I have wanted to write a blog post about feminism for two years now. I’ve started and stopped posts on feminism so many times – it never really seems to come out quite right. I think that’s because I can’t seem to figure out exactly how I feel about feminism.
I can easily put into words my thoughts on feminism. When I think of feminism, I think of choice, power, strength, equality, freedom and respect. I think that feminism is about having choices and having the freedom to make those choices without being penalized. It this definition a bit idealistic? Perhaps. Too simplistic? Maybe. Nonetheless, this is my kind of feminism. And this is the kind of feminist I am.
Things go sideways for me because feminism also makes me think of hairy legs, bra burning and man-bashing. It also makes me think of anger, spite and judgement. There are some really angry, judgemental, awful people who call themselves feminists out there and I don’t want to associate myself with them in any way, shape or form.
Some of these angry people think I can’t be a feminist because I’m a stay-at-home-mum (SAHM). Some people think you can only be a feminist if you and your partner do exactly the same amount of work around the house. You do a sock more laundry than your partner? Oh well, that’s it, your partner is an oppressive Neanderthal and you’re a loser, under his control, waiting on him hand and foot – catering to his every need.
I read once that you can only be a stay-at-home-mum and a feminist if you could potentially make as much as your partner and/or support your family financially if the need ever arose. Ya, that’s right, poor, uneducated women can’t possibly be feminists. Do you earn less than your partner? Too bad for you — you’re not a feminist.
Still others imply that if I’m a SAHM, it is because I’m too stupid to realize that I’m under my husband’s grasp – that I only think I want to be a SAHM – if I were smarter, I’d realize that I’m being brainwashed into believing that I am living the life I want to lead. Or along the same lines, some think that I’m a SAHM because I don’t have the education or skills to get a job.
But wait just a minute here. Feminism is about freedom, choices and equality – but there are strict conditions under which you may/may not call yourself a feminist – does that make any sense? Do you want to know the funny thing about it? I never really considered myself a feminist until people started telling me, that because of my choices, I wasn’t one.
I am a SAHM, caring for the children, doing house work, cooking most of the meals and doing what many would see as the stereotypical “women’s” role. I also never take out the garbage. Does that mean that I can’t be a feminist? Does it mean that I’m a bad feminist? Does it make any difference at all that this is what I want to be doing? Does it matter that my partner is a dedicated, involved Dad who does almost as much (or as much) housework as I do?
This is not about what is better for children or what is better for women, or families, or society. I don’t think that being at home with my kids makes me a better mum in the same way that I don’t think going back to work after kids make someone a better feminist. This is about having choices available to women. This is about doing what I think is best for me.
For me, staying at home with my kids is a conscious choice that I made. It came with some sacrifices but this is what I’ve always wanted to do and this is exactly what I want to be doing right now.
For me, this is where my instincts as a woman and as a mother have guided me. If I’d gone back to work, it would have meant me denying or ignoring my wants and needs — that doesn’t seem very feminist-like.
What, exactly, does being a SAHM, who shaves her legs, does laundry and cares for children make me? I have no idea what anyone else thinks but I’m going to say that it makes me a feminist.
What comes to mind when you think of feminism? Do you consider yourself a feminist?