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  Topic Review (Newest First)
09-21-2011 11:35 AM
Amy M

Well, I haven't read over all the replies and I am a SAHM who took hubbies name (for full disclosure).  Maybe some of it is the area you live?  I just refinanced our mortgage- some stuff was in both DH and my name and some exclusively in mine due to our finances when the house was first purchased.  I have done all the research, paperwork, discussions etc always putting DH first as he is the one breadwinner in the family.  Yesterday I received a call from the agent asking if I wanted DH listed on the deed and the insurance as he was not previously.  I told him of course and he told me he has completed so many in just the wife's name recently he wanted to make sure we were to both be listed on everything. 

At the car dealership the sales people (usually 20-40 yr old men) always defer to me about decisions.  It's possibly b/c I state right out we are a family and need such and such in a vehicle but they go through me and then I let DH deal with the paperwork b/c I dont want to and he likes to haggle.  Our last purchase the dealer repeatedly tried to get me to join in the office but I was chasing around two little ones and just did not want to.  The interesting thing is I live in the rural south.

Maybe some places are different than others or maybe I just don't pick up on some of the stuff but just a story to let you know that maybe things are progressing.

 

Maybe for some or the other stuff we just need to give each other a break.  I am happy as a SAHM, I have a friend who loves her kids daycare and would never want to quit work as well as another who will probably never have kids, we all love each other for who we are.  I agree you should have insisted on your name on the sheets and maybe educated the office staff about what was going on but for some of this stuff let people be where they are happy. 

09-18-2011 03:48 PM
kathrineg

And, one more thing, you openly admit that other women need their husbands/male partners more than you do. Why would you be surprised that women who are more dependent on men would be more deferential to them and less likely to make waves? Not every woman has the ability to be economically self-sufficient, especially once they have children to support. Just because you have that ability doesn't make other women spineless, weak, or "slinking". 

09-18-2011 03:44 PM
kathrineg

I don't get how you work in a business where porn and strip clubs are the accepted norm and yet you see WOMEN as holding you back and perpetuating sexism and going along with the status quo. Do you say anything about the porn or do you just let it go? Why are the things you choose to accept vs fight about okay, but other women are hypocrites?

 

And in the case of women who don't want to be mommy tracked, you blame them for trying to avoid marginalization, and not the men who would marginalize them. Why?

 

You criticize women for taking their husbands' names when they obviously don't want to do it--why not blame the men who spouted egalitarian bullshit until the woman had spent years investing in the relationship? They're not hypocrites?

 

I think it would be valuable for you to look at the ways you're letting men off the hook in order to blame the victim(s).

09-17-2011 07:38 AM
transylvania_mom

Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleGriff View Post
 they seem to all take their hubby's name and happily slink off to lurk beneath his shadow anyway.


 



Quote:
Originally Posted by Carma View Post

Usually it is is taking your husbands name or keeping your father's name ;-) What's the difference?

 


 


I agree with this. Thanks for mentioning it.

 

OP, good for you for standing up to be treated fairly.

 

09-14-2011 08:49 AM
Carma

Usually it is is taking your husbands name or keeping your father's name ;-) What's the difference?

 

Quote:

I get crap all the time that DD is not in daycare and I'm not working....and it totally pisses me off.

 

If you want to go work and have your kid in daycare for some cause...good for you, but I don't want that and it should be OK too. I am so sick of the harassment that I am some weak woman for wanting to JUST be a mom.

 

I'd rather fight for my child's rights than my own and I think a lot of babies/kids get the short end of the stick b/c of the whole two full time working parents thing...

 

If your DH supports you and your DD I have no issues at all, don't understand why people would give you a bad time. But what if your DH has the same desire? Then the two full time working parents just have to pay a bit more taxes?

Also, it is much better accepted for a woman to stay home and not work outside the home than for a man. That is also sexist.

 

Carma

 

08-25-2011 08:01 AM
Quinalla Yes, if the standard practice is to put the person who makes more money first, fine, I'm ok with that personally, but to assume that is the man is rude and insulting. In my case, my DH happens to make more money than me, but there is no way to know that without actually checking that info.

Car dealerships/loans are another where you run into this so much. Once I tell a salesperson that the car is for me when DH and I are out looking (preferably they should ask us, but I will forgive that one), if they don't immediately direct all conversation to me first, then we walk out and have done so at numerous places. I will not put up with that! I had to tell off my Acura dealer since after I made my first service appointment, we bought the car in both of our names but stressed that it was my car and all correspondence goes to me. Anyway, I called and made the appointment and gave them my cell number, well they called to confirm it with my DH at work!! This pissed me off a lot so when I went in, I sat down with the service rep and had him supposedly go into their records and change everything to point to me. Well, he screwed it up and they called DH for the follow up on the appointment. I called back very angry and luckily got a different person who seemed to actually get why this would piss me off. It better be cleared up now, or I will get serviced elsewhere. It's such a simple thing and there is no excuse for them to screw it up after being told 3 times that I wanted everything to reference me. Two people on the loan doesn't mean that it is automatically my DHs car, grrr.

But yeah, there are definitely women out there who buy into the patriarchy. I used to be one of them so I try to be gentle with those who aren't where I am yet, but I also don't stand for that BS either.
08-24-2011 06:49 PM
Super~Single~Mama

Quote:
Originally Posted by sosurreal09 View Post


You're right.I didn't realize it was the working mothers forum b/c I just read the title in new posts. I apologize as I can now see that was something offensive to write. I was trying to make a point, not hurt feelings.

 


The point you made was a good one.  However, your opinion of working mothers is offensive.  I don't have any problems with mom's choosing to SAH, even though its something I wouldn't do in a million years (it doesn't work with my personality, and I would be the worst mom ever if I did the SAH gig long term) - its really not too much to ask that you respect our choice to WOH in much the same way.  Especially since you are in no position to judge our choices, or how we are raising our children.  Mom's do the best they can, with what they have, whether or not they are SAH or WOH - we can only do the best we can.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama Soltera View Post

I think we all just have to admit that we ALL get shit for the choices we make as women and mothers. It's always wrong in someone else's opinion and it's more of the war of the women type of thing that we discussed before. Whichever your choice is, it can feel like everyone's against it because you notice that end more. I've been on both sides all the way though, so I know it's true all around.


Yep.  War of the mommies.  It pretty much sucks.

 

08-24-2011 06:38 PM
Mama Soltera

I think we all just have to admit that we ALL get shit for the choices we make as women and mothers. It's always wrong in someone else's opinion and it's more of the war of the women type of thing that we discussed before. Whichever your choice is, it can feel like everyone's against it because you notice that end more. I've been on both sides all the way though, so I know it's true all around.

08-24-2011 09:41 AM
sosurreal09


You're right.I didn't realize it was the working mothers forum b/c I just read the title in new posts. I apologize as I can now see that was something offensive to write. I was trying to make a point, not hurt feelings.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Super~Single~Mama View Post




You know, this can be your opinion, but don't come and say it on a WORKING MOTHERS forum, b/c its pretty offensive to read that you think my kid is getting the short end of the stick.



 

08-24-2011 09:23 AM
Super~Single~Mama

Quote:
Originally Posted by sosurreal09 View Post

I'd rather fight for my child's rights than my own and I think a lot of babies/kids get the short end of the stick b/c of the whole two full time working parents thing...


You know, this can be your opinion, but don't come and say it on a WORKING MOTHERS forum, b/c its pretty offensive to read that you think my kid is getting the short end of the stick.

08-24-2011 09:10 AM
ElliesMomma

perhaps you are getting more support from the men BECAUSE they are the ones in charge, and therefore have the liberty of making decisions in your favor. the women, such as the one filling out the forms with you are underlings, and have to report to the men.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleGriff View Post
Sincere inquiry here, is it sexist? I feel that women far more more often than men tend to tell me to get in line and do as other women are doing (i.e. not demanding so much for themselves). That's been my experience. Men have been the ones telling me go for it, you're doing great, you deserve this, etcetera. I've so rarely gotten that from a female colleague. (I can think of only one at the moment.) Don't just tell another woman "things never change" and leave it at that - help change them!
08-24-2011 08:52 AM
sosurreal09

OK not to get everyone's feathers in a bunch but I am a 23 y/o SAHM and get nothing but sh*t for it from EVERYONE. I think things have changed in the younger generations. I am EXPECTED to work and quite a few people were up in arms that I even got married let alone took DH's last name...

 

I get crap all the time that DD is not in daycare and I'm not working....and it totally pisses me off.

 

If you want to go work and have your kid in daycare for some cause...good for you, but I don't want that and it should be OK too. I am so sick of the harassment that I am some weak woman for wanting to JUST be a mom.

 

I'd rather fight for my child's rights than my own and I think a lot of babies/kids get the short end of the stick b/c of the whole two full time working parents thing...

 

*don't flame me, it's just IMHO*

08-24-2011 08:19 AM
hildare

allisonR- it's here, under "finding your tribe" then "any radical feminist mamas out there"

08-23-2011 01:21 PM
AllisonR

Loving this thread. Very enlightening. 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by texmati View Post

ugh. I got listed as 'etux' on our app. Not even my name appeared. I *did* make a stink about it too....



What is etux ? 



Quote:
Originally Posted by Mama Soltera View Post

Beachcomber, I could not have said it better. When I try to tell women this they usually get defensive and say it's not true. I had to leave my last job because of this. I just could not be a part of that, even if I wasn't involved, I didn't want to be around it. I hope you'll join us on the feminists thread if you haven't already.


Please help. Where is the feminist thread? thanks.

 

08-20-2011 06:30 PM
texmati

ugh. I got listed as 'etux' on our app. Not even my name appeared. I *did* make a stink about it too....

08-20-2011 06:15 PM
Wolfcat

I had this discussion with a (female) coworker. She was talking about how she won't even let her boys jump on a trampoline in a girly way.

 

I said, why do that? By discouraging boys from being "girly" but letting girls be "tomboys" we are sending the message that girls are lesser and shouldn't be emulated, while boys are the behavior to which anyone can aspire.

 

I don't think she got that... Gender discrimination cannot be fought by words alone. We have to change our attitudes towards that mindset within the culture.

08-20-2011 03:30 PM
Mama Soltera

Beachcomber, I could not have said it better. When I try to tell women this they usually get defensive and say it's not true. I had to leave my last job because of this. I just could not be a part of that, even if I wasn't involved, I didn't want to be around it. I hope you'll join us on the feminists thread if you haven't already.

08-17-2011 10:23 PM
beachcomber

Ah, the naming conventions. DH and I both changed our last name when we married. His father was abusive and he didn't want our children having anything to do with that. My last name was more boring than boring. So we looked through our family histories and found a name we agreed on and voila.

 

Woman not supporting other women. This is an unfortunate consequence of living in a patriarchaly-constructed capitalist economic system that forces nuclear families and competition as the norm. It's also a product of socialization. Women, unfortunately, are socialized from childhood to not support other women, to be suspicious of other women, to gossip and nitpick and judge other women. It's called micro-manipulation. It's the only power women were allowed for countless centuries. It's a huge part of why so many women are difficult to work for as managers because they just never got the opportunity to have open camaraderie, support and so on as kids. I did a really interesting MA thesis on this for my degree in Sociology (from a feminist perspective). Ha ha.

 

I think this thread is opening up valuable discourse on how we CAN support one another and how important it is to strive to do that. Not just for us but for our daughters. After 20 years of being a feminist, I've seen so little actual improvement. Many of my more senior feminist friends tell me it's the same for them after 40 or more years of hard work to improve things for women as a class.

08-10-2011 02:31 AM
medmom7

Little Griff I am so sorry you had the experience of trying to start the mothers group only to be rebuffed. I cannot imagine how devastating that must have been. Just wondering if you would ever consider going back to your alma mater and trying again to start this group or at least discussing with the admin the need for such a group? CIMama, sorry you had the performance review where you were criticized for being a mom. How awful.

 

I definitely agree about the need for women and mothers to stand up for each other, about the need to create a kind of old gals club in the way that men do. I have had plenty of experiences like the one you mention about the mortgage. (My husband, bless his heart, always calls people out on this behavior and it makes him mad too.) Far more egregious, however, are the times when women have not stood up for me.

 

I had my first baby while in med school and on my first rotation back one of my attendings was also a mom who was pumping. It was so hard for me to be away from my baby and I kept looking to her for a word of encouragement or support. It never came. To her credit, she was probably too busy to notice that I needed that. But I think we need to GO OUT OF OUR WAY to be supportive to other women and mothers in the workplace. When I am at the hospital now and see a woman carrying a pump I give them a smile. When I meet a new mom just back at work I always make sure to tell her I know how hard it is. I am the only female resident in my group with children but another lady is pregnant and I have told her she can count on me to be there for her, take an extra call for her if she needs, etc. 

 

In addition to Sheryl Sandberg's three things women need to do to ensure equality (sit at the table, choose and equal partner, don't leave before you leave), I would add a fourth.  We need to stand up for other women in the workplace. IMO the fact that women do not do this is a huge contributor to lack of equal pay for equal jobs.

 

And also...while we are working for equality for women here, lets not forget our sisters around the globe who have far fewer rights then we do and lack basic things such as access to education or to the right to contraception/control over their fertility etc.... There are many good organizations  (especially those working to support female small business owners IMO) working for this.

08-01-2011 08:17 AM
LittleGriff

I love the lets turn complaints into action theme. I'm trying to keep my posts brief but it's just not working!

"Blame"

Just in case, I want to be very clear that I am not "blaming" women for anything other than their own hypocrisy, where it exists. The least progressive thing I could say was that women should all think the same thing or agree with me simply because they are women. I am disappointed that more women don't seem to hold beliefs similar to my own (that's their right! I get that, and I don't have to agree with them either ;) but I am angry with women who purport to support progress and advancement when their actions demonstrate otherwise.

 

Perfectly said here:

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by princesstutu View Post

Let's be clear that even women who truly want to make change happen are ensconced in the rules of the "boys" running the show.

 

Context

To understand my perspective better, I would just mention that I live in a professional world where workplace porn and client meetings in strip clubs is common place, 10% of mid level professionals are women, 0.1% of top are women and I cannot literally think of a single male colleague with a wife who works. (90% of my female colleagues are assistants of one variety or another.)

 

I live in an extreme gender world and it's generated some extreme feelings on my end. It's hard for me to believe my every day experience still exists. What I see and think about every single working day is that women are not participating in some major areas of the economy, to all of our detriment. So that's top of my particular agenda. Just to mention where I'm coming from. I'm disappointed and sad that I have virtually no female peers in my workplace. And my experiences with the few there are have become all the more poignant by virtue of their infrequency. I didn't consider it initially but my comments may seem especially alien to women working in a more balanced environment.

 

Action

If you can't tell already I really agree with the earlier "money is power" comment. I spent a summer in college volunteering for a non-profit and decided that was the last time I was ever going to spend my time asking someone with the big bucks for a handout. I began thinking about action on individual and personal terms.

 

My approach/goal between then and now has been to try to become as physically, intellectually and economically powerful woman I can and to make myself and my experiences available to both men and women through mentorship, alumni networking, women's groups and a blog. I'd love to have the funds at some point to spearhead some major policy initiatives or at least write some decent checks to those who don't mind asking for money.

 

My other goal, after career number one is in a better place, would be to create a media company that would produce compelling, hip gender (probably some other categories as well) progressive movies/shows/web content/maybe graphic novels. The idea being creating "mainstream" (as in, does not easily fall into some derogatory niche label and is truly attractive to a range of audience demographics, not mainstream = crappy ) entertainment which represents the sort of world I want my daughter and son to live in. (Great article in this vein: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704013604576247133240163732.html)

 

Collective action makes sense to me, but has not been my strength so far, ironically. But I'm all ears!

 

07-31-2011 03:26 PM
One_Girl

I think part of the problem is that women accept a lot of the little things before speaking up because we don't feel right about taking a stand for ourselves, especially when we think it will be seen as griping about the little thing.  It is the little things that really add up though.  OP, you said you were already annoyed by the realtor listing just your husbands name for months before this event.  Even you accept things that really shouldn't be accepted if you truly want the equality you say other women are holding you back from.  This isn't just about the rest of us and what we accept, it is about all of us and what we accept.  I think we all (me, you, and all other women) need to work to push past our discomfort with being seen as a crabby wave-maker if we want to see a change in society as a whole. 

07-31-2011 06:12 AM
Lizbiz

Hi - I love this conversation... a couple of points... 

 

I disagree that there is no sisterhood. It's just broken a bit in places - just like everything else in this world.  That's life.  But to deny that there is a sisterhood because some are backstabbers/unsupportive is a bit illogical.  I have many supportive sisters - older and younger - friends and colleagues.  I'm happy about that.  I've also experienced a few women who've not been supportive - but that's more the exception than the rule, at least for me.  

 

Also, I too believe that the discrimination mostly rests on women who are mothers (or who could soon be mothers).  I've been asked about my marital/maternal status - in American interviews.  Boldy.  In detail.  And I knew I would be.  I was also asked point blank about my religious beliefs (it's somewhat apparent from my resume and not easy to hide).  That's life (It shouldn't be, but it is reality just now).  I got the job anyway.  I also am viewed with suspicion at times in my workplace as if I'm the "one with kids" who can't take on anything extra - when in fact I am hyper-efficient and quite often out-pace my childless colleagues in less time.  I don't chat at the water cooler - I'd rather use that time at home with my kids at the end of the day.  Younger, childless, female colleagues, I'll admit it here - forgive my own insecurity coming through here - intimidate me a bit and I have to take an emotional step back and remember that I was once them - needing the support of women ahead of me (now me) - isn't that awful?  But I feel like - oh gosh, they have no kids, they have NOTHING to hold them back from spending 14 hours a day here impressing everyone!  AGH.  Then I remind myself that when I had kids, I moved to China so that as I was taking time off to be with my first when he was little, I was also learning Chinese.  And that's come in handy - It's why I have the job I do now - and that wasn't an easy task.  And it is also impressive, and I did that while I was a MOM.  So there! 

 

So, I can relate - we have to be careful to always support each other and not give in to our own insecurities.  None of us are immune.  At least I'm not anyway.

 

The system IS flawed, but tough to change I think.  Children are a societal good.  Healthy, happy families are a societal good.  We just have to get the companies we work for (or run, for that matter) to care about that societal good - and that's the trick and the problem as I see it.  There's a lack of motivation for companies to change.  If we are just cogs in the system and we stop working quite as perfectly efficiently when we're prego or breastfeeding - then it's in the interest of the company to replace that cog or just try to get as much out of you as possible.  Companies, in general, in my experience - don't care that much about the kids at home, frankly, as far as I can see.  They (rightly in many respects) are focused on their own bottom lines.  So... how to motivate companies to change?  To care about promoting women who are also mothers and wives/partners?  That's where I get stuck.   

07-30-2011 04:02 PM
Mama Soltera

I agree this is a conversation that needs to happen no matter how upsetting it may be.

 

Not to drag the topic out but the last name thing is a tricky one for me because even so-called "maternal" names are still paternal. She got the name from her father who got it from his father etc. etc. Even if it goes through a couple generations, it is still a man's name.

 

I have thought of changing my name a lot but I can't think of one that I like, that I feel good about and that wouldn't be cheesy (to me).

 

I agree with so much of the OP's sentiment but I have to admit that even I cringed a little bit at the "women are to blame" comment. I could see that was not what the OP was really saying so I was not too upset by it but I worry about how quickly women turn on other women. I agree there is not necessarily any real sisterhood, but we are so programmed to turn on each other (I call it "women hating women") that I think we need to be very careful how we express it. I'm sorry I'm not being very clear. I mean in saying that women are against you try to not come across as if you are in turn against them (general you/me). Just like with the names, the root is still patriarchal. But yes, women should be taking responsibility for their actions and their part in accepting or even contributing to the system in a way that keeps it from progressing.

07-30-2011 08:21 AM
princesstutu

Something else we can work to change.

 

I wonder if folks understand this, so I'm going to post it here:

 

You can change your name anytime you want.  I can't guarantee it will be hassle-free as far as government workers are concerned (people are people), but if you are not trying to hide behind aliases and are on the up-and-up, you have the right to use a different name and get a Social Security card reflecting it.  You don't want to know how many different names I've had in my life. I've had just as many Social Security cards.  The government cares about the number, not your name. 

07-29-2011 03:41 PM
2xy

OP, I'm sorry for your experiences, but I can't say I have really noticed them to be common practice.

 

The only time I can really remember feeling offended (in this context) is when I was a young woman in the military and went to look at some bedroom furniture in NC. The older gentleman who was running the floor asked me, sort of condescendingly, "Well, miss....how do you intend to pay for this?" I was shopping alone with my 2yo DS. I don't know if he was concerned because a man wasn't with me, or if he was concerned because I was 23 and looked 16. I said, "With my Navy paycheck," and he was like "Oh" and we proceeded with the transaction.

 

When my ex and I bought a house, both our names were on the paperwork. His was listed first, but he was the one who went alone to initiate the purchase, because my military orders were a few weeks behind his and I wasn't physically there yet.

 

I've never been asked about family status for a job, and I've moved a lot so I've been hired many times. I've purchased two cars without anyone asking about a husband. Our joint tax returns list my name first, because I'm the one who prepares them online, so I don't know what a PP was referring to about the IRS requiring the man's name to be first. ???

 

Also, yes, I have my husband's last name. I feel no connection to my maiden name. I feel a connection to my DH. Also, our original plan was to abandon both of our surnames and pick a new surname to share...until we discovered that DH would have to pay several hundred dollars and appear in front of a judge to accomplish this in our state. It was a hassle neither of us wanted, plus we couldn't agree on a name to share, so we just went with his. State law allows women to change their names when getting married or divorced; it doesn't allow the same for men.

07-29-2011 02:48 PM
princesstutu

Let's be clear that even women who truly want to make change happen are ensconced in the rules of the "boys" running the show. 

 

I agree that we live in an overwhelmingly child-hating, family-hating society.  A perverse society.  It's anti-male, too, but sometimes that gets lost in the shuffle. 

 

Anyway, back to what I originally was trying to say: unless more of us stick together in a more physical presence and a more financial presence, I don't think much will change.  The least we can hope to do is to make such a fuss that the rules of the game change (even if the game, itself, remains on the table).  That is what we have seen happen over and over, again.  Without a complete overhaul of the system (and many women will oppose this, even ones we think are on "our" side ;)), I doubt much more than rule-changing can actually happen.  However, over time, I'm sure the rules can change so much that we are actually playing a different game.  Over time. 

 

So, we know what we think the problems are.  What shall we do about them?  What shall we do to make it normal for society to value us with the same vehemence it claims to value men? 

 

There are a few things I've noticed in the world of change.  There needs to be money involved (so we can buy people, too? LOL i jest.  let's pay for some advertising, though.  let's publish some school texts and send them to charter schools to try.  or something.).  There needs to be media exposure (and rallies and protests are not as effective these days as they once were.  advertising works.  get an ad on Facebook? fun works.  have an "education fair" of some sort where you give out prizes, etc.).  There needs to be food (people flock to food).  

 

There are other things that work (gimmicks, themes, t-shirts, whatever), but the 3 I expounded upon seem to be more foundational for the beginnings of a Big Deal kinda thing.  

 

Sorry...didn't mean to derail the thread.  I like to turn complaints into action.  Yes, we know it's a problem.  What are we gonna do?  There are lots of groups out there doing good work.  What do we feel is missing and the main reason (or possible reason) their work is not making the fundamental change we want?   

 

And, even more...what if our message included the fact that men are being mistreated and devalued, as well, and went in on a pro-people front?  Have parades.  Have music festivals.  For the specific purpose of changing something. 

 

I don't know.   Just throwing out stuff. 

07-29-2011 01:32 PM
CI Mama

Wow, I just want to say that I love it that I have a place to have an intelligent conversation about this. I'm not really arguing with anyone here, I think we have a lot in common. And who knows, maybe we really will figure out how to change the world....
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleGriff View Post



 


 

So, yeah, it's true that there are forces greater than each woman out there but if women can't step up and make changes and stand up for us, it's lost. I just feel like the time has come in our evolution for rights that we need to look towards the last hurdles within. How are we binding ourselves? From things as small as brushing off unfair forms to as big as standing up for a co-worker who's getting pushed about by the maternity leave police. Unfortunately, I still feel like we're in that fragile place where our individual actions still negatively impact one another and women need to be especially vigilant about not averting their gaze.

 


I think I have a subtly different take on "the last hurdles within." I've been in a lesbian relationship for 18+ years. I don't think it's possible for me to manifest a more egalitarian personal life. My partner & I share equally in earning money, taking care of our house, and parenting our child. (Well, as equally as we can considering I was the one who got pregnant, gave birth & breastfed. It's getting more & more equal as DD gets older). There are many ways that I don't feel bound at all by conventional notions of what a woman should be.

 

But making those personal choices isn't changing my world. I still face the same crap-ass attitudes and policies that all working moms face.

 

OK, I'm not sure I'm disagreeing with you at all. I understand that I have a responsibility to stand up for and support other women. That's the only solution. I just think that individual actions and resolving internal misogyny/homophobia only get you so far. At some point collective action is needed....a political agenda we can all get behind.

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by mambera View Post


 


 

I think if we could make that point clearer to the policymakers and the public at large, we might make more headway than by making statements about what we as women can or can't reasonably do.  The woman-centered framing only ends up making women look weak and demanding.  The child-centered framing exposes people who oppose child-friendly policies for the ethical invalids they are.


God, I hate it that when we ask for reasonable rights we look weak and demanding. But you are so right.

 

Can we have both? As in, lets do what's best for women AND children? Because at some point the whole thing feels a little circular to me. I want what's best for me because it's best for my child...and I want what's best for my child because it's best for me.... Also, I feel like there are ways that opposing child-friendly policies gets twisted into supporting "parents rights" or something crazy. Like, it's better not to support affordable daycare for all working families because that gives parents more choices. Um, right.

 

I guess I'm still wondering where our political power can come from. Who is advocating for the rights of women & children?

 

07-29-2011 11:53 AM
mambera


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleGriff View Post
I am so here with everything in your post, CI Mama. When I had my first child I was so embarrassed that I had thought pre-kiddo that it was just a matter of attitude when asking women to participate fully in economic life AND bear kids was asking them to be super human all day long.


Honestly, I feel that framing the conversation in terms of whether we are expecting too much from mothers at work is looking at it all wrong.  It is not about the strain on the mother (I do feel that choosing parenthood is a personal choice that comes with tradeoffs, like much else in life).  It is about *the effect on the child.*

 

I am just as energetic, hardworking, dedicated, etc. with a child as I was before.  More actually.  The difference is that I choose (appropriately so!) to direct much of that energy to my child's care, because that is (and should be) the priority.  My child needs me unspeakably far more than my coworkers, and, yes, than my patients.  Wanting (e.g.) a reasonable maternity leave (by which I mean 6 months to a year, not the measly 8 weeks I got) is not about *my* need to recover.  It is about the need of a helpless infant to be cared for by the single most appropriate person to do that.

 

I find it absolutely offensive and wrong when people suggest that a new mother 'isn't doing enough' at work (or 'doesn't have the right attitude' or whatever).  Like, infuriating.  As in, my internal reaction is something like "(TOS violation) you!  You think your need for me to do xyz piece of bureaucratic labor compares in any way at all to the need that an infant has for its mother?  (TOS violation) you and the disgustingly inverted set of priorities you rode in on!"  

 

Honestly, in my hormone-addled postpartum state I even got offended at people who would ask well-meaning things like "What's the hardest about this?  Is it the sleep deprivation?" or whatever.  I'm like, no you moron, it has nothing to do with the sleep deprivation, it has nothing to do with *me* at all.  I chose this.  My kid did not get to choose.

 

I think if we could make that point clearer to the policymakers and the public at large, we might make more headway than by making statements about what we as women can or can't reasonably do.  The woman-centered framing only ends up making women look weak and demanding.  The child-centered framing exposes people who oppose child-friendly policies for the ethical invalids they are.

07-29-2011 11:08 AM
LittleGriff

Quote:
Originally Posted by CI Mama View Post

Are individual women responsible? To some degree, yes. But I would say that as individuals our choices are only as good as the systems in which we live. And unless we can collectively work together for changes that benefit all women, families and children, we'll just keep struggling with our own impossible situations.

 

 


I am so here with everything in your post, CI Mama. When I had my first child I was so embarrassed that I had thought pre-kiddo that it was just a matter of attitude when asking women to participate fully in economic life AND bear kids was asking them to be super human all day long.

 

Expanding on your last point I would say individual women form the system in which we live and therefore are hugely responsible. (I wish our individual actions mattered less.)

 

A huge piece of backstory in my original rant was a really disappointing experience in graduate school. I arrived to bschool with a 10 month old and tried to create a support group for student moms under the school's official women's group which receives funding and support from the school as well as corporations and is a huge piece of the "we love women here" marketing spiel that bschools put on these days. Not only was I fully rebuffed by the self-appointed group's female leaders (they don't run by election but pass it off to a hand selected group of their choosing each year), apparently because they did not want to "mommy-track" the group and sully their good name. (Despite huge interest for such an initiative, measured by a survey I did, among the female student population.) The director of admissions, director of academic affairs, director of diversity affairs (!) and the deputy dean, who all are women and all but one had kids, did nothing to intervene and seemed to feel it was an appropriate decision. And that was that. There's plenty of other drama in there (including getting reamed out by one of those female leaders on my due date and sent home sobbing) but I'll leave it at that. This is while bschools are making lots of big talk about how they support women and yet won't do the simple thing of acknowledging that women have babies and it makes them unable to be just exactly like their male counterparts and we need to figure out solutions rather than expect the impossible of mere mortals.

 

This is not the only instance of lack of female support I've encountered but it was the most peculiar and unexpected. (No one's job was at stake and this really could have been a huge symbolic win.) And it just destroyed my confidence in progress. (If bschools can't do this, why would businesses?)

 

So, yeah, it's true that there are forces greater than each woman out there but if women can't step up and make changes and stand up for us, it's lost. I just feel like the time has come in our evolution for rights that we need to look towards the last hurdles within. How are we binding ourselves? From things as small as brushing off unfair forms to as big as standing up for a co-worker who's getting pushed about by the maternity leave police. Unfortunately, I still feel like we're in that fragile place where our individual actions still negatively impact one another and women need to be especially vigilant about not averting their gaze.

 

07-29-2011 10:45 AM
CI Mama

Quote:
Originally Posted by mambera View Post

 

Regarding the lack of support for childrearing in the US: Yeah this is a huge problem, but I don't think it's an issue of *discrimination* per se.  Women with children make less money than those without because (overall, over the population) they spend less time working overall than women without children.  Which is fine.  While we certainly need better supports for working women with children (like a reasonable maternity leave policy and some better day care options), we shouldn't be shooting for a benchmark of *no difference in earnings* between women with children and women without, because there will always be women (many women - even most women?) who actively choose to reduce their hours in the paid workforce order to spend more time on child care.  It would be cool if men had the freedom to make those same life choices.  But what wouldn't be cool is if we pretended that childrearing does not (or worse, should not!) divert parental resources away from other endeavors (such as participation in the paid workforce).


These are really good points. It has certainly been my experience that by making the choice to become a mom (and for me that was a very hard fought choice), I have had less to give to my career. The physical demands of pregnancy, breastfeeding, and parenting an infant (and now a small child) are real. If I've discovered anything about myself as I've navigated being a working mom, it's that I'm not a "force of nature." I have only so much energy, and I have to prioritize how I use it. And my kid comes first; that's a no-brainer as far as I'm concerned.

 

If we frame the conversation solely in terms of women making a "personal choice" to place parenting ahead of career advancement, however, we risk underestimating the very real systemic and structural obstacles that women face in the workforce. And we lose the opportunity to find collective solutions that support women both as employees and as workers. I'm talking about things like decent paid maternity and paternity leaves, high quality affordable day care, support for breastfeeding women at work. In the USA we leave those things to luck and to individual ingenuity, and so most women are forced to make really tough choices (a decent life for my child vs. full commitment to my work).

 

I am a reasonably intelligent, energetic & capable person who likes my work, wants to serve my community & wants to bring value to my organization. I didn't intend to give any of that up when I became a parent, nor did I want to choose to advance at work at my child's expense. So I've made a whole series of compromises. I had only been in my current job for 3 months when I got pregnant, so I felt a need to work like a dog through pregnancy to show that the organization hadn't made a mistake in hiring me. I worked literally almost up to the moment my labor began. I went back to work 8 weeks after my DD was born because I had used up all my paid maternity leave. I was still recovering from the labor from hell, a c-section, and a raging breast infection. I was getting 5 hours of sleep a night on a good night. I had spent my maternity leave totally stressed out trying to navigate childcare options, none of which were ideal and all of which were too expensive. Somehow I figured it out and got my butt to work every day. I gave what I had at work, because I felt like I had no choice. I probably should have used FMLA to take more time off, but it would have been unpaid time, which I couldn't afford, in part because I would have had to pay my health care premiums ($700 a month).

 

At my performance review 9 months after DD's birth, the basic message was, "You're doing good work, but we wish you weren't in such a bad mood all the time. It's great that you're a new mom and all, but we don't want to see any evidence of it here." And this was from a boss whom I would say was more supportive than most!

 

Here's what I think: if my maternity leave options had been slightly more generous, if I'd been able to take 12 weeks, say, instead of only 8, I might have chosen to leave work a week before the baby came. I might not have had quite such a harrowing labor, and maybe would have even avoided a c-section. I would have had time to deal with the breast infection, figure out child care without feeling as much pressure, and get the sleep situation a little better under control. I would have returned to work feeling more ready to work. Yes, I would have been gone for 12 weeks instead of 8. But would my organization have really lost anything? I would have returned a happier and more productive person. As it was, they got me back after 8 weeks, but I was a crazy, exhausted mess. No wonder I got the review that I did.

 

I'm sure I'm not alone in this kind of experience. I'm sure there are lots of women who've been through worse.

 

Are individual women responsible? To some degree, yes. But I would say that as individuals our choices are only as good as the systems in which we live. And unless we can collectively work together for changes that benefit all women, families and children, we'll just keep struggling with our own impossible situations.

 

 

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