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post #21 of 160
I agree that the definition of "feminism" is not all that clear and that it can encompass many different ideologies. In saying that the direction in the past 25 years has failed us, I didn't mean to disregard any of the earlier accomplishments such as voting and abortion rights, and I'd forgotten about Title 9 (I'm not an athlete) and some of the recent progress in divorce law (I'm not divorced).

I'm very pro-choice, but I think the huge amount of energy devoted to abortion rights has drained attention and resources away from other goals. It's hard to say that because those who oppose reproductive rights are so determined that it's been necessary to fight them constantly; the focus on this issue is hardly the fault of feminists. I'm very sad though that at this point when people of any stripe start talking about women's rights, practically the first right they think of is the right to abortion--it's that "children are a burden" idea again. A lot of people seem to have the idea that pro-choice means pro-abortion, which is incompatible with respect for mothers.

Boongirl wrote:
Quote:
Women have always worked but lacking the power to have any leading roles, women could not get anywhere. [...] In order to become power players, we had to prove we could what men could do.
I see your point, but I also see here the assumptions that
1. Mother is not a leading role.
2. Raising children is not a way to "get anywhere"; only the places men strive for are worth getting to.
3. The types of power traditionally held by men are the only real power.
While I agree that our society in general tends to hold these beliefs, I think they aren't really true and aren't constructive things to believe. I think they are old-fashioned ideas to work past.

Abac wrote:
Quote:
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.
Is there another adult in your family? What happens if you tell him or her, "I feel overwhelmed by all the things I have to do. I need you to take over something. Would you like X, Y, or Z?" I've found that my partner is kind of oblivious to my being overwhelmed unless I tell him about it, and that suggesting a specific change is much more effective than complaining. He's now in charge of EnviroBaby's clothing and daycare lunches, as well as about half the housework.

ETW, I like your list of changes that need to happen. One other thing I'd like to see more of is groups of 2 or more nuclear families choosing to have 1 SAH parent between them; either the other parents would pay the SAH as their daycare provider or the WOH families would provide other services for the group, such as cooking or laundry. You know, like an extended family. I'm working on this myself, but people seem very shy about it. So far all I've got is a weekly shared dinner, alternating houses.
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post #26 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by EnviroBecca
I agree that the definition of "feminism" is not all that clear and that it can encompass many different ideologies. In saying that the direction in the past 25 years has failed us, I didn't mean to disregard any of the earlier accomplishments such as voting and abortion rights, and I'd forgotten about Title 9 (I'm not an athlete) and some of the recent progress in divorce law (I'm not divorced).

I'm very pro-choice, but I think the huge amount of energy devoted to abortion rights has drained attention and resources away from other goals. It's hard to say that because those who oppose reproductive rights are so determined that it's been necessary to fight them constantly; the focus on this issue is hardly the fault of feminists. I'm very sad though that at this point when people of any stripe start talking about women's rights, practically the first right they think of is the right to abortion--it's that "children are a burden" idea again. A lot of people seem to have the idea that pro-choice means pro-abortion, which is incompatible with respect for mothers.

Boongirl wrote see your point, but I also see here the assumptions that
1. Mother is not a leading role.
2. Raising children is not a way to "get anywhere"; only the places men strive for are worth getting to.
3. The types of power traditionally held by men are the only real power.
While I agree that our society in general tends to hold these beliefs, I think they aren't really true and aren't constructive things to believe. I think they are old-fashioned ideas to work past.

Abac wrotes there another adult in your family? What happens if you tell him or her, "I feel overwhelmed by all the things I have to do. I need you to take over something. Would you like X, Y, or Z?" I've found that my partner is kind of oblivious to my being overwhelmed unless I tell him about it, and that suggesting a specific change is much more effective than complaining. He's now in charge of EnviroBaby's clothing and daycare lunches, as well as about half the housework.

ETW, I like your list of changes that need to happen. One other thing I'd like to see more of is groups of 2 or more nuclear families choosing to have 1 SAH parent between them; either the other parents would pay the SAH as their daycare provider or the WOH families would provide other services for the group, such as cooking or laundry. You know, like an extended family. I'm working on this myself, but people seem very shy about it. So far all I've got is a weekly shared dinner, alternating houses.
Becca,

:

Everyone Else,

Sorry, for replying to 4 different posts then putting this //.

Thank you, again.
post #27 of 160
Boongirl:
Quote:
Women have always worked but lacking the power to have any leading roles, women could not get anywhere. [...] In order to become power players, we had to prove we could what men could do.
I should have been more clear when I wrote "work" that I meant work outside the home. (shame on me) But, what I meant by power is that 40 years ago, women were not seen as having any power to make decisions, shape laws, lead large groups of people outside the home, be respected for what they were saying or writing. Women were seen as followers. As recently as 100 years ago, women were believed to have inferior brains to men and were believed incapable of logical thought. Laws were in place making it impossible for women to own property, vote, be educated, and even have custody of their children should their husband die or leave them. Women were literally second class citizens, at times slaves in their husband's or father's households.

So, the first wave of feminism focused on getting these issues dealt with. Women won the right to vote, the right to be considered citizens, the right to education, the right to own property, to have custody of their children, to be heard. The second wave focused on individual rights (of which abortion became a part), divorce laws, issues of child care and education, access to work and play (Title 9 and such). They also established women as having a voice ("I am woman, hear me roar") and that that voice was worth being heard. This idea of worthiness was and is very important because it finally took the agenda into what really mattered more than anything, our worth as human beings. The third wave has redefined all that is about being a woman and a feminist. Owning your own body and making decisions about it and being able to do what you want and be strong and powerful, that is just an amazing thing to see in young women when my generation (I am 40) had few references for this.

I would also like to address what you thought I was implying:
[QUOTE=envirobecca]1. Mother is not a leading role.
2. Raising children is not a way to "get anywhere"; only the places men strive for are worth getting to.
3. The types of power traditionally held by men are the only real power.
While I agree that our society in general tends to hold these beliefs, I think they aren't really true and aren't constructive things to believe. I think they are old-fashioned ideas to work past. [QUOTE]

When it came to what the first feminists were trying to accomplish, mothering was not seen as a leading role. This is true. They were trying to get society to move past that as the sole definition of womanhood and in the process they denigrated it. This is a sad truth but one that is past. There are still some feminists who believe this, sadly, but I mostly ignore them. There was a great discussion in the SAHM forum about one of these ladies who spoke on Good Morning America about how educated women should not be SAHMs. Pissed a bunch of us off.

As to power, many people equate power with the ability to make decisions which affect a great deal of people, affect change in a political or large-scale manner, sway public opinion. Others associate power with money and the ability to move it and make it in large quantities. Some associate power with land ownership. Here are some defs. from dictionary.com: power, adjective : of or relating to political, social, or economic control: a power struggle; a power base. idiom: Those who hold effective power in a system or situation: a plan vetoed by the powers that be.

I do see myself as having power to control my own destiny in that I can make decisions for myself. I have power in my household as an equal decision maker with my husband. I do not have power in the world in the way the word is used above. I do not have large scale power. Hillary Clinton has that kind of power. Aung San Suu Kyi has power, even though the powers that be in Myanmar try to stop her. My two state Senators, Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, both have power. My state governor, Christine Gregoire, has power.

But, I think it is a mistake to try to equate mothering with the kind of leadership the women above have. They have differenty types of power. If one said that only those in political power have power, then I have no power. IF one said that only those who own Fortune 500 companies have power then I have no power. This is not what I am saying when I write about women wanting to have power by getting into leadership roles. I am a leader in my own home but not in the world. Feminism opened up the possibilities for women to move out of the home and be leaders in corporations, politics, universities, etc. We cannot attempt to say that being a mother is anything like being a state senator. We can say that they are both extensions of being a strong and capable human. But, let's face it, the senator has more power in a world sense than I. But, that does not make her more worthy of respect than I as a mother.

To me, feminism is all about getting the world to understand that women matter and that, no matter what we choose to do with our lives, we (#1) have the choice and (#2) are powerful in our own realm, and that we matter.
post #28 of 160
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post #29 of 160
Wow! First off, I am so glad to see this thread & discussion!

"What happens if you tell him or her, "I feel overwhelmed by all the things I have to do. I need you to take over something. Would you like X, Y, or Z?" I've found that my partner is kind of oblivious to my being overwhelmed unless I tell him about it, and that suggesting a specific change is much more effective than complaining." -- thanks Becca, I really appreciate this comment

Second, I am not yet a mother, but study queer (lesbian) birthing experiences, and plan to start my PhD within a year of having a baby at a university with the only Feminist Anthropology program in North America. So yes, I identify as a feminist, and recognize that there are others who identify as feminists that I have little (ideologically) in common with. That said, yes, feminism to me is about choice and power. It is about people of ALL genders (not just 2 of them ), and it is about individuals and society/ies in general. For me, in my everyday life, feminism is also about communication and negotiation, and of course, about change. Let me expand.

There have been some wonderful points made in this thread so far, and I want to expand a little on some of them. The kind of feminism I subscribe to believes that it is just as important for girls to know they can be engineers as boys to know that they will be supported in their dance careers (should that be what they want). It also recognizes that everyone is different, makes different choices & has different choices available to them (due to geographic region, race, ethnicity, spirituality, age, ability, parenting-status, sexuality, gender, etc).

I recently have come to appreciate the ideas of 3rd wave feminism even more. I have taken up knitting. When I was a kid, I never thought I would knit cause I saw it as meaningless work. I think it is very odd that I saw it that way. I saw childcare, and still see childcare (in all its forms -- home, daycare, etc) as THE MOST VALUABLE work. Children represent our future and our present. That said, I know that for my family (my partner & our future children) to do the best we can in this world, that I am going to have to do my PhD when my kids are very young. I will still be there for them and bf them as long as we can, but my partner will be with them (physically) more than I will be. We have talked about how this will work -- and I think this is a very important part of feminism, talking to figure out what options exist & what will work best for those involved -- and believe this is the best solution. In our present situation, without kids & me finishing my MA, he (my partner) is supporting me. And that is what work best for now. (My 2 passions in life are kids & anthropology, and I don't see my life being whole without both of them -- now or later. I know I am very luck to be in the situation I am in -- as long as we can conceive!)

Third, I'm not sure if any of you would be interested, but I know that there are a variety of Mothering & feminist groups that have started up (in the academic world). The one I am a member of is located in Toronto, Canada but has members throughout the world. It is the Association for Research on Mothering (ARM) and its website is: www.yorku.ca/crm

There was more I wanted to say, but I can't remember it right now!

Good luck everyone!
post #30 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by boongirl
I don't think all feminists view the world this way.

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

[...]

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.
I do know that there are many sub-types of feminism, and I didn't mean to oversimplify the issue. For my own opinion, it is the concept itself that I disagree with, not the sub-sets or interpretations of it. But I was only talking about a broad idea within most strains of feminist thought that I'm familiar with. Of course I wouldn't say that all feminists believe the same thing, but I think there is a mainstream-academic view that I'm specifically disagreeing with.




Quote:
Originally Posted by annakiss
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.
I absolutely agree that the world is complex and stressful. I read about what's going on, and I don't know whether to cry or fly into a rage or both. And I certainly wasn't suggesting that feminism caused these problems (I might argue that it contributed to some of them, but that would be another day's topic). And I am very involved in those issues you mention--I'm certainly not hiding out from them. But, for me, my relationship with my family is a refuge from all that. My husband is the head of our household, but he has given me almost total free reign in child-rearing because that is my "field." That is what we believe in and what works for us. My dh has full trust in me and I have full trust in him.

Please keep in mind that I'm quite sleep-deprived, and that I'm notoriously bad at explaining myself even when I'm wide awake, so please take my word for it that any offense is unintentional. My understanding of most of mainstream-academic feminism is that they consider the private sphere to be an extension of the public sphere. So they not only want to lobby for legal rights (which I 100% agree with, although not always in the same way that they want), but also for treating the family as a social-political institution founded on power and hierarchy rather than love. Now, if I were in a situation where I were forced to get married to someone I didn't love, I would absolutely be very insistent on "you can't tell me what to do," "this is your half and this is my half," etc. And I completely support that as far as legal rights. But I think it does a disservice to family to treat it as an institution with power and hierarchy, or to say that women have a "right" to have their husbands help around the house, etc. And the same thing is true for my children--I don't think of there being a hierarchy or needing regime change at my house, but cooperation founded on love and mutual respect.

And that is what I mean by saying that it would be more stressful as a parent, especially an ap parent. *I am absolutely not saying that you can't be a feminist and a good ap parent.* I know that plenty of people are. But *to me* it seems like there would be a philosophical contradiction. In my own mind, feminism would be more compatible with an Ezzo-type view of child-rearing, that the relationship between parent and child is one of hierarchy and constant power struggles. I couldn't live like that either. I want to save my activism and my lobbying for governments and businesses, and preserve my home as a "harmonious mutual respect zone" without worrying about the personal being political.

I hope this makes sense and isn't too offensive. This isn't the main problem I have with feminism, btw, but it's one of them.
post #31 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by EnviroBecca
I agree that the definition of "feminism" is not all that clear and that it can encompass many different ideologies. In saying that the direction in the past 25 years has failed us, I didn't mean to disregard any of the earlier accomplishments such as voting and abortion rights, and I'd forgotten about Title 9 (I'm not an athlete) and some of the recent progress in divorce law (I'm not divorced).

I'm very pro-choice, but I think the huge amount of energy devoted to abortion rights has drained attention and resources away from other goals. It's hard to say that because those who oppose reproductive rights are so determined that it's been necessary to fight them constantly; the focus on this issue is hardly the fault of feminists. I'm very sad though that at this point when people of any stripe start talking about women's rights, practically the first right they think of is the right to abortion--it's that "children are a burden" idea again. A lot of people seem to have the idea that pro-choice means pro-abortion, which is incompatible with respect for mothers.
I understand your point, and I agree that there are many issues that affect people's lives, but ironically enough, pro-choice is one of the few areas in which I (being a liberal individualist and all) agree with mainstream feminism. If they truly supported women's individual rights to individual freedom of choice, I would agree with them. Really the only parts of the philosophy that I disagree with are the anti-choice parts (women are brainwashed by the patriarchy and need to be protected from themselves, free will is an illusion, liberation over liberty, we're products of the culture, etc.) Off topic but I thought I'd mention it.



Quote:
Originally Posted by riotkrrn
I think that you are making several incorrect assumptions about feminism/feminists. I've never felt that my being a feminist and an attachment parent were in conflict with one another. Are you stating that the belief that childcare is degrading is a central tenet of feminism, or that self-identified feminists you have known have personally found childcare work to be degrading? Of all the feminist mamas I know - and I know a number of them, because they're my preferred company - none has ever made the claim that to work in childcare is degrading. I do think that childcare work is undervalued as a profession, which brings us back to feminist issues.
I'm basing it on articles and books written by feminists themselves. Probably the most famous feminist book is "The Feminine Mystique" which clearly suggests that the homemaking life in general is degrading. I'm not suggesting that all feminists feel this way though. It's certainly not a central tenet of the philosophy.

I agree that childcare is undervalued, especially caring for our own children. As a homeschooler, I'm especially aware of the number of people who glorify the teaching (other people's kids) profession but who think that I don't have a "real job."

Quote:
Do you feel that it's acceptable for fathers to have careers?

I'm just not getting this at all. Am I emotionally detaching myself from my children if I attempt to strengthen my identity as a wife/partner? Student? Rape crisis center volunteer? Where do you draw the line? From my own experience, I can tell you that my ability to mother suffers terribly if it's my only focus, week after week and month after month.
I'll try to answer this in the most inoffensive way that I can, and please let me apologize again for being sleep-deprived. I think that when children are young, say from birth to about the pre-teen or teen years, they should have at least one parent whose first identity is to them. That parent can certainly have outside interests and activities, including a job outside the home if needed or desired, but these loyalties should be secondary to the needs of the children. As I say, it's not about the number of hours worked, but about the priority. Because of pregnancy, breastfeeding, and other issues, I think it's best in most cases for the mother to be that primary parent, but if a family prefers it the other way, that's certainly fine too. As long as there is some adult in every child's life for whom that child comes first. Again, that doesn't preclude having an outside job, or being a student or a volunteer, or anything else. But I do think it should preclude making any of those things your primary identity.
post #32 of 160
Wow, Brigianna, just wow. Um... Hmmm...

The whole public/private sphere thing is a part of the philosophy indeed. But I don't think that you're quite understanding the subtleties of it. Probably what you're referring to is the old slogan, "the personal is political". I can't get around the fact that the personal very much is political at all. It's absolutely one hundred percent true. What happens to me and my family and to other families is what indicates the needs of the citizens of this country.

So, for instance, my birth experience and my ability to have a postive birth experience is a political thing when there are organizations lobbying and setting down protocol about what can and cannot happen to me (hospitals denying VBAC for instance is a political stance that becomes intensely personal).

My ability to have children or to have sovereignty over my own body is both personal and political. How I raise my children, whether or not I have children, whether I choose to get married or to simply exist in a comitted partnership - these are all personal choices with political resonance.

Being AP, being fiercely AP and an AP advocate - this is a personal choice with public/political consequences. There wouldn't be this huge backlash on blogs and in magazines about all those "yuppie AP parents" if it weren't a serious statement about society, about the needs of children and what an appropriate way to address those needs are.

The whole concept of social structure and heirarchy and power struggle even in relationships does not deny a foundation in love at all. Love and power aren't mutually exclusive. Understanding the power dynamic in a relationship does not say that love isn't the basis for that relationship. But power exists everywhere and if you want to let your husband have power over you, then I suppose that's your choice. It's one that I physically and philisophically reject entirely, but I'm not you. That's what I meant when I said that I am more complex than your statement would allow a feminist to be - I can see that there is a power structure between my husband and I and my children and I without it being a problem.

My husband brings in money and gets time out of the house with colleagues where he has more adult, worldly thoughts and spends his time doing far more interesting things than washing the dishes - he has an inherent power due to this. He has an entitlement to having freedom from the family that I don't have because he brings in money at the same time as enjoying that freedom. This is necessary. Just because I may need help around the house or a break, he still maintains a power of being entitled to his time away due to the necessity of money. His being the breadwinner in our family also gives him power. He could easily strip me of my access to the money and would be legally entitled to do so as the paycheck has his name on it. This is inherent power. I may control the money, I may pay all the bills, and balance the checkbook and buy the goods necessary for the household, but he still brings that paycheck in. This is an inherent power that I don't have. Lucky for us, we have an agreement that though he brings in the money, he doesn't exercise that power over me. He doesn't threaten me with cutting it off. He doesn't have entitlement to the control of the money. But that's our agreement, not a fact natural to the situation. Because I control the money in our household, a balance of power exists in this area. I am the one who knows how much money we have and how much we can use and he has to ask me if he wants to buy something. Not because he's not allowed to use the money as he sees fit, but because he doesn't know if there's room in the budget. Anyway, this is just an example of inherent power.

When you have one partner in a relationship who controls most of the decisions of the household AND brings in the money, the power balance becomes unequal, imo. When one partner has their name on the mortgage and the other doesn't, or their name on the bank account and the other doesn't, or their name on the car title and the other doesn't, or all of the above, then the power balance becomes unequal. This personal decision (who knows the reasons why anyone would choose to be the sole owner of these things, but they're personal choices) becomes political power. The partner with the ownership of the money, vehicle, and mortgage, etc. has the ability to strip the other partner of access to these things, which is something that used to happen with some frequency and sometimes still does. The legal protections in place for married couples are necessary to ensure equality for the non-owner partner (who may have been primarily responsible for the upkeep of the property, but did not in fact own it).

I don't know if I'm making any sense here. I'm just pointing out how simple, personal choices prove to be powerful political leverage in a relationship. Now, it is important to note that though my husband and I have different amounts of power in our relationship, we don't walk around thinking of it that way. Our agreement is not a written contract, but an understanding. I'm not even sure we've really discussed it in the manner that I've laid out here. We simply share the responsibilities of the household in accordance with what we're skilled at or what we enjoy, as well as myriad other reasons that have led us to make varying choices. The understanding of the power structure in a relationship is simply one analyzation of an underlying truth, not a matter of imposing that structure upon the relationship. And understanding it or accepting it as true does not deny other truths (like love) or philosophies (like AP).

I think also, that to dedicate myself to my children and to be invested in them in a focused, gentle manner is not to deny my own identity. I am not my children and refuse to be as involved in their lives as they are. I am still a separate entity with different needs. I do admit less freedom and their needs often come before my own, but not always and not exclusively. To say otherwise feels to me like an imposed structure akin to a method of child rearing not in line with AP philosophy. I hold my children and child-raising to be my primary responsibility, but it is not who I am at my core. Identity, to me, is very different than responsibility, but maybe it's all semantics.

Also, I am currently reading "The Feminine Mystique" and does not, imo, degrade the responsibilities in the home, but rather suggests that housework may not be entirely fun or satisfying and it is ludicrous to think that women should be completely fulfilled by simply childrearing and housekeeping. Again, as I said before, the idea is not that we want to never do those things, just that we'd like the opportunity to do other things as well and that perhaps the responsiblity to the household could be shared by the other members of the family since they also make messes and enjoy the home.

I'm sure there's more I want to say...
post #33 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichelleW
Wow! First off, I am so glad to see this thread & discussion!

"What happens if you tell him or her, "I feel overwhelmed by all the things I have to do. I need you to take over something. Would you like X, Y, or Z?" I've found that my partner is kind of oblivious to my being overwhelmed unless I tell him about it, and that suggesting a specific change is much more effective than complaining." -- thanks Becca, I really appreciate this comment

Second, I am not yet a mother, but study queer (lesbian) birthing experiences. So yes, I identify as a feminist, and recognize that there are others who identify as feminists that I have little (ideologically) in common with. That said, yes, feminism to me is about choice and power. It is about people of ALL genders (not just 2 of them ), and it is about individuals and society/ies in general. For me, in my everyday life, feminism is also about communication and negotiation, and of course, about change. Let me expand.

There have been some wonderful points made in this thread so far, and I want to expand a little on some of them. The kind of feminism I subscribe to believes that it is just as important for girls to know they can be engineers as boys to know that they will be supported in their dance careers (should that be what they want). It also recognizes that everyone is different, makes different choices & has different choices available to them (due to geographic region, race, ethnicity, spirituality, age, ability, parenting-status, sexuality, gender, etc).

I recently have come to appreciate the ideas of 3rd wave feminism even more. I saw childcare, and still see childcare (in all its forms -- home, daycare, etc) as THE MOST VALUABLE work. Children represent our future and our present. That said, I know that for my family (my partner & our future children) to do the best we can in this world, that I am going to have to do my PhD when my kids are very young. I will still be there for them and bf them as long as we can, but my partner will be with them (physically) more than I will be. We have talked about how this will work -- and I think this is a very important part of feminism, talking to figure out what options exist & what will work best for those involved -- and believe this is the best solution. In our present situation, without kids & me finishing my MA, he (my partner) is supporting me. And that is what work best for now. (My 2 passions in life are kids & anthropology, and I don't see my life being whole without both of them -- now or later. I know I am very luck to be in the situation I am in -- as long as we can conceive!)

There was more I wanted to say, but I can't remember it right now!

Good luck everyone!
Michelle,



:

I'm with you on most your reply. Don't know if I will go back to school for my BA, MA, PhD later in life because after high school, I tried couple of schools and they didn't work because of the mental problems that I suffered. Also, I was born with a speech/learning disabilty.






post #34 of 160
Brigiana - let me try to say this in as inoffensive a way possible: I think it's completely detrimental to children to have a single person whose identity is entirely focus on them. Although I have major problems with the book, I completely subscribe to The Continuum Concept's idea that what a child needs is to be close to a person (usually the mother) who is her own person, living her own life. Only in that way can they learn what it is to BE a person, with a unique identity. I really, really don't want any children I may have learn that their life should revolve around anyone else - coexist in a complicated and intricate dance of beautiful interdependencies, absolutely. But I want them to learn to be their own, unique, self-fulfilled person, and they can't learn that if their sun (that would be me) tries to revolve around little old them (a tiny, if important and growing) planet.

Which is not a philosophy incompatable with SAHMing, and certainly not with being a "homemaker", that is, chef, cleaner, dishwasher, laundress, child development specialist, educator, etc... I hope to be a midwife, and have, yes, a career. My children will be most important to me, more important than life itself, but that doesn't mean I should lay down my "life" (my career, my passions, my self) for them, but rather that I should pursue all of those in such a way that they learn how to live their passions while being completely nurtured and cared for.

And one of the things left off the list of feminism's current goals (forgot who posted it) that I think is very important is making work places baby and child compatable - I really think most jobs could be easily performed while having a baby strapped to her mama's back, where s/he belongs. There need not be a conflict between attachment and work - babies belong with their mothers/parents, but that doesn't mean their mothers necessarily belong at home.
post #35 of 160
Wow, well said anna...

I just wanted to add that I don't, in any way think that raising children and staying home are demeaning, but this is:
Quote:
My husband is the head of our household, but he has given me almost total free reign in child-rearing because that is my "field."
But, like so many have said, that's your choice. I just hope you're making an informed one.
post #36 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by annakiss
Wow, Brigianna, just wow. Um... Hmmm...

The whole public/private sphere thing is a part of the philosophy indeed. But I don't think that you're quite understanding the subtleties of it. Probably what you're referring to is the old slogan, "the personal is political". I can't get around the fact that the personal very much is political at all. It's absolutely one hundred percent true. What happens to me and my family and to other families is what indicates the needs of the citizens of this country.
Maybe I am missing some subtleties, but I have read about the issue and I am familiar with some of the assertions being made about the power structure in the home. I understand what they're talking about, but I disagree with the entire line of thinking that would take the structure of institutions like governments and businesses and seek to apply that to the family. I do agree with you that your family's and other families' needs reflect the needs of the citizenry as a whole, but I think that can be addressed without addressing the nature of the family itself.

Quote:
So, for instance, my birth experience and my ability to have a postive birth experience is a political thing when there are organizations lobbying and setting down protocol about what can and cannot happen to me (hospitals denying VBAC for instance is a political stance that becomes intensely personal).

My ability to have children or to have sovereignty over my own body is both personal and political. How I raise my children, whether or not I have children, whether I choose to get married or to simply exist in a comitted partnership - these are all personal choices with political resonance.

Being AP, being fiercely AP and an AP advocate - this is a personal choice with public/political consequences. There wouldn't be this huge backlash on blogs and in magazines about all those "yuppie AP parents" if it weren't a serious statement about society, about the needs of children and what an appropriate way to address those needs are.
I totally agree with you on all of this. I am a strong advocate for medical freedom of all kinds. But I don't think this is the same as "the personal is political." As I see it, the right to sovereignty of your own body is a natural right that no institution (hospital, government, church, whatever) should have the authority to interfere with. Other people can give advice and opinions, but not override your choice. That, to me, is what the right to privacy is all about--these personal matters like what you do with your body and whether you accept or refuse medical treatment are beyond the sphere of what can be regulated. They are personal, not political. The fact that some political groups would like to strip us of these rights does not change that, in my opinion. To me there is a big difference between asserting legal rights (like medical freedom or equal pay for equal work) and trying to superimpose a power-based framework on the family.

And I agree that ap child-rearing is a political act, because we are radically redefining the way society looks at children. Also, for me, unschooling is a political act because I'm teaching my kids to think for themselves and question authority. In fact, where children are concerned, I agree in many cases that the personal is political. The difference, to me, is that children have almost no legal rights. They do not choose their parents or how they're raised. They can't be independent if they want to be, they can't vote, and they can't file for divorce if they're being mistreated. Because of this, they need activists like us to assert that, although kids are small and fragile and can't work and can't vote, that doesn't mean it's okay to hit them or lock them up or anything else. We assert this for them because they are incapable of asserting it for themselves. This is different, to me, from saying what a relationship should be between two legally equal consenting adults.

Quote:
The whole concept of social structure and heirarchy and power struggle even in relationships does not deny a foundation in love at all. Love and power aren't mutually exclusive. Understanding the power dynamic in a relationship does not say that love isn't the basis for that relationship. But power exists everywhere and if you want to let your husband have power over you, then I suppose that's your choice. It's one that I physically and philisophically reject entirely, but I'm not you. That's what I meant when I said that I am more complex than your statement would allow a feminist to be - I can see that there is a power structure between my husband and I and my children and I without it being a problem.

My husband brings in money and gets time out of the house with colleagues where he has more adult, worldly thoughts and spends his time doing far more interesting things than washing the dishes - he has an inherent power due to this. He has an entitlement to having freedom from the family that I don't have because he brings in money at the same time as enjoying that freedom. This is necessary. Just because I may need help around the house or a break, he still maintains a power of being entitled to his time away due to the necessity of money. His being the breadwinner in our family also gives him power. He could easily strip me of my access to the money and would be legally entitled to do so as the paycheck has his name on it. This is inherent power. I may control the money, I may pay all the bills, and balance the checkbook and buy the goods necessary for the household, but he still brings that paycheck in. This is an inherent power that I don't have. Lucky for us, we have an agreement that though he brings in the money, he doesn't exercise that power over me. He doesn't threaten me with cutting it off. He doesn't have entitlement to the control of the money. But that's our agreement, not a fact natural to the situation. Because I control the money in our household, a balance of power exists in this area. I am the one who knows how much money we have and how much we can use and he has to ask me if he wants to buy something. Not because he's not allowed to use the money as he sees fit, but because he doesn't know if there's room in the budget. Anyway, this is just an example of inherent power.

When you have one partner in a relationship who controls most of the decisions of the household AND brings in the money, the power balance becomes unequal, imo. When one partner has their name on the mortgage and the other doesn't, or their name on the bank account and the other doesn't, or their name on the car title and the other doesn't, or all of the above, then the power balance becomes unequal. This personal decision (who knows the reasons why anyone would choose to be the sole owner of these things, but they're personal choices) becomes political power. The partner with the ownership of the money, vehicle, and mortgage, etc. has the ability to strip the other partner of access to these things, which is something that used to happen with some frequency and sometimes still does. The legal protections in place for married couples are necessary to ensure equality for the non-owner partner (who may have been primarily responsible for the upkeep of the property, but did not in fact own it).

I don't know if I'm making any sense here. I'm just pointing out how simple, personal choices prove to be powerful political leverage in a relationship. Now, it is important to note that though my husband and I have different amounts of power in our relationship, we don't walk around thinking of it that way. Our agreement is not a written contract, but an understanding. I'm not even sure we've really discussed it in the manner that I've laid out here. We simply share the responsibilities of the household in accordance with what we're skilled at or what we enjoy, as well as myriad other reasons that have led us to make varying choices. The understanding of the power structure in a relationship is simply one analyzation of an underlying truth, not a matter of imposing that structure upon the relationship. And understanding it or accepting it as true does not deny other truths (like love) or philosophies (like AP).
Maybe it's a semantic difference, but I wouldn't say that my husband has power over me in any of the ways that you mention. I would say that he has authority over me, which is authority that I have chosen to give him. Saying that he had power over me would suggest, to me anyway, that I was powerless, that I had no choice in the matter, that I just found myself in a situation with someone else controlling my finances and everything else. And that is I think the way many feminists (not all) look at traditionalist relationships. But I don't see it as a matter of his having power over me, but of the fact that I love him and trust him and respect him enough to give him this authority and know that he will not abuse it. And he doesn't--he doesn't order me to do things or limit my freedom; we work out mutually agreeable solutions. Similarly, he gives me authority over child-rearing matters, although the kids are legally half his, because he trusts me and respects my judgment and knows that I will make good decisions, even if he doesn't necessarily agree with all of them.

I do think that my husband has considerable power over me emotionally. He knows me better than anyone else, he knows what sets me off and what calms me down, he knows exactly how I will respond to some things without asking me. Actually, he is very well-positioned to manipulate me. But this is a function of love. I think that looking at it as an issue of power rather than love or mutual trust is misguided, and not a recipe for good relationships.


Quote:
I think also, that to dedicate myself to my children and to be invested in them in a focused, gentle manner is not to deny my own identity. I am not my children and refuse to be as involved in their lives as they are. I am still a separate entity with different needs. I do admit less freedom and their needs often come before my own, but not always and not exclusively. To say otherwise feels to me like an imposed structure akin to a method of child rearing not in line with AP philosophy. I hold my children and child-raising to be my primary responsibility, but it is not who I am at my core. Identity, to me, is very different than responsibility, but maybe it's all semantics.
Maybe identity is the wrong word. What I meant was I think that when your children are young, your first loyalty should be to them and their needs. Not to a job or an interest or a hobby or anything else. That doesn't mean you shouldn't have these things, but that as a priority, I think your children should come first.

Quote:
Also, I am currently reading "The Feminine Mystique" and does not, imo, degrade the responsibilities in the home, but rather suggests that housework may not be entirely fun or satisfying and it is ludicrous to think that women should be completely fulfilled by simply childrearing and housekeeping. Again, as I said before, the idea is not that we want to never do those things, just that we'd like the opportunity to do other things as well and that perhaps the responsiblity to the household could be shared by the other members of the family since they also make messes and enjoy the home.
I confess it's been a while since I've read it, but I did get the impression that she considered homemaking work to be less than "real" work. I also don't agree with the idea that we should try to be "fulfilled" but that's a separate topic... Yes, other people use the house and make messes, but it's okay to delegate as long as it's mutually agreeable, I think.
post #37 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arwyn
Brigiana - let me try to say this in as inoffensive a way possible: I think it's completely detrimental to children to have a single person whose identity is entirely focus on them. Although I have major problems with the book, I completely subscribe to The Continuum Concept's idea that what a child needs is to be close to a person (usually the mother) who is her own person, living her own life. Only in that way can they learn what it is to BE a person, with a unique identity. I really, really don't want any children I may have learn that their life should revolve around anyone else - coexist in a complicated and intricate dance of beautiful interdependencies, absolutely. But I want them to learn to be their own, unique, self-fulfilled person, and they can't learn that if their sun (that would be me) tries to revolve around little old them (a tiny, if important and growing) planet.

Which is not a philosophy incompatable with SAHMing, and certainly not with being a "homemaker", that is, chef, cleaner, dishwasher, laundress, child development specialist, educator, etc... I hope to be a midwife, and have, yes, a career. My children will be most important to me, more important than life itself, but that doesn't mean I should lay down my "life" (my career, my passions, my self) for them, but rather that I should pursue all of those in such a way that they learn how to live their passions while being completely nurtured and cared for.
I agreed with some parts of "The Contiuum Concept" and disagreed with other parts. I certainly don't think that a mother shouldn't have her own interests or anything else, but I don't think it's healthy for them to be her primary identity. I am a volunteer, an activist, and a writer in addition to being a mother, but if there is an conflict, my children come first. I don't think this is necessarily the same thing as having a child-centered life or home. I do play with my children, and read to them and interact with them, but I do other, more Continuum-Concept-compatible things too. My kids know that I am my own person and I do my own things, but they know that I put them first. I consider myself a mother who also does other things, not some other identity who is also a mother.

Quote:
And one of the things left off the list of feminism's current goals (forgot who posted it) that I think is very important is making work places baby and child compatable - I really think most jobs could be easily performed while having a baby strapped to her mama's back, where s/he belongs. There need not be a conflict between attachment and work - babies belong with their mothers/parents, but that doesn't mean their mothers necessarily belong at home.
This is a good idea. I've done volunteer work with a tot in a sling; there's no reason some people couldn't do paid work that way too. Of course it wouldn't work for all jobs, but neither would anything else.




Quote:
Originally Posted by lunar forest
Wow, well said anna...

I just wanted to add that I don't, in any way think that raising children and staying home are demeaning, but this is:

Quote:
My husband is the head of our household, but he has given me almost total free reign in child-rearing because that is my "field."
But, like so many have said, that's your choice. I just hope you're making an informed one.
How is it demeaning? I'm glad you respect it as my choice--a lot of feminists wouldn't. And I promise I'm not picking on you or trying to be hostile, but I think it's interesting that you would assume that a choice different from one you would make was probably not an informed choice. What would I need to be informed of? It isn't a choice that I would make based on information or statistics or data, but based on what I personally believe in.
post #38 of 160
Well I suppose you can make your own choices based on whatever you see fit. That's one wonderful right we have, thanks to feminism! And I would never assume that any choices is demeaning, or lesser in anyway, based solely on it being different from my own. I only mean that I hope anyone giving over their authorty would understand every implication, and all the downfalls that intails.

I can't see how putting one person in authority over another person could not be demeaning. Where is the empowerment? To me, the beauty of a healthy relationship is the equality; the balance of helping eachother and meeting each other's needs. That would have to be suppressed if one held a higher position over another, making decision for that person.

Perhaps I have misunderstood you. It is possible that the word "authority" is being used in a different way. I, for one, don't see anything healthy for a women, her children, or her relationship in being submissive.

I just feel very strongly that women are not a lesser sex, that APing children is important and world altering, and that to do this women must stand up for themselves, and not allow themselves to be governed by men.
post #39 of 160
Quote:
Originally Posted by lunar forest
Well I suppose you can make your own choices based on whatever you see fit. That's one wonderful right we have, thanks to feminism! And I would never assume that any choices is demeaning, or lesser in anyway, based solely on it being different from my own. I only mean that I hope anyone giving over their authorty would understand every implication, and all the downfalls that intails.

I can't see how putting one person in authority over another person could not be demeaning. Where is the empowerment? To me, the beauty of a healthy relationship is the equality; the balance of helping eachother and meeting each other's needs. That would have to be suppressed if one held a higher position over another, making decision for that person.

Perhaps I have misunderstood you. It is possible that the word "authority" is being used in a different way. I, for one, don't see anything healthy for a women, her children, or her relationship in being submissive.

I just feel very strongly that women are not a lesser sex, that APing children is important and world altering, and that to do this women must stand up for themselves, and not allow themselves to be governed by men.
Okay. I would gladly stand up for your right to live any way you see fit. I just want the right to live as I see fit, too. I don't think having authority means that we don't help each other or meet each other's needs; I think it enhances that. We are free to help each other and meet each other's needs fully and unconditionally because we aren't constantly locked in a power struggle.

I certainly don't think women are a lesser sex or that we should be governed by men. There is a big difference between choosing to surrender your authority and being governed by someone. And men can be ap parents and children's advocates too.
post #40 of 160
I think annakiss put it really well with her illustration of power in relationships. It's not at all a power struggle, as you put it, it is the simple fact that we each have power (and strengths) in different places, and in different ways. No one truly has greater power than the other, in my eyes, but I do agree that money is a big issue, and certainly making it brings with it a lot of power. But again, it evens out. Nobody's king in my house, and there's no power struggle, either.
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