Inquiry: Are you a feminist? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 114 Old 01-14-2005, 01:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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and is there any relationship between your answer and your stay-at-home or working mama status? I'd especially like to hear from stay-at-home feminists.
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#2 of 114 Old 01-14-2005, 01:51 AM
 
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I am a SAHM, and I would call myself a feminist.

L.
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#3 of 114 Old 01-14-2005, 01:53 AM
 
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SAHM & feminist.
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#4 of 114 Old 01-14-2005, 02:17 AM
 
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I am a feminist. I am a WAHM, so not sure if that counts. But being a feminist only means that you feel women should have all options available to them. That doesn't mean a woman has to work, only that she should have the right and opportunity to. My husband has just been switching and being the at home parent, and that is at the heart of femininism, that men should have all options open too, including raising their kids.
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#5 of 114 Old 01-14-2005, 02:29 AM
 
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im at home and a feminist I wouldnt miss this choice for the world, and can't see how feminism could interfere in the slightest with making this choice, although the financial and career reprecussions are something I am concerned with from a feminist perspective. It is a trade off and one I am happy to make but it'd be nice to mitigate the damage a bit. What I would like is some more work from home options that involve employment rather than your own business, but since that's what is available, that's what I am doing! Maybe one day I'll have a bigger business and provice WAHP options!
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#6 of 114 Old 01-14-2005, 03:40 AM
 
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I'm another SAHM and a feminist At first this was a really big deal for me, but I've been home for 8 1/2 years and I'm over.

I don't see any conflict between believing that women are as smart as men and should have all options open to them AND knowing that the place I want to be right now is with my kids.

Now my problem is providing my DD with models of women who have chosen other paths. Even though what they see is "daddy works and mommy takes care of home", I want them to know women who work, and I esp. want them to know women who work in fields that were once male dominated. I want them to know that they really can do whatever they want to with their lives.
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#7 of 114 Old 01-14-2005, 04:27 AM
 
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My name gives my answer away. I'm a feminist and a sahm. Feminism is all about choices and equality. My choice is to parent my children full time.
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#8 of 114 Old 01-14-2005, 04:55 AM
 
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Count me in.

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#9 of 114 Old 01-14-2005, 05:26 AM
 
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Yep. I am at home and a feminist, and I think my feminism helps me to view the "work" that I do in my home to be just as important as work that you get a wage for. I am empowered by being a stay-at-home mama and a "homemaker", because I value the role that I am in, if that makes any sense.

ETA- feministfatale is right on in her post about having a choice.
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#10 of 114 Old 01-14-2005, 10:15 AM
 
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I stay at home and consider myself a feminist. I do have some issues with it though. I LOVE being at home with my children but I also feel like I am not "living up to my potential" - or more like I am not using 100,000$ worth or education. Also, at times I feel a little strange being entirely dependent on my husband for money and insurance. Our relationship is very good and he values what I do, but I can't help feeling a bit powerless. I actually have angst over this issue because although I feel these things I really DO want to be home with my children.
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#11 of 114 Old 01-14-2005, 10:31 AM
 
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I am absolutely a feminist and a WOHM. I celebrate a mama's right to stay home or work out of the home--this is what being a feminist is all about!

Edited to add: Part of being a feminist is also fighting for ways to make it easier to make either of those choices: easier for women to be working mamas and easier for women to leave the work force, care for their kids and rejoin without being penalized.

Mama to two wonderful daughers: 02/03/03 and 10/19/05
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#12 of 114 Old 01-14-2005, 10:36 AM
 
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I am a SAHM and a feminist. I really wish that the word hadn't become so twisted over the past couple of decades. So many people seem to think that being a feminist means you have to hate men, have a power-career, and liberate all women from caring for children (all-the-while, these types of feminist mothers use other women to care for their children while they're at work... so that makes no sense to me).

Quote:
Originally Posted by FeministFatale
Feminism is all about choices and equality. My choice is to parent my children full time.
That needed repeating.
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#13 of 114 Old 01-14-2005, 11:29 AM
 
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I'm a feminist of the Camile Paglia variety and a SAHM. To me, feminism is about choices. I chose to stop practicing law and stay home with my son (soon to be son *and* daughter .)

Similar discussion points have been brought up here before and I've had difficulty articulating my POV for some reason. I think I wonder why some see the decision to SAHM as incompatable with the "goals/aims of feminism." (not that I'm seeing this in this particular thread, but it's been alluded to before.) To me, raising my kids full-time* is an equally valuable contribution to society that my being a litigator...I sort of scratch my head over the implication that it's not.


*disclaimer: I am in no way suggesting that WOHMs do not "raise" their own kids - I get irked, actually, when I hear that, especially when I think of my many good friends who are wonderful mommies and have chosen to WOHM. My distinction is that I choose to be with them full-time. So, in short, I'm not impuning the mothering of WOHMs in any way (by choice or necessity)....feminism is about choice and I celebrate a woman's decision to exercise said choice in the manner she decides is best for her and her family.

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#14 of 114 Old 01-14-2005, 12:29 PM
 
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I'm a (mostly) SAHM and a feminist. In my family, we knew that we wanted somebody to be at home with our children (respecting the fact that other families may make different, equally valid choices), and it made the most sense for me to be the one to do that.
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#15 of 114 Old 01-14-2005, 02:47 PM
 
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I think that in its essense being a feminist is that men and women deserve equal treatment. I don't think that being a SAHM affects that belief.
That said there are gender differences that deserve recognition. For example it would have been a lot more difficult for me to keep my job and have dh be a SAHD considering that my breasts make milk and his don't.

Mom of a 7 yr old, 4 yr old, and 1 yr old. Wow. How did that happen?
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#16 of 114 Old 01-14-2005, 03:37 PM
 
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I am a feminist and because of my feminism, I am a working out of the home mom but not because I don't value what other women are doing. I am just scared. I see the risks, I see the costs, I see the disadvantages and I just can't do it. I really wish I was braver. Honestly. I think it was about having my mom stuck in a bad marriage with 5 kids. But I am working on it, I am actively cutting back on my hours so that I can get used to the feeling, so I can face my personal issues with my financial dependence. Big answer, but this stuff is so important to me. Funny thing, I stayed home with my first but I was single. I was on student loans and welfare for awhile and then did fostercare to support us. That was easier than staying home now with a partner I love and trust.

Maureen
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#17 of 114 Old 01-14-2005, 03:46 PM
 
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I am a feminist and plan to be a (mostly) sahm.

I hate what this means for my career though (my career is over - I'm not in a career field where I can restart after taking time off or working part-time and I am in a career field that demands nothing less than 50-60 hour work weeks). I do resent the pollyanna view that "it is wonderful to have choices" since I don't feel the choice between career and kids is much of a "choice" for me and am unhappy that I can't have both in some form (even though I recognize how fortunate I am that we are able to live off my dh salary alone.)

Being a feminist means working to change work and career structures so that my daughter will have real choices.
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#18 of 114 Old 01-14-2005, 03:47 PM
 
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Being a feminist means working to change work and career structures so that my daughter will have real choices.

Mama to two wonderful daughers: 02/03/03 and 10/19/05
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#19 of 114 Old 01-14-2005, 04:11 PM
 
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I'm a feminist SAHM. It's not a conflict for me at all.

I am curious though, OP(fuller2), we're sharing our stories, please share yours.
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#20 of 114 Old 01-14-2005, 07:14 PM
 
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I am a feminist of the Cheris Kramerae variety ("Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings."). I have a 50% job outside the home that allows me to have my son with a babysitter for only about 10 hours a week.

I view my working status as something that will change throughout the course of my life. I had a full-time job and was a feminist before becoming a mama. If/when I have a second child, I will most likely drop out of the work force for several years, and still be a feminist. At some point in the future, I will likely have a full-time job again and still be a feminist. I feel fortunate to have this flexibility, both in terms of household income and career demands (mamawanabe, I feel for you and have hope for our children's choices, both sons and daughters).
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#21 of 114 Old 01-14-2005, 07:31 PM
 
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I work with Cheris Kramerae...how funny to see her quoted!

ANYHOW, I do work part time outside of the home and really like it, although I am struggling with a desire to unschool and be at home with my kids. Haven't resolved that yet. Whatever my decision, I don't see it affecting my my identification as a feminist!

~ Meredith, mom to dd(Jan '02), ds1(May '04) and ds2 (June '07) ~ :
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#22 of 114 Old 01-14-2005, 07:45 PM
 
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Feminist is where you are in your head. I am a feminist staying at home with my kids for now and loving it.

Mama to 3 daughters, expecting #4chicken3.gif

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#23 of 114 Old 01-15-2005, 02:24 AM
 
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The hardest part to being a sahm is that I'm not getting any social security or retirement. Of course, my partner is the one who I depend on for money now, but I don't feel dependent. I feel that he gets paid doing his job and part of his paycheck pays me for doing my job. But the thing I hate is that he is going to get a nice retirement with his 401k and his social security, whereas I will be getting jack shit. I became pregnant while a senior at UCLA so I haven't ever had a "career." The thing that I have decided to do in order to fix this is that I'm now going to be doing an automatic withdrawl from every paycheck into a balanced fund, and that will be my retirement money. But also I plan on getting a woh job when my girls are older.
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#24 of 114 Old 01-15-2005, 02:30 AM
 
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YES! I am a feminist and a SAHM. I think we've got a lot of work to do in this country before women have equality.
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#25 of 114 Old 01-15-2005, 02:32 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by azyre
im at home and a feminist I wouldnt miss this choice for the world, and can't see how feminism could interfere in the slightest with making this choice, although the financial and career reprecussions are something I am concerned with from a feminist perspective. It is a trade off and one I am happy to make but it'd be nice to mitigate the damage a bit. What I would like is some more work from home options that involve employment rather than your own business, but since that's what is available, that's what I am doing! Maybe one day I'll have a bigger business and provice WAHP options!
But isn't raising children a job? Not valuing that work shows how far we have yet to go along the road to true equality.
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#26 of 114 Old 01-15-2005, 02:34 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ellemoon
I stay at home and consider myself a feminist. I do have some issues with it though. I LOVE being at home with my children but I also feel like I am not "living up to my potential" - or more like I am not using 100,000$ worth or education. Also, at times I feel a little strange being entirely dependent on my husband for money and insurance. Our relationship is very good and he values what I do, but I can't help feeling a bit powerless. I actually have angst over this issue because although I feel these things I really DO want to be home with my children.
Your education shows in the choices and philosophies you apply to raising your children, I'm sure. I'm willing to bet that you are putting your education to good use
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#27 of 114 Old 01-15-2005, 02:36 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mommyofone
I'm a feminist of the Camile Paglia variety and a SAHM. To me, feminism is about choices. I chose to stop practicing law and stay home with my son (soon to be son *and* daughter .)
...
What do you think of Camile Paglia's views on rape?
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#28 of 114 Old 01-15-2005, 02:38 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FeministFatale
The hardest part to being a sahm is that I'm not getting any social security or retirement. Of course, my partner is the one who I depend on for money now, but I don't feel dependent. I feel that he gets paid doing his job and part of his paycheck pays me for doing my job. But the thing I hate is that he is going to get a nice retirement with his 401k and his social security, whereas I will be getting jack shit. I became pregnant while a senior at UCLA so I haven't ever had a "career." The thing that I have decided to do in order to fix this is that I'm now going to be doing an automatic withdrawl from every paycheck into a balanced fund, and that will be my retirement money. But also I plan on getting a woh job when my girls are older.
Have you looked into a ROTH IRA?
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#29 of 114 Old 01-15-2005, 02:50 AM
 
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Another SAHM feminist here. Feminism is about equality and choices. There is a difference between staying home because you want to, and staying home because you are not allowed to work outside the home.

Jam 7, Peanut Butter 5, and Bread 2.

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#30 of 114 Old 01-15-2005, 03:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I asked the question originally because I'm a grad student in history, and I've been working on a paper about working women, day care, & breastfeeding, and I have been completely astonished to discover that a lot of the AP stuff is NOT considered feminist, depending on who you ask. There are 2 kinds of feminist (more or less)--equality feminists, and "difference" feminists. This divide has existed pretty much since the 19th century, only earlier the difference feminists were sometimes called "maternalists."

Basically, equality feminists want legislation etc which eliminates all the socially-constructed differences between men & women, and not legislation which encourages the differences--for instance, protective legislation for women workers in the 1920s was OPPOSED by feminists, because by saying, for instance, women shouldn't work at night meant that many women couldn't make any money at all. They also opposed "women's pensions," payments for women to allow them to stay home, because they would reinforce the idea that women should stay home and not work--that stereotype was the major issue that was keeping women from making any headway in the working world. (The payments were so low that many women worked anyway though.)

Connected to protective legislation was the sex typing of jobs, much of it done ostensibly to 'protect' women from workplace hazards (most of them moral hazards, not physical). This was a really bad thing b/c it stuck women in very low-paying exploitive work.

These days, a lot of the arguments are actually pretty similar. Long maternity leaves, for instance, have been construed as a problem because they reinforce the idea that women's place is at home, not at work. This is where it gets extended to a bizarre extreme to me, though some say a solution is to have long paternity leaves too (even though men rarely use them when they are available). Another one is that breastfeeding reinforces gender stereotypes and prevents women from working outside the home, or even leaving it for very long.

Equality feminists seem to find the whole 'taking care of my children IS a career' idea to be self-delusion, basically, and work which just perpetuates patriarchy. Being a SAHM is what the men in power WANT you to do--no structural or legal change will result from that.

Difference feminists/maternalists are more like Mothering types. Women should have equal rights, opportunity and so on, but they agree that there is something different (and good) about being female, and that good thing should be encouraged. Much of that good thing happens around mothering.

The breastfeeding issue is what really trips up equality feminists, and, to be blunt, I think mothering in general does too. Many of the major women's labor histories barely mention mothering at ALL--as if all those women simply made their kids vanish when they went to work. No one even looked at the history of day care here until a couple of years ago (one is a very good book by Sonya Michel called Children's Interests/Mothers' Rights). And mainstream feminism & women's historians (outside of medical history) seem to have avoided breastfeeding until really recently. There's a bit of work on La Leche League--how in the 1950s it was a radical critique of scientific mothering, advocate of natural childbirth etc, but in the 1970s it was reactionary for insisting women should stay home with their small children.

What's been blowing my mind about all this is that I definitely consider myself a feminist, but I was also adamant about staying home with my baby as long as possible. I'm a single mom so I could only do it full-time for 6 months, but I've had a very flexible schedule & a very cooperative ex and so my son is only going into part-time day care now, when he's almost 2. And breastfeeding for me has been an extremely empowering experience--it just strikes me as totally bizarre that it could somehow be construed as nonfeminist. But maybe some of that comes from women feeling pressured to breastfeed by authority figures, or wanting to be free of biological contraints. Also, formula feeding is supposed to make parenting more egalitarian.

The issue which is the most problematic to me is that women who breastfeed in the US are white, middle- & upper-class women, who can both afford to stay home or have excellent day care, who have access to breastfedding support like this web site, & who are more likely to go through with pumping at work because they have more control over their working environments. Working class and black women are much less likely to nurse, partly because they work in situations where they can't pump easily (in a factory, say) and because they need someone else to care for their kids from an early age--and it's just easier with formula. These women are also really tired of being told what to do by middle-class white women (we also have a very long history of this here--high-minded social workers, etc.) and being told to breastfeed is sometimes just another part of this.

Anyway, the reason I asked is because I thought most women here would be feminist but wanted see how you all would put it. The idea that raising your kids ideologically is your contribution to society is a really old idea, by the way--in the 1770s raising up little republicans (small R) for the new independent nation was actively promoted, for instance. In fact, education for women was first encouraged because it would help women raise their sons to be more equipped to deal with commerce & politics, NOT because it would improve women's opportunities outside the home.

It's all really complicated once you look at it, as you can see. There's also a pretty new book out called The Paradox of Natural Motherhood, by Chris Bobel, a sociological study of people just like you and me--crunchy, natural-foods, bake-your-own bread types. The conclusion is that these women are well-educated and definitely consider themselves feminists, but yet they do not really engage with the world outside the home. That's the paradox. It's very weird to see yourself being analyzed this way.

FeministFatale sums up the problem in her post, I think--women are supposed to mother, women even want to mother, and we are all told it's the most important thing etc etc--yet if you're 'only' a mother you get very few rewards beyond the emotional, AND your status as mother rather than wage-earner can be used against you in surprising ways. (See Anne Crittenden's book, The Price of Motherhood. You will start screaming.) This is not the case in other industrial democracies, big surprise. We just don't put our money where our mouths are here, and that's why American equality feminists aren't into sentimentalizing motherhood. What has it gotten us, really?

Okay, my dissertation is finished!!
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