a mother above all else. (ok, stepping off of my soapbox now ) (not even sure if what i said was relevant to this thread )
post #18 of 160
I think one element of Third Wave Feminism will be the cohesion of these seemingly incompatable elements of women's lives.

I believe one weakness of the Second Wave was the fact those Feminists were very focused on gender equity and abortion rights they didn't take the reality of motherhood in women's lives into consideration. Because not a lot of thought was given to the issue, they just expected women to approach balancing work and family the same way men did.

Well, if you apporach mothering like the typical 1960's man did, no one was present *parenting* children. Most mothers are emotionally vested in their children and feminists are finally coming around to realize that trying to make women into penisless men is not going to fly.

I consider myself feminist, but an Equity Feminist.
post #19 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by BassaiDai
I believe one weakness of the Second Wave was the fact those Feminists were very focused on gender equity and abortion rights they didn't take the reality of motherhood in women's lives into consideration. Because not a lot of thought was given to the issue, they just expected women to approach balancing work and family the same way men did.
Actually, 2nd Wave feminism fought for mother's rights too. It didn't used to be that women had so many rights in divorce and custodial proceedings and were not favored. There was much talk in second wave feminism of national daycare and respite care and after school programs for children not simply so that women could go back into the workforce, but so that women had some support when they lived far away from family in nuclear lifestyles (how often have I complained that it is unnatural for me to be home all day by myself with my children, but not that I want to go back to work?). Women already made up a huge chunk of workers in this country. The poor could not afford not to work, single mothers could not afford NOT to work and second wave feminism sought not only to provide equal opportunity for all women, but to provide for those who were already in need of assistance.

The first step was to get women on equal footing in the professional world and that was a huge step and a fight that is not all won. Let's not discount or write-off an entire movement because it didn't accomplish ALL of its goals. That's why those women involved in the forefront of second wave feminism never quit. Barbara Ehrenreich said in a speech a couple of years ago that the idea wasn't to force women into men's roles or vice-versa, but to involve men in caregiving because "we felt it was that important". I can't find the speech online, but I swear it was her. It implies that we're all in this together. I did find where she was speaking at Barnard College in 2004 and said:
Quote:
To cite an old - and far from naïve -- feminist saying: "If you think equality is the goal, your standards are too low."
I think that says a lot that's relevant to this discussion.

As far as what can we do - I have always believed that there are ways to be active that don't involve holding a sign, though I've done that too. I know that our own Peggy O'Mara is on at least one counsel dedicated to fighting for mother's rights (The Motherhood Initiative maybe?). I think though too that being a conscious consumer, being a part of your community and the things you want for it, letter writing, being here and talking about it are all ways of being active, of working for the movement. It's small, but by discussing these things we get a clearer picture of what is needed and what we can work towards. Being a birth activist in this country, for example, is extremely relevant to motherhood and feminism. It always shocks me when my punk-rock activist feminist friends go to their OB upon becoming pregnant because they just "love" their OB (I think to myself - ugh! yuck! thbt!!!). We have to take responsibility for ourselves and to help other women do the same. I think it's really part and parcel to forming a women's movement that focuses on women's needs. There's more I think, but I got a poopy diaper to change.
post #20 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brigianna
I didn't mean that being a mother would take away your strength or abilities, but that I would think, for me, that it would be difficult to form an attached, loving, unconditional relationship with a child while viewing the world from a paradigm that every interaction is a manifestation of power and hierarchy. I'm not criticizing you, just saying that I couldn't do it. I rely very strongly on the assumption that things are what they are, and I don't overanalyze my relationships with my immediate family. Again, I'm not criticizing you, but it seems to me that, in addition to all the more philosophical reasons I disagree with it, having a feminist worldview would be a very stressful way to live, especially with a child. I'm sure it isn't that way for everyone, but just my impression.
I'm having a really hard time understanding what you mean. How does feminism equal believing that every interaction is a manifestation of power and hierarchy? i dunno. I just think that the world (and myself) is much more complex what you're insinuating. This world is incredibly stressful to live in especially with a child, but that doesn't have anything to do with feminism, but with the crappy state of the world. In fact, I think it has far less to do with feminism than anything - this unjust war, this lying, cheating, disgraceful government, the widening gap between the classes, the lack of health care, the degradation of the poor and the inherent racism, the nuclear problem, the energy problem, the destruction of the environment - where oh where did feminism cause any of that???? Those things are on my brain all the time, especially as a SAHM because I spend half my life buying things due to the fact that 1) I'm the primary "stocker" of the household and 2) the stupid middle-class pressure to do so (and this despite using cloth TP) so pervasive in everything I see and read. So as a full-time consumer (it would seem), I am always thinking about how this stupid dish towel I'm buying is creating a larger hole in the ozone layer and enslaving people in China (and Taiwan and Mexico and the United States for that matter). And all that makes me think is what kind of a crap world did I bring these children into and what could possibly be left for them by the time I'm done? I have little faith that half of my great-great-grand children won't be dying of leukemia in 100 years.
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